Braised Lamb Ragù Tagliatelle with Castelvetrano Olive and Parsley
This base of this recipe—braised lamb ragu—is a classic starting off point for pasta sauce and can be flavored in myriad ways, depending on the season or occasion. I’m currently pretty obsessed with Castelveltrano olives, so they show up in this rendition, but last year, for winter dinner in LA, I added thyme and persimmons and soon, I want to try a version flavored with orange and basil and finished with yogurt.
For the Lamb Marinade
fresh rosemary or thyme
salt & pepper
2 shanks from pastured lambs
For the Ragu
white or yellow onion, chopped
3-5 garlic cloves, peels and sliced
4 salt-packed anchovy fillets, split and de-spined
1 dry bay leaf
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
1 quart veggie stock, or as needed *Make a quick, but robust veggie stock by simmering carrots, onion, celery, potato, parsley and garlic for a couple hours in a stockpot of water*
1 can or jar of whole tomatoes, crushed
1 sprig rosemary
For Finishing & Saucing and Serving
Castelvetrano Olives, chopped and pitted* (Kalamata, Nicoise, Taggiasche are all fine to sub!) *To quickly pitt olives, smash a few at a time with the back of a chef’s knife The pitt easily separates from the olive flesh.
Italian Parsley, chopped
Fresh Mint, chopped
good olive oil
Fresh flat-noodle pasta, like tagliatelle, fettuccine or pappardelle.
Marinate lamb for 4 hours up to overnight in marinating mixture
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Heat a couple glugs of good olive oil in a large Dutch or French oven pan, once hot, sear lamb on each side until brown, then set aside.
Add more olive oil and saute chopped onions until soft and translucent. Add sliced garlic and stir for a minute. Add bay leaf and anchovies and a pinch of salt.
Clear an empty spot in the center of the pot and add tomato paste, stirring to caramelize. Add wine and turn up the heat, boil the wine for a few minutes until it reduced by half.
Add tomatoes and stir for a few minutes to meld flavors, and then add the seared lamb. Add stock until all but the top inch of the lamb is submerged. Cover the pot tightly with foil and then a snug lid and put it in the oven for 3 ½ hours, by then the lamb should be falling off the bone. Set aside and let cool, then fork-tear the meat into small pieces, taking care to remove any sinew bits.
To make the ragu, strain the braising liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a large deep-sided fry pan, large enough to toss the sauce along with the cooked pasta. *Save the skins, herbs and tomato flesh that remains—these scraps are delicious served warm alongside meat or fish, or tossed with fresh herbs and spaghetti, they hold up well as a sauce of their own.
Skim the fat off the top, then bring the liquid to a simmer and add in torn lamb pieces.
At this point, freeze or fridge the ragu until you’re ready to serve the finished pasta.
Finished Pasta: bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, bring lamb ragu to a simmer.
Once the pasta is ready, but still al-dente, transfer it and a cup of the pasta water to the ragu pot. Toss the pasta, water and ragu with the chopped olives, parsley, mint. Finally toss with grated pecorino and salt and pepper to taste.
Yogurt Ricotta Blintzes with Meyer Lemon Marmalade
Tangy yogurt and sharp Meyer lemon preserve add some sass to the classic blintze recipe—the Jewish double-fried rendition of stuffed crepes. Though, for a multi-fry situation, these crepes are pretty darn bright and airy. They are also, as my grandmother used to say, “such a bother to make,” so relish every delicious bite.
2/3 cup flour
1 cup milk
½ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of sugar
butter for the pan
1 cup ricotta
3 tablespoons yogurt
Tablespoon powdered sugar
pinch of salt
meyer lemon preserves * make your own by simmering meyers lemons in equal parts water and sugar until the mixture reduces to thick marmalade.
For the crepes
whisk together eggs, flour, milk, sugar, baking powder and salt until smooth. The mixture should be thinner than pancake batter. Set aside for 30 minutes to an hour.
melt butter in a flat-bottomed 8-inch pan. Scoop ¼ cup of batter into the center of the pan and life and swirl the pan to spread the batter out evenly. (I generally call the first attempt a mulligan, while I get my crepe technique down.) Cook on the first side for a minute or so, then flip and cook another minute, until you get nice browning. Then set aside and repeat until you’ve uses all your batter.
