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by Alice Ann Pazzaglia
(return to food)
Arugula with Orange and prosciutto
This is a refreshing starter for a large meal.
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
To make dressing, mix lemon juice and next 5 ingredients; beat in oil. Toss arugula with dressing; divide among 4 plates. Divide orange slices among plates. Sprinkle 1/4 prosciutto on each plate.
Caponata Antica Siciliana -- Classic Sicilian Caponata
This is the classic version of the world-famous summer caponata recipe but there are many variations. It is now eaten all year round.
2 pounds eggplants
Begin by stripping the filaments from the celery sticks, and then blanch them in lightly salted water for five minutes. Drain them, cut them into bite-size pieces, sauté them in a little oil, and set them aside. Wash the eggplant, dice them, put the pieces in a strainer, sprinkle them liberally with salt, and let them sit for several hours to draw out the bitter juices. While they're sitting, blanch, peel, seed and chop the tomatoes.
Once the eggplant has sat, rinse away the salt and pat the pieces dry. Finely slice the onion and sauté them in olive oil; once they have turned translucent add the capers, pine nuts, olives, and tomatoes. Continue cooking, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the tomatoes are done, about 15 minutes, and then remove the pot from the fire. While the tomatoes are cooking heat a second pot of oil and fry the diced eggplant, in several batches to keep the oil from getting chilled. When the last batch is done, return the tomato pot to the fire and stir in the eggplant, together with the previously saute'd celery. Cook for several minutes over a low flame, stirring gently, then stir in the vinegar and the sugar; when the vinegar has almost completely evaporated remove the pot from the fire and let it cool. Serve the caponata cold with a garnish of fresh basil; it will keep in the refrigerator for several days.
This recipe is translated from Pino Correnti's Il Libro d'Oro della Cucina e dei Vini di Sicilia.
PRIMO PIATTO - FIRST COURSE
Zuppa di Asparagi - Asparagus Soup
A great Spring-time soup
2 tb Extra-virgin olive oil
Heat the oil and garlic in a soup pot until the garlic is golden. Add the asparagus and cook until they begin to color. Season with salt and pepper. Add the broth and bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the asparagus is tender.
Beat the eggs and cheese together. When the asparagus is tender, reduce the heat so the soup is no longer simmering. Very slowly ladle some of the hot soup into the beaten eggs, stirring continuously. After adding about 2 cups of the hot soup to the eggs, reverse the process and gradually stir the egg mixture into the soup pot. The soup must not boil or the eggs will scramble. Heat until thickened.
Put one slice of toasted bread into each soup dish. Ladle the hot soup on top and pass additional grated cheese.
Linguine with Ricotta
Always use fresh pasta for holiday meals, it is much better.
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) sweet butter
Melt butter in heavy small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and saute' 2 minutes. Combine ricotta, cream, parsley and butter mixture in large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cook fresh linguine in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain. Toss with ricotta mixture. Serve immediately with a combination of Parmesan and Pecorino cheeses.
Another classic, World-famous spring recipe
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
Put the stock or broth into a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan or deep skillet over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. When hot, add the onion and mushrooms and sauté until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir until well coated with the oil. Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently until most of it has been absorbed, about 3 minutes.
Reduce the heat to low and add the bell pepper and 1 cup of the hot broth. Cook until most has been absorbed. Add the squash and asparagus and another 1 cup of the broth, and simmer until that has been mostly absorbed. Add another cup of the broth until that has been absorbed and the risotto has a creamy consistency. Taste the rice and if it is still hard, add the remaining 1/2 cup of the broth and simmer until absorbed.
Stir in the Parmesan cheese and season to taste with the salt and pepper. Makes 4 servings.
CARNE - MEAT
Coscia di Agnello Arrosto e Patate Arrosto - Leg of Lamb with Roasted Potatoes
Roast lamb, with a few exceptions, is the first choice of those celebrating Easter around the World.
2 large lemons, zest of 1 removed in strips with a vegetable peeler
Garnish: fresh rosemary sprigs and lemon wedges
Preheat oven to 350�F.
Cut off and discard pith from zested lemon and cut off and discard zest and pith from other lemon. In a saucepan of boiling water blanch zest 1 minute and drain in a colander. Cut each lemon crosswise into 6 slices. In a small food processor blend rosemary, garlic, zest, 1 tablespoon oil, lemon juice, and salt until mixture is chopped fine.
With tip of a small sharp knife cut small slits all over lamb and rub rosemary mixture over lamb, rubbing into slits. Arrange lemon slices in middle of a large roasting pan and arrange lamb on them. Roast lamb in middle of oven 45 minutes.
