Copyright Piacere - Food & Travel without rules! 2018 - Theme by ThemeinProgress
Traditional Italian food of Easter typically includes: capretto o agnello al forno (roast lamb), carcioffi fritti (fried artichokes), pizza rustica (a pie stuffed with ricotta, sausage and hard boiled eggs), la colomba di Pasqua (a dove-shaped sweet bread). Taralli, cassatelli, biscotti di pignoli, pena di Pasqua (sweet bread with hard-boiled, pastel colored eggs baked in the center), and torta di ricotta (Ricotta cheese cake) are prepared in every Italian home.
Chocolate Easter eggs are a special treat for children in Italy. The “uovo di pasqua” – a large decorative chocolate egg that comes with a gift inside are beautifully wrapped in elaborate and colorful decorative foils weighing from a few ounces to about 18 pounds. Stores are filled with “uovo di pasqua” creating a psychedelic and festive atmosphere. In past times, parents would take the gifts to their cioccolataio (chocolate maker) and it would be placed inside the chocolate egg.
The taralli is a treasure from Apuglia and are eaten any time of the day. Simple yet delicious recipes are created with eggs and flour. Fennel seed, black pepper, red pepper flakes and wine added and formed into oval or round shapes. In southern Italy, taralli come in many sizes and flavors. These are typically referred to in Neapolitan dialect as “scaldetelli” little boiled things. Many, but not all taralli are dipped in boiling water before being baked creating a nice sheen on the outside. Some are baked and brushed with egg wash. Taralli are biscuits or snack food, but can also make an appearance as a dessert after a meal is over and dunked into wine. In our family they are the star of the Easter desserts along with the Ricotta Torta and Torta di riso. They are traditional desserts that make each and every day special and holidays a delight for everybody. The Italians have a saying “no matter what the argument it can be resolved over a glass of wine and handful of taralli”.
The Easter egg taralli (as I call them) are only made at Easter and have no other flavoring. Typically, taralli are not frosted, but there is a version called “Charmel” that are lightly frosted with a confectionary glaze and sprinkled with tiny colorful sprinkles. Egg taralli are hard, but as light as clouds. Our recipe for egg taralli are boiled and then baked turning a warm caramel color. I make large quantities of them and serve them in an Italian hand painted bowl from Apuglia. Taralli dunked in “Vino Santo”, a sweet Italian white wine coming from the Tuscany is like floating in air. Very appropriate for Easter!
Easter Egg Taralli
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 20 minutes at 400ºF or until light brown
Yield: 5 Dozen
7 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons oil
Add the salt to the flour in a large bowl. Mix the egg and oil into the flour and form a ball. This step can be done in a mixer. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes or until it is smooth. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel. Let it rest in a warm place for an hour.
Roll out pieces of dough into 6” x 1” cylinders. Take each piece of dough and bring the ends together to form a doughnut shape. Press the ends together with your thumb.
Fill a large saucepan with water and let it to come to a boil. Drop them one at a time into the boiling water. When they rise to the top, remove them to a dry board or kitchen towel. Make a cut along the outside edge of the doughnut. This allows them to rise.
Place them on a cookie sheet and bake them in a 400ºF oven until they are a light golden brown. The taralli will be hard on the outside, but light and airy on the inside. They are not sweet, but more like a biscuit. They will store in an airtight container for weeks.
Serve them with “Vino Santo”, a white sweet wine from the Tuscany.
Annecy is in the southeastern part of France. It lies on northern tip of Lake Annecy in the Haute-Savoie surrounded by mountains where goats and cows quietly graze in alpine pastures. Farms along the route produce and offer chèvre for sale and beautiful chateaus can be seen behind tall majestic trees.
During the 1400 hundreds, it was in the possession of the Genevois and the Princes of Savoy and later under Sicilian, Sardinian, Spanish, Austrian and finally French rule. You can clearly see the influence of these countries in the cuisine. The production of salami can be found in shops and farm stands throughout the region. Some stuffed with hazelnuts or rolled in crushed peppercorns and herbs. Large ones, small links, soft and hard varieties are produced by small farms in the area.
The old village (Annecy-le-Vieux) rambles along the Canal du Thieu where passages along the streets are lined with colorful houses and flowers. It is a strange beauty in a way, as many of the houses look as if they will crumble into the canal at any time. Paint clings onto the buildings, but losing its battle. This tableau of colorful buildings precariously leaning in all directions is simply charming. The arcades are lined with shops with traditional crafts, antiques, dried flowers, and chocolates. The small restaurants that are tucked into these houses serve foie gras de carnard, fondue Savoyarde, salade du chèvre chaud or poisson du lac. You think, should I chance walking up the narrow stairs; the scent of the Savoie specialties lures you up to small restaurants with views of the canal and cafés below.
