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In 1976, as a relatively new bride, my mother (Veronica) signed up for a series of cooking classes run by a local cookware store near my parents' house in Connecticut. Up until that point, she'd taught herself pretty much everything she knew about cooking, by experimenting with recipes from her subscription to Gourmet and various cookbooks. But she had never really learned the basics. So, off she went for 3 hours every Wednesday afternoon, to master soups, baking and -- most importantly -- the art of the Cold Buffet.
My mother felt much more confident after these classes, and she's been a great cook ever since. As she put it, the classes "opened the door" to a whole new world of improvisation in the kitchen. One of the dishes she learned in the Cold Buffet class in particular stuck with her: a coeur a la creme with strawberries, which she made frequently for Easter while I was growing up. Several years ago, she gave me the recipe, and I now make it regularly. This year, my mother made a coeur a la creme and brought it when she and my father came to our apartment for Easter dinner. We sat around the table, filling our spoons with drifts of the snowy white, barely sweet dessert, and life was good.
Coeur a la Creme with Strawberries
Adapted from a cooking school in Weston, CT, via Veronica
Serves 6 to 8
- 8 ounces ricotta
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
- 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 pint fresh strawberries
- 1-2 tablespoons granulated sugar