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Melting Pot Meatballs

melting pot Metballs

Spaghetti & meatballs has always been high on my lust of comfort foods. It’s one of the many dishes I would watch my mom make for us growing up. It wasn’t a natural in her repertoire. Influenced by her Italian next-door-neighbor? Maybe. But more likely, she was responding to the clamoring of her little Yankee (yours truly).

Years ago I began adding diced zucchini to the sauce for my own version of meatballs and spaghetti. It added richness plus rounded the dish out with the added veggie.

The French begin so many savory dishes with a mirepoix. This simply means sauteing chopped onion, carrots and celery for the base of all manner of soups, stews and sauces. Why not? I’ll do it too.

a mirepoix

a mirepoix

From there, the idea just evolved. What vegetables do I want in this batch? That’s the way we operate in the bb kitchen. Variety is the spice of life, so they say. Did I hear someone say, “Who’s they?” You know, they.

veggies on hand

Then I met a physical therapist from Mexico City. While she was pulling my legs and stretching me, we discussed (one guess… ) cooking. She told me that she learned from her mom to always stick a cinnamon stick into whatever she was cooking that had tomato sauce. It adds a layer of complexity and depth to the sauce that once you taste, you won’t ever want to make any other way. Hmmm, must remember I thought. And remember I did. And if you don’t have a cinnamon stick, add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon along with the cumin in the beginning.


For the binding agent, use fresh bread crumbs.

fresh bread crumbs

fresh bread crumbs

Or grab some leftover Challah or egg bread, tear into chunks, place in a small bowl and pour hot water over it. Let it soak for ten minutes.

soaked Challah

soaked Challah

Then squeeze it dry and using your fingers, pull it apart over the meat mixture.

softened bread in meat mixture

softened bread in meat mixture

Throw some chopped parsley in, if you like. Mix it up well to incorporate. Hands work best for this activity.

meatball mix

For the ground meat, I long ago realized that ground turkey can be swapped out for beef to bring the fat content down. But you can also try ground chicken. It works especially well with the soaked bread version.

Make smallish meatballs and quickly brown them for a few minutes on each side in hot oil.


browned meatballs

From Morocco, the cumin

From Mexico, the cinnamon

From France, the mirepoix, the classic base of onion, celery and carrot

From the Mediterranean, the classic vegetables and herbsmeatballs in dauce

A dish with melt-in-your-mouth savory flavors in every bite. For dinner at home, in the Sukkah, or to take to someone else’s home… Go ahead, pull out what you have in your veggie bin and feed your friends and family one memorable meal.

meatballs and veggies

Melting Pot Meatballs


1 lb. ground turkey (ground  chicken or beef can also be used)
1 egg
4 T. fresh bread crumbs or about 1/2 c. torn pieces of Challah or egg bread
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 T. chopped Italian parsley
4 T. olive oil
1 t. cumin
1/2  t. oregano
1 cinnamon stick or 1/2 t. cinnamon
1 stalk celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
2 zucchini, cut lengthwise and sliced
1/2 lb. mushrooms, quartered, optional
1 small eggplant, cubed, optional
28 oz. tomatoes, crushed or whole and cut-up
8 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 c. red wine
2 T. tomato paste
salt & pepper


Make the meatball mixture by combining the ground meat, 1/4 of the chopped onion, 1 minced garlic clove, Italian parsley and salt and pepper. Add fresh bead crumbs. Or take about 1/2 cup or 2 slices of Challah or egg bread, pour hot water over it in a small bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. Squeeze the water out and pull it apart over the meat mixture. Stir well to combine.

Heat a large deep skillet or Dutch oven. Add 2 T. olive oil to heat through. Form the ground meat mixture into small meatballs (about 18-20) and briefly brown on both sides. Remove to platter and set aside.

Scrape all the bits to the sides of the skillet or pot and add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Add the cumin, oregano, and ground cinnamon (if not using a cinnamon stick) and quickly cook for a half-minute. Add the remaining chopped onion, celery and carrots and cook for 5 minutes until softened. Add the remaining 3 cloves of chopped garlic and cook for another minute. Add the remaining vegetables, depending on what you’re using – diced peppers, diced zucchini, quartered mushrooms, diced eggplant. Saute for 10 minutes.

