A sunny dish for this rainy day: Zucchini alla scapece

zucchini alla scapece 1

Oh my . . . how long has it been! So long that I almost feel as intimidated as I was when I wrote my first post. In fact, one of the reason why I haven’t been writing is because I did not know how to come back. I kept thinking: “Am I supposed to explain my absence or just pretend I never left ? “. I felt like a child cheating in school, trying to find a good excuse to explain why I had not completed my homework. I have been debating about the right story or topic to return to my blogging, but nothing felt adequate.

Last month, on my FaceBook page, I posted a photo of a dish I had prepared for dinner, ” zucchini alla scapece“. The kind comments that I received and my subsequent promise to post my recipe gave me  the push I needed to come back. I finally realized that I didn’t need to justify my absence and certainly I did not need a big ‘scoop’ to make a come back. So here I am!

The heat wave of last month reminded me a lot of my summer days in Italy, especially when I was a child. The house would get very warm in the afternoon, my mom would open all the windows to facilitate air circulation which really didn’t help much. Despite the heat, my beautiful mother, wearing her sleeveless dress, her hair gathered into a fancy chignon, and tiny sweat beads trickling down her forehead, would spend many afternoon ” ai fornelli” ( by the stove). While thinking of her and those hot days, the one dish that came to mind were the “zucchini alla scapece“, I could almost smell the oil frying.

I am keeping my promise and here it is is my mother’s recipe of  ‘Zucchini alla scapece’, which is simply fried zucchini, marinated in wine vinegar.

The ‘zucchini alla scapece’ are usually served as ‘antipasto’ (appetizer), however, they are also delicious layered on top of some fresh mozzarella in a sandwich made with focaccia or ciabatta bread. In my family we also like to eat them as side dish.

I must admit that my mother’s original recipe includes an additional step which I have omitted. My mother used to slice the zucchini into roundsnot to thick and not too thin, but just right. She would laid the slices on a large tray covered with a kitchen towel and then she set the tray on a chair on the balcony in the sunshine. The slices of zucchini would dry in the sun and a slight curly edge would form. As a child I really didn’t know why she would do that; Only many years later – when I started to show some interest in cooking – I realized that drying the zucchini prior to frying would prevent them from absorbing too much oil; it would also make them slightly crispy.

My decision to make the zucchini alla scapece came suddenly and in the early evening. I had not time to dry the zucchini in the sunshine, however, I lined a tray with paper towels and I arranged the sliced zucchini on top.  I also sprinkled them with salt to facilitate the releasing of water.  I let the zucchini rest for 30 minutes then patted dry with a kitchen towel.

Zucchini alla scapece2

I hope the result would have satisfied my mom. It sure satisfied my husband!

Zucchini alla scapece

Cosa serve (What you need):

6 small zucchini sliced  into 1/4 inch thick rounds

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

A small bunch of fresh mint leaves minced plus few whole leaves to garnish

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup red wine vinegar

Extra virgin olive oil for frying

Cosa fare (What to do):

  • The first step is the prep of the zucchini as explained above. Prior to slicing the zucchini, remember to rinse them thoroughly under clod running water, rubbing with your hands to remove any grit.Zucchini alla scapece 3
  • Heat 1/3 cup of oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. The oil should be enough to come 1/4 inch up the pan’s sides.
  • When the oil is quite hot, fry the zucchini in one layer, without crowing the pan. The oil should be hot enough to sizzle in contact with the zucchini.

zucchini alla scapece 4

  • Watch the zucchini and turn them over when they become golden on one side. When they are golden brown on both sides, with a slotted spoon transfer them into a serving bowl.

zucchini alla scapece 5

  • Drizzle with the vinegar, sprinkle with salt and black pepper, finally add the minced leaves of mint. Gently toss and set aside to cool down at room temperature.
  • Before serving garnish with few leaves of mint.

zucchini alla scapece 6

It’s a rainy and gloomy day here in Frederick today, I hope this dish will brighten your day.

Which dish reminds you of the summer hot days of your childhood?

My First Giveaway! “Masseria the Italian Farmhouse of Puglia”… a Beautiful Book Waiting for You!!!

THIS COULD BE YOURS!!!

I am thrilled to announce my very first giveaway!!!

Last month, I posted “A cultural evening at the Embassy of Italy in Washington DC”, an event to celebrate the publication of  the book  “Masseria – The Italian Farmhouse of Puglia“, published by Rizzoli.

