Our Jews of Italy menu included Beatrice’s pesto and pasta. Her secret is that she makes her pesto with almonds rather than pine nuts. She uses a blender to puree the basil, olive oil, slivered almonds, garlic, parmesan and romano cheese.
Carlos also does not use a recipe but cooks by feel. His fish dish began by placing tilapia filets in a baking pan with a small amount of olive oil and baking until done. He made the sauce from flour, butter, cream and lemon juice, which he poured over the fish before serving, along with lightly cooked peas and asparagus.
The dessert was made according to recipe below, but raisins and slivered almonds were sprinkled on the cassolas before baking.
(Ricotta Cheese Dessert)
Adapted from Silvia Nacamulli of La Cucina di Silvia (www.cookingforthesoul.com).
This lovely, delicate dessert is often served on Shavuot in Italy. But it makes a wonderful finish to a Yom Kippur break-the-fast dairy menu and a sumptuous treat throughout Sukkot. Because it is made from just a few simple ingredients, it is worthwhile seeking out the best ricotta you can find, preferably a very fresh, home-style one. If that’s unavailable, look for a high-quality commercial brand, preservative- and gelatin-free. Processing the ricotta in a food processor for 4 to 5 minutes will improve the quality, making it creamier and less grainy.
½ cup plus 1½ tablespoons white sugar
1 pound ricotta cheese (see note above)
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon mild olive oil
Preheat the oven to 375º F. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until creamy. Add the ricotta cheese, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Keep beating until smooth, creamy and homogeneous.
Choose a baking pan with at least 10-cup capacity, such as a 9-inch square pan with 2-inch-deep sides or a 9½-inch springform pan. Grease the bottom and sides with a thin layer of the oil. Pour the ricotta mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for about 40 minutes or until it starts turning golden brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a rack to rest.
Eat the dessert warm or at room temperature. You can serve it on its own or with some fresh berries on the side. Yield: 6–8 servings.
TIP: The cassola will rise while baking and reduce in size once it is out of the oven. This is normal, so don’t panic!