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.
Pizza Rustica

A gorgeous egg-filled, sausage-stuffed, cheese (tuma) Easter bread comes from Proud Italian Cook. Richness soars to new heights.
Easter Bread

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:
Easter Pie

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!


Whats Cookin Italian Style Cuisine said...

Buona Pasqua my friend may you and yours have the BEST EASTER BLESSINGS EVER XO HUGS!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Claudia - i couldn't help thinking of that Fiddler on the roof song when reading about your traditions, all of which I love. Diets are for Tuesday after Easter. Buona Pasqua.

Angie's Recipes said...

Happy Easter, Claudia.
The pizza rustica looks so yum.

Whats Cookin Italian Style Cuisine said...

I feel so bad that I didn't comment on Grandma's Easter bread entry! My bad :( thank you so much for including me... thank you sweet friend and my favorite blogger ever! Love u!!! HUGS!!

Angie said...

I am not sure whether I will ever bake one of these recipes but the reading of them brings me pleasure as I try to imagine the unusual flavours.
Once I was given an unusual Lasagne which the lady said was her mothers and hers before. It had tiny meatballs and hard boiled egg slices first I was not sure ...but the flavours were so amazing ...have you ever come across this one. ????

Barbara F. said...

Happy and blessed Easter, Claudia. I make all these things straight from my childhood memories, we never had written recipes (true good cooks don't need ;-)anyway) but not this year. I am invited out and don't need to stuff myself and stuff I would, too. That Italian gene is critical to appreciate the bounty we have. Hugs, xo

Claudia said...

Yes, I have seen them but never had them in lasagne - but have had that in meatballs. My grandmother and her family would put egg slices into a sort of Italian meatloaf! Eggs are incorporated everywhere for Easter. It only makes sense. I love how Italian holidays have foods with so much symbolism.

Mister Meatball said...

Buona Pasqua!

Torviewtoronto said...

have a wonderful celebration and long weekend

Anonymous said...

It wouldn't be Easter if my husband couldn't have pizza rustica. It is wonderful to carry on traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation in a family.

My Little Space said...

Hey Claudia, Happy Easter Day to you! May it be a blessed one. ((hugs))

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

Happy Easter, Claudia! I love reading about your holiday traditions...and the wheat pie that you tuck away for just you and yours!

Fresh Local and Best said...

It is what I love most about food, the special memories of tradition and holidays it evokes. Happy Easter Claudia!

That Girl said...

I was thinking about this as I was making Passover bars tonight. Right now, the second year I've made them, I still use a recipe, but I was imagining the future when I'll just be able to just dump in ingredients.

ChgoJohn said...

Such a wonderful, tradition-filled post.
Buona Pasqua!

Chocolate Shavings said...

All of these dishes sound and look! so lovely !

Mary Bergfeld said...

Now certainly that sweet kitten can do no wrong :-). I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday. Hugs and blessings...Mary

P.S. Thanks for the link love. It is always appreciated.

Kitchen Riffs said...

That Neapolitan White Pie looks terrific. I've not seen that recipe before - I need to make that! Wonderful post. Thanks for sharing your memories. And pictures of your cats! Of course you don't want to see it, but I'll bet Luce would look awfully cute with tie-dyed paws!

Unknown said...

What a lovely collection of recipes - so many to explore! Hope you have a wonderful Easter!
Donalyn @

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Happy Easter to you Claudia. What a nice collection of recipes and your pizza rustica looks fantastic.

Beth said...

Happy Easter to you and your loved ones too! Your daughter is right - only the people who really appreciate a dish should get to partake!

Proud Italian Cook said...

A post screaming with wonderful traditions Claudia!
I love what your daughter said, my kids said that many times. Happy Easter my friend, to you and yours!

Chiara said...

I wish you a very happy Easter Claudia!

FOODESSA said...

I'm just back from my MIL's Easter table...and caution was certainly thrown to the wind...I'm stuffed!

Thank you for sharing recipes you cherish and admire ;o)

Happy Easter my dear.

Flavourful wishes,

AdriBarr said...

What a wonderful collection of Easter specialties! Complimenti!

Juliana said...

Claudia, I hope you had a wonderful Easter...thanks for the links...they are awesome!
Have a great week :)


Happy Easter Claudia! I would love to join you in your Easter table. I would love to eat that pie.
I am glad that you could find recipes online that brings back traditions. I find it so hard to find ours. I feel like we are a lost tribe hahah.

Roz | La Bella Vita Cucina said...

I love your Easter tradition Claudia! Thanks for sharing all of the links to various recipes on Italian Easter goodies! I've seen a few of them, but need to check out all of them! I love your cats by the way! I hope that you had a Buona Pasqua!

Frank said...

Thanks for the shout out, Claudia! This is quite the collection of Easter dishes—a true A List of the southern classics.

And I'm intrigued by your addition of roasted red peppers to the pizza rustica. That's new one to me, but sounds worth a try!

Kathy said...

Hi Claudia, I’ve been gone for about 2 weeks…grandchildren duty! No time for blogging! Love this post and your kitty! I make a sweet ricotta pie just about every Easter. I’ve only made pizza rustica once. Both have been hits in my house. Both of yours look amazing!
Your previous post had me laughing out loud, when I read about the kitty and the flour. He does look very sweet!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Mouthwatering food! Those dishes are wonderful. I hope you had a fabulousn Easter.



Laura said...

Hi Claudia,
I stumbled upon your blog and have enjoyed every minute of it. I am also Italian. I live in a little house on the Colorado prairie. This is a culture shock!
My husband is from out here. I struggle all the time with the lack of Italian culture here. My wonderful husband doesn't get certain things.
Lovely, lovely blog. I will certainly be trying out a lot of these great recipes.
I recently wrote about making a Brooklyn Italian recipe here... which you may enjoy, so please stop on by.