At the end of that evening, I purchased a copy of the book and I have enjoyed it very much since. Not to mention that it looks great on my Italian marble credenza!

The book is full of stunning pictures by Mark Roskam – Miami-based photographer who specializes in architecture and interior design – and it is introduced by Diane Lewis – professor of design at Cooper Union’s Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture – who also provides a short description of each Masseria.

The Italian region of Puglia, on the Southeast coast,  is known as the “tacco d’Italia” , the “heel of Italy”, and “the masseria building is one element among the roads, wells, towers, walls, courtyards, and gates that collectively, comprise a refined architectural landscape across Puglia” (excerpt from book).  As I mentioned in my previous post, the masseria is a sort of fortified farmhouse and they are are mostly located along the Via Appia (Appian Way) – the ancient Roman road.

This is indeed a beautiful coffee table book, but it is more than that; it transports you into beautiful landscapes of vineyards and olive groves, takes you back in time in the Magna Grecia and the Roman Empire, and mostly, makes you wish you were there!

I love the book so much that I thought it would be awesome if I could share it with one of my faithful followers and lovers of Italy.

During the evening at the Embassy of Italy I met signora Cristina Rizzo, book’s project director, she seemed charming and kind yet I was hesitant to contact her. Finally, few weeks ago, I plucked up my courage and contacted signora Rizzo, I shared my idea of a giveaway, and asked her to donate one copy of the book for that purpose. Signora Rizzo, without hesitation, kindly agreed to donate the book and I am excited to say that I have just received the precious copy, which is now sitting right here next to me, waiting for a new home . . . it could be yours!

Would you like to be the lucky winner?

Here’s how to enter the contest:

REQUIRED ENTRIES

  1. Follow Sharing My Italy . . . The Blog by clicking on the “Join Me” icon on the homepage of this blog and enter your e-mail address to receive regular updates
  2. Leave a comment to this post and share if you have ever been to the Italian region of Puglia and/or visited a Masseria.

BONUS ENTRIES:

  1. Follow Sharing My Italy  on TWITTER and tweet this giveaway  – comment saying you did or already follow.
  2. Follow ME on PINTEREST & comment saying you did or already follow.
  3. “Like” Sharing My Italy on FACEBOOK – comment saying you did or already follow.
  4. “Share” this giveaway on FACEBOOK
  5. Follow Rizzoli book on TWITTER and tweet this giveaway – comment saying you did or already follow

Remember to leave a comment below each time you’ve done one of the above (= up to 5 comments = up to 5 bonus entries)

DETAILS:

  • This giveaway will remain open until July 21 at 11:59 p.m. EST.
  • One  winner will be selected randomly and will be notified via email and will have 48 hours to claim their prize.
  • This contest is open to US residents only, my apologies to my international friends!
  • I need to be able to contact you, should you be the lucky winner, so please be sure you provide your e-mail or I will need to choose another winner.

Good Luck to Everyone!!

Grazie Mille Signora Rizzo for donating the book!

If you are not the lucky one to receive the free copy of the book, you can order your copy here.

In a meanwhile enjoy few more pictures from the book.

FTC Disclosure

I have not received any compensation for posting this content and I have no material connection to the brands, topics and/or products that are mentioned herein.  I have purchased my own copy of the book and reviewed it. Mrs. Cristina Rizzo – book’s project director – has donated the book for this giveaway. I will personally pay for the book’s shipment to the contest’s winner.  My opinions are 100% my own.

Related post : A cultural evening at the Embassy of Italy, Washington DC

The Recipe of the Neapolitan Ragu` . . . Dedicated to my Father.

“Babbo” and I at the beach, Paestum 1964

Today is Father’s Day in USA and although in Italy we celebrate this holiday on March 19th, it feels appropriate to dedicate this post to my father.

It was June 5, 1998, it was a sunny afternoon and I was sitting on the sideline of the soccer field where my children were training. Unexpectedly, I saw my husband walking toward me, his expression was gloomy and when he asked me to step aside, my heart skipped and I just knew that something terrible had happened. My father, 4600 miles away, had died, suddenly, of a stroke. I don’t need to explain what or how I felt then, but today what still hurts the most, is that I could not say goodbye.

