When I was sixteen, and loved nothing more than a sappy, romantic chick flick, my best friend and I went to see “Autumn in New York”, starring Richard Gere and Winona Ryder. People. I’m telling you right now, worst.movie.ever. Even as a swoony teenager I knew it was insane. I will spare you the synopsis, but rest assured you know exactly how the movie goes whether you have seen it or not. The only spoiler alert I’ll give you is that Winona Ryder’s character suffers from a debilitating heart defect. Oh, and love means never having to say you’re sorry. Actually, I may have that part from a different movie that is actually exactly the same as this one. Whatever. I know you’re picking up what I’m laying down.
There is a hilarious scene in the movie in which Winona’s character and Richard’s character go ice skating at Rockefeller Center. It’s is all well and good until Winona faints from the apparent exertion of slowly skating in a big circle, and Richard gallantly carries her back to his ginormous loft in West Village. They spend the evening having crazy wild sex because he is so romantic for carrying her away from a heart attack.
Riddle me this, Hollywood: How is it possible to faint from the obviously super taxing activity of ice skating, but you suddenly have boundless energy to be up all night doing the yippy skippy with Richard Gere? Come on. Even at sixteen I was rolling my eyes.
The one redeeming part of the movie, however, is a line I carry with me today. Richard’s character is a chef, and in one scene Winona’s character asks him to tell her what he knows about food. He pauses, and then says, “Food is the only beautiful thing that truly nourishes.”
When we talk about beautiful, nourishing food, something like this Orange and Pistachio Ricotta Cake is the perfect example. Ok, it may not be loaded up with all kinds of healthy nutrients (it’s cake, remember?) But it’s lightly sweet and airy, sits beautifully on the plate, and is more than worth the extra steps to assure its success. It’s best made with homemade ricotta that’s been well drained, or high-quality store-bought ricotta. It’s great with coffee and a rainy morning, and you could even eat it after a day of ice skating. Just keep an eye out for Richard Gere storming in to save the day. This cake is good enough on its own.
Orange and Pistachio Ricotta Cake Recipe
- 8 eggs
- ½ cup white sugar
- ¼ cup agave syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup crushed pistachios
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange zest (about two oranges)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest (a little less than an average sized lemon)
- 1 ½ cup fresh ricotta cheese
- 1 ¼ cup almond meal
- 1 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 375*F and grease the sides of a 9” springform pan.
- Separate that egg yolks and egg whites in two different bowls. Combine the yolks, sugar, zest and vanilla and whisk (by hand or with a mixer) until thick and foamy. Fold in the pistachios and set aside.
- Sift together the almond meal, baking powder and sea salt into a mixing bowl. Fold in the ricotta. Add the yolk mixture.
- Beat the egg whites to medium peaks (a little before stiff) and fold half the egg whites into the yolk and almond mixture. Fold until just combined, then add in the rest of the egg whites, folding carefully- you want to get in a lot of air to the batter.
- Pour into the cake tin and bake for 45 minutes or until the top has turned light brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle. When cooled, dust with powdered sugar before serving.