I have taken two weeks to return to New York City to get all those appointments I missed while quarantining in Connecticut. I haven't really been cooking and have relied on take out and prepared food in the neighborhood which accounts for a relatively long time without posting. We did decide to stay in NYC for Rosh Hashanah and so I have been cooking again. I rarely make brisket, but always do for the holiday. My method is the same as my mothers and is really very minimal. No tomato sauce, Coca Cola, or apple juice. I did not make this up. There really are recipes out there that use these. The brisket gives off a lot of liquid and has a wonderful, natural beefy gravy.

The most challenging part of making brisket always seems to be getting the meat. I am always in search of a "first cut" or "thin cut" piece of meat that weighs about 3.5 lbs. This cut always seems to shrink a great deal so I like to start with a large piece. This year I ordered from a delivery service and would up with two separate pieces. Fortunately, one is close to 3.5 pounds. The brisket is a cut of meat that starts out thin and then has a second, fatty layer on top. The first or thin cut has less of this part of the brisket.

After salting the meat I sear it on the fatty side in a small amount of oil until it is nicely browned and then brown the other side. Set the meat aside and add about 4 medium chopped onions, or two very large ones and sauté them until they are browned. The next step is to deglaze the pot with about 1/3 cup water and return the meat to the pot and cover. I usually add some peppercorns and a bay leaf and let it cook. I remember that my mother used to put in a dried red pepper that was about the size of my pinky finger but I never see these anywhere. The cooking time can be variable depending on how thick the meat is, but 2 to 3 hours is usually enough. I think it can be done on top of the stove or in the oven ant 325. It is done when a fork goes into it easily. I like to cook it well in advance of dinner and to let it cool. I then slice it and reheat it with the gravy.

Goldie loves brisket but I am careful not to let her have any of the onions.

I was expecting a few friends to play bridge, not really socially distanced. We had all been together before and have been very cautious for the past 6 months. At the last minute I decided it would be nice to serve some blueberry cake. I had a few pints of blueberries in the fridge and thought it would be good to use some of them. I was shocked to discover that I was lacking what seemed a key ingredient - butter. I never have less than a pound on hand but somehow I did not notice that the supply was being depleted.

I decided to look on the web for a blueberry cake that perhaps used olive oil. There are so many delicious olive oil cakes I thought there certainly must be one for blueberries. What a wonderful surprise to find one that also used ricotta cheese. This cake is so easy to make, so moist and flavorful and just as good the next morning. How much longer it lasts I can't say because it disappeared very quickly.

Heat oven to 350. Line 8-9 inch square baking dish with parchment paper

In a bowl, mix

1 cup ricotta cheese

2/3 cup sugar (the recipe calls for 1 cup but I always use less)

1/3 cup olive oil

Grated rind of 1 lemon

Add 2 eggs, one at a time and mix until incorporated

In a separate bowl, mix

1 1/2 cup flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just incorporated, don't overmix

Fold in 1 pint of blueberries

Fill prepared pan with batter, which is quite thick

Bake for 40 minutes or until top is golden brown

The recipe says to sprinkle with sugar before serving. I found this completely unnecessary.

I don't think Goldie got even a crumb.

Some people love them. Others still harbor distasteful memories from childhood of jarred or canned beets and prefer to socially distance from them. My only memories of them are from cold summer borscht, made by Manishevitz and sold in jars. It was a clear ruby red broth with julienned beets. When sour cream was added it turned a wonderful shade of bubble gum pink. They also made a green soup, called shav, made from sorrel. I found it very unappealing and would never even taste it. Decades later I finally had some cooked sorrel when Bob and I went to Paul Bocuse is 1975 and had his signature dish of salmon with sorrel sauce.

Recently a friend with a very large and productive vegetable garden gave me 3 freshly dug up beets. I thought it would be fun to try to make that cold summer borscht myself. I scoured the internet and came up with a straightforward simple recipe. It called for simmering the unpeeled beets for about an hour and then letting the cooking liquid and beets cool. The next step was to strain the broth. As I did this, I saw that the liquid was the color of weak coffee and not at all appealing. The taste was not any better. So, now I had cooked beets and no broth for soup.

What to do? I peeled the beets, easy when they are cooked, and shredded them on a box grater. I mixed in a large dollop of yogurt and some chopped cucumber for crunch. Finally, some salt. Fortunately no one in this house has an aversion to beets so it disappeared in one sitting. It was the color of cooked red cabbage and I served it with some weissworst, a veal and pork white sausage.