Welcome to my blog, where one may find all sorts of random, hopefully amusing tidbits about food & other things.

April 2, 2011

bovine & walnut-ricotta cake with orange curd.

A goal I recently made is to travel to Tibet & raise a yak. Why Tibet? Well, in one of my courses, I learned about how the North & Northwest areas of China are not getting enough water to sustain the population there. As a result, there are methods being implemented to direct water from the South & Southeast areas to the North & NW. There are many problems and expenses associated with this endeavor. For example, eastern India & Bengal would suffer, as would Tibet.

And if water was less readily available in Tibet, then the inhabitants of Tibet would be detrimentally affected. The people would not get as much water as they need. The yaks would not get the water they need. They would only get minimal water, and in turn, their ordinarily luscious fur would turn mangy. Now, my goal is to raise a yak in Tibet. My baby ain't gonna have NO MANGY FUR.

Therefore, Northern Asia better get their act together if they intend to avoid my angry letters & protests regarding the health of the yaks in the Tibetan region.

Beginnings of the curd

If I were to fulfill my dream, I would milk my yak (unnamed as of yet; I am open to suggestions) & use its milk to make chhurpi and other cheeses. Yaks' milk is actually twice as rich as cows' milk, so it makes for deliciously rich dairy products. I would especially enjoy making homemade ricotta from this milk and using it in Walnut Orange Ricotta Cake.

zest + chunky cooked egg whites getting strained out

When I first saw the recipe that served as inspiration for this cake, I was in love. First of all, I adore the rich texture of baked goods in which ground nuts replace some of the flour. Almonds provide a chewiness & denseness that I can never get enough of; frangipane and almond butter cake are excellent examples. Walnuts don't quite completely meld with the flour, and so, they serve to provide a crunchy, slightly gritty texture. I decided to roast the walnuts before grinding them in this recipe to enhance the flavor. Additionally, the ricotta lends to the soft, tender feel of the cake.

The cake layers can be sandwiched with orange curd & freshly whipped cream for an exquisite dessert that would definitely impress. Or, you could make the cake, make the curd, and then just serve individual single-layer slices of cake with a dollop of curd. Curd is such an unattractive word .. reminds me of curds and whey sometimes. Like how yogurt is made? I think of hunks of curd (the yogurt) floating around in liquidy whey. Oops, I'm sorry, that was inappropriate to say right now, because now you think it tastes bad. This is a different curd! Try it, it's delicious! Almost like flavored butter, but a lot better.

Not to mention - the zest+egg white you strained out earlier? Delicious.

Speaking of ill-timed comments, however, a few days ago I was going to class when I passed a bake sale. I went to go look at their [quite meager] selection, when one of the guys selling the stuff says, "Anything on that table will give you diabetes." I look at him incredulously while my friend somehow responded in an effort to maintain normality. There are such intelligent people in the world.

Walnut Ricotta Cake
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese (2% or whole)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • one large naval orange
  • 1/2 Tb vanilla extract
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 3 tspns baking powder
  • some salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Put all the sugar in a small bowl. Zest the orange completely over the sugar. Mix well and set aside.
  3. Toast walnuts (either in a pan on the stove or in the oven or in the microwave). Let cool a little and then grind finely. Let cool completely. Mix with flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In another large bowl, mix ricotta and oil.
  5. Add sugar to the wet mixture. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
  6. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture.
  7. Pour into pans and bake about 20 minutes, until golden and springs back when gently poked. Cool to room temperature.
  8. Serve with tea, layered with orange curd and whipped cream, if so desired.
Orange Curd
  • zest of one small OR 1/2 a large naval orange
  • 1/8 cup orange juice, fresh or not
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 Tb butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 egg, beaten
  1. Combine zest, juice, butter, and sugar in a saucepan. Heat till butter melts.
  2. Slowly whisk in egg.
  3. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until mixture begins to thicken, about 5-10 minutes. Don't allow it to boil, or it will curdle.
  4. Remove from heat. Strain into a bowl to remove zest and any bits of solidified egg white. EAT THE AFTERMATH OF THE STRAINING, this stuff is so delicious, trust me. You can trust me with your life that that stuff will be amazingly good.
  5. Cool to room temperature before layering your cake with it (or eating this with anything you can think of, because it's so good.)
Pictures to come! (uh, I hope I took pictures .. er ..)

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