Eating Safely at the Relatives

Hi folks, long time no post. It has been a tough 3 months. My 8 year old grandson left this summer to be with his family in Florida. My mom moved to Massachusetts just before Aiden left. Last week my mom passed to a higher plain. We had celebrated her big 100th birthday on Sept 9th. I brought up a gluten free scratch angel food cake baked the night before. I sliced it horizontally to make two layers. My sister made a fluffy icing of egg whites with boiling hot Karo syrup poured in slowly. I threw shredded coconut all over the cake. My mom ate 2 slices. She ate more for breakfast in the morning.

Image preview

My sister and I made our family’s company chicken dish; she used some gf flour to roll the chicken pieces in and for the sauce.  It is served with plain rice.  I made gf crab cakes for my mom the next day as lunch. We had steak tips that night with buttery mashed potatoes. The following day we had a second birthday celebration with wild rice salad that is quite beloved and swordfish kabobs done on the outdoor charcoal grill. I made an Indian cheesecake in the Instant Pot of two ingredients; a can of sweetened condensed milk and a cup of whole milk Greek yogurt. I flavored it with the zest of a small lemon and 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice. An uncooked oatmeal cookie crust underneath. Easy peasy baked in the IP for 30 min and chilled for 4 hours. You would never guess it was not made with eggs and cream cheese. Again, all gluten free and really no fuss either. Great food, made gluten free with a minimum of effort and from fresh ingredients.  The swordfish was layered with onion wedges, pepper chunks and cherry tomatoes from the garden. The best quality swordfish my sister could get at the fish market in town. Far better than swordfish I have eaten in fancy restaurants in Boston. My brother-in-law knows how to grill it to perfection; juicy and flavorful.  Our mom enjoyed it all. She had four servings of the wild rice salad; it has plenty of bacon, fresh spinach, red onion and a kick ass vinaigrette on it. We just love the flavors.

I went back up last week to say goodbye to my mom in her last days. My sister made simple food; gently roasted salmon with mashed potatoes one night and a trombolini squash lasagna that had the best homemade tomato sauce ever. No noodles yet flavor for days. The focus of my visit was on our mom and I could relax knowing I was able to eat safely. I made some carrot soup for lunch while I was there and a fig ricotta cake that disappeared before my eyes. A great use of the fresh figs I brought up. Even in sadness there can be tasty safe gf meals. Just takes a bit of planning; my sister keeps a bag of gf flour for when I visit and I brought the cup for cup flour for the fig cake and my own cheesecake pans both trips as using her pans would have been chancy. She bought me a 4 pack of Schar gf ciabatta buns and I got some excellent smoked ham at Trader Joe’s for sandwiches.  She opened a new jar of mayo and marked it gf for my safety. I brought gf oatmeal and cereal for breakfasts.  No fuss, no mealtime stress.  The focus was on our mom and meals were good but simple as no one was up for fancy. My mom loved flavorful fresh food. She taught me how to bake cookies and I taught myself all the rest. I do have several of her recipes and made them gf years ago. She used to say my angel food cake couldn’t be gf as it was so delicious. It was definitely gluten free Mom. I am glad I could bake it many times that way since I had to go gf in ‘13. Rest in peace and I know they have angel food cake up there for you Mom.

Fig and Ricotta Cake, GF 2.0

Figs, figs, figs! Enough to enjoy, not enough for making laborious batches of fig jam. Made one small batch and a smaller batch of fig mustard. Yeap, that’s a thing! Delish too. Anyway, I wanted to make another fig cake; a couple of weeks ago I made my beloved Turkish fig and yogurt cake which is super light and fluffy and I made an olive oil and honey fig cake the following week that was rather dense if delish and now this ricotta cake. This recipe is a big favorite of Ina Garten; you can find it on her barefoot contessa website. I reworked it a tiny bit to make it gluten free. It has a lovely crumb and a delicate flavor that is delightful. As much as I liked the other two I have recently made; this cake was perfect and is definitely one I would like to try and make with other fresh fruit, cherries? Apricots? Plums? All seem like great possibilities.

You can use small figs like I did or get larger yellow ones. Which tastes better is definitely a personal decision! Dried ones will not work. I think orange zest might be a delicious substitution for lemon zest. I think you can use any cup for cup gf flour as long as it is meant for direct substitution in recipes.

Don’t forget to let the eggs and all dairy items come to close to room temp; cold from the fridge is not good for gf baking. DO not underbake the cake; the center needs to look firm not squishy. Better to bake 5 more minutes than have a soggy center.

I think this cake tastes best warm but once it is cool it is still delish; you can warm slices briefly in the microwave before serving; I did this once and loved it.

brown turkey figs just picked

Fig and Ricotta Cake

Mixing up a storm of yumminess!
ready for figs!

Ingredients:

10 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

3 extra large eggs; I just picked the three largest in my dozen large eggs

1 cup whole milk ricotta; also at room temp.

2 Tbsp. sour cream; room temp.

1 Tsp. vanilla extract

½-1 Tsp. fresh grated lemon zest

1 ¼ cups Bob’s Red Mill One for One Gluten Free flour

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1 Tsp. kosher salt

8 large or 12 medium figs, stems removed! Quarter if large, halve if smaller

1 Tbsp. coarse sugar or finishing sugar

Directions:

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter and flour a 8 inch removable bottom round cake pan. Tap out excess flour.

Beat butter and sugar in stand mixer at medium speed for 3 minutes, scrape down as needed. Until it is fluffy. Then add eggs one at a time, beating well between eggs.  Add ricotta, sour cream, vanilla, zest and mix until smooth. Mix dry ingredients in small bowl and add in thirds, mixing well between additions. Pour into prepared cake pan. Place figs, cut side up in pan; I started with a ring around the outside and worked my way inside pressing them in a bit. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake 40-48 minutes until a cake tester in center comes out clean. I did 46 minutes. The top should be browned but not really dark.  Cool on a rack for 15-20 minutes before removing side panel. Serve warm with whipped cream, crème fraiche or ice cream. I actually like it best plain so I can focus on the amazing flavors and texture. Enjoy!