Quarter potatoes and in a saucepan cover with salted cold water by 1 inch. Bring water to a boil and cook potatoes, covered, 5 minutes. Drain potatoes in colander and in a bowl toss with remaining tablespoon oil. Arrange potatoes around lamb and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Roast lamb and potatoes, stirring potatoes occasionally, 55 minutes, or until a meat thermometer registers 140�F. for medium-rare. Transfer lamb to a cutting board and let stand 15 minutes. Increase temperature to 500�F. and roast potatoes and lemons in one layer 5 to 10 minutes more, or until golden. Transfer potatoes and lemons with a slotted spoon to bowl and toss with chives. Transfer potato mixture to a platter.
Serve lamb, sliced thin across grain, with potatoes, garnished with rosemary and lemon wedges.
VERDURA - VEGETABLE/VEGETARIAN
For those of us who do not eat lamb see Easter Pie Recipes inLa Pasquetta Picnic, below.
CONTORNO - SIDE DISH
Alice's Piselli verdi alla Menta - Green Peas with Mint
Easy, fast and delicious, this recipe compliments the roast lamb
One box of fresh frozen green peas
Defrost the peas by emptying the package into a colander and put under cold running water. In a small pan, put one-quarter of a stick of butter, peas and chopped mint. Saute' lightly and serve.
INSALATA - SALAD
Insalata di Spinachi con Pomodori e Mozzarella - Alice's Spinach Salad Tomato and Mozzarella
A delicious red, white and green salad
One bag of pre-washed "baby" Spinach
Take the spinach out of the bag and put into salad bowl. Cut tomato into cubes and add to bowl. Shred mozzarella into bowl. Mix and shred some more until everything looks red white and green. Add a little garlic. Dress with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and one of vinegar.
DOLCE - SWEET
Colomba Pasquale - Easter Dove
A traditional sweet at Easter time.
1 oz. baker's yeast
Dissolve the crumbled yeast in some warm water and mix it with 2 oz. of flour. Make a rather solid dough and cut a cross on the top. Roll the dough in flour and put it into a bowl with 1 cup warm water for half an hour. Turn the dough occasionally when it floats to the surface. Knead the remaining flour separately with 5 egg yolks, 4 oz. softened butter, the sugar, the lemon zest, a pinch of salt and 3 oz. warm milk. Add the yeasted dough and knead for 20 minutes until the dough is smooth and rather compact. Let the dough rise in a warm place until increased by a third in volume. Knead the dough once again, adding half of the remaining softened butter in pieces. Put the dough back in the bowl to rise until doubled in volume. Put the dough on the pastry board once again and knead in the remaining butter and the candied peel. Shape the dough into the form of a dove, or put it in a dove shaped mold, and let rise for half an hour. Brush the dough with the remaining egg yolk, distribute the almonds over the surface, pressing them in slightly, and then sprinkle with the granulated sugar crystals. Bake for 15 minutes in preheated 375 F. oven then lower the heat to 325 F. and cook for another 20 minutes.
And, for those of us who do not do doves for dessert:
Whew! No work involved here
For each individual serving:
Mixed Berries with Ricotta Creme
harder to shop for than prepare and oh so delicious!
1 quart strawberries
Combine berries in a large bowl. Place ricotta and sugar in a processor and mix until smooth, or mix by hand. Remove from the processor and stir in the remaining ingredients. Serve half cup of berries per person. Top with a good-sized dollop of the ricotta creme. Garnish with mint sprig.
Easter Monday is a really fun holiday in Italy. It is traditionally the first picnic day of the year and just about everyone in Italy goes on a picnic. The following recipes are suggestions for that picnic or any Italian picnic you might wish to create. They include several versions of the traditional savory Easter Pie.
Whether you celebrate Easter Monday (la pasquetta) or another picnic or event where an especially delicious filled egg would be good, you will enjoy this recipe...
Stuffed Eggs Verde
6 large eggs, hard-cooked
2-3 tablespoons Salsa Verde Piccante
2 teaspoons mayonnaise
Capers, olive slices, pimiento, or anchovy, optional for garnishes
Whether as a topping or an ingredient, Salsa Verde Piccante is a delicious green herb sauce that adds tremendous menu versatility. Makes: about 3/4 cup
1/2 slice white bread, crust removed
Break bread into pieces and place in a small bowl; sprinkle with lemon juice and vinegar. Set aside.
Place parsley and garlic in bowl of food processor or blender; swirl until finely chopped. Add basil, chives, capers anchovies, and bread pieces. Process/pulse 4-5 times to make a finely chopped mixture. With machine running, gradually add 4 tablespoons oil. Scrape down sides of bowl or blender; add remaining oil slowly with processor running until sauce reaches the desired consistency. Taste for seasoning. Add salt, pepper, and more lemon juice or vinegar, as desired. Refrigerate. Serve at room temperature as a dip for crusty breads or raw vegetables, as an accompaniment to mixed boiled meats, chicken, fish, or cooked vegetables, or as a condiment to cold meats, fish and eggs.