There is a farmers market on Saturdays with vendor stands throughout the old city. Along the street crowded with people waiting to make their purchases, you can find local specialties such as kraut and saucisson cooked in large copper pots, fromage melted on large crusty pieces of bread, freshly made local breads, pastries as well as fresh fish, fruits and vegetables. There are many antique shops and once a month there is an antique market along the arcades (check the web page for exact dates).
Locals fill the large park located at the lakeside on the weekends. Children enjoying the carousel beg to go on again and again. There are ball games and people just taking in the sun or enjoy the day with friends and family outdoors. Artists painting the unique village create memories for tourists of Anncey for many years to come.
Brasseries line the narrow passages along the canal and the specialty of plateau fruits de mer is our favorite. My husband and I actually enjoy going to Anncey on a grey day and even light rain. Sitting in a brasserie with a large plateau du fruits de mer and a bottle of local white wine is one of our favorite ways to spend a rainy day.
Anncey is a romantic resort town. If you are visiting France or the French region of Switzerland, take a side trip to Anncey. It is about 1 hour from Geneva and 5 1/2 hours from Paris.
Check the Anncey tourist web site for more history, cultural events and markets.
The recipe below is from France Monthly.Tartiflette is a typical “Savoie” dish. www.francemonthly.com
Preparation time: 50 minutes
2 1/2 lbs of potatoes
1 medium onion (larger or smaller according to your taste)
1/2 lb Canadian bacon
1 Reblochon cheese (or 1 lb of Swiss Gruyere)
3/4 cup white wine
2 Tablespoons oil
Salt and Pepper
The recipe recommends that you use a cheese from the region, called “Reblochon”, and a white “Savoie” wine. This wine is very difficult to find in the United States and we therefore advise you to use a bottle of white Burgundy (Chablis, Saint Veran, Macon Village) or of Muscadet (from the Loire region).
If you cannot find the Reblochon, or prefer a milder cheese, Swiss Gruyere can be used. To accompany this dish we recommend a green leaf salad.
Peel potatoes and boil or steam for 20 minutes. Peel onion and cut into thin slices.
Heat large frying pan with the oil and sauté the onion slices. Cut bacon into small cubes and add to pan. Cook on medium heat until onion slices are soft (10 minutes). Stir as needed.
Add potatoes that have been diced and pour white wine over it.
Salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Cut the Reblochon in two halves across its thickness. If you are using Gruyere, slice in thin strips.
Put half of the potato preparation in a round ovenproof dish.
Place half of the Reblochon (or Gruyere) cheese side down, on top.
Cover with remaining potatoes and finish with the second half of the Reblochon (or Gruyere).
Place in 350º F oven for 20 minutes
Torta di Ricotta e Riso
Ricotta is typically made from the whey of mozzarella, provolone, and other cheeses in Italy. It is made from sheep’s, goat, buffalo and cows milk whey. It is a sweeter, dryer cheese then the version made in the US, which is made of cow’s milk. It is lighter and is naturally low in fat. Used in many dishes in Italy such as cassata, biscotti, pizza, and pasta i.e. lasagna and ravioli, Ricotta is the favored cheese in Easter dishes in Italy. Calzone, Pizza Rustico, cassata, torta di riso, cannoli are made in every household on Easter.
Torta di Ricotta e riso is an Easter specialty in my family. Some might call this a calzone or pizzagaina, but we call it a torta or pie. If you are a vegetarian this torta is the original recipe and requires no adjustments as it contains only rice and ricotta. I have added a little lemon zest to the original recipe. This happened by mistake one Easter as I had in my mind another of our Easter recipes and mistakenly add the zest. I really liked it and kept it in my torta recipe. You can use orange zest also, which goes very well with Ricotta. We also make a pizza rustico, ravioli and a torta de formaggio or Italian Ricotta cheesecake.
Torta di Ricotta e Riso makes an impressive luncheon dish.
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 30-40 minutes @ 350 degrees
Yield: 4 loaves. 8-2” slices per loaf
7 cups flour
2 eggs (allow them to come to room temperature)
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons shortening
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup warm to mix as needed
2 lbs. whole milk ricotta
1 1/2 cups cooked long grain rice
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
Dough in a food processor
Make the dough by mixing the eggs, and flour, baking powder, shortening and salt in a food processor using the dough utensil. Add the water slowly and allow the dough to form a ball. Remove it to a board and knead it for 15 minutes until it becomes smooth. Cover it with plastic wrap or with a clean kitchen towel.