No time for tears, just let me tell you about the Ragú Napoletano,  that wonderful, comforting slow cooked meat-based sauce, synonym of pranzo della domenica (Sunday family supper). My mother was an excellent cook and she would make handmade pasta, tagliatelle, gnocchi, fusilli, strascinati, orecchiette . . . like no other, yet my father was the king of the ragú.

My father would wake up at 5:30 AM every Sunday and after his caffè and his first cigarette he would start the ragú. First he would prepare the braciole (slice of meat rolled -up), one made with beef and one with cotica (pork rind). He would season them with with garlic, salt, pepper, parsley, pine nuts, raisins and grated cheese. The braciole, along with the rest of the meat, were going in the pot with the onions, then the wine, last the passata di pomodori (tomato pureed) – which we usually bottled at the end of summer. For the next 4-5 hours, my father would tend to the ragú  like it was a work of art . . .  Letting the sauce pippiare – an onomatopoeic word that describes the sound of the sauce that barely simmer producing tiny bubbles – stirring once in awhile, tasting for salt and pepper.

My brothers and I would wake up to the aroma of the ragú and my best treat of the morning was a small slice of bread smothered with sauce.

The  sauce usually serves as condiment to the ziti spezzati – my mom used to buy the long ziti and it was my job to cut them into short pieces – or to the paccheri, or to the handmade pasta that my mom had prepared. The meat, covered with sauce,  was the second course along with the obligatory patatine fritte (fried potatoes) and  insalata verde  – just plain green lettuce – simply seasoned with olive oil and squeezed lemon.

Now, to find an original, traditional recipe of  ragú it is not easy task, so I have always relied on my memories and some research. The ragú, is prepared with large pieces of meat that are browned together with a lot of onions. The choice of  meat cuts seems to be the main issue, and not just for me . . . If you have 3 minute to spare,  you might enjoy this clip from  Sabato Domenica Lunedì, an Italian movie, starring Sofia Loren. Rosa Priore (Sofia Loren) is shopping for the perfect ingredients for ragú; in the macelleria (butcher shop), she gets into an argument  with another client about which meat cuts to use.  I am sorry the clip is in Italian – actually Neapolitan – however, tone of voices and expressions tell it all . . . and who doesn’t want to see the beautiful Sofia Loren!

Italian meat cuts have such distinctive names, cappello del prete, piccione, locena and so on, that I often find very difficult to translate them into an English equivalent. So many times, I show up at the butcher counter with a meat chart  and I point out the cuts I need. So here is a picture for you.

One of the more traditional recipe advise to use the following cuts of meat (The numbers correspond to the cuts in the picture, I also added the English equivalent):

Scamone (#14 – beef rump), annecchia (veal stew), one slice of locena (#2 – beef brisket), noce di vitello (#16 – veal sirloin), pork ribs, and one piece of cotica (pork rind).

In my recipe, I follow the traditional cooking method, however, I do not use the lard – originally used instead of olive oil – and the pork rind. For the meat cuts, on this particular day, I used what I found available – pork and beef.  Keep in mind that I often cook for only 3-4 people therefore I need to adjust my recipes accordingly.

Ricetta

RAGÚ NAPOLETANO

Ingredients for 8 persons:

1 pound rump (#14)

1 large slice of brisket (#2) not too thick.

1 pound veal sirloin (16)

1 pound veal stew

1 pound pork ribs

2 large Vidalia onions – sliced

6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoon butter (I use butter-oil combination as substitute for lard)

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 cup of red wine

1-1/2 pound tomato pureed

salt and pepper to taste

fresh basil leaves

fresh parsley

1 tablespoon pine nuts

1 tablespoon raisins – previously soaked in water

½ cup freshly grated Parmiggiano Reggiano

1 clove of garlic finely chopped

Directions:

First prepare the braciola: lay the slice of meat on a chopping board, season with salt and pepper. Add parsley (hand-chopped), pine nuts, raisins, and grated cheese. Roll-up the meat and tie with cooking twine.

Season the rest of the meat with salt and pepper. Tie the large pieces with cooking twine to keep the shape.

In a large pot heat the oil and melt the butter. Add the sliced onions and the meat at the same time.

On medium heat let the meat brown and the onion soften until almost disappear. To achieve a perfect result you must tend to each step with care. During this first step you must be vigilant, don’t let the onion dry, stir with a cucchiaia (wooden spoon) and start adding wine if necessary to keep moist and facilitate the melting of the onions.

