One woman's foray into cooking for herself, for her family, and for her friends. It's not always picture-perfect, sometimes a little messy,
but it's always delicious. Join me in exploring new recipes, savoring the "résultats" and learning from the "erreurs".

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Italian Food, the Sequel

Dessert First...
My friend Ann at Thibeault's Table recommended I make her Cassata Cake to serve as dessert for my little Italian dinner party. I've been wanting to make it for some time, and, of course, as is the case with all of Ann's recipes, this one certainly did not disappoint. The moist poundcake is split into layers and filled with a sweetened ricotta mixture, then the entire thing is 'frosted' with whipped cream. It was the perfect ending to our Italian meal.

Cassata Cake (Sicilian Ricotta Cheesecake)

Cake Base
1 cup unsalted butter
1-1/2 cups sugar
5 eggs
2 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons lemon juice (Brandy, orange ligueur or Amaretto)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter a 9 x 5 loaf pan.

Cream butter until light and add sugar gradually. Beat eggs in one at a time. Add vanilla and flavourings.

Stir or sift dry ingredients together and stir into egg mixture quickly. Pour into pan and bake 1-1/4 or 1-1/2 hours.

Note: This cake improves with age and freezes well.

Filling, Icing and Final Assembly
1 pound ricotta cheese
2/3 cups sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla
2 ounces of liqueur (Orange, Cognac, Amaretto, your choice)
2 oz. semisweet chocolate grated
1/4 cup candied fruit


2 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup sifted icing sugar
2 oz liqueur (use the same as above)

Beat the sugar into the cheese. Add vanilla, liqueur, fruit and chocolate.

Slice the cake into 3 or 4 layers and spread each with some fo the cheese mixtuer reshaping the cake into a loaf as you proceed. Finish with a layer of cake. The cake will keep, well wrapped, two days at this point.

A few hours before serving whip the cream until light and add the sugar and liqueur. Continue beating until quite stiff.

Spread a coating of cream ocer the sides and top of the cake. Place the remaining cream into a piping bag and decorate the cake. It could be garnished with pistachio nuts , chocolate curls or strawberries. This cake is very rich so serve thin slices.

Notes: This cake can also be iced with chocolate icing and it can be made into a round instead of in a loaf.

Ann's Notes: I usually add extra chocolate to the filling and leave out the candied fruit.

Source: Bonnie Stern via Thibeault's Table

For dinner, I made manicotti. Start by making crepes, filling them with the same ricotta mixture I use for lasagna. I also made a pot of sauce, meatballs and sausage (we'll save that for another post!) Salad consisted of greens, orange, yellow & red tomatoes, and a balsamic vinaigrette of minced shallots, Dijon, salt & pepper, balsamic vinegar, tangerine and traditional extra virgin olive oil. Of course, garlic toasts rounded out the meal. The house smells great when there's a pot of sauce simmering away on the stove!!


6 eggs
1-1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups water

Combine all ingredients in medium bowl with electric mixter. Let stand 1/2 hour or longer.

Slowly heat a crepe pan or 8-inch skillet. Add about 1/4 - 1/3 cup of crepe batter, swirling batter to cover bottom of pan. Cook over medium heat until top is dry but bottomis not browned. Stack with waxed paper as they cool.

2 pounds ricotta cheese
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, diced
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Combine ingredients. Spread about 1/4 cup of filling down the center of each crepe; roll up. Spread bottom of 12 x 8 x 2 inch baking dish with marinara sauce. Place filled crepes in single layer over sauce. Cover filled crepes with sauce; sprinkle with additional grated mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Bake, uncovered, at 350 F. for 1/2 hour.


Thibeault's Table said...

Lori, An Italian feast. I have made your manicotti and know just how delicious they are.

Look how moist your cake is. What I wouldn't give for just a small slice. Actually truth be told, I'd really like a big piece.

Martha said...

What a feast! I've always been interested in that cake but never made it -- perhaps you have now inspired me!

La Table De Nana said...

This looks fabulous Lori..I have yet to make your version of Manicotti..One day!

Linda said...

Lori...just beautiful!
I have not made my mannicotti with crepes in a long time! You have inspired me...
That cake looks perfectly delicious!
Cut and pasted!

Cathy said...

Wow, what a dinner. I want to come to your house. That's my idea of a cake and your mannicotti looks out of this world. My baked potato for dinner isn't sounding too great right now.

MaryBeth said...

Oh my stars...this cake looks so darn yummy. Your entire meal was simply over the top, I will be more than happy to join you for dinner any night of the week.

a quiet life said...

hey darling, i've missed you, especially when you are hoarding cake over here! both look delish!

Catering Muenchen said...

Italian salads are another great low-carb Italian food. You need to be used with caution so that the use of pasta salad and bread, but careful planning you can find many delicious options. You can eat your meal in Italian salad or side dish. Consider the fennel and orange salad Sicilian and unique taste.

AMInyc said...

Looks like a wonderful dinner!

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