Marie’s Ricotta Torte – Recipe

Ricotta Torte

My grandma is turning 97 this year.

Growing up, she would always cook for my family. Couscous, vegetable and pasta bakes, yogurt cakes, pies, ravioli, tortes, you name it. We went to her apartment for family meals on special occasions, but oftentimes she would get up early and cook tons of food just so my dad could take it home to me and my siblings.

My sister, brother and I fought tooth and nail over the food. An uneven number of raviolis could start a civil war. If my brother took too long to come down to the kitchen for dinner, my sister and I would eat all the ravioli all between the two of us and pretend there were never any when he eventually showed up at the table. (We were nice sisters otherwise. I promise.)

My grandma is such an amazing lady. Strong-headed, generous, kind, funny, loving. She’s the kind of person who offers her cleaning lady two coffees with a plate of cookies and fresh fruit every day.

The more I think about it, the more I realize my grandma is my hero. She lost two children and her husband, lived through a war that uprooted her to a different country and left behind a house with a fridge full of fresh groceries and linen hanging in the backyard, and yet she remained the nicest, warmest, most generous person you will ever meet.

She lost so much but kept on giving, always opening her heart to those around her.

My grandma is in relative good health for her age, but I know she’s not going to live forever. I’ve been thinking about my her legacy a lot lately. I’ve always liked cooking and baking, but it only became a huge part of my life in this past year. I’ve made her yogurt cake for years, but the rest of her recipes have remained shrouded in mystery for years — she always made things taste better somehow.

So I’ve given myself a challenge: I will learn how to make every recipe of hers so her cooking and baking lives on through me. I don’t care if it sounds pompous, because I doubt I will get to do anything this important during my life.

Without (any) further ado, here goes my grandma’s Ricotta Torte recipe.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 30-45 minutes

Servings: 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 2 puff pastry crusts
  • 500g of Ricotta cheese
  • 1 bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 3 eggs + 1 egg yolk
  • 100g of parmesan
  • 1 small can of green peas, mashed

Steps:

  • Set one of the crusts at the bottom of the pie tin. I recommend using a deep 23cm pie tin. Otherwise, go for a large pie tin if possible, otherwise there will might be too much filling.
  • In a bowl,  mix the ricotta cheese, chopped parsley, eggs, parmesan and mashed green peas.
  • Spoon the mixture on top of the crust.
  • Place the remaining  crust on top of the mixture. Using your fingers, gel together the sides.
  • Using a pastry brush, gently cover the top crust with egg yolk. 
  • Cook for 45 minutes at 200C. (My oven is notorious for burning everything so 30 minutes was enough. When the crust looks cooked and evenly golden, you should be all good).

Veronica Mars, Movie and Co

I’m not gonna lie: my life has been a little messy lately.

But you know what has been cheering me up for weeks? Veronica Mars.

I’m not just saying that because the movie is coming out tomorrow. (Counting down the hours, me? I would never.)

The thing is, when the show ended in 2007, I never thought in a million years I would see my beloved characters again. So the fact the the moviegot made and exists against all odds? That makes me feel like dreams do come true. What more proof do I need, really?

Spanning years and continents… Epic.

Madeleines – Recipe

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I’m convinced this madeleine rivals with the ones from Proust’s childhood memory.

I’ve recently joined the ranks of the unemployed, but just because I don’t get up to go to work every morning doesn’t mean I can’t be productive.

I had a friend coming over for coffee and I thought these would be the perfect mid-afternoon treat. I now have my very own Madeleine-induced memory — a lovely afternoon of real conversation and culinary indulgence.

The recipe below comes from / is translated from this french recipe found on ChefNini.com – a daily source of inspiration and amazing recipes all around.

The magic secret for lovely, spongy madeleines is to swap 30g of butter for 30g of peanut butter. The original recipe calls for dipping them into chocolate — I wanted to enjoy the taste of the peanut butter so I skipped that part.

Yields: 8 big madeleines

Prep Time: 15 mins + 1 hour
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Ingredients:
  • 1 egg
  • 75 g of granulated sugar
  • 85 g of flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 30 g of butter
  • 30 g of peanut butter

Instructions:

  • Whisk the egg and the sugar until the mixture whitens.
  • Pour the flour and baking powder into the egg and sugar mixture.
  • Melt the butter and incorporate it into the mixture. Add the peanut butter.
  • Leave the mixture in the fridge for an hour.
  • Spread butter on your mold. Sift flour on top. This will prevent the madeleines from sticking to the mold.
  • Spoon the mixtures in the mold. Cook for 15 minutes at 220C.

Priorities

When I was nineteen-year-old, I worked at a marketing agency full time for six months. I was studying business at the time, and marketing seemed like the cool, creative thing to do. Except I didn’t think much of what kind of product I would actually be marketing. I got stuck working on pet food coupons & holiday packaging, and let me tell you something: I am NOT an animal person.

I decided there and then that if I was going to work endless hours and spend the better part of my life stuck in an office, I needed to care about the product of my hard labor. And there came in my logic that since I’d watched more TV than any sane individual my age, I was meant to turn TV from a passion to a life ambition and pursue a job in TV.

It wasn’t bad reasoning per se. Just a little naive.

Fast-forward through the rest of my college education, a Masters in TV/Film Producing, and the last two years of my professional career.

I’m a grown up now. I’ve been on this planet for over a quarter of a century (this is how I make my age sound cool), I’ve moved continents twice, lived in five cities and three countries in seven years. I’ve worked over 60 hours a week and barely earned enough money to make rent. I’ve had an amazing work days where I’ve felt fulfilled and accomplished, like my life had a purpose.

