Ricotta Cake

As this cake baked, my kitchen smelled like orange zest.  That's how I knew this would be a good cake. Especially with the addition of a dollop of orange marmalade.

The addition of an apple initially threw me for a loop, but it brings texture and an "extra touch of something" to the mix.

Ricotta Cake
slightly adapted from Food52
yield: one 9-inch cake

9 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
1 cup fresh ricotta
Zest of 1 orange
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 apple, peeled and grated (should yield about 1 cup)

Heat the oven to 400˚. Butter and flour a 9 inch spring form pan or tart pan with a removable base.  Use the wax paper from the butter to save a step.

Cream the butter and sugar using a hand mixer until light and fluffy, and on the lowest speed, add the eggs one at a time.

Slowly add the flour, salt, ricotta, orange zest, baking powder and apple.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and the sides start to pull away from the pan.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and cool completely on the rack. Serve with your favorite seasonal fruit.

Reminds me of Miss Pacman.

Spicy Tomato Bleu Cheese Soup

The first time I made this soup was early January 2010 for a New Year's party.  I decided to make the full batch which serves four to six people and when ladled into small bowls, it can stretch for a gathering.  In this recipe, I scaled the ingredients down for a smaller batch.  San Marzano tomatoes are typically sold in 28 ounce cans - feel free to use a 14 ounce can of whole tomatoes (regardless of brand) or open the larger size and use the remaining tomatoes for another use.  I'm sure that won't be a tough challenge!

Spicy Tomato Bleu Cheese Soup
adapted from the Amateur Gourmet
originally from Michael Symon's Live To Cook by Michael Symon

Serves 2 to 3

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small-ish red onion, finely chopped
Kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 14-oz can San Marzano tomatoes with the juice
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce, or a little less depending on taste (don't buy it, make your own)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup Blue cheese (Roth Kase is recommended; Maytag or Buttermilk are also good)

Heat the olive oil in a 2 quart pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and a large pinch of salt and sweat for two minutes. Add the garlic and continue to sweat for two more minutes. Add the tomatoes, their juice and the stock and bring to a simmer.  Add the cream, sriracha sauce, and thyme and simmer for 45 minutes.  Take care to not let the soup boil - heavy cream doesn't like it!

Add the blue cheese to the soup, and using an immersion blender, blend until smooth.  A regular blender could also be used and work in batches if necessary.

Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean pot, taste, adjust the seasoning if necessary, and reheat to serve.

The soup will keep, covered in the refrigerator, for a few days.