My friend Aaron’s mother Ruth is a fantastic woman and an amazing cook. Boston would have been a grayer place without knowing her.
Ruth’s kitchen, about one quarter of the first floor of the cute little house she shared with her husband in a Boston suburb, was painted white and accented with art from her former home in New Mexico. It was kept very clean but still felt warm and inviting. The meals she prepared were full of fresh foods from a local market and simple flavors that complemented each other well. Her appreciation for clean lines and tools was apparent in everything she made in the kitchen.
Ruth made me feel welcome from the start. She welcomed me to family get togethers, and when her husband Irving, a professor at BU, had colleagues or post doc students over I was invited as well. Intellectual discussion and good food were a large part of my life in Boston thanks to her hospitality, and I looked forward to those evenings.
Being from New Mexico, Ruth and her family had a special affinity for chilis. The backyard was studded with chili plants- something they missed from New Mexico- and when they were ripe we seeded them and roasted them on the grill. Delicious! I gained new appreciation for huevos rancheros, prepared with chilis that they brought back frozen from their trips back to Los Alamos to visit friends.
My favorite recipe was for an almond cake that Ruth made for company. Either at the end of a delicious brunch or a wonderful dinner, this cake stood out and eveyone always exclaimed over it. When Ruth gave me the recipe I almost cried- that she would share that with me was indescribable!
Recently I prepared the cake for some friends and was amazed at how simple it was to make. And how great the response was to it! It’s delicious in spring and summer, the light almond flavor is particularly delicious with fresh fruit or with a glaze of warm jam.
Ruth’s Almond Cake
Serves 8 if you are generous, twice that if you are stingy!
7oz Odense almond paste
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
1 tbspn kirsh
1/4 tsp almond extract OR grated lemon peel
1/4 cup flour
1/3 tsp baking powder
- Prehead the oven to 350F.
- Blend the first 3 ingredients well.
- Beat in the eggs, kirsh and extract OR lemon peel.
- Gently blend in the flour and baking powder, just until mixed. Be careful not to overbeat!
- Pour into a buttered and floured 8″ cake pan.
- For an 8″ metal pan, 40 minutes should do it- the cake will be moist and slightly dense. In a 9″ pan, think 35 minutes.
For the top I warmed some strawberry preserves and spread very thinly on top, then decorated with almonds and served with a strawberry garnish.
Simple and delicious.