Once the onions have dissolved and the meat has browned, add the tomato paste and a little wine to dissolve it. Stir and combine the ingredients. Let cook slowly for 10 minutes.

Time to add the tomatoes pureed, season with salt and black pepper and stir.

Cover the pot but leave the lid ajar, you can place a wooden spoon under the lid. The sauce must cook very slowly for at least 3-4 hours.

Remember, as they say in Naples, the sauce must “pippiare”.

Pippiare . . . can you see the tiny bubbles?

After 2 hours add few leaves of basil and continue cooking.

IMPORTANT: Half way through, don’t forget to dip a piece of bread into the sauce and have your first taste of heaven!

During these 3-4 hours you must keep tending to the ragú, stirring once in awhile and making sure that it doesn’t stick to the bottom.

Carne al ragu`

The sauce, as I mentioned can be use as condiment for different kind of pastas. This sauce is also used in the preparation of the lasagna napoletana and the parmigiana di melanzane (eggplant parmigiana).

On this particular occasion, I used my ragú to make fusilli e strascicati al tegamino – my husband had just returned from Italy and brought me back these fresh homemade pasta. See in pictures the steps and final product.

Before I leave . . .HAPPY FATHER’S DAY TO ALL THE DADS!!!

Fusilli and Strascicati directly from Italy!

A Cultural Evening at the Embassy of Italy in Washington DC

Ambasciata d’Italia, Washington, DC

This past Tuesday night I attended a cultural event at the Embassy of Italy in Washington, DC. I had found out about it through Piazza Italia, Washington, DC Italian Language Cultural Group. I had joined the group some times ago, however I had not participated to any of their events yet. I am glad I did this time!

First let me tell you that I LOVE the architecture of the Embassy of Italy, not to be partial, but I think it is the most beautiful Embassy in DC.

Rizzoli New York and the Embassy of Italy had organized a cocktail reception to celebrate the publication of  the book  ” Masseria – The Italian Farmhouse of Puglia.

My own copy of the book.

How appropriate that I am in the process of designing a trip to Southern Italy – specifically in the Regions of Campania, Basilicata, and  Puglia – for the Institute of Learning in Retirement (ILR) in Frederick, MD, where I teach few classes.

Now, you are probably looking at the book cover and asking yourself: what is a Masseria?  Let me tell you just few words about it.  The Masseria is a sort of fortified farmhouse typical of the Puglia region and mostly located along the Via Appia (Appian Way) – the ancient Roman road.

The Masserie originated during the feudal period. Each Masseria is almost like  a small self-sufficient world within the vast land. Although they all served the same purpose – house, farm, chapel, stable – the Masseria’s typologies vary with the historical period – from seventeenth century to late nineteenth century – the geographical location, and therefore the different agricultural activities: herding and durum wheat in North-West Murgia, wine and olive in the South-East and in the Salento.  Along with the Trulli – and often in conjunction to – the Masseria are the most distinctive architectural models of  Puglia. They range from rustic to luxurious and each is unique. Note that the Trulli, one of the best example of vernacular architecture,  in 1996 have been included in the UNESCO’s list of  World Heritage Centre.

Back to my evening; the event started with the book presentation that took place in the Embassy’s auditorium, which was furnished with comfortable Poltrona Frau seating – fancy! Good thing I sat comfortably, the presentation – in typical Italian style –  started fashionably late. Delivering the presentation was the book’s project director, Signora Cristina Rizzo, a charming woman that appeared to prefer to be away from the spotlight.

Signora Rizzo

Signora Rizzo explained that the idea of the book came from a short visit to her friend in Puglia. She said that once in the presence of this unique reality within that beautiful landscape, she immediately knew that she wanted to produce a book about it.

Signora Rizzo went on to explain that since not all the Masserie have been restored/maintained to their original conditions, selecting the Masserie to be featured in the book, had not been an easy task. The shooting of the pictures alone took  4 months.

The book is lovely. It is full of amazing photographs – by Mark Roskams – of a large number of Masserie and it also includes a well written introduction by Diane Lewis that also provides a short description of each depicted Masseria.  I would have probably liked to read a little more in-depth details about the history and the stories behind the Masserie; this is, however, a beautiful coffee-table book.

