Italian Lemon-Ricotta Cake

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 quart whole milk
1 3/4 cups semolina flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large or 2 small lemons
4 large eggs
1 pound (2 cups) fresh ricotta cheese, strained
Confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling
Raspberry sauce (see recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 325. Butter an 11-inch round cake pan.
Heat the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat until simmering, then whisk in the semolina and salt. Boil, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and stir in the sugar and butter until combined. Transfer the batter to a bowl to cool it down to warm, stirring frequently to prevent a skin from forming.

Zest the lemons, using only the yellow part, and stir into the batter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined. Beat in the ricotta.

Pour the batter into the pan, and bake until set and golden in places, about 1 hour. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool, and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar while still hot. Once the cake has cooled, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar once more, then serve.

Raspberry Sauce

1 cup raspberry jam
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Heat the jam and juice together in a small heavy saucepan until melted and combined. Strain the sauce, discarding any seeds if desired, then serve with migliaccio.

Almond-Lemon Macaroons

2 cups whole blanched almonds, plus about 30 almonds for decoration
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Using a food processor equipped with a metal blade, grind 2 cups almonds very finely. Add 3/4 cup sugar, the egg and lemon zest, and pulse to make a cohesive dough. Transfer to a medium bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick liner. Place remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a small bowl.

Pinching off pieces of dough about the size of a walnut, roll them first into balls, then into sugar. Gently press an almond point first into top of each cookie, so that half the almond can be seen. Arrange cookies one inch apart on baking sheet.
Bake until cookies have barest hint of color but still remain soft, 8 to 10 minutes. (Cookies must be soft when removed from oven to avoid excess hardening when they cool.) Cool completely, and store in an airtight container.

Lemon Meringue Pots de Creme

2 cups half-and-half
4 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar, plus 4 tablespoons
3 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped pistachios

Heat half-and-half to just under a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan or a double boiler. In a mixing bowl, combine egg yolks, 3/4 cup sugar, cornstarch and salt. Whisk well until creamy, a minute or two.

Slowly whisk 1/2 cup of hot half-and-half into egg-sugar mixture, then add remaining half-and-half and mix well. Pour back into saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking continuously, until custard is thick, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in butter, lemon zest and lemon juice. Spoon custard into 6 4-ounce ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and up to several hours. (May be done even a day ahead.)

Combine chopped pistachios with 1 tablespoon sugar. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Put egg whites in mixing bowl and add 3 remaining tablespoons sugar. Beat whites to stiff peaks. Spoon a pile of meringue onto each custard-filled ramekin, using all the meringue. Sprinkle with pistachio-sugar mixture. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the tops are browned. (May be baked just before guests arrive, then kept at room temperature until time for dessert.)

Lemon Gelato

2 cups whole milk
Pared or grated zest of just under 1/2 lemon
5 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar

In a small saucepan combine milk and lemon zest. Place over medium-low heat just until steaming; do not boil. Remove from heat, cover, and allow mixture to infuse for about 20 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar. Strain infused milk into a pitcher, then whisk it into yolk mixture.
Pour mixture into a clean saucepan, and place over medium-low heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until it forms a custard thick enough to coat back of spoon, about 10 minutes. (Do not overheat or it will curdle.)

Cool mixture by placing bottom of pan in several inches of cold water; give it a stir. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour.

Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Avocado Lassi

2 ripe avocados
1/2 cup plain or Greek-style yogurt
1 cup whole milk
2-3 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
4 green cardamom pods, seeds removed and crushed
1 tablespoon rosewater or gingery syrup (optional)

Slice the avocado in half, lengthwise. Remove the pit, peel and roughly chop.

Add the yogurt, milk, sugar, crushed cardamom seeds, and rosewater to the blender and process to a creamy consistency. Taste and sweeten more, if required.

This lassi can be made ahead and kept refrigerated. Serve chilled.

Recipe Notes
You can replace the yogurt and milk with soy or almond milk for a dairy free and vegan version.You may have to rub the avocados with a little lime juice, if making this version.

Honey can be used in place of sugar.

The rosewater adds a delicate floral note to the lassi (highly recommended)

Alternatively, ginger syrup is a delicious, spicy addition. (you can use syrup from jars of preserved ginger.

Passion Fruit Eton Mess

1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 ounces roughly crumbled meringue (~4 medium meringues)
1/2 cup passionfruit curd
tiny herb flowers (optional)

Whisk the cream to floppy peaks in a medium bowl. Arrange most of the meringues in a bowl or serving platter. Cover them with the whipped cream, and (barely) toss, or jostle, once or twice. Dollop with the curd, and use a spoon to pull pretty streaks of it through the cream and meringue mixture. Finish with flowering herbs, if convenient – for example, we used some beautifully fragrant flowering strawberry mint. Basil flowers would be a nice alternative as well.

