Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas this year was about the food.  The boys spent four days with us and each of us created and cooked a meal.  The theme was “European”.  I started off with a Mediterranean meal beginning with a variation of spinach empanadillas followed by a Greek salad.  The main course was a ground turkey with apricot, almond and spice stew over rice.  But the best dish (in my not so humble opinion) was the walnut, apricot and ricotta cake (recipe follows).

Younger son was up next and made a deconstructed Belgian stew.  He braised a beef brisket and used the cooking liquid to make a heavenly gravy which he poured over homemade French fries that were then smothered with mozzarella cheese and popped into the broiler to melt the cheese.  Although I questioned French fries with cheese and gravy – it was really good.  He also served stuffed onions. 

Older son served a tuna and tomato crostini as an appetizer which was amazingly good.  I had to keep myself from having seconds because I knew that there was more to come.  He served a bone-in pork loin roast, roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon and a salad with horseradish dressing.
On the fourth night we needed something light so we had fish tacos.  Younger son created a wonderful bean dish combining white beans and black beans with diced tomatoes, some bacon and a bit of spicy jalapeño which he served over rice (a family staple).

Walnut, Apricot and Ricotta Cake

½ cup walnut pieces, chopped and toasted
½ cup chopped apricots
1/3 cup butter, room temperature plus extra for greasing the pan and parchment paper
½ cup sugar (divided)
3 eggs, separated
finely grated rind of 1 orange
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
3 TBSP flour (non-gluten flour is OK)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease and line with parchment paper a 9” spring-form pan or a 9” cake pan.  Grease the paper lining.
Cream together the 1/3 cup butter and ¼ cup sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg yolks, orange rind, ricotta cheese, flour, walnuts and apricots and mix together.

Whisk egg whites in a bowl until stiff.  Gradually whisk in ¼ cup sugar.  Fold ¼ of the whisked whites into the ricotta mixture.  Gently fold in the remaining egg whites.
Pour the cake mixture into the prepared pan and level the surface.  Bake for about 25 minutes until risen and firm.  Leave the cake to cool in the pan.

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