Angel Food Cake
Glenn Koenig/Los Angeles Times/MCT

It’s not too early to think about starting the new year with positive thoughts about a healthier lifestyle. It seems that this is one of the top resolutions made each year.

No more rich desserts for a while, so I have decided that my angel food cake of many flavors would be perfect. It’s flavorful and delicious but fat-free.

When making this cake, it is very important that, when beating the egg whites, there is not a speck of grease on the bowl or beaters. If there is, the whites will not beat to the high volume needed for an angel food cake.

When I was growing up, Mother always included turnip greens and black-eyed peas on the menu for our New Year’s Day dinner, because those dishes are supposed to make the year prosperous. There are many who still carry on this tradition rather than take a chance on missing out on that “pot of gold” at the end of the rainbow.

For those believers, I put together a simple casserole called my New Year’s Special. This can be made with fresh greens and black-eyed peas, if you prefer, but this one made with canned vegetables tastes great.

NEW YEAR’S SPECIAL

  • 1 can (27 ounce) seasoned turnip greens
  • 2 cans (14.5 ounces) black-eyed peas
  • 2 cans Rotel tomatoes and chilies
  • 1 pound smoked sausage, cut crosswise in ¼-inch-thick slices

Pour turnip greens into slow cooker, followed by peas, then Rotel. Top with sausage slices. Cover and cook on high for 2 to 3 hours.

ANGEL FOOD CAKE OF MANY FLAVORS

  • 1 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 ½ cups egg whites (12 to 14 egg whites)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon banana liqueur (see note)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In small bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar and flour; set aside. In a large bowl, add egg whites, cream of tartar, banana liqueur, vanilla and almond extracts and salt. With mixer on high, beat until well mixed. Beating at high speed, add granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time. Beat just until sugar dissolves and whites form stiff peaks. Do NOT scrape bowl during beating. With rubber spatula, fold in flour mixture about ¼ cup at a time, just until flour disappears. Pour into ungreased 10-inch tube pan and, with spatula, cut through batter to break any large air bubbles. Bake 35 minutes until top of cake springs back when lightly touched with finger. Any cracks on surface should look dry. Invert cake pan on a funnel and cool completely before removing cake from pan. With spatula, loosen cake from pan and turn out onto plate.

NOTE: 1 teaspoon banana flavoring can be substituted for the liqueur, but it is not quite as good.

Award-winning chef Prudence Hilburn’s cooking column appears every other week. Contact her at prudencehilburn@aol.com.