Friday, March 29, 2013
An Italian Easter
Grandma never wrote down a recipe. And my mother only wrote down the recipes she didn't know by heart. (She would just rattle off instructions to you.) Over the years, I have reached back to the foods of my childhood holidays through blogs. Below is a feast of breads, pies and Italian tradition. I hope you visit. And Savor. And cook. Enjoy
Tradition. It's how we reach out to the past and connect and visit. It's how people are remembered with love. On the night before Easter, my mother traditionally made calzones: sausage and cheese calzones, meatballs calzones, ricotta and spinach calzones. Why we dined on rich meats and cheeses tucked away in bread on the night before the all-day feast brings a smile and a shake of the head. Wouldn't be wiser to have salad-shakes all day? Maybe. But that wouldn't be Italian.
I changed things up a bit. So the night before Easter I typically made Pizza Rustica. I lightened it with a lot of spinach and roasted red peppers. But cheese is cheese and Italian cured meats are not for people who live with a skinny barometer. It's rich. It keeps. And slices are served for days. Because one slice is enough. For now.
For those not scared of a rich array of meats and cheeses for a spring meal, find the recipe here.
A gorgeous egg-filled, sausage-stuffed, cheese (tuma) Easter bread comes from Proud Italian Cook. Richness soars to new heights.
Frank from Memorie di Angelina has a meat-centric gorgeous Neopolitan Easter Pie (more like a meat cake). Find it here:
Neopolitan Easter Pie
I hope you try some of these out and throw caution to the wind during Easter week
And then there is the Neopolitan Wheat Pie.
Heavy cans of cooked wheat. That's my memory of trips to New York. Lugging back cans of cooked wheat.
"Bring back wheat for the pastiera," said my mother. And whoever went to New York did. I used to get them at the old Balducci's (sadly the new Balducci's doesn't carry them.) They were always down under some heavy shelving, piled with dust. And somewhere in the last 2 years, my mother scored some dried grain and kept it in her freezer. I am using the last of the grain for the pie this Easter.
My Midwestern family does not love this. Maybe you need an Italian gene - but my children believe it wouldn't be Easter without it. In fact, when I host Easter, my daughter hides the wheat pie until after our Midwestern loved ones left.
"They don't appreciate it," she declares helping herself to a big slice. Creamy ricotta, wheat (or farro or wheat berries) cooked in sugar and cream, dotted with chocolate chips and sprinkles.... really, what's not to like?
Find my recipe here:
Neopolitan Wheat Pie
Another take on this Easter pie can be found at Ciao Chow Linda's. She also gives a bit of its history and some winning step-by-step instructions. (Plus: she uses mascarpone which really makes this wickedly wonderful.)
Ciao Chow Linda's Neopolitan Wheat Pie
Linda also has a savory braided Easter bread reminiscent of some of my grandmother's breads. And it's a beauty. Centerpiece beautiful. It's here:
Braided Easter Bread
Salami... olives ... cheese ... oh my.
And for those who are not sure about cooked wheat in a sweet pie, Mary from One Perfect Bite has an Easter pie made with rice. Sweet, creamy and spring. It's here:
A beautiful eggy traditional bread can be found at Claudia's What's Cookin' Italian Style. Permeated with anisette, it's a beautiful start to your Easter. Find it here:
Grandma's Easter Bread
Amid jelly beans and chocolate bunnies, the Easter Bunny brings torrone. Nougat/almond/ hard and then melt-in-your-mouth - it's hard to come by in the Midwest. (Which is why the Easter Bunny brings it.) A luscious rendering of this famous Italian treat can be found on Mister Meatball's blog. It isn't a feast day without torrone.
Mister Meatball's Torrone
The outside is not Easter although we've been treated to gorgeous sunsets. I expect the Easter Bunny to arrive on skis.
But spring is on the table - and occasionally nibbled by Murray.
I'm learning to bake when Luce is asleep. And wondering at the wisdom of dyeing Easter eggs with a kitten who loves liquids. (Tie-dyed kitten paws?)
Who knows? Luce may wind up with his own blog.
Happy Easter! Buona Pasqua!