Return the meatballs to the pot, arranging them over the vegetables. Pour the large can of tomatoes over, along with the sauce,  wine and tomato paste. Add cinnamon stick if using. Bring up to a boil and then down to a gentle simmer. Cook, with lid askew, for 30-40 minutes, until all the veggies are tender.

Make this dish a day or two ahead of time.It only gets gets better with re-heating. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Serve over rice, Israeli couscous, or of course, your favorite pasta, including spaghetti!

meatballs and spaghetti

Serves 8

Melting Pot Meatballs

Easy Stone Fruit Cobbler

super quick stone fruit cobbler

Dairy or Dairy-Free Version, here’s a sure-to-please peach cobbler for the late-season peaches that are rolling in right now. I got a request from ever-practical Lulu who informed me that there were a few-too-many peaches sitting on her counter. She needs to do something before they turn from the luscious phase to the I’m-not-liking-the-way-this-is-tasting phase.


I was given the followed list of pre-requisites:

  • No pastry making (Lulu, who are you talking to? I rarely  go down that road)
  • No multiple steps
  • No  buscuit-y shortcakes
  • Dairy-Free
  • Cake-y texture

The request was so earnest, I had to respond immediately. I wanted to do this:

cut-up peaches

But all I had was this:

stone fruitA stone-fruit trio: peach, white nectarine & pluot

Yes, a pluot. That’s the little green guy hiding in the back. A pluot is generally a mix between a plum  and an apricot. There are many varieties in shades ranging from burgundy to pale red to green. And sometimes peaches or cherries are added to the crossing-over and mixing-up. Very scientific of me, I know.

My trio gave me just the 2 cups I needed. You don’t need a lot of fruit, two or three and you’re there. I figured I’d taste the fruit to determine how much sugar to add. Cut the stone fruit into slices, then cut in half. No need to peel the fruit. Keep nutrients in and get the pan in the oven that much quicker.

two cups cut-up fruit

And on to the recipe. Here’s what I came up with…. I’ve seen recipes where butter is melted in the baking pan and the batter is poured into the pan over it. It results in a well-defined bottom and sides. To create a dairy-free recipe, I swapped the butter for canola oil and the milk for unsweetened almond milk.

simple almond milk batter

Pour the milk into the dry ingredients for a liquid-y batter. No eggs need apply.

liquidy batter and fruit The fruit is added and into the oven it goes.

baked cobblerIt’s ready when it’s bubbly around the edge and the juices are set.

Stone Fruit Cobbler“Whatever Lulu wants, Lulu gets.”

and the rest of too!

Easy Stone Fruit Cobbler


3 T.  butter or canola oil
3/4 c. flour
1/2 c. +1 T. sugar
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 c. low-fat milk or unsweetened almond milk
2 c.  cut-up unpeeled stone fruit (peaches, plums, nectarines, pluots, or a combo)

NOTE: you can also use:

  • peaches alone, which was my original intent
  • apples
  • berries


Melt butter in a round 8 to 9 inch pan in a 350° oven- don’t brown the butter. Or, if using oil, simply pre-heat oven and swirl oil around in pan.

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt (minus the 1 tablespoon of sugar) in bowl. Whisk in milk. Pour batter into pan without stirring.

Cut unpeeled peaches into slices and cut slices in half. Add fruit and top with remaining tablespoon sugar. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes until bubbly and the top is set.

Let rest for 10 minutes. Enjoy with vanilla ice cream or yogurt.

For dairy free, use coconut milk ice cream or yogurt as a topping.

Note: It’s low enough in sugar, that you can top it with plain yogurt, have it  for breakfast and go take on your day!

Makes 6-8 servings.


Easy Stone Fruit Cobbler


Chocolate Chip Mandelbread

chocolate chip mandelbread

Here we are, dear readers. On the cusp of the Jewish New Year. And life happens. And the curve balls come our way and we still keep putting one foot in front of the other. For me, I keep coming back to the notion of Choosing Life. For all its crazy messiness that it can be. And recognizing the incredible gifts within it.

