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potatoe cake, crab cake, risotto cake... seeking non-dessert cake!

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My lactose-intolerant friend's birthday is coming up, but he selfishly decided to give up desserts for Lent! We are going to celebrate it with a dinner party anyway, and I am trying to sneak a "cake" in there as an appetizer or entree.

Idealy i would make something at least 8 in. in diameter and 2 in. tall to give it the appereance of a birthday cake. Layering two large risotto cakes or crab cakes with something inbetween (salsa for crab cake, mixed mushrooms for risotto) is my back up plan. Does anyone have some more creative idea? Like an appetizer cake with the texture of a tiramisu, using guacamole in lieu of mascarpone? or something with polenta? Or something completely outside the box!!

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  1. Make a savory cheesecake as a starter and serve a slice with a little salad garnish (or make individual ones). There are many recipes for this type of cheesecake -- check out epicurious.com for starters.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Terrie H.

      I so would love to do that, but, as I mentioned but forgot to emphasize, my friend is lactose intolerant. Next time when i lactose tolerant friend gives up dessert, i'll definitely made a savory cheesecake.

      1. re: autumnwine

        oh dear, I am sorry! I missed that rather important point.

        1. re: autumnwine

          I've made cheesecake for a lactose-intolerant friend using two different types of recipes with happy results for both. One uses tofu as a base and the other a vegan cream cheese that I got at Whole Foods.

          One other thing to consider is whether your friend is cow's milk lactose intolerant or all animals. My friend can eat goat's milk yogurt with no problem whatsoever.

      2. I'd do a three layer polenta cake "iced" with a wild mushroom ragu, with either short ribs or duck thighs braised in the ragu, if you like. Top with flaked Parm. Reg. It could easily be a main course, or downsize to make an appitiser.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Greg Spence

          that sounds just like what i am looking for. How firm should the polenta be? Do you happen to have a good polenta recipe that would get the right consistency? Thanks.

        2. a couple of years ago, we were at a japanese restaurant for a family birthday. they saw us giving and opening birthday gifts, and told us they had a special surprise for us...

          the came out a while later with a round cake looking thing.....upon further examination, we found that it was a sushi cake! it was rice, and fish, and fish eggs etc...it was beautiful, and totally fun. im veg, and my sister is kosher so it wasn't the most appropriate for us, but worth a shot for your friend!

          2 Replies
          1. re: naomi

            that's a great idea. Would you mind telling me the approxmiate diameter and height of the cake, if you recall? I don't want to be over ambitious in terms of size. Thank you.

            1. re: autumnwine

              im so bad at estimating these things...but probably about the size of a the inner part of a dinner plate - definetely smaller than a typical cake.

          2. As an appetizer, you could make a tortilla espanola--a savory, thick Spanish omelette w/ layers of sliced potatoes and onions. See link for epicurious recipe.

            This is nice w/ a roasted red pepper sauce, in which you could apply by writing "happy birthday" on top. No recipe, but you could puree roasted red peppers, season w/ S&P, and slowly add chicken broth and/or olive oil to thin out to desired consistency. Put sauce in plastic baggie, snip bottom corner, and you have a makeshift pastry bag for decorating.

            Link: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

            1 Reply
            1. re: Carb Lover

              There's a recipe in the current Food and Wine for a three layered tortilla, each with a different filling...

              Link: http://www.bistrodraw.com/Furniture.htm

            2. Many Middle Eastern cuisines make a rice "cake" - easiest if cooked in a teflon pan - am afraid I don't have the recipe handy - always have to call a friend to get it. You might be able to find something on the web though. Basically, you soak Basmati rice for several hours, rinse it, then cook it in lots of boiling water. It is then put into a pot with oil, and sometimes saffron & potatoes on the bottom, then the rice is spooned in.

              Sorry not to be of more help w/ this ....

              1. g
                Gourmet Chaplain

                On my birthday in March, I always eat or drink what I've given up for Lent, because you're not supposed to fast on "feast" days (that's why Sundays don't count during Lent)! And frankly, if I "fasted" on every birthday, I'd never ever be able to enjoy a chocolate birthday cake or glass of champagne!

                That being said, if your friend is one of those stubborn self-sacrificing people, I'd make a "cake" out of something naturally sweet like sweet potatoes. Maybe a pastel de choclo (Chilean shepherd's pie) with firm meatloaf consistency, topped with corn icing? A non-traditional meatloaf with a creative middle layer and topping might be an easy solution.