For the filling
mix together yogurt, ricotta and powdered sugar
For the Blintzes
Lay out crepes on the countertop, then one at a time, scoop a heaping tablespoon (or 2) of cheese into the center of each. Fold each crepe into a squat rectangular pocket by first folding in one end generously over the filling, then each side and, finally rolling up the exposed end—burrito style.
Heat butter over medium heat in your flat bottomed pan, then fry blintzes for a few minutes on each side, until they are golden brown.
Keep warm in oven until ready to serve with preserved meyer lemons.
Good bread, spread with perfectly ripe avocado and finished with salt is a magical flavor trifecta that needs no additional adornment. But when you eat an avo-toast a day, as all true Californians do, it’s hard not to riff on the form. Today’s (successful) experiment involved adding spicy radish sprouts, fresh lemon and black pepper.
Crusty Bread (Tartine or House of Pain, from Good Eggs)
Ripe Hass Avocados
Sea Salt Flakes
Fresh ground black pepper
lemon, for juicing
Thickly slice country loaf and lightly toast.
Peel and Pit avocado, slice and lay across bread. Use a fork to mash slices into the bread.
Place a tangle of radish sprouts on top.
Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon, salt flakes and fresh black pepper
Last-Minute Party Platter
This Yotam Ottolenghi/Greta Caruso inspired roasted veggie party platter has become a clutch appetizer for last-minute entertaining. The tangle of green bits are Instaworthy and add brightness and brine to the velvety egg yolks and charred veggies. Oh, and even with the best eggs and veggies, it’s still way cheaper than buying fancy cheese and meats!
Veggies for roasting (cauliflower, carrots, broccoli, parsnips)
dill, mint, parsley (any or all of them)
eggs, medium boiled
full-fat greek yogurt
2-4 cloves of garlic, crushed into the yogurt
Heat oven to 425 degrees
Trim and prep veggies: break florets off caulis or brocc, lightly peel carrots or parsnips and bisect lengthwise. (I like to leave a little green at the top, just for styles)
Toss veggies in olive oil and lay on a baking sheet, shake to spread pieces out evenly
Roast for 30 - 45 minutes, until veggies are easy pierced by a fork and there’s some nice dark charring.
remove from oven and immediately sprinkled with good salt and fresh lemon juice
Mash garlic with a mortar and pestle, then mix into yogurt
Soft Boiled Eggs with lemon, caper & herbs
Bring a sauce pan of water to a soft boil
Add eggs and gently boil for 7-8 minutes, then transfer to ice bath * (I use a corkscrew to pierce tiny holes in the shells of the eggs before boiling, to make peeling easier.) * While eggs are boiling, prepare an ice bath.
Let cool, then peel and halve
Squeeze fresh lemon over eggs and sprinkle with chopped herbs and finishing salt flakes. A note about how finishing salt: Maldon salt flakes are like a corrective lense for taste buds. A dusting of this finishing salt, like the layer of curved glass I wear over my eyes, brings soft and dull flavors into vivid, crystal focus.
Heat olive oil in a small fry pan
Once hot, add capers and fry until they shrivel a little and crisp
Assemble all the ingredients on a platter: pile roasted veggies and place eggs, then spoon fried capers over the entire platter and serve the yogurt dipping sauce in a bowl nestled among the food.
Custardy Egg with Fresh Ricotta for 4
The platonic ideal of the egg, the slow-scramble is as luxurious as it is simple. And as long as long as you start with good eggs with velvety golden yolks and are painstakingly patient over the stove, you’ll get a rich, creamy dish of eggy heaven every time.
1 cup of ricotta, room temperature
more butter than you should tell your guests about (3 - 4 good pats)
Beat eggs very well until little bubble form. Add a pinch of salt.
Heat a good pat of butter in a heavy bottomed sauce pan or skillet over low heat—not too big—you don't want too much egg directly touching the bottom of the pan because it will cook too fast and the whole strategy here is slow and low.
Once butter is melted, make sure heat is as low as it will go and pour in eggs
Stir the eggs semi-regularly, until small curdles rise to the top. This can take 10 minutes. (A podcast or reading material is recommended.)
Once the curdles rise to the top, add another pat of butter and keep on doing stirring. As more curdles form and the eggs thicken, you’ll have to start stirring continuously so no eggs stick to the bottom and over cook. (If it happens, don’t worry, the ricotta gives you another shot at custardy creaminess.)