We may have wanted to make this year the break-out year for introducing all these new versions of beloved dishes when our families gather. But it’s tradition that so many seek this time of year. In the chaotic world that swirls around us , a bit of familiarity is a very good thing.

So to the beloved old faithful recipes we head — the dishes that our family and friends know to look for year after year. Dishes like Lulu’s Apple n’ Honey Cake.

And I can’t think of a better way to Choose Life than to reach for a bag of chocolate chips.

mandelbread batter

If you look very closely, you may notice a few little white bits in there. Turns out I ran out of chocolate chips for this particular batch and had to delve into my white chocolate chip stash. OK, so this batch is not exactly dairy-free. More mandelbread to pack away in the freezer. Novio was very happy to hear of this turn-of-events.

It’s a simple recipe that yields delicious results every time. The only thing you need apart from the usual baking supplies are a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and a couple of juice oranges. If you already have oj in the fridge, use it. We won’t tell – your secret is safe with us.

chocolate chips and oj

Grease your hands lightly to create two long flat loaves from the soft dough.

two logs

Use a sharp knife to cut even slices after the first round of baking.

making mandelbread slices

You don’t need to make any room in between the slices for the second, brief baking.

second baking of mandelbreadThe mandelbread need some time to cool before storing. Caution, if you’re not alone while in this cooling phase. Mandelbread slices have a funny way of getting up and leaving when you’re not looking. Don’t bother trying to find them.

cooling on rack

This recipe from the Kosher Baker is the very first recipe in Paula Shoyer’s terrific volume. A more accurate title for the book could be The Parve Baker. All of her desserts are dairy-free and that is consistent with the kosher law of not serving milk or milk products in the same meal with meat.

Quick, straightforward and delicious. And if all this means you and I have a bit more time to spend with family and friends, and maybe even some room for a little introspection, so much the better.

Chocolate Chip MandelBreadWishing everyone strength, love and peace in the year ahead…

Chocolate Chip Mandelbread

from Paula Shoyer’s The Kosher Baker – I only reduced the sugar and upped the vanilla


3 cups flour
¾ c. sugar
2 t. baking powder
¼ t. salt
1/4 c. orange juice (freshly squeezed is preferable)
3 large eggs
1/2 c. canola or safflower oil
2 t. pure vanilla extract
10 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips (dairy-free)


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large rimmed or jellyroll pan with parchment paper.

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, orange juice, eggs, oil, and vanilla in a large bowl until it forms a soft dough. Add chocolate chips and evenly distribute.

Divide dough in half and shape each loaf into a log. It helps to do this with lightly greased hands. Shape loaves to about 12 inches long and 3 inches wide. Flatten each love slightly with the palm of your hand. Leave a space of about 3 inches between the loaves.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the logs are golden on top. Quickly slide parchment paper and logs off the pan onto the counter. You want to avoid having the bottoms of the logs “sweat” as that will overly soften them. Slice each loaf crosswise into ¾ to 1-inch slices (a size that’s pleasing to you).

Place new piece of parchment on the pan and lay the sliced mandelbread on the parchment, cut-side down. There do not need to be spaces between the slices. Return pan to the oven and bake for 5 minutes more. Remove slices onto a cooling rack until cooled.

Place in an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 5 days. They keep very well in plastic containers or ziploc bags in the freezer for up to 3 months. Do not divulge their whereabouts to anyone.

Makes about 30 pieces.

Choc Chip MBread


Warm Roasted Veggie Salad

Warm Roasted Veggie Salad

I know I’ve talked about this before and I want to talk about it again… leftovers. I love leftovers. I don’t even call them that. I call them holdovers. I’ll make more of something that I need for that evening’s meal so that I can either have it again or create another meal with it.