Cacao Muesli with Coconut Milk

1 14-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 plump vanilla bean pod, sliced lengthwise
1 3/4 cups raw rolled oats (not instant oats)
1/4 cup cacao nibs
1/4 cup pepitas, toasted
2 tablespoons shaved piloncillo, plus more to taste

to serve: chopped dates, sliced fresh figs

In a small pot over medium heat, combine the coconut milk, salt, and cinnamon. Run a knife along the vanilla bean segment, to separate the paste – include the paste and pod in the pot as well. Bring just to simmer, turn off the heat, and allow the mixture to steep for at least ten minutes. In a separate medium size bowl, combine the oats, cocoa nibs, pepitas, and the grated piloncillo. Pour the warm coconut nut milk over the oat mixture, then stir to combine. Allow to sit 5-10 minutes. Serve with more grated or shaved piloncillo if you like, and fresh figs, and dates.

Serves 4.

Purple Coconut Rice

2 cups purple jasmine rice (or substitute white jasmine rice)
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (don’t use lite)
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

4 medium shallots, thinly sliced
1/4 cup unsalted butter
A handful of cashews, chopped and toasted

Start by rinsing the rice. You can do this by putting the rice in the thick-bottomed pan it is going to cook in. Fill the pot halfway with water, swish the rice around (the water will get cloudy), and pour out the cloudy water. Repeat 3 times. The water might still be a bit cloudy, and that is o.k.

To the rinsed (and drained) rice add the coconut milk, water, and salt. Stir to combine. Place the pot over medium high heat and bring the liquid to a boil (uncovered). Stir often to prevent the rice from scorching down at the bottom of the pot. Once the liquid comes to a boil reduce the heat to a low, low simmer, cover the pot tightly with a lid. Cook for about 15- 20 more minutes (resisting the urge to peek). Remove from heat (still covered!), and let the rice steam for another 10-15.

While the rice is cooking cook up the shallots in a small frying pan over medium to medium-high heat. Too hot and you’ll burn the butter instead of browning it. Add the butter to the pan, then stir in the shallots and a couple pinches of salt. Stir every few minutes letting the shallots brown increasingly until they are dark in color. Transfer to a paper towel until ready to use.

I fluff the rice in the pot so I don’t completely dirty up the edges of my serving bowl or platter. Transfer the rice to desired serving vessel and sprinkle with cashews and the crispy shallots.

Serves 4 to 6.

Coconut Pancakes

1 14-ounce can of coconut milk
2 tablespoons honey (or agave nectar)
1 /4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose or regular pastry flour)
3 cups unsweetened (not dessicated) dried shredded coconut
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 large eggs. whisked in a medium bowl
1/4 cup natural cane sugar or brown sugar

In a small saucepan heat the coconut milk and honey, bring barely to a simmer.

In a separate large bowl combine the flour, coconut, salt and baking powder. Stir the coconut milk into the flour mixture.

Whisk about 1/3 cup of the coconut mixture into the eggs. Now quickly mix the eggs back into the large bowl of coconut batter. Stir until well combined. You can do this the night before if you like.

Heat your favorite non-stick (or very well-seasoned) skillet, pan, or griddle to medium-hot and brush it with a bit of butter. Test for the right temperature. If a drop of water dropped onto the pan starts to dance, you are in the ballpark. Drop a heaping tablespoon into the skillet, sprinkle the top with a bit of brown sugar. Wait until the pancake bottom is deep golden in color, then flip with a spatula and cook the other side until golden and cooked through. Repeat with the remaining batter.

Makes dozens of silver dollar sized pancakes, or a dozen or so larger ones.

Sweet Potatoes with Macadamias and Coconut

If you’d like to prepare part of this recipe in advance you can certainly bake the sweet potatoes a day or two in advance and save the mashed sweet potatoes in the refrigerator until you are ready to move forward with the remaining steps.

2 1/2 pounds orange-fleshed sweet potatoes
1/3 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1/3 cup raw, unsweetened grated coconut
2 tablespoons olive oil or melted butter
1/3 cup toasted macadamia nuts, chopped

Preheat your oven to 350F degrees, a rack in the upper third. Butter or oil 6 ramekins or a single medium-sized casserole dish.