After the presentation the approximately 90 attendees gathered to the central hall to enjoy red and white  wine from the Puglia Region. I opted for the red and it was very pleasant; shame on me that I forgot to take note of the wine. . . too busy mingling and dispensing business cards to promote my lovely blog!

Although I was a little disappointed that Mrs. Diane Lewis was not there to present the book herself, I had a very enjoyable evening. I finally met some members of Piazza Italia,  I got myself a wonderful book, and something new to share with you.

NOTE: Some of the Masseria have recently been converted into agriturismo, boutique hotels, and luxury resorts.

 FTC Disclosure

I have not received any compensation for posting this content and I have no material connection to the brands, topics and/or products that are mentioned herein.  The books shown is my own. My opinions are 100% my own.

April 25th . . . That’s when it all started.

Today, Italy celebrates the 67th anniversary of its liberation from Nazi-Fascist dictatorship.

I could enlighten you about this, indeed important, piece of Italy’s history; however on second thought, I am going to tell you about my own special anniversary.

On April 25th 1991, my family’s journey to the United States started – my husband and I, and our two sons, respectively 2-1/2 years old and 3 months old. A journey that should have lasted 11 months, but guess what . . . it hasn’t ended yet!

Twenty-one years have passed; I consider the States my adopted land and home, yet for some reason, it still feels like an ongoing adventure; that’s why I celebrate. Or, it must be because every time I meet someone new, after my “hello”, the first question I am still asked is: “Where are you from?”. Perhaps I should be offended and at times, depending on my mood, I am; most of the times, however, I just carry the conversation on until my acquaintance feels compelled to say: “Oh, what a lovely accent!” and then: “I LOVE Italy, my favorite place in the world!” or: “Oh, my great-great-grandparents were from Italy!

Anyway, back to my anniversary.

In August 1990, my husband was offered a grant to work in cancer research in United States, for a period of eleven months. At that time, I was 4 months pregnant, we had a 21 months old son, and I was preparing to discuss my thesis to become an architect. Yet, I jumped at the idea and I started making plans. We were going to leave on April 25th 1991. By then, our baby would have been 3 months old, and I would have received my degree and completed my registration to the Board of Architects. It also seemed appropriate to depart on Liberation’s Day to assert our longing for something new.

On April 24th 1991, the night before our flight to United States, we finished packing our six suitcases – thank God there were no luggage charges at that time! –  plus one carrozzina (baby carriage), one passeggino (baby stroller), and three carry-on bags. To avoid the morning rush, we decided to park everything in my parents’ apartment building’s  “sottoscala” – a sort of storage space below the first floor’s  central hall; it was a safe place, or so we thought. . .

On April 25th 1991, at 4:00 am, both my husband’s family and mine drove us to Rome Airport.

The United States, at that time, was engaged in the Gulf War and many precautionary measures were taken at the airport. We were asked if our luggage had always been under our direct surveillance, of course we told the truth and guess what? Yes, all our heavily stuffed luggage needed to be inspected. . . the carillon was playing “Per Elisa”, the stuffed animals went flying on the floor, and so were my bras, books, and everything else.

This was all happening while my two years old was horsing around at the airport, my baby was screaming for hunger, my husband was arguing with the security, and my relatives were witnessing the whole scene in disbelief. Then . . . it was time to kiss and say ‘arrivederci’.

On April 25th 1991 at 6:30 am, we were on Flight TWA-0841 to JFK, New York.

Our boarding pass stubs

The flight was completely booked; no room for the baby carrier, our beautiful family of four was accommodated in the last row, just before the smoking section . . . no, I am not kidding!

April 25th 1991, Baby's first flight

On April 25th 1991 at 2:30 PM we landed at JFK, our first stop in USA. After, a first horrible experience with the immigration service we were finally on our way to our final destination: Washington, DC.

Immigration stamp

On April 25th 1991 at 7:00 PM we landed at Washington National Airport . . . that’s when it all started.

It has been a long day!

A friend picked us up at the airport; of course he didn’t imagine he should have rented a U-Haul! I remember driving the George Washington Memorial Parkway, the first view of the Potomac River, the Jefferson Memorial, and the Washington Monument . . . how beautiful! I knew then, that it was going to be a wonderful journey.

First view of Washington Monument

Today, April 25th 2012, I woke up to a beautiful Spring day in Frederick, Maryland. I have loved every minute of my last twenty-one years in USA, so pardon mylovely” accent . . . My American journey has yet to end!