When I roast veggies, and I roast veggies all the time, I always make more than I need. For a classic Mediterranean mix, grab some eggplant, zucchini, red onion and peppers.

roasted  Mediterranean veggies

Toss with olive oil and season well with salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin and oregano.

roasting veggiesroasting eggplantHey man, we need some space

If you see that your veggies are getting crowded, as with the eggplant above, grab another pan and distribute. Veggies always roast better when they’re not bumping into each other. No sweat if you  line the plans with foil. It’s super-easy to clean up.

I use roasted veggies throughout the week as a side dish with fish or chicken. Or with scrambled eggs. Or tucked into an omelet or a frittata. Eggs poached over roasted veggies, moistened with a bit of tomato sauce, are oh-so-good.

A roasted veggie mix

And for a terrific, quick and satisfying meal, I’ll do a beautiful composed salad featuring warmed-up roasted veggies on a bed of greens to which I almost always add sliced green onions and cucumbers.


On top I’ll layer the warmed roasted vegetables, whether Mediterranean-style, a single veggie like carrots, potatoes or mushrooms, or a cauliflower medley. Click here for my bb recipe for Roasted Cauliflower Medley and Tips for Roasting Veggies. .

veggies over greens

Top it with crumbled goat cheese or sliced chicken held over from an earlier meal. And I’ll top that with toasted pine nuts or chopped nuts such as walnuts or pistachios

greens with goat heese and pine nuts

Voila! You’ve got a winner that will soon become one of your go-to meals when you don’t feel like cooking. This is assembling in the best and healthiest sense of the word. And while you’re still firing up that grill, hold on to the veggies that didn’t get eaten so that you can make this salad later. Remember to heat the veggies… the greens will wilt ever-so-slightly and the results will make  everyone happy.

compsed veggie  salad

Warm Roasted Veggie Salad


Roasted Veggies
2 Italian eggplant, sliced lengthwise, and  cut into 1″-chunks
2 zucchini, sliced lengthwise, and cut into 1″-chunks
1 red onion, sliced in half, and each half cut in 3
1 red pepper, cut in wide strips, then halved
2 T. olive oil
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. dried oregano
salt and pepper
4 c. mixed lettuce (I used Romaine and arugula)
1 green onion, sliced
1  Persian cucumber, sliced
2 hearts of Palm, sliced -optional
1 celery stalk, sliced, optional
1 c. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved – optional
1 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. olive oil
salt & pepper
2 T. goat cheese, crumbled (French feta is great too)
1 T. toasted pine nuts


To prepare the roasted veggies:

Pre-heat oven to 400ºF. Line roasting pans with foil. Drizzle pans with olive oil and toss veggies in  oil. Add the seasonings and toss again. Roast for 30-40 minutes, tossing halfway-through. Veggies are done when they are at your desired level of tenderness. (I like them soft… not into the crisp-tender thing.)

To prepare the salad:

Toss greens with cucumbers and green onions.  If you like, include celery and/or hearts of palm. Drizzle with oil and balsamic vinegar. Add a bit of salt and pepper and toss. Arrange on a platter or set up on two plates.

Heat held-over roasted veggies in microwave for 1 minute. Add to the top of the greens.

Crumble goat cheese over the top. To finish, add pine nuts.

Arrange cherry tomato halves around the outside of the plate, if you like.

Serves 2 as a main dish.


A Warm Roasted Veggie Salad


Mocha Ice Cream Pie

MOCHA Ice Cream Pie

No, I am not eating dessert all summer long. OK, I am. But I’m eating other things too. I’m not posting them, that’s all. It’s been an intense month. My mom’s life turned upside-down when a couple of little clots decided to form where they had no business forming. We’re so grateful that her strength is returning and her muscles are coming back. And thankfully she’s eating again…

Anyone ever heard of Graeter’s Ice Cream? If you have, then you’ll know where I was last week. We paid a long-awaited visit to the niece and company in Ohio… with promises to bring back stories and pics of my mom’s first great grandbaby.

Graeter's ice cream

Graeter’s  (click on the link and you’ll be drooling all over the Graeter’s website in no time) is one delicious old-fashioned ice cream company. Whenever we visit the Bee Family, a trip to the Graeter’s ice cream parlor is a non-negotiable item on the to-do list. As I stood on line, I knew what I had to do on this visit to Columbus. Karen wasn’t in LA when I made a Mocha Ice Cream Pie for her mom and grandma for Mother’s Day.