When the egg mixture just begins to hold together as a mass, add a big scoop of fresh ricotta to the egg mixture and fold it into the eggs. **the eggs will still be very wet at this point, they will have just left their liquid-y state. Continue to stir for another minute or two. Then the eggs should be finished. They should still be wet and loose!
Scoop custardy eggs into a shallow serving bowl. Scoop a bit more ricotta on top and finish with a sprinkling of dill sprigs, maldon salt flakes and fresh-ground black pepper.
This not-to-sweet, absurdly easy dessert is a lovely end to a decadent Sunday brunch. it’s also really, really pretty.
really good grapefruits (½ / person)
a handful of granulated sugar
Preheat the broiler
Trim the top and bottom of grapefruit, then cut in half. (trimming the tops and bottoms help to stabilize the fruits as they cook)
Line a baking sheet with foil and place grapefruit halves, leaving a bit of space around each.
shake a spoon of sugar over each and broil until tops begin to caramelize and burn.
serve in individual bowls with knife and spoon.
Purple Power: Roasted Radicchio & Beets
This veggie combination was the happy accident of foraging in my fridge without much of a dinner plan. But, sweet beets along side the bitter radicchio was lovely—the monochromatic elegance was a bonus. I served the roasted veggies atop steamed quinoa with a big dollop of whole-fat plain Greek yogurt.
Radicchio, cored & sliced into wedges
Beets, scrubbed, trimmed & quartered
Red Wine Vinegar, 6-ish glugs
Olive Oil, many glugs
fresh thyme, leaves from a couple sprigs
salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
For the Radicchio
Lay toss radicchio slices with a couple glugs of olive oil and red wine vinegar (3 glugs of olive oil to 1 glug of vinegar), a pinch of thyme leaves, salt and pepper.
Lay radicchio out on ⅔ of a sheet pan, savin a bit of space for the beets.
For the Beets
Lay out a big sheet of foil and pile the prepared beets across the midline. Then, pull up the sides of foil to create a pouch, leaving plenty of extra foil for folding closed.
Fill the pouch with the same ingredients you tossed with the radicchio, making sure that the beets are sitting in a shallow pool of well seasoned oil and vinegar. Fold up the edges of the pouch and seal tightly. (The pouch allows you to steam and roast your beets simultaneously.
Place the pouch of beets on the sheet pan along side the radicchio and roast for about 45 minutes, until beets are soft and radicchio is soft and charred. (The radicchio may finish before the beets, so check on them intermittently.)
Gray Saturday Salad
Equal parts animal fat and crisp veggies, cooked ingredients and raw ones—this salad makes little sense other than it’s exactly what I want at 1PM on a gray Saturday afternoon.
for the salad
kale (lacinato or curly), torn
fennel, trimmed, cored and thinly sliced
medium-boiled eggs, sliced
goat cheese, crumbled
bacon, cut into pieces and fried
For the dressing
salt & pepper
red wine vin
Fry bacon pieces and boil eggs for 8 minutes. Let bacon cool on towels and eggs in an ice bath. Then peel and slice the eggs
Combine all the elements of the salad
Whisk together ingredients for the dressing. (1 part lemon, 1 part red wine vinegar, 3 parts olive oil, a small spoonful of mustard and salt and pepper to taste.)
Toss together and serve.
By the end of the week, there are always miscellaneous bags with the ends of bunches greens and herbs tucked into back corners of crisper drawers, and ends of carelessly wrapped hard cheeses leftover from a dinner party, a photoshoot, a pasta recipe that didn’t require the whole block of parm. The compost calls, but with just a bit more effort, these wilted and sapped ingredients’ will give their last bits of flavor and life to the Sunday Frittata. Here’s the modular recipe that I slot whatever i find into every time I clean out my fridge.