Shell the eggs and cut in half lengthwise. Carefully remove the yolks; reserve the whites in tact. Combine the yolks, Salsa Verde, and mayonnaise; mix well. Spoon into open cups of the egg whites mounding the top somewhat. Garnish eggs as you choose. Chill. Serve at room temperature.
Makes: 12 appetizers
Triple Squash Frittata
This versatile vegetable frittata is a great do-ahead dish for small get-togethers or family picnics. Accompany with rustic bread, imported olives and assorted cheeses.
3 small zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
Saute' squash and onion in heated oil in large saute' pan set over high heat, stirring frequently, 3 to 4 minutes or until tender-crisp. Transfer to large bowl and cool to room temperature. When cool, add eggs, pepper and thyme. Mix well. Place nonstick oven-proof 10-inch saute' pan (with sloped sides) over moderately high heat. When pan is warm, add egg mixture and stir quickly from outside of pan toward center (as if making scrambled eggs), until about 1/4 of mixture is set. Smooth top. Remove from heat and transfer to middle rack of oven. Bake at 325 degrees 25 to 30 minutes or until center is set. Do not overbake. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. To unmold, run dull knife around outside edges of pan, gently pulling frittata up and toward center to loosen it from bottom of pan. Firmly hold platter over top of pan and with one quick movement; flip pan and platter over together, so that frittata gently unmolds onto platter. Serve at room temperature, sliced into wedges and garnished with herb sprigs. Makes about
EASTER PIE RECIPES
These pies are so delicious, plan to make all of them, one at a time.
Grandma's Easter Pie - Torta Pasqualina della Nonna
1/4 lb. Italian Salami
1/4 lb. capacola (spicy Italian ham)
1/4 lb. boiled ham
1/4 lb. prosciutto (aged Italian ham)
1 stick pepperoni (about 1/4 lb.)
1/2 lb. mozzarella cheese
1/2 lb. aged provolone
1/4 lb. parmesan & romano blend grated cheese
3 lb. ricotta cheese (Italian pot cheese)
6 lg. eggs
2 Tbs. milk
salt and pepper to taste
2 pkg. frozen pie shells (4 shells)
Dice all cold cuts and put to side. Shred mozzarella and provolone and put aside. Place ricotta cheese in a large mixing bowl add 5 1/2 eggs, hold one yolk aside to baste crust, and mix well.
Add shredded mozzarella, provolone and grated Parmesan & Romano to mixture. Now combine all cold cuts, salt and pepper and blend well into cheese mixture.
Fill pie shells with mixture and put top crust on pie. Crimp and coat with egg yolk and milk mixture. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees, put foil on crimped edge of pie shell. Bake for 45 minutes and remove foil. Bake for additional 10 to 15 minutes until edge of pie is brown.
Pastiera Napoletana - Easter Cheese and Grain Pie
This is a Neapolitan specialty, usually prepared at Easter
Knead the flour, butter, sugar and eggs together quickly. Make a ball of the dough and let rest in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
Soak the grain for about a week, changing the water every day. Drain and boil with fresh water for 15 minutes. Drain and put back in the pot with milk, lemon rind, cinnamon, vanilla, a pinch of salt, and 1 Tbs. of sugar. Bring to a boil, lower and cook over low heat until the milk is absorbed. Remove and discard the lemon rind. Pass the ricotta through a sieve into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar and beat until creamy. Add the two yolks, the grain, diced candied fruits, grated lemon peel, and the orange-flower water. Fold in the beaten egg whites Grease a 12" baking pan with butter and dust with sugar. Line with three-quarters of the pastry. Roll out the remaining dough and cut into strips. Arrange the strips over the filling in a lattice design. Brush the strips of dough with egg yolk. Heat the oven to 375 F. and bake the cake for 1 1/2 hours, until the filling sets and the crust is golden brown. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.
NOTE: The pastiera is best if eaten a day after it is cooked, and it keeps in the refrigerator for a week. In Italy grain is sold pre-cooked and softened, sealed in plastic bags
Torta Pasqualina - Easter Pie
2 c Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
1 cn Ricotta (15 oz)
Basic pastry for two crusts
1 sm Red bell pepper, quartered & thinly sliced
8 oz Precooked smoked ham, thinly sliced in strips
1 t Olive oil
5 oz Frozen chopped spinach, -thawed
12 Basil leaves (or 1 t. dried)
Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375'F. Roll out half of dough & line 9" buttered pie pan. Saute' peppers & ham in oil 3 minutes; season with pepper. Wisk 2 eggs & ricotta in large bowl. Spread mixture in pastry shell. Pat spinach dry, sprinkle on top. Sprinkle saute' mix over spinach & top with mozzarella. Add basil. Roll out remaining dough & cover pie. Trim edges. Cut 4 vents & brush top with beaten egg. Bake 50-60 minutes, or until golden brown. Set 20 minutes & serve.