Mother's Day IC  Pie

Seems only right that I should make one for her during the visit. I sent Novio back to the freezer case to pick up a couple of pints. His eyes lit up. A pretty astute fella, he knew what was going on in my noggin.

Any favorite ice cream will do. But listen, stay with a brand that uses the real deal ingredients. Please don’t mess with any ice cream with an extended ingredient list that you can’t pronounce.

Or, if you really want to make an authentically homemade ice cream pie, make the ice cream yourself, like my good friend Bonnie. She’s brought ice-cream to one dinner party too many and now she’s made somewhat of a name for herself. Bonnie  is now the designated ice-cream maker to pretty much every dinner party in her circles.

When it comes to flavors, I’m definitely a traditionalist. You can tell by my list of favorites:

  1. Chocolate & Coffee
  2. Chocolate & Vanilla
  3. Strawberry & Vanilla
  4. Strawberry &  Chocolate
  5. Pistachio & Vanilla
  6. Chocolate Chip & Coffee
  7. Chocolate Chip & Chocolate
  8. Peach & Vanilla
  9. Orange Sorbet & Vanilla… Creamsicle!
  10. Chocolate, Strawberry & Vanilla… triple-decker Neopolitan – Hurray!


Now that we’ve decided on the ice cream choices, it’s time to make a graham cracker crust. I did one in the bb kitchen very recently. Click here to check out the Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake.

graham crackers for crustDoing the cathartic thing with a rolling pin

making a quick crustOne of the quickest crusts to make

softening ice cream

cool crust

ice cream blobIce cream impersonating a frog

coffee over chocolate

smooth ice creamThanks for all the help, Kerri

Two quarts of your favorite ice cream and the crunch of graham crackers….what’s not to like?

ice cream piefree-form designs

abstract art



5 oz. (10 sheets) graham crackers
1 T. sugar
1/4 c. (4T.) canola or safflower oil
1 pint excellent quality chocolate ice cream
1 pint excellent quality coffee ice cream
chocolate syrup for drizzling


Preheat oven to 350º F.

Place graham crackers in ziploc bag and, using a rolling pin, roll back and forth until you have fine crumbs.  If you feel like using the food processor, place the broken up crackers in the processor bowl and pulse until you get fine crumbs.

Mix crumbs with sugar.  Add the oil one tablespoon at a time and stir until mixture holds together. You may only need three of the four tablespoons.

Using the back of a spoon, press the crumb mixture in an even layer on the bottom and about 1″ up the sides of a deep-dish pie pan.

Bake 8 minutes, then let cool completely.

Take chocolate ice cream out of freezer to soften. After 5-10 minutes, plop into a bowl and, using a spatula, stir until the consistency is uniformly soft without being runny.

Spread softened ice cream over cooled crust in an even layer. Freeze until ice cream begins to re-harden.

Meanwhile, remove coffee ice cream from freezer to allow to soften. Follow the procedure above to get the ice cream uniformly soft.

Spread second layer of ice cream over first layer and freeze to set. Drizzle chocolate syrup over the top  in a pleasing pattern.

bb note: Topping possibilities: Caramel syrup, chocolate shavings, sliced almonds, whipped cream… I’m staying very simple with chocolate syrup in this case.

Makes 8 servings. Best to have 4-6 people present when eating. Otherwise, don’t hold me responsible if you end up eating the whole pie in one sitting.

baby beeBaby Bee: Where’s my piece?

Mocha I C Pie 


Cherry Clafouti

Cherry Caflouti

I’m considering changing my name. Novio actually gave me the idea when he titled the video that goes with this post. He named it, “Judy Clafouti” I really like the sound of it. Kind of makes me think of Judy Tenuda, whose unique charm always made me laugh. So, what do you say? Do you think Judy Clafouti suits me? I’ll take a very casual poll, dear readers. Just comment, and let me know what you think. I won’t call in Mr. SurveyMonkey. This will be just a nice little minimalist social media affair. We’ll save blitzes for the future. So for today, Judy Clafouti: Yea or Nay??