1 cup of yogurt (sour cream or creme fraiche are also great)
heaping handful or two of greens (all of the ends and almost-empty bags of kale, spinach, chard, arugula)
scant handful of chopped fresh herbs (the last sprigs of parsley, dill, cilantro, chervil)
cup-ish grated hard cheese (parm, gruyere, cheddar, pecorino)
couple scoops of fresh cheese (goat or ricotta) optional
butter, olive oil or rendered pork fat
spoon of dijon mustard
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Prepare Egg Mixture: beat eggs with grated cheese, yogurt, chopped herbs, mustard, salt and pepper
Prepare Greens: rinse and tear or roughly chop
Heat a heavy-bottomed pan with your chosen fat over medium heat. Once hot, add greens with a spoonful of water. Stir greens so they are coated with fat and also lightly steam from the steaming water.
Once soft, pour eggs mixture in and use a fork to spread out the greens and herbs evenly.
Cook for 5ish minutes (until the bottom of the frittata is set) and then transfer to oven for 10-15 minutes or until eggs are mostly set, but still slightly jiggly in the center. (Option to add a sprinkling of grated hard cheese to the top of the frittata before it goes into the oven)
Remove from oven, let rest for a few minutes and then dig in. If I’m not hosting brunch, I keep the frittata around for breakfast or lunch throughout the week.
Brunch with The Morrisons: Beet-Cured Gravlax, Red-Wine Pickled Onions & Toast
Beet-stained gravlax is the kind of culinary trick all entertainers need in their back pocket—impressively beautiful, melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and absurdly easy. All you need is a little time to let the salmon cure and a good knife to slice it. Once your gravlax is cured and sliced, it’s a showstopping centerpiece to anchor any brunch spread. For this brunch, we served it with its classic accompaniments—toast, capers and pickled onions—and an herby grain salad to round out the meal.
2 salmon sides
bunch of dill, saving a handful of sprigs for serving
1-2 beets, scrubbed & grated
salt, 1 cup-ish
black pepper, couple big pinches
brown sugar, 2 cups-ish, plush a couple pinches for onions
1 red onion, sliced thinly on a manolin
red wine vinegar, a few glugs
For the Salmon
Rinse salmon and pat dry
Mix together salt, sugar, black pepper and grated beets
Lay out a long piece of plastic wrap over a ½ sheet pan (sheet pan should be big enough to fit a of salmon, but small enough to fit into your fridge & the plastic wrap should drape extensively over the side of the pan). Spoon a bit of the salt-sugar onto the center of the plastic wrap that is covering the pan, then lay one piece of salmon (skin-side down) over the seasoning. Lay the other piece next to it on the extra plastic wrap. Then scoop more seasoning over both salmon sides. Using the back of the spoon, spread it so the salmon is coated everywhere—sides and all!
Lay dill sprigs over the salmon side on the pan and sandwich the other side, flesh-side-down, on top, creating a salmon and dill sandwich. Spoon the remaining beet mix over the top of the salmon sandwich. Then, using the extra plastic wrap, tightly wrap the salmon sandwich, so no air can get inside. (Sometimes, just to make sure the salmon is wrapped extra securely, I will wrap a second, clean piece of plastic wrap around it. If the saran isn’t sticking, no shame is using some tape!)
Leave the salmon in the fridge for 24-36 hours with a heavy weight on top of it. I use a couple of cast iron pans. Flip the salmon every 12 hours or so. (I prefer a lightly cured salmon, so after 24 hours the salmon flesh is just cured, but still supple and sweet.
Once cured, wipe the seasonings off the salmon, pull the skin off and slice thinly.
For the rest of the Gravlax spread
Toss sliced red onion with red wine vinegar, a tablespoon-ish of brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Let sit for at least an hour, up to overnight to pickle red onions.
Serve gravlax with pickled onions, capers, fresh cheese, extra sprigs of dill and toast.
Herby Pink Rice Salad with Red wine Vinaigrette
Pink Rice, steamed and cooled to room temp.
baby arugula or radish sprouts (any wispy green with some kick)
chopped fine herbs (parsley, mint, dill, basil)
3 to 1: Good Olive oil to Red Wine Vinegar
couple squeezes of fresh lemon
The tiniest pinch of sugar
salt and black pepper to taste
Whisk dressing ingredients together
Toss salad ingredients with dressing in a big mixing bowl, making sure you use enough dressing to really flavor the rice.
Transfer salad to something pretty and serve alongside brunch.
Variation of Avocado Toast number 9,999. This one features my favorite Japanese spice blend called furikake—a mixture of nori, sesame, salt and sugar. It turns mild creamy avocado toast into a powerful flavor-splosion that will kickstart your day or anchor a midday meal.
