Peachy Ricotta Cake

(Re-worked from Ina Garten)

  • 1 Stick Butter–you can use un-salted which I had but I wouldn’t buy it special
  • 1 1/2 C Sugar divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Cup ricotta cheese
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon about 3 T
  • 1 t real vanilla extract
  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t Kosher salt–or less if using salted butter
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t ground cardamom–optional or increase cinnamon
  • Peaches–i used about 5 smaller peaches, pitted, peeled and sliced or about 2 1/2 C
  • Chopped nuts–I used about 1/3 C walnuts (This is optional)

Have all your ingredients at room temp and make sure the butter is softened.  Prepare your  peaches and and mix them with half of the sugar and spices.  Mix the flour with the soda, BP and salt and set aside.  In a stand mixer with the batter paddle–beat the soft butter with the remaining sugar for several minutes until fluffy.  Then beat in the eggs one at a time beating and minute or two after each.  This mixture should be thick and fluffy.  Mix the lemon juice into the ricotta and then beat it into the fluffy butter mixture.  Now on a slow speed gradually blend in the flour until it is almost mixed in.  (I did not sift the flour.)











Turn off the mixer and remove the paddle and finish folding the batter with a rubber spatula.  This batter is very very thick like a quick bread or a coffee cake batter.  Spread the batter into a 8 1/2 X 13 Pyrex baking dish and spread the sweetened peaches evenly on top.  Sprinkle on the nuts–the batter will bake up and around the peaches so no need to mix them in.  I baked this in a 300 degree convection oven for about 45 minutes–do not have your oven too hot.  This would be great served while still warm with whipped cream on top!


Bread Pudding with Cherries & Rhubarb

So a week or so ago for a special dinner for my wine students I made this seasonal Bread Pudding–it came  out really nice.  Here’s the recipe:

  • 3/4 C pitted and halved fresh sweet cherries
  • 3/4 C diced rhubarb
  • 3-4 T sugar
  • (Place the above in a bowl to marinate over night)
  • about 1/2 loaf white bread–I used Grandma Sycamore’s Home-maid Bread–it’s a thickly sliced cake-like bread–denser than wonder bread for example
  • 2 whole eggs & 3 yolks
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 2 C whole milk or half & half–scalded
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2-3 T sliced almonds
  • Assembly:  I sliced the bread into strips and place them in just one layer deep in a 9″ X 13″ oval Pyrex baking dish–sprayed with non-stick spray.
  • separate the egg yolks and mix them with the whole eggs and the sugar
  • heat the milk and butter in a sauce pan until the milk forms a skin and bubbles around the edges–do not boil
  • Temper the eggs by adding the hot milk into the egg mixture, at first several T at a time stirring after each addition–about half way through pour the egg mixture into the rest of the warm milk.  (You need to do this so the hot milk doesn’t scramble the eggs.)
  • Add the vanilla and pour the custard over the bread strips
  • Distribute the marinated fruit evenly over the top and sprinkle with the almonds
  • Place the pudding in a water bath–use a larger roasting pan filled with 1 inch of hot water
  • Bake in the middle of a 370 degree oven for about an hour–the custard should be set and slightly browned on top–Serve while still warm–we garnished with a scoop of vanilla ice cream but you could also use whipped cream.


Empanadas–with Drew’s stuffing


  • Good Pie Crust dough—you can use the Pillsbury roll ups or make your own or you can use puff dough sheets cut into 4 inch rounds.
  • Ground beef ½ to 1 lb. depending on how many you’re making
  • ½ C diced onion
  • 1 large rib celery finely diced
  • 1 cooked potato or yam–diced about 1/2 inch
  • 2-3 hard-boiled eggs coarsely sliced
  • 1/3 C Olives—reg black or European-style olives coarsely chopped
  • 1 C thinly shredded cabbage
  • 1/3 C halved cherry or grape tomatoes–mainly for color
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Egg Wash

Cook the ground beef in a skillet—I don’t like to drain it because all the ingredients will absorb the fat.  Add the onions and cabbage and cook until the onions are transparent and the cabbage is wilted.  Fold in the remaining ingredients and set aside—be careful with the cooked potato so it doesn’t turn into mush.  Set the filling aside and let cool.  Roll out your dough and cut into rounds—you can make these a regular size with is about 4 ½ inches or a smaller size which is around 3 inches.  Place 1-2 T filling on each round of pastry dough and fold over and crimp the edges with a fork.  Brush with egg wash and bake in a 375° oven until the Empanadas are golden brown.  Serve hot or at room temp.  You can also serve with a brown sauce on the side.


