Non-traditional foods: Orange Olive-Oil Cake

It doesn’t take too much to create a tradition in my family. If they like a food item, it’s part of the menu. Period. Case closed. Turkish muhammara? Thanksgiving would be unthinkable without that spicy spread as an appetizer (thank you, Pinar). Years ago, I insisted on bringing a green vegetable to the cholesterol-laden extravaganza that was (and is) my family’s Easter celebration. Now, the huge platter of roasted asparagus I bring is decimated in minutes. Kielbasa be damned! This is indicative of changing tastes, but also an enviable culinary flexibility. Or voraciousness. Whatever.

Two years ago, I made the spectacular Orange Olive Oil Cake from my friend David Leite’s wonderful cookbook, The New Portuguese Table. I am not a cake lover, but this dense, not-too-sweet cake is easy to make and addictive. There is nothing Polish about this cake, but now, it’s de rigeour at the holiday table. It works for breakfast or dessert, too!

I just pulled mine out of the oven. It will be served on Christmas Day at my sister Nicole’s house. You can get the recipe on


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