Put the flour on a board and make a well in the middle. Add shortening and salt and baking powder. Put the eggs in the middle and using a folk, begin to bring the flour into the well until you have all the mixture and flour blended into ball. If you need to add water, do so but only a little at a time. Knead and set-aside covered with a cloth or plastic wrap.
Cook the rice for about 20 minutes until done and allow it to cool. While the rice is cooking prepare the ricotta mixture. Mix the ricotta, eggs, and lemon zest (zest is optional) and salt. Combine the rice after it has cooled with the ricotta mixture.
Roll the dough out to a 12”x 8” oblong shape. Place the filling in the middle and fold the dough over the filling in an envelope shape. Crimp the edges by folding the dough over one section at a time starting at one end. Brush with an egg wash (egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of water beaten together) and bake until golden brown. Cool before cutting the torta.
A friend asked me for a soup recipe for a Super Bowl Sunday party. Since she lives in New England and expects that it will be snowy, she wanted to make a big pot of hot soup for everyone to enjoy by the fire watching the game. I wanted to give her a really hearty soup that would satisfy everyone and yet be different.
While I was studying Italian in Bologna Italy, I took a course in cooking in the evenings. Monica was a child physiologist and taught the class with her husband who was an antiquities architect. They were serious food lovers and their kitchen had one small stove and refrigerator, with a huge country kitchen table in the middle where we rolled out dough to almost half the size of the table. It was tight trying to move between large credenzas on each side of the table and in the corner was a small table with a large basket filled with squash, artichokes and other assorted vegetables. Their home was filled with art bought at the art market held each Sunday in Bologna. We cooked and had long conversations in Italian late into the evening. I walked two miles back to my apartment after these evenings under the beautiful arched walkways of Bologna hoping to wear off the large meals that we consumed with complete satisfaction. This soup was one of the recipes we made and I have passed and have gotten rave reviews from all my friends. If you also want something warm for your guests, enjoy this recipe.
Zuppa di salsiccia e pomodoro e rosmarino con ditalini
Monica di Bologna, Italia
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
4 Italian sweet sausages cut into 1/2” sections
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup pureed tomatoes (Passata di Pomodoro)
2 tablespoons butter
2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary
6 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup of white wine
3 whole cloves garlic
1/2 lb. of Ditalini pasta or other small pasta
Sauté the garlic in olive oil. Sauté the sausage and rosemary for 10 minutes in the olive oil and butter. Add the wine, passata (pureed tomatoes) and the broth and cook for 45 minutes.
Cook the Ditalini pasta in salted boiling water. Drain and add the pasta to the soup. I like to put a scoop of pasta in the bowl and add the soup over it. Not mixing it in the soup will keep the pasta from getting too soft.
Serve with grated Parmesan Cheese sprinkled over the top and bruschetta on the side.
Yield: 4 Servings
8 slices of good quality Italian or French bread
2 large cloves of garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
Toast the bread and when still hot rub it thoroughly with the garlic which you have cut in half. Sprinkle olive oil over the top.
Why not try something different for Valentines Day and give your love ones a real double chocolate treat. These biscotti are perfect and wrapped in a pretty red box with ribbons would be a real surprise when opened. Add your favorite hot chocolate mix and your gift will be complete for a triple chocolate treat. Or maybe add Crème de Chocolat liquor for the adults that may appreciate a little more of a chocolate infusion.
These biscotti are double baked and have a hard texture, crispy, but filled with soft chocolate and walnuts inside. There is no need for frosting because this is an all in one biscotti. This recipe makes about 30 biscotti.
Double Chocolate Walnut Biscotti
Baking Time: 35 minutes @ 350ºF
Servings: Makes about 30 biscotti.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup walnuts, chopped
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling on top of the logs
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl with an electric mixer beat the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until combined well. Stir in the flour mixture to form stiff dense dough. Stir in the walnuts and chocolate chips.
Prepared the baking sheet by buttering and sprinkle flour on it. But if you have a silicone mat of parchment paper this won’t be necessary. With floured hands form the dough into two slightly flattened logs, each 12 inches long and 2 inches wide, and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Bake the logs 35 minutes, or until slightly firm to the touch. Cool biscotti on baking sheet 5 minutes.
On a cutting board cut the biscotti diagonally into 3/4-inch slices. Arrange the biscotti; cut sides down, on baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes. Cool them on a rack.
The biscotti will keep in airtight containers for 1 week and frozen, 1 month.
I tried many carrot cakes and always feel as though I can’