Furikake, a big pinch
Red pepper flakes, a punch
rice wine vinegar, a splash
Thickly slice country loaf and lightly toast.
Peel and Pit avocado, slice and lay across bread. Use a fork to mash slices into the bread.
Sprinkle furikake and red pepper flakes
Finish with a splash of rice wine vinegar
Orecchiette with Orange-Spiced Lamb Meatball
Good orecchiette (fresh is best, but good-quality dry works well too.)
For the Meatballs
1 lb ground lamb
1/2 cup of crumbled, day-old country bread (you can food-process the bread as well, but it’s easy to do by hand)
3 garlic cloves (minced)
zest from 1 large navel orange (microphone or traditional zester is fine)
good pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon of chopped marjoram
1/4 cup grated grana padano or parmesan cheese
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
For the Sauce
2 cloves of garlic, cut into a slices
8 celery hearts, sliced very thin
1/2 cup of chopped parsley, plus a couple extra pinches for finishing
3/4 cup homemade veggie broth (Make your own by simmering carrots, celery, onion, garlic, parsley and potato in a stockpot of water for 3-4 hours and then straining.)
2 loose cups of grated grana padano or parmesan (to taste, for finishing)
olive oil for pan
For the meatballs
Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and then mix well with your hands.
Roll small balls in your hand, (1/2″ to 3/4″ in diameter) and place in a rimmed pan coated with extra virgin olive oil.
Roast in oven for 5 minutes. Set aside until combined with sauce.
For the sauce and finished dish
Heat a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over a low flame in a sauté pan. Add garlic slices and let sizzle until the moment it starts to brown, then use a slotted spoon to remove the garlic and discard.
Turn up the heat to medium, add the celery and parsley and cook until the celery is translucent. Once the celery is cooked, turn down the heat to low, add in 3/4 of the stock and the meatballs. Stir the mixture occasionally and allow the liquid to reduce to about half. This takes approximately 15 minutes.
While the sauce is reducing, cook your orecchiette. Make sure the water is well salted and you don’t overcook the pasta.
Once the sauce has reduced, add the cooked pasta and toss together. Add a handful or two of grated grana padano or parmesan cheese and another big pinch of chopped parsley. Serve immediately.
The Simplest Blueberry Galette
With it’s hand-formed crust and irregular shape, the galette is the rustic, romantic answer to the folksy American pie. The buttery, flaky dough is an excellent vehicle for sweet peak-season soft fruits—here I used blueberries, but nectarines, peaches, other berries all work equally well.
For the Dough
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup sugar
½ pound unsalted butter, cold & cubed (2 sticks)
4 Tbsp ice water
For the Filling
2 pints of blueberries (an equivalent amount of any soft, seasonal fruit works here)
3 Tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice (juice from approx 2 lemons)
A few good pinches of granulated sugar, more for dusting the crust
a splash of cream for brushing the crust
For the Dough
Place all ingredients, except the water, in a food processor with the metal blade attached. Pulse until the mixture becomes a coarse meal (It'll look like irregular couscous).
Once the meal has formed, keep processing and add the water. The dough will come together quickly.
Remove, form into a thick disk, wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge for at least an hour. **I also often buy good store-bought dough from trusted bakeries. No shame in the shortcut.**
Once the dough is chilled, roll it out on a baking sheet lined with parchment, it should be about 1/8th of an inch thick.
For the Galette
Toss berries with lemon juice and sugar *If using another fruit, slice fruit before tossing.
Spoon fruit mixture onto the rolled out dough, leaving a few inches around the edge to fold over into a crust. Use a tuck-and-fold method to create a thick edge to contain your galette. And if it tears or isn’t perfectly symmetrical, don’t worry, galettes are supposed to be imperfect and rustic.
Freeze the galette for 15 minutes before cooking. (this will help the crust become extra flakey.)
Brush the edges of the dough with cream, sprinkle with sugar and bake for 35 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and continue to back for another 10 to 25 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the fruit is just beginning to ooze
Serve with fresh cream or vanilla ice cream
Chocolate Covered Matzah with Candied Kumquats & Coconut
I made this recipe a few seders back—it was a HIT. Candied kumquats add a zesty seasonal tough and the coconut version recalls a mounds bar (in the best way!). The recipe was such a hit with my crew, I shared the recipe on Design Sponge and Martha Stewart picked it up the following year.