Pavlovas (Mini) with Lemon Curd

This Recipe comes from Epicurious–it worked out perfectly–I did make a couple of changes–especially on the lemon curd–I wanted to make more and I doubled the recipe for the meringue to make 12 mini Pavlovas.  (The photo is mine)

Pavlovas are little puffs of baked meringue. They are lightly crunchy on the outside and soft and marshmallowy on the inside. These mini pavlovas are topped with the best lemon curd recipe you will ever find.

Author: Pavlovas Adapted from Epicurious

Recipe type: Dessert

Serves: 8-12 if you double the recipe as I did


For the pavlovas:

  • ⅔ cup superfine sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 large egg whites at room temperature for 30 minutes
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • ½ teaspoon distilled white vinegar


For the lemon curd: (makes extra)

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice, about 2 1/2  lemons
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 generous t. finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons chilled butter (I used Keri Gold butter), cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1-2 tablespoon heavy cream
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Berries for serving–I used berries, cherries and orange wheels



Make the pavlovas:

  • Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl.
  • Beat the whites and salt using an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add water (whites will loosen) and beat until whites again hold soft peaks. Increase speed to medium-high and add the sugar mixture 1 tablespoon at a time, continuing 1 minute after all sugar is added. Add vinegar and beat at high speed until meringue is glossy and stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes.
  • Using a spoon or a spatula drop meringue on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and use the back of a spoon to make a crater to put the curd and fruit in.
  • Bake at 300°F using convection oven or on the middle rack of a normal oven for 45 minutes, until pale golden and a thing crust forms (inside will still be soft). Turn oven off and prop door open slightly with a wooden spoon. Let cool for one hour. Serve the same day with lemon curd (recipe below) and fresh berries. Meringue can also be frozen for up to two days if wrapped well in plastic wrap. Thaw before serving.

Make the lemon curd:

  • Heat lemon juice over medium heat until hot but not boiling.
  • Meanwhile, whisk eggs and yolk in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in the sugar. While whisking, slowly pour hot lemon juice into the eggs. Return to saucepan and cook over medium heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until mixture registers 170 degrees and coats the back of a spoon.
  • Remove pan from heat and stir in butter. Once melted, stir in cream, vanilla, and salt.
  • Strain mixture through a fine-mesh strainer and pour over pavlovas. Curd is able to be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, just cover with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out.


Potato Salad Portuguese-Style


I like to get everything ready because I like to make this salad while the potatoes are still hot.

  • 6-8 medium or large “golden” or “red” new potatoes
  • 4-5 Sliced, boiled eggs–save some slices for the garnish
  • About ½ chopped diced or chopped green onion–save about 1 T for garnish
  • several T chiffonade of fresh basil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste or Drew’s salt
  • Mixed olives—I use some Spanish olives, Kalamata olives and Black American olives halved
  • About ½ C cooked, crisp bacon cut into small squares—(optional)–Save some for garnish


  • 1 C prepared mayo
  • 1 T dry ground mustard
  • 1 t. ground turmeric
  • 3-4 T honey
  • juice of 1/2 Lemon
  • 2-3 T milk
  • one large pinch Drew’s salt

Make the dressing and set aside—it needs to be on the thin side so you can drizzle it over the salad.  Cook the potatoes in a large pot nearly covered with water and boil about 20 minutes until the potatoes are done—stick a pairing knife in them and if it goes in easy they’re ready.  Place the eggs, basil, onion, olives and bacon in a large bowl.  Using tongs and hot pads, slice the very hot potatoes—you will need to work quickly and develop a technique so you don’t burn your hands!!!  Sprinkle with seasoning and toss in about half of the dressing.  Toss and place on a platter lined with lettuce leaves.  Drizzle the remaining dressing over the top and garnish with more of the thinly sliced fresh basil.