Day three of My Easter Baking Marathon. . . La Pastiera

This is the last day of My Easter baking marathon, time for the sweet things.

La Pastiera is another traditional dish of the Neapolitan cuisine.

The nuns of the ancient convent of San Gregorio Armeno were considered to be master in the preparation of the Pastiera. They used to prepare great quantities for the rich families during Easter time.

Today, there are two different ways of preparing the Pastiera: the traditional one mixes the ricotta cheese to the eggs; the most recent one, adds to the mix thick pastry cream.

I follow the traditional recipe, I do however, purée half of the wheat/milk mixture to favor a creamier texture.

The Acqua di Millefiori (Literally “ Thousand Flower Water”) is the one ingredient in the Pastiera that gives it its very distinct aroma . . . It truly reminds you that it’s Primavera (Spring)!

The Pastiera has to be cooked few days in advance, no later than Good Friday, in order to allow the fragrances to fully develop.

The Pastiera is typically cooked and served in thin aluminum baking tart dish. The dough is very fragile, so it would easily crumble up if removed from the dish.

The legend narrates that Partenope, the mermaid, lived in the gulf of Naples enchanted by its beauty. Every Spring she would emerge from the water to greet all the happy people who lived there and brighten their days singing love calls.

One day her voice was so melodious that all the people were fascinated and moved by the words of love that the mermaid had dedicated to them. To thank her, they decided to give her the most precious gifts they had. Seven of the most beautiful virgin girls were picked to bring Partenope the gifts: flour, strength and richness of the land; wheat boiled with milk, symbol of the two reigns; ricotta cheese, a present of the shepherds and sheep; eggs, symbol of a new life; water with flowers fragrance; spices, which represented people who lived far away in other continents; sugar, which best gave the idea of the sweetness of Partenope’s call profusing in the sky, on Earth and in the universe.

The mermaid was happy of these gifts and decided to bring them to the gods and goddess who lived in the sea. They were all carried away by these gifts, and decided to mix them all together with heavenly art. The result was the first Pastiera.

Now let’s try to bake our heavenly Pastiera!

Ricetta Pastiera Napoletana

For the tart shell:

12 10-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature.

3 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 3/4 2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour

Pinch salt

For the filling:

UPDATE: Please note that filling is enough for two Pastiera.

2-3/4 cups ricotta cheese

3 2 cups sugar

1 jar (3 cups) of boiled wheat

3 oz candied citron

3 oz. candied orange

a dash cinnamon

1/3 cup milk

2-1/8 tablespoon butter

5 whole eggs plus 2 egg yolks

1 tablespoon of vanilla

1 2 tablespoon of Acqua di Millefiori or orange flavored water

1 lemon

Directions:

Start with the tart shell:

In the bowl of a standing mixer with the hook attachment, mix flour, sugar, and grated peel of ½ lemon. Add the butter and work to mix. Add the eggs one at a time while mixing slowly.

Transfer the dough to a surface dusted with flour. Quickly knead the dough to make a ball. Let rest for 30 minutes covered with a damp cloth.

For the filling:

Pour the wheat, the milk, the butter and grated lemon peel in a pan; let it cook for not less than 10 20 minutes or until the ingredients have become creamy (stir often).

Let the mixture cool.

In another pan whip the ricotta cheese, the sugar, 5 eggs, 2 egg yolks, vanilla, acqua di Millefiori, and a dash of cinnamon.

Mix everything until the dough custard is very smooth. Then add some grated lemon peel and the candied orange and citron (cut is small cubes).

Transfer half of the milk/wheat mixture to a food processor and mix until smooth. Pour back into the other half of the mixture.

Add the milk-wheat mixture to the ricotta – egg mixture. Stir to blend all the ingredients.

Preheat the oven at 360 degree.

Grease the tart dish with butter and dust with flour.

Roll out the dough until it’s ¼ inch thick.

Line the short pastry into the tart dish.

Cut the exceeding edges off leaving ½ inch overhang. Re-roll the scraps and cut into ½ inch strips to use as lattice top for the pie.

Pour the mixture of the ricotta cheese and the other ingredients in the pan, and fold the borders of the short pastry inwards.

Place the strips of dough across the filling, spaced about 1 inch apart forming a lattice top.

(The picture above is from last year and I didn’t have enough scraps to make my lattice. It’s not going to happen this year!)