For the Matzah
2 bags of semisweet chocolate, melted in a double boiler
1 box of salted matzah
For the Candied Kumquats
1 cup kumquats, sliced very thin
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
For the Coconut Filling & Garnish
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup coconut oil, softened
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
A handful of shaved coconut
For the Kumquat Versions
Bring sugar and water to a boil in shallow sauté pan, stirring constantly until sugar is totally incorporated. Reduce to a simmer.
Add kumquat slices in a single layer. Cook on low heat for 40 minutes or until the whites of the fruit become translucent.
Remove and let cool on a rack.
Spread a thin layer of chocolate onto two matzot using a spatula or icing knife.
Arrange candied kumquats over the chocolate.
Let set and cool for a few hours or overnight.
Use a sharp knife to cut into ninths.
For the Coconut Version
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spread coconut flakes over a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Set aside.
Mix remaining ingredients together and spread on a baking sheet
Bake for 20 minutes at 300ºF or until the edges begin to brown
Use a spatula to fold gooey coconut into melted chocolate, then spread onto two matzot.
Sprinkle the coconut-shaving garnish over the chocolate before it sets, then cut into ninths.
Mixed Berry Dutch Baby
Dutch Babies look impressive with their dramatic, Frank Gehry-style peaks and puffs, but luckily the oven does all of the architectural heavy lifting for these baked pancakes. This rendition showcases berries, but the mild pastry is also delicious served with maple syrup and butter or fresh ricotta and lemon.
For the Dutch Baby
2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup all purpose flour.
good pinch of sugar
good pinch of salt
3 tablespoons butter
For the Berries
A handful of blueberries
A handful of strawberries, quartered
A spoonful of sugar
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Toss together blueberries, strawberries and sugar. Let sit and mascerate until your pancake is ready.
Whisk together eggs, whole milk, all-purpose flour and good pinches of sugar and salt.
Melt butter in a 10-inch oven-proof skillet over medium heat, pour in the batter and pop into your heated oven. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the edges of the pancake creep up the sides of your pan.
Spoon macerated berries over the center of the pancake and serve immediately
I’ve made the base of this light Italian breakfast cake many times. In the winter I top it with candied meyer lemon, in spring with fresh strawberries and in the summer with blackberries, as I did here. The rich, lightly savory ricotta is a welcoming pair for sweet seasonal fruits and fresh cream.
For the Berries & Sauce
2 cartons of blackberries
2 cups of medium- to full-bodied red wine
1 1/2 cups of sugar (1 cup for macerating and 1/2 cup to help thicken the caramel)
couple sprigs of fresh thyme
1 teaspoon of black peppercorns
For the Cake
3/4 cup softened butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
zest from 2 large lemons (Meyer if you can get them)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs, separated, whites beaten until stiff peaks form
1 cup full-fat ricotta cheese (If you can get your hands on fresh ricotta, you will taste the difference.)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
powdered sugar for dusting
dash of salt
For the Berries & Sauce
To macerate the berries, combine all the ingredients in a bowl (save for 1/2 cup of sugar), toss together with your hands to keep the delicate berries intact, cover and refrigerate overnight.
Once macerated, carefully remove the blackberries with a spoon or your fingers, taking care to not smash them. Set aside.
Strain the wine liquid into a saucepan, making sure to remove all the peppercorns.
Add the thyme back into the pot with the 1/2 cup of sugar you set aside. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring in the extra sugar until it dissolves. Then turn down the heat so the mixture is just simmering.
Allow to simmer and thicken for 30 minutes or until the mixture is syrupy — it should begin to stick to the back of a metal spoon. Let cool.
For the Ricotta Cake
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and butter an 8-inch springform pan.
Using a wooden spoon or a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Then add the ricotta, vanilla, lemon zest and egg yolks.
In a separate bowl, combine and mix the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and combine until well integrated. Then fold in the egg whites.
Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and the sides and top of the cake are beginning to turn golden brown. Unmold and let cool.
Use a strainer to dust the cake with powdered sugar. Then arrange the blackberries on top of the cake. (I like to pile them in the center, leaving a rim of the powdered sugar showing.)
Serve with the red wine sauce so guests can pour as much as they’d like.