Make roasted strawberries and whipped ricotta ahead to heap onto slices of sourdough toast Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at or 504-0545.

One of my daughters suggested having one of our occasional jazz brunches on Easter and I thought it was a fine idea. While planning the menu, I decided these two recipes each deserved a spot.

Roasting strawberries in the oven really deepens their flavor and practically turns them into candy. To make these special toasts, just spoon them atop whipped ricotta, then add a drizzle of honey, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a few mint leaves. If you’d rather, try a bit of balsamic vinegar or basil leaves with freshly ground pepper. I’m sure you’ll come up with your own combinations. Served with fluffy scrambled eggs, this will become a favorite for more Sunday brunches. And don’t forget, these toasts can also be served as a quick snack, appetizer or even a dessert any time.

There is so much that you can do with this cake recipe that it’s mind-blowing. Swap the vegetable oil for olive oil or replace a few tablespoons of either of these with coconut oil if you prefer.

You can also use any citrus fruit – grapefruit, oranges, tangerines – and any berry. Or instead of berries, how about 1/3 cup poppy seeds or 1/2 cup toasted chopped nuts? If you’re a lemon purist, then you don’t have to add anything.

And if that isn’t enough flexibility for you, know that this recipe will also yield about 12 standard-size muffins. The recipe can also be doubled and baked in a Bundt pan, or in an 8-inch square or 9-inch round pan, to create a thin cake (about 1 1/2 inches tall). Just remember to butter and flour those pans well and adjust the baking time accordingly.

Enjoy your Easter weekend.


Toast with roasted strawberries and whipped ricotta

1 pound strawberries, stems removed and cut in half

1 cup full-fat ricotta cheese

1 tablespoon honey, plus more for drizzling

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon olive oil


4 slices sourdough bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Spread out the strawberries in a single layer, flat side down, on the lined baking sheet. Roast for 25-28 minutes, until very tender and juices are releasing. Transfer to a bowl.

While the strawberries roast, place ricotta cheese, honey, lemon zest and salt in a food processor or bowl (if using a handheld mixer). Blend for about 30 seconds until ricotta is smooth and creamy, scraping down the bowl if needed. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, continuing to blend until oil is incorporated.

Toast bread then spread a generous dollop of whipped ricotta onto each piece. Add a few spoonfuls of roasted strawberries on top, then drizzle each piece of toast with honey.

Yield: 4 servings


Lemon yogurt cake

1 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt

1 cup sugar

3 extra-large eggs


2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (approximately 2 lemons)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, no need to thaw, rolled around in 1 tablespoon flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8 1/2-by-4 1/4-by-2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper, then butter and flour the paper.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.


In another bowl, whisk together yogurt, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and oil. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Gently fold the flour-dusted blueberries into the batter.

Spoon batter into prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before flipping out onto a cooling rack. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the glaze over the cake and allow it to soak in, using a pastry brush to evenly coat the cake. Use a toothpick to make tiny holes all over the surface of the cake to draw the syrup in. Cool.

Yield: 8 servings


1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon sugar

Cook lemon juice and sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear.

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