Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter is Coming (part 2)

I sit here smiling all the good memories of the pretty dresses you would get to wear on Easter, the egg hunts, even coloring the eggs before the big day.  yet it all comes back to one thing, the food, the memories the laughter all centers around the table and the food.  All in all that is not a bad thing because the warmth, the heart and soul of this home has been and always will live there.

I know last week I spoke of the memories of this time of year, especially the food.  Of course I was getting ready to cook, this year I may not be cooking for Easter but I can still bring back the flavors.  

Throughout the week grandma would bake her pies, and the meat pie also known as Pizza Rustica would be made by Friday.  Oh then there were those manicotti, those light as air melt in your mouth, cheese filled pasta you just can't get enough of.  I hope you enjoy the rest of the recipes that would fill out our holiday menu.  Happy Easter! 

Home-Made Manicotti

1 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 beaten egg
1/2 tsp salt

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, blending and stirring until batter is smooth. 
  2. Spray a 6 inch non-stick skillet, then place over moderate heat.
  3. Ladle out 1/4 cup batter into the heated pan, and swirl to cover the bottom.  
  4. The crepe should set almost instantly.
  5. As soon as the edges begin to dry and pull away from the pan, remove the crepe (this can be done with the fingers) and turn it over allowing the other side to cook quickly. This will only take a few more seconds.


1 lb fresh ricotta or, 
1-15-oz container whole-milk ricotta cheese
3½ cups Tomato sauce 
Manicotti Crepes, (See above recipe)
2 large eggs
1 tsp salt
1½ cups fresh mozzarella, cubed 
1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
½ cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
¼ tsp pepper
pinch freshly ground nutmeg
1-1/4 cups fresh mozzarella, grated (optional)

  1. Spoon the ricotta into a large, fine-mesh sieve or a colander lined with a double thickness of cheesecloth or a basket-type coffee filter. Set the sieve over a bowl and cover the ricotta well with plastic wrap. Let the ricotta drain in the refrigerator at least overnight, or up to 24 hours. Discard the liquid in the bottom of the bowl.
  2. Make the tomato sauce and the crepes or pasta squares. (The crepes may be made up to one day in advance; the pasta squares up to several hours in advance.)
  3. Whisk the eggs and salt together in a large bowl until foamy. Add the drained ricotta, the mozzarella cubes, 1/2 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, the parsley, pepper and nutmeg. Stir well until blended.
  4. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Coat the bottom of each of two 13 x 9-inch baking pans (or any two pans into which the manicotti will fit comfortably) with 1/2 cup of the sauce. Working with one crepe or pasta square at a time, spoon 3 full tablespoons of the ricotta filling about 1 inch from the edge closest to you. Roll loosely into a cylinder, smoothing out the filling along the length of the tube as you roll.
  5. Arrange the manicotti, seam side down and side-by-side, over the sauce in the baking pans. Spoon the remaining sauce over the manicotti and sprinkle them with the remaining 1/2 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Cover the baking dishes loosely with aluminum foil and poke the foil several times with a fork.
  6. Bake 20 minutes. Uncover the dishes, scatter the grated mozzarella, if using, over the top of the manicotti and bake until the edges are bubbling and the cheese topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Pastiera Napoletana di Grano (Easter Wheat Pie)

2 cups flour, sifted
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup butter
3 egg yolks
1 Tbsp milk

1 can wheat
1/4 cup milk, scalded
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 cup citron, diced (optional)
1/4 orange peel, diced
1 1/2 lbs ricotta
1 cup sugar
6 eggs, separated
1 Tbsp orange water
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp confectioner's sugar

  1. Mix flour, salt and sugar. Cut in butter evenly through flour mixture. Stir in egg yolks one at a time. Work until dough is manageable. 
  2. Add milk. Turn onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth. Form into a ball and chill for 30 minutes. Divide the ball in half, roll on lightly floured board to about 1/8" thick (large enough to line a deep 10" pie plate). Butter pie plate and line with pastry, leaving 1/2" overhang. 
  3. Roll out other piece of dough and cut into 3/4" strips for lattice topping. 
  4. In the scalded milk, mix wheat, salt and sugar. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add citron and orange peel, set aside. 
  5. To prepare filling, beat ricotta and sugar, then add egg yolks, vanilla and orange water, blend well. Stir in prepared wheat and fold in beaten egg whites. Pour into pie shell. Arrange lattice topping over filling, flute the edge. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour or until firm in center. 
  6. Let cool in oven with door open. Refrigerate. To serve dust with confectioner's sugar.

Pizza Rustica

 4 1/2 cups unbleached flour
3/4 tsp salt
1-2 tsp pepper
 3 sticks ice-cold unsalted butter, diced
 1/2 to 2/3 cup ice water

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Combine flour and salt. Use a pastry blender to work butter into flour mixture, and form coarse crumbs.
  3. Gradually add enough water to form a dough that just sticks together. Wrap dough in waxed paper and refrigerate while preparing filling.

(All meats and cheeses should be thickly sliced and diced into 1/2 inch cubes.)

1/4 lb prosciutto
1/4 lb Genoa salami
1/2 italian sausage, removed from casing and cooked
1/2 lb soppresatta salami
1/4 lb ham cappicola
1/4 lb pepperoni
1/2 lb mozzarella
1/4 pound fontina cheese
6 hard cooked eggs
2 cups whole-milk ricotta, drained well
6 eggs
Freshly ground pepper to taste

For Glaze
1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon milk

  1. In a large bowl, combine all meats and cheeses; set aside. In another bowl, beat together ricotta, eggs, and black pepper; set aside.
  2. Divide dough in two, with one piece slightly larger than the other. On a lightly floured board, roll out larger piece of dough, and gently fit it into a 10 inch springform pan; leave an overhang of an inch or two of dough. Roll out second piece of dough to fit over top; set aside.
  3. Pour combined meats and cheeses into pastry-lined dish; pour ricotta-egg mixture over the filling.
  4. Moisten the edge of the bottom crust with water. Add top crust. Roll edges of top and bottom crust together; flute edges.
  5. Brush top crust with egg/milk glaze. Cut a circle in top crust to allow steam to escape. 
  6. Place pan on baking sheet. Bake for 75 minutes or until the tip of a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Place on cooling rack; allow to come to room temperature before slicing. Serve at room temperature or cold. Refrigerate any leftovers.