Torta Pasqualina Nyala Suite Hotel, San Remo - Easter Pie, Nyala Suite Hotel, San Remo
This recipe, together with stuffed lettuce and lamb, most typically characterizes Italian spring and Easter meals. As the author of "Ricette di Osterie" (Slow Food Edition) explains, in the past times, when people had to go to the public oven to bake their pies, housewives used to carve their initials on the pie edge, or to put a colored marble in its middle, in order to distinguish it from the others.
for the dough:
for the stuffing:
(1 hr. +1 hr. to let the dough stand) Knead the flour with a pinch of salt and two spoons of oil. Add some water, until the dough gets firm and smooth. Divide it into six parts and let each stand for one hour under a wet cloth. Clean the Swiss chard and cut it into small strips. Boil and strain. Place in a dish and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and salt. Saute' with the onion. Chop the parsley and garlic very finely. Wisk the three eggs with two spoons of Parmesan cheese, and finally add the rest of the ingredients, including the cottage cheese and the cream. Oil a high-rimmed baking-tin, roll out accurately the first of the six dough portions and lie it on the tin bottom. Alternate the dough with the stuffing for three layers. Make on the top layer five small holes and place in each an egg, paying attention not to break the yolk. Cover the pie with the three remaining dough portions. Bake the pie in a pre-heated oven, at a temperature of 190�, for about one hour.
Torta Pasqualina Liguria - Ligurian Easter Pie
Nick Malgieri, who has the recipe in his book How to Bake: The Complete Guide to Perfect Cakes, Cookies, Pies, Tarts, Breads, Pizzas, Muffins, Sweet and Savory (HarperCollins), says that 33 layers of dough traditionally are used, though many modern versions use only 18 to 24 layers. He suggests substituting packaged filo dough as a shortcut.
6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Combine flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Combine 1/2 cup oil and water; stir into with flour to form a soft dough. Knead until smooth, about 10 minutes. Divide dough into 12 to 33 pieces. Oil each and wrap separately in plastic wrap. Rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
With a stainless steel knife, trim artichoke bottoms flat, cutting away any stem. Bend back and pull off all green outer leaves. When you reach thin yellow leaves at center of artichokes, slice off tops, leaving about 1 inch of base and leaves. Cook in boiling salted water until almost tender. Scrape away chokes and slice hearts thinly. Heat 1/4 cup of oil in a large pan; cook onion briefly. Add artichokes; season with salt and lemon juice. Cook gently for about 20 minutes. Cool.
Soak breadcrumbs in milk, then combine with ricotta, 5 eggs, and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in artichokes. Set a rack in the oven's middle level; preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Unwrap a dough piece and roll out as thinly as you can. Pull and stretch dough into a large circle and line prepared 12-inch-diameter baking pan with it. Allow excess dough to extend up over edge of pan. Paint with some of the remaining 1/2 cup of oil; repeat with half the remaining dough pieces. Pour filling over dough in pan. Make 8 openings in filling and place a piece of butter in each and break a whole egg into each. Sprinkle each egg with some of the remaining grated cheese. Cover filling with remaining layers of dough. Evenly trim excess overhanging dough an inch away from edge of pan. Excess dough shrinks back while torta is baking. Bake for about 1 1/4 hours, until pastry is golden and filling is set (a knife will emerge clean from the center).
Serve warm or at room temperature.
Dried Cherry and Almond Biscotti
This wonderful Italian cookie is a perfect coffee dipper. It keeps tightly sealed in a tin for a month, making it handy for any occasion. Just think, you could make this a month ahead of time!
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. In a small bowl beat the eggs, vanilla, and almond extract with a wire whisk. In a mixing bowl place the flours, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Mix to blend. Add egg mixture and mix until blended, about 1 minute. Mix in the nuts and cherries. On a baking sheet lined with parchment, pat out the dough into two logs about 12 inches long, 1/2 inch high and 2-1/2 inches wide. Bake in the oven for 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool 5 minutes. Then slice about 3/8 inch thick, cutting diagonally. Lay cut side down and return to a 275 degree F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until toasted, turning them once to dry the other side. Let cool and store in a tightly closed container. Makes about 3-1/2 dozen.
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