My relationship with cherries goes back a ways… specifically bowls of them.

Bowl of Cherries

It’s October 1975 and I’m in a very tough place. All I want to do is have a shot at having a good life and “being just like everyone else”. I don’t’t yet know that being just like everyone else is not exactly something to aspire to. But when you’re a teen and your peers are experiencing proper teen angst and your angst is about the struggles of a whole different nature… well, maybe you get the drift.

The Chief of Pediatric Nephrology’s office is just down the hall from my room, where I am laying in bed after my body has rejected kidney transplant (Body to Kidney: I don’t like you. I don’t want you. Now go!) No one is in the other bed, so I am left to my thoughts as my mom sits beside me, on watch. I am probably contemplating just how I am going to continue now that a scud missile has torn through my life. Or maybe I’m just intent on getting through the next five minutes.

I see the doctor (we’ll call him The Chief) walking quickly by my room. He stops, pauses and enters.

“You know,” The Chief says, “life isn’t a bowl of cherries. I never said life was going to be a bowl of…”.

I look at him. My goodness. What brought that statement on? My mom glares at him.

“Can I talk with you outside?” she interjects. She exits my room with him.

For the rest of that stay, The Chief never sets foot in my room again.

That long ago incident has not in any way dampened my affection for cherries. In fact, I believe that life can indeed be a bowl of cherries. Maybe not all the time. Cherries do have a very short season.

pitted  cherriespitted cherries

Recently, my Mom hit a period in her own life with lots of pits. But she’s a feisty one, and is working her way through it with care and love and support from all around.

mom bdayadmiring a birthday gift

So for my mom, for the me of long-ago and for all those who know about taking on that bowl, pits and all…. in honor of cherries, we’re going to bake a clafouti. A clafouti?

A clafouti (I like to say the word) is a custardy-cake or a cakey custard.


cherries  first

When Novio and I were in Santa Fe to visit our dear friends Frank and Merle, we decided to bake just that.


After we were all done, Merle remembered baking clafoutis way back when, following a recipe from a book she had kept for years. It was exactly the same but it had double the eggs and milk and more sugar. I tried that version when I returned home. I like it a LOT. Definitely more custard-y. I just have to prepare it both ways, that’s all.

Custardy Cherry Clafouti

Custardy Cherry Clafouti

custardy clafouti

 Now THAT”S what to do with a bowl of cherries. Besides eating them, that is.

cakey cherry clafoutiCakey Clafouti



from Almost Vegetarian by Diane Shaw (I love this unfussy book chock-full of good stuff that I love)


½ c. low fat milk (1% or 2%)
½ c. part-skim ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
1/3 c. sugar
½ c. all-purpose unbleached flour
2 t. pure vanilla extract
2 c. pitted fresh Bing cherries (dark red variety – buy 1 ½ pounds)


Pre-heat oven to 425ºF.

In a food processor or blender, combine the milk, ricotta, eggs, sugar, flour and vanilla and process until smooth.

Pit the cherries, using a paring knife. Cut cherries in half. I buy over a pound and keep cutting until I have two cups. I eat the rest. I suggest you do the same.

Spread the cut-up fruit evenly over the bottom of an 8-inch ovenproof skillet or deep-dish pie plate. Pour batter evenly over the top.

Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 30-35 minutes.

Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled, cut into wedges. If you like, consider enjoying it with light whipped cram.

bb note: Enjoy a more custardy clafouti by doubling the amount of eggs and milk (4 eggs and 1 cup milk).  All other ingredients stay the same. Baking time is about 30 minutes until top is puffed and just set.

second bb note: Excellent with 2 cups of diced fresh peaches, blueberries, apples, or pears instead of cherries.

judy clafoutiTo check out the Judy Clafouti  video, click here.

