-Beat the egg whites until they are thick and fluffy. Add salt and continue beating until they’re very stiff. One by one, beating as you go, add the egg yolks until they’re all blended.

-In another bowl, stir together the ground almonds, sugar, baking powder and flour. While beating on low speed, add this mixture to the eggs. Add the brandy and almond extract, beating only enough to incorporate them. Pour batter into the pan.

-Bake in the middle of the oven about 75 minutes (convection ovens may cook faster) until cake springs back to light touch. Let cake totally cool in the pan before removing it. Like fruitcake, this can be stored for a long time in a cool, dry place that is NOT a refrigerator.

Italian Wedding Soup

italian wedding soup

This seems to be an Italian–American tradition based on a mistaken translation of its original name: minestra maritata, married soup: the union of meat and vegetables. It resembles German hochzeitsuppe, “wedding soup,” which is very traditional but heavier and harder to prepare because along with homemade meatballs and egg noodles, it needs white asparagus tips and bite-sized squares of fresh egg custard.

Serves 12

1½ lbs ground pork (sausage meat is best) and/or beef (you can blend)
1 cup dry bread crumbs
6 large eggs
1 cup grated Romano or Pecorino cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
2 onions, peeled and diced (yellow preferred)
9 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and minced
3 celery stalks, finely diced
4 qts (1 gal) chicken stock
1½ cups small pasta (orzo, tubetini, ditalini, stars)
1 lb escarole torn into bite-sized pieces

-Combine ground meat, breadcrumbs, 2 eggs, half the two cheeses, oregano, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix thoroughly and make 1” meatballs.

-In large skillet, heat ¼ cup olive oil over medium heat. Add a single layer of meatballs (you may have to do this in batches) and brown them all over, turning as they cook 3 to 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

-In a large soup pot, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, carrot and celery. Sauté 5 minutes until soft. Do not brown or burn. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.

-Add escarole, cover pot, reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes. Add the pasta and meatballs and continue to cook 10 minutes.

- Combine remaining 4 eggs and cheeses in small bowl, blending with a fork. Don’t whisk. Slowly pour this mixture into the hot soup, stirring constantly so it forms wisps, not lumps. Cover pot again and simmer only until the egg wisps are set, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and black pepper and serve immediately in a shallow bowl.

Groom’s Cake

grooms cake

This fruitcake recipe comes from a 1940s American cookbook where it’s accompanied by a shorter, simpler recipe for Bride’s Cake.

Makes 5 lbs of cake, which serves at least 40 people.

1 cup shortening (today we’d use butter but you can use Crisco)
1 cup granulated white sugar
5 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose unbleached white flour
1 tsp salt
1½ tsp baking powder
1/4 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
¼ lb candied citron pieces, non-candied is okay too (citron is the mother of lemon)
½ cup each minced orange peel, lemon peel, and candied cherries
½ cup each chopped dried pitted dates, apricots and figs
½ lb white raisins
½ lb sweetened shredded coconut
2 cups blanched, slivered almonds
1 cup candied pineapple, if you can find it these days. No worries if you can’t.

The Groom’s Cake can be made either in 3½”x 7½” loaf pans or graduated sizes (6,8,10”) of layer cake pans, which is how the Bride’s Cake is made. Whichever you choose, line the pans with parchment paper and lightly grease it.

Preheat oven to 275º.

Cream shortening and sugar. One by one add the eggs beating as you go.

In a small bowl, mix 1½ cups flour with salt and baking powder.

Add this to the batter, alternating it with the pineapple juice, beating so everything blends.

-Coat the dried and candied fruits in the remaining ½ cup flour by shaking everything together in a plastic bag. Add fruits, coconut and almonds to the batter and stir with a wooden spoon to blend them in.

-Divide the batter evenly between the pans and bake 2½ hours at 275º.

To serve, strew the assembled cake with roasted almonds, candied citron and cherries.