Wrap each sweet potato in foil, pierce numerous times with the tines of a fork and place in the oven for somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half, until each is baked through. Times vary greatly depending on the size of your sweet potatoes – in the end you should be able to cut through the center flesh as if it were soft butter. Remove the potatoes from the oven, let them cool for a few minutes, and cut each sweet potato in half. Scrape the flesh into a medium mixing bowl. You should have about three cups of sweet potatoes. In a large bowl mash the sweet potatoes with the coconut milk. If my sweet potatoes are on the fibrous side, l take a hand blender to them for a minute or so (alternately you could use a food processor). Stir in the ginger, maple syrup and salt. Let it sit for a few minutes, stir again and taste – adjust the seasoning if you need to – this is your chance to get the right amount of salt and ginger in the sweet potatoes before they go in the oven.

Spoon the sweet potato mixture into individual baking dishes (or single larger baking dish), sprinkle with coconut, drizzle with olive oil and bake uncovered until warm and the coconut golden roughly 30 – 40 minutes. Remove and sprinkle with the toasted macadamia nuts.

Serves about 6.

Temper the sweetness by serving this with garlicky greens.

Curried Coconut Tomato Soup

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, olive oil, or coconut oil
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, plus more to taste
3 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chile flakes
2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes (pref. fire-roasted)
1 14-ounce can coconut milk

to serve: any of the following that sound good to you – cooked brown rice, lemon wedges, toasted almond slices, pan-fried paneer, fresh thyme or oregano, oregano drizzle, a poached egg

In a large pot over medium heat melt the butter. Add the onions and salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions really soften up – 10 minutes or so. Not so much that they brown, just until they’re completely tender and unstructured.

Stir in the curry powder, coriander, cumin, and chile flakes, and cook just until the spices are fragrant and toasty – stirring constantly at this point. Just 30 seconds or so. Stir in the tomatoes, the juices from the cans, and 6 cups / 1.5 L of water. Simmer for fifteen minutes or so, then puree with a hand blender until smooth. This is the version you see up above (minus the toppings). That said, at this point you can decide if you’d like your soup even a bit thinner – if so, you can thin it with more water, or if you like a creamy version, with some coconut milk. Taste and adjust with more salt to taste.

This soup is great served simply with a dollop of cream from the top of a can of coconut milk (a little goes a long way) and a toasted wedge of good bread. That said, I love it most with the coconut cream, served over a scoop of brown rice with a squeeze of lemon, some toasted almonds, and a jolt of herbs (fresh, or the sort of oregano drizzle I used here).

Garlic Butter Sauce (for anything)

Butter
Garlic
Citrus
Herbs
Spices
Ginger (optional)

Melt butter and stir in as much or as little garlic as you like.

Add ginger for extra intensity, but if you don’t have any, you can leave it out.

Check the refrigerator and unearth the last sprigs of dill or thyme. Chop them up, add some to the sauce, and save the rest for a bright garnish.

As for spices, anything fresh and fragrant in your cabinet is fair game. Curry powder here lends a musky note and a little heat. But cumin, coriander or paprika would also be lovely.

Then finish with a squeeze of citrus for tang.

Use over fish, chicken, vegetables… anything.

Spicy Lemon Coconut Sauce (for anything)

1 clove garlic, peeled
1 medium jalapeno (or serrano) chile, deseeded and chopped
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, plus more to taste
1 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 small bunch of scallions, thinly sliced (~8 scallions)
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1 14-ounce can of coconut milk (full fat)
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste

In a mortar and pestle, smash the garlic and chile into a paste along with the salt. Alternately, you can use a food processor. Add the oil and the scallions, and smash or chop a bit more. Add the cilantro, pulsing the food processor (if you’re using it) just a few times.

Transfer the mixture to a jar or bowl, and whisk in the coconut milk, then the lemon juice. Taste, and adjust with more salt or lemon juice if needed. Store in a refrigerator for up to a week.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

Yellow Bean Salad with Coconut Milk

1 pound / 16 oz yellow runner beans

1 serrano chile, stemmed and seeded
5 green onions, green parts trimmed & reserved
a big handful of cilantro
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 cup coconut milk, well mixed

1- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste

2 big handfuls / 1/2 cup toasted pepitas
1 1/2 cups tiny pan-fried tofu cubes, optional
basil flower garnish, optional

Cut the beans into 1-inch segments on a deep bias. Cook in a pot of well-salted water for just 30 seconds, drain, and run under cold water to stop cooking. Drain, and aggressively shake off as much water as possible. Set aside.

To make the dressing, pulse the chile, onions, cilantro, garlic, salt, and sunflower oil into a paste with a food processor. Pulse in the coconut milk in two additions, before adding the lemon juice to taste, a half tablespoon at a time.

Place the beans in a large bowl with most of the pepitas and tofu cubes (if you’re using them). Toss well with a generous amount of the dressing (you’ll have plenty of leftover), even so, as I mention up above, this is one of those salads that benefits from over-dressing versus under. Serve in a bowl or platter topped with the remaining pepitas and tofu, and basil flowers if you happen to have them.