Baked Cherry Caflouti




Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake

Lemon ricotta feature-1

Light and lemony, ahhhh. This baby is  going to be the lightest cheesecake to delight your little taste buds ever. Yes, I said ever. I meant to make it for a group of people for the Jewish festival of Shavuot a few weeks back but ended up having one dear friend over instead. It did not go to waste. Oh no, au contraire, we were 3 very happy campers. Novio, who loves a dense New York-style cheesecake, even agrees that this is an absolutely delicious cheesecake and he would like me to make it more often.

This light and breezy cheesecake (breezy? for  a cheesecake? yes! I stand by my adjectives!) is great for a summertime dessert and for those of  you celebrating July 4th,  it’s the perfect Independence Day dessert. Just circle the top of the cheesecake with alternating raspberries and blueberries. And poof! You have red, white and blue to honor the US of A.

Hanni, who is on a major ricotta kick, specifically requested that  I post this as absolutely soon as possible. So here I am, reporting for duty.

I adapted this recipe from Faye Levy’s Low Fat Jewish Cookbook.  My copy, whose body has torn away from the binding, is testament to how often I have gone back to it.  Faye Levy has published many books in the 15+ years since this has been published, but I know a good recipe when I see one.  This volume takes the cake (pun intended).

It used to be called lemon rind. These days, it’s typically referred to as lemon zest. In any case, you know the deal. Use the yellow part only. That’s sweet and fragrant. Leave the bitter white pith behind. Nice metaphor.

lemon zesl

 Phase One

cheese mixture in baked crust

Hey! It sank! All is well – that will give us room for the topping…
with a border,no less!

sunken cake!

Phase Two – Spoon on the topping and bake again

spooned topping on cake


Lemon Ricotta whole cake


Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake

slightly adapted from Faye Levy’s Low-Fat Jewish Cookbook



5 oz. (10 sheets) graham crackers
1 T. sugar
1/2 t. grated lemon zest
1/4 c. canola or safflower oil or 2 oz. melted butter


1 15-oz. container low-fat ricotta cheese
3/4 c. low-fat sour cream
3/4 c. sugar
2 large eggs, separated
2 T.  all-purpose flour
2 t. grated lemon zest
2 t. lemon juice
1 c. low-fat sour cream


1 c. low-fat sour cream
2  t. sugar
1/2 t. grated lemon zest
1 t. fresh lemon juice
1 t. pure vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350º F.

Place graham crackers in ziploc bag and, using a rolling pin, roll back and forth until you have fine crumbs.  Very cathartic. Or, you can throw the broken up crackers in a food processor and pulse until you get fine crumbs.

Measure 1 1/4 cups crumbs and mix them with the sugar and lemon zest.  Add the oil (or melted butter) and mix well.

Lightly grease a 9″ springform pan.  Using the back of a spoon, press the crumb mixture in an even layer on the bottom and about 1″ up the sides of the pan.

Bake 8 minutes, let cool completely.

To make the filling: beat the ricotta with the sour cream at low speed until smooth.  Gradually beat in the sugar.  Then beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, and add the flour, then the lemon zest, and juice.

Whip egg whites in a second small bowl until stiff.

Fold egg whites unto the cheese mixture. Carefully pour filling into the cool rust.

Bake about 50-55 minutes, or until the top center is just firm, but shakes slightly when you jiggle the pan.  Cracks will form in the top of the cake.

Cool cake 15 minutes and be prepared to see the center sink.  That’s fine.  Now you have room for the topping.

With a small spatula, release any bits of cake from the upper part of the pan into the sunken center.  This will help with cake removal.

Raise oven temperature to 425º F.

Prepare the topping, mix the sour cream, with the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla.  Spoon the topping over the cake in spoonfuls.  Carefully spread the topping in an even layer, without letting it drip over the edge of the pan.

Bake for 10 minutes in the hotter oven.

Cool cake to room temperature.  Remove outer ring of springform pan.  I keep the cake on the springform bottom.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hrs, or overnight before serving.  Makes 12 slices.

bb note: Turn this into the perfect light and delicious July 4 dessert by adding blueberries and raspberries all around the top of the cheesecake.


LIGHT Lemon Ricotta cheesecake

 I’m making this for you soon,  Mom.





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