Ricotta and apple cake

Ricotta apple cake 1

Behold, the resurrection of my baking confidence.

Minnie cake

Modeled by Minnie.  I mean, what else do you need?

I made this cake as part of Mommy’s Day brunch!  Last year’s was so much fun, we had to do it again this year.

Our menu:

  • Spinach and gruyère strata (side note, this time I made it with smoked gouda, and it brought the house down.  Pro tip.)
  • Salmon and new potato salad
  • Ricotta and apple cake

As you may know, I’ve had my share of baking setbacks.  This cake, however, resurrected my baking confidence and fed my happy guests and my happy mom.

♫ Suggested listening: resurrection. ♫

Click to listen: Common – “Resurrection”

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Rebellious aperol spritz

Rebellious aperol spritz

Note: this is not an aperol spritz.  Before you say,

Look at that photo.  Yes, you would like one of those.

Now friends, you may ask yourselves, why does Portia even bother looking at recipes?  By now you must know how I roll.  I start out with the best of intentions to follow a recipe that someone who knows a lot more than me painstakingly arrived at through trial and error.  But then, inevitably, I rebel and I just make sh*t up.

This is why I am not a very good baker.  Perhaps I have a problem with authority.

So what is it, and why is it not an aperol spritz?  First, I forgot the soda water.  Then, in addition to the orange, I threw in a lemon and a grapefruit, and some mint leaves.  Why not.  And then I added some limoncello because MISCELLANEOUS ITALY IN YO FACE.  And so, the “rebellious aperol spritz” was born.  Looks fun.  Tastes fun.

♫ Suggested listening: something for those who can’t be told. ♫

Click to listen: Valerie June – “You Can’t Be Told” 

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Cookie geology

Cookie rocks


Pop quiz, you guys: what happens when you try to make risotto and cookies at the same time, while also mentally doubling your cookie recipe?  At least one crash and burn (fun fact – my risotto was al dente and delicious and generally ON POINT).

Who screws up making cookies from their own blog?  I do.  I ended up making some delightfully fragrant rocks.  One batch was supposed to be for my proposal team at work, and one was supposed to be for my supervisor who is recovering from surgery, but I’m pretty sure that these would send her back to the hospital, or at least to the dentist.

Evidence suggests that I made a miscalculation with regards to my leavening agents.

♫ Suggested listening: harder than you think. ♫

Click to listen: Public Enemy – “Harder than you Think”

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Golden beets with tarragon and pistachios

Beets pistach 1

It’s spring, y’all.  Among other things, that means… beets!

Roast ’em, marinate ’em, garnish ’em, and put ’em in a pretty bowl.

Beets pistach 2

I mean… right?

♫ Suggested listening: beets and nuts

See what I did there?

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Za’atar and preserved lemon flatbread pizza

Zaatar pizza cutterIs it a pizza, or a flatbread?  It has mozzarella and basil.  I think it qualifies.  Plus that’s a pizza cutter, right?  OK, it’s a pizza.

This combines two things that are fun and Middle Eastern/North African: za’atar and preserved lemon.  Don’t know what those are? Click the links.

Zaatar pizza closeupExtreme closeup!

Yalla, let’s make some pizza.

♫ Suggested listening: something fun and North African. ♫

Click to listen: Sherine – “Ana Fel Gharam”  Sherine is fun and Egyptian.

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Walnut, cherry and Gorgonzola salad

Cherry walnut salad 2

I recently had a version of this salad at a restaurant in my neighborhood.  My response was, naturally, to say “Pshhh, I can make that.” So here it is, minus one of the key ingredients: prosciutto.

Cherry walnut salad 1

Since my life is full of various pork-avoiders, I made this version without it.

♫ Suggested listening: a funk band called Lettuce? ♫ 

Click to listen: Lettuce – “Sam Huff’s Flying Raging Machine”

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Cranberry, Camembert and pistachio crostini

Cranberry camembert crostiniHey kids! It’s time for another crostini.  Again. Why? Doesn’t matter.  This is my blog. I’m the boss.

♫ Suggested listening: melting pot ♫

Click to listen: Booker T. & the M.G.’s – “Melting Pot”

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Pear and walnut crostini with ricotta and buckwheat honey

Pear ricotta crostini

So you may be detecting a theme.  There’s a variety of cheeses, pears and nuts and making the rounds.  Got a problem with that?

Right.  That’s what I thought.

Anyway, I made these for my birthday party recently.  Yes, I cooked for my own birthday party.  Whatever, I do what I want.

♫ Suggested listening: something for your birthday party. ♫

Click to listen: Grandmaster Flash & The Furious 5 – “The Birthday Party”

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Roasted pears with brie, pistachios and honey


I made these delicious animals for a New Year’s Day lunch/dinner, where we were all a bit worse for wear.  One of our friends even napped through the middle of it, then got up and came back out and recommenced eating.  Not a bad strategy at all.

Our resolutions?  Most expressed a desire to never be hung over again (ha!), and some resolved to eat more cheese.  I can get behind that.

Get on into 2015 and whatever is next for you.  While listening to golden age hip hop.  Obviously.

♫ Suggested listening: what’s next? ♫

Click to listen: Leaders Of The New School – “What’s Next”

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Rosemary roasted root vegetables


This is a super easy and visually appealing way to use the season’s gorgeous root vegetables.

I used beets (red and golden), sweet potatoes, and parsnips, with some fresh rosemary.  Diced them, roasted them in the oven.  Done.  That’s it.

As for those beet greens? Don’t you dare throw them away.  There are a lot of things you can do with them and they are SO good for you.

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♫ Suggested listening: how we gonna kick it? ♫

Click to listen: Beastie Boys: “Root Down”

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