Happy Easter! What was on your Easter menu today?
Around these parts we kept with an Italian theme. I’m not sure how “spring” or “Easter-y” that sounds, but I wanted to make something that my mom would enjoy, so of course, Baked Ziti popped into my head. It’s definitely one of our go-to party recipes, and is always a crowd pleaser. There’s nothing spectacular to our ziti recipe. I certainly don’t slave over a hot stove preparing sauce made from scratch, nor do I make my own pasta. Really it’s a matter of browning some ground meat or Italian sausage, boiling the pasta, bringing some jarred sauce to a simmer, and combining the meat, sauce and pasta into a large pan, topping it with a combination of shredded mozzarella cheese and Italian flavored breadcrumbs, then baking until all nice and bubbly. I must say I did, however, add ribbons of fresh basil from a little basil plant I picked up at the blueberry farm last weekend. The thing about cooking at home is even though things might not always be from scratch, you can totally fake it and add flavor to pre-made ingredients using fresh herbs and seasonings. With pasta sauce?- Freshly chopping basil is definitely a wow factor.
Simple fixes; always delicious.
As for dessert? Nothing screams spring/summer like lemons. I adore all things lemon, and have been wanting to make a cake like this for a while. The olive oil gives cakes a richer, denser texture, but not in a heavy way. There just seems to be more body and a buttery, fresh flavor that is worth going back for senconds for.
Lemon Olive Oil Cake (inspired from an Epicurious recipe) Ingredients2 lemons
1 cup cake flour
5 eggs, separated
1/2 tsp. sea salt
3/4 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350 F. Zest both lemons and add to a mixing bowl. Add the flour and whisk together. Set the bowl aside. Juice both lemons (hint: stick your lemons into the microwave for 5-10 seconds which will get the juices flowing and make it easier to juice!) Set the juice aside.
In another bowl, beat the egg yolks with 1/2 cup of sugar on high speed for 3-4 minutes.
Reduce the speed to medium, add the olive oil and lemon juice and beat until smooth (but don’t over beat, so keep your eye on it!).
In a separate bowl beat (with a hand mixer!) the 4 egg whites and salt until foamy.
While beating gradually add 1/4 cup of sugar. Continue beating until soft peaks are just starting to form (about 3 minutes). Use a large rubber spatula to gently fold the egg white mixture into the yolk and sugar mixture, careful not to over mix. Scoop by scoop at the flour mixture and combine well. Pour the batter into a greased 9in square cake pan. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until fork test proves done. Cool completely before icing.
1 8-oz package cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2-3 drops of yellow food coloring (optional)
Using a mixer, cream the sugar and cream cheese together. Add zest and juice. Mix well. Chill for 10-15 minutes (be careful not to chill for any longer. You want the frosting to firm up a smidge, but not to the point where it won’t spread.)
Unfortunately, because we were in such a rush to get over (and eat) to my parent’s house, I only snapped two pictures: One of the cooking process, and one of the final product.