Here’s the thing though. No job can replace a friend, a loved one, a family member, a significiant other, a week of vacation in a new country with your oldest friends. Pouring ALL your energy, hopes and dreams into a job is not healthy. I’m an all in kind of girl, and I didn’t know any better. I was eighteen when I got the idea that a job could and should be my whole life.

It shouldn’t.

Your life is your friends, your family, your loved ones, your new experiences, your night out until 5am speaking to random strangers, your sleepless nights reading a book, your horrible-tasting cupcakes, your favorite restaurant, your cheap flight home for the holidays, your roommates who became your family.

I used to think work should be my whole world. I realized I was wrong. Work isn’t my world anymore — it’s just part of it. A big one, albeit, and one that matters a whole lot. But it’s no longer the sun around which my entire universe revolves. I’m a lot happier for it.

Now there is space in my head for other interests, there’s energy in me for new passions and discoveries.

I’m open and ready. Life can come to me. Or better yet, I’ll chase it down myself.

Being Erika: TV review

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Being Erica is one of my Netflix miracles.

I was in the mood for something light and fun, and that’s how I stumbled into an amazing gem of a show.

Being Erica tells the story of thirty-year-old Erica whose life is a disaster, from her non-existent career to her messy love life.  She just got fired from her job at a call center when she meets Dr. Tom, who offers his help to her. Turns out Dr. Tom has the ability to send Erica back in time to change her deepest regrets. But in the end, the past doesn’t matter so much as the present: going back in time gives Erica a chance to learn about who she is and who wants to be in the present, and she slowly but surely builds a life for herself — the life she’s always wanted.

This show has so much heart, it burts at the seam of every episode. Where most dramas will skim over emotional issues and use cheap twists to excuse poor behavior, or grand gestures to pardon it, Being Erica digs at the heart of those issues to get the why and the how or human nature. Erica herself doesn’t know who she is when we first meet her, but that becomes clearer with every episode.

One of my favorite things about the show is that it’s not afraid of change, much like its main character. Every season of the show throws new challenges at Erica, and sees her embrace new loves and leave behind ones that no longer belong in her life.

I know it’s the way of Canadian shows, but I can’t believe I’d never heard of the show until I found it on Netflix. I already know I’ll be coming back to it many times in the future – when I need cheering up, when I need a good distraction, but also when I need to believe in myself again.

The Three Wise Kings’ Almond Pie (Frangipane)

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This is a traditional French dessert celebrating the arrival of the Three Wise Kings.

If any of you have are almond croissant lovers, this will be a dream come true.

Speaking of dreams…

Once upon a time, I used to live in a city full of freeways, horrible traffic and perpetual nice weather (that’s Los Angeles, if that isn’t obvious). I had an adorable studio apartment in Los Feliz with tons of coffee places and restaurants within walking distance (an absolute luxury in that city).

There was a tiny cafe down the street owned by a bunch of Armenian ladies. It was literally a counter full of baked goods and four tiny tables with two chairs each. I was sipping my second coffee of the afternoon on a random Tuesday when I looked up from my laptop and never-ending graduate thesis and stared straight into the impossibly blue eyes of Ryan Gosling.

Yup, that’s right.

You know that scene in Crazy Stupid Love where Emma Stone’s character asks Gosling’s character to take his shirt off, sees his six (eight?) pack, and goes, “Fuck, seriously? It’s like you’re photoshopped!” THAT is how pretty he is. (No, he did not take his shirt of in the cafe. Much to my disappointment).

So now every time I eat something involving almonds and pastry puff, I think back to Gosling’s blue, blue eyes and smile to myself.

You’re welcome for the visual.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 20-30 minutes

Servings: 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 2 puff pastry crusts
  • 140g of ground almonds
  • 100g of granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 60g of softened butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon of dark rum or almond extract

Steps:

  • Set one of the pastry puff crusts in the pan. Stab the bottom of the crust with a fork a dozen time — this will allow the bottom of the pie to cook more thoroughly.
  • In a bowl, combine the almond powder, the granulated sugar, two eggs, the softened butter and the rum or almond extract.
  • Pour the filling in the pan.
  • Set the second pastry puff crust over the pie. Merge the sides.
  • You can carve patterns on the pie with a knife.
  • Brush egg york over the pie.
  • Bake the pie for 20-30 minutes at 200°C/390°F.

Christmas Cookies

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I love Christmas time. I love the cheer, the music, children’s perpetual state of excitement, having an excuse to dress up, staying warm inside, and ending the year with a little magic in our eyes.

The one thing I hate? Buying presents for people who are at an age where they don’t need anything in particular. The very idea of buying someone a present they will never use despairs me.

Let’s be honest: my Christmas budget over the last two years has basically been non-existent. So I decided to be a little creative with my gift-making.

As the picture illustrates, I’ve baked Christmas cookies, decorated them, packed them up in nice cookie bags, tied them with shiny ribbons, and placed those in crafts bags I decorated myself. 8-10 bags usually cost me around 40-60 euros, between the craft material and the baking ingredients.

There’s something so nice about giving people homemade presents. Especially when they’re edible.

The recipes I used this year are:

- For the chocolate cookies: The Jeweled Heart Sugar Cookies recipe from Sprinkle Bakes

- For the colorful sugar cookies: The Allsorts Sugar Cookies recipe from Sprinkle Bakes