Cook’s Corner

Strawberries and whipped cream grace homemade sponge cake



Sweet Chili Dip

8-ounce package cream cheese

1 cup bottled sweet chili sauce

Chips or crudities for dipping

Unwrap the the cream cheese and place on a plate with a shallow rim. Pour the chili sauce on top and serve. Makes 16 servings.

Source: Adapted by Linda Cicero from a recipe by Philadelphia Brand.

Per serving: 82 calories (63 percent from fat), 4.8 g fat (2.7 g saturated, 1.2 g monounsaturated), 16 mg cholesterol, 0.8 g protein, 5.7 g carbohydrate, 0 fiber, 174 mg sodium.


Strawberry Cream Cake

For the sponge cake:

6 eggs, separated

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

3/4 cup flour

6 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

For the simple syrup:

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons Cognac or Grand Marnier

For filling and frosting:

2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 quart fresh strawberries, sliced

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Beat egg whites till stiff but not dry; set aside.

Beat egg yolks with confectioners’ sugar till thick and lemon-colored. Sift flour with cornstarch and baking powder, and beat into egg yolks. Fold whites into yolk mixture.

Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake 40 to 45 minutes. Turn out onto wired racks to cool.

To make syrup, combine water and sugar in a small saucepan; cook over medium heat till sugar is dissolved. Stir in liquor. Set aside.

To make filling, whip cream until thick; gradually fold in sifted confectioners’ sugar. Add vanilla. Whip for a few seconds so sugar is fully incorporated.

To assemble, cut each of the sponge cake layers in half horizontally. Place the first layer on a platter, moisten lightly with the syrup, spread whipped cream on top and cover with strawberries. Place second layer on top and continue in the same manner, finishing with a layer of sponge cake. Frost top and sides with remaining whipped cream mixture. Decorate with the rest of the strawberries. Chill until serving time. Makes 12 servings.

Source: Adapted by Linda Cicero from Lilian Zamorano.

Per serving: 296 calories (52 percent from fat), 17.3 g fat (10 g saturated, 5.3 g monounsaturated), 147 mg cholesterol, 5 g protein, 29.5 g carbohydrate, 1.2 g fiber, 58 mg sodium.


Laurenzo's Creamy Italian Salad Dressing

1 cup olive oil

1/2 small onion, chopped

2 to 3 cloves garlic, or to taste

Salt and pepper

1/2 cups white wine vinegar

1 cup homemade or good-quality purchased mayonnaise

Place oil, onion, garlic and salt and pepper to taste in a food processor. Pulse until vegetables are very finely chopped. Add vinegar and mayonnaise and pulse to incorporate. Add additional seasonings or herbs as desired and pulse again. Store in refrigerator. Makes about 3 1/2 cups.

Source: Adapted by Linda Cicero from Cook’s Corner archives.

Per 2-tablespoon serving: 127 calories (99 percent from fat), 13.6 g fat (2 g saturated, 7 g monounsaturated), 3.3 mg cholesterol, 0 protein, 0.4 g carbohydrate, 0 fiber, 51 mg sodium.

Sleuth’s corner

Q: In the early 1970s, McCall's put out a set of cooking cards. They came in a plastic tray. There was a recipe for Chicken Kiev I made for my dad’s birthday because he was of Russian descent. It turned out great and I taught myself to cook using those recipes. My mom no longer has the set, and I’m hoping someone else can provide the recipe. He remembered it and asked for it for his next birthday.


Lilian Zamorano sent her family recipe for Strawberry Cream Cake (Torta de Frutillas) for Stacie, who missed her favorite birthday cake from the fabled Andalusia Bakery in Coral Gables. “It was so moist and light,” Stacie remembered, “always kept in the refrigerator because it has all natural whipped cream on the outside as well as in the inside layers with pieces of real strawberries on the inside.”

What makes Zamorano’s cake a cut above the usual is the four layers of homemade sponge cake, the whiff of Grand Marnier — and, of course, the mounds of real whipped cream and fresh strawberries.

Q: Do you by any chance have the receipt for the salad dressing at Olive Garden? I love the salad there and really would love to make the dressing myself.

Ellye Ovedia

A: Alas, the salad dressing recipe is not one the Olive Garden shares. However, the chain recently started selling the dressing at Sam’s Club. Or try the dressing here, circa 1989, from Laurenzo’s Italian Market. To make it a little more like the Olive Garden’s, I would add a tablespoon of sugar. To make it your own, add flavors you like — Parmesan or Asiago cheese, minced chives, roasted peppers or sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil or dried Italian seasoning, for example. I usually double the amount of garlic and add hot pepper flakes.

Chili sauce dip

Thai sweet chili sauce had morphed from the Asian foods aisle into the mainstream – even Frank’s Hot Sauce has a version. (For those unfamiliar, the sauce combines hot chiles, vinegar and sometimes onion with the perfect balance of sugar.)

II use it as often as I use ketchup or barbecue sauce, and always have a bottle in the refrigerator. It’s great as a quick perk-up for rotisserie chicken, fried rice, steamed vegetables or sauteed fish.

The dip here couldn’t be simpler, and yet it is addicting — it would be great as a starter for Valentine’s Day or as no-prep party fare.

Tried and new

If you’re looking for a Valentine sweet, check out Alchemy cookies crafted by The Talk’s Carla Hall. I received a package at Christmas, and was quite taken with the tiny bites (1/2-inch squares, just right for those who want an indulgence but not a lot of calories).

They come in sweet and savory varieties and are made with European-style butter and other premium ingredients. My favorite was a lemon-black pepper shortbread, but I also loved the chocolate-hazelnut praline. Prices range from $6 to $40 at

Send questions and responses to or Food, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172. Replies cannot be guaranteed.

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