 

Fold the ½ inch overhang over the edges of the lattice and with your fingers flute the border.

Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until the top has an amber color and the center is set.

Turn off the oven and let the pie cool for 1 hour in the oven with the door slightly ajar. Remove from oven and continue the cooling process on a wire rack.

I baked two!

Once the pie is completely cool, cover with plastic wrap (loosely) and chill until serving.

Serve at room temperature and dust with powder sugar just before serving.

BUONA PASQUA!!!

Related posts:

Easter baking marathon – Pizza con l’erba – Recipes and Memories

Day 2 of my Easter baking marathon – Pizza Piena

Day two of My Easter Baking Marathon . . . Pizza Piena

Peasant Woman with basket
Image from foto.inabruzzo.it
http://foto.inabruzzo.it

The Pizza Piena is a traditional Neapolitan recipe very typical during Easter time. In Naples they call it “Pizza Chiena and it is a must on the Easter Sunday table.

It’s a traditional country pie and, as I mentioned in my previous post, it is called Chiena or Piena (full) because it’s very much stuffed with salami, sheep cheese and eggs.

All the ingredients have a symbolic value: sopressata (type of salami) as symbol of wealth for the farmer’s tables, pecorino (sheep cheese) as symbol of innocence (sheep milk = food of the lamb), ouva (eggs) as symbol of birth and therefore symbol of resurrection. And of course the farina (flour), as bread, prince of the table.

One of the most important ingredient is the fresh sheep cheese, called primo sale (literally “first salt”). The name is used to describe the early stage of its aging. The primo sale is rindless, with a bright white color, and a semi-soft texture.

When I was a child, a contadina (peasant woman) used to bring the cheese, the fresh eggs, the fresh ricotta, and also greens and herbs to our door.

We lived on the third floor of an apartment building without elevator.

How amazed I was watching the not so young woman balancing a large cesto (basket), full of her fresh products from the farm, over her head, while climbing up the three flight of stairs! Under the basket a rolled up rag to protect her head. She would stop to deliver her goods, catch her breath, and accept a glass of fresh water. Then, with the basket on her head again, she was back down the stairs on her way to the next building and then the next, until her basket was empty.

As you can imagine, I haven’t been using the primo sale in a long time . . I substitute it with fresh pecorino.

Enough with the nonsense, time to share My recipe.

Ricetta Pizza Piena di Pasqua

For the dough:

5-2/3 cups all purpose flour

1 packet of yeast

salt and pepper

1/4 cup milk to dissolve the yeast

8 tablespoons butter or lard (cubed)

1 cups lukewarm water (if necessary)

For the filling:

500 gr. fresh pecorino diced

1 sopressata sliced (or neapolitan dry cured salami)

10 eggs beaten

1 dry scamorza cheese

salt and pepper

1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano

Directions:

In a bowl add the diced pecorino and the sliced salami. Add the slightly beaten eggs. Lastly add the grated Parmigiano Reggiano and the black pepper. Stir to combine and let rest.

 

Dissolve the yeast in ¼ cup of warm milk and a pinch of sugar.

In the bowl of the standing mixer, pour flour, pepper, butter, and dissolved yeast. Mix everything together, then add salt. Work until you obtain a soft dough that detaches from the sides of the bowl (add a little lukewarm water as necessary).

Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for about 90 minutes.

Take a baking sheet with sides high enough, in the oven, while cooking the pizza will grow. Grease the pan with oil.

Preheat the oven to 360 degree.

Divide the dough into two balls (1/3 and 2/3). Roll out the larger ball of dough to a ½ inch thick disk. The disk of dough has to be large enough to cover the sides and exceed the edge of the pan. Line the dough into the pan.

Roll out the second ball of dough and keep it aside.

Pour the mixture and cover with the second disk of dough.

Seal the border pressing the edges to each other with your fingers. Prick the top with a fork and brush with olive oil.

Bake for about 1 hour, the pizza will swell. The pizza is ready when the surface is crunchy and golden.

This pizza develops its full flavor 2-3 days after baking so, plan in advance. I know it is hard to resist to this inviting dish while is sitting on your kitchen counter, but let me tell you, the wait is worthwhile.

Don’t come forget to come back tomorrow for My last recipe: Pastiera Napoletana

Related post:
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Day 3 of my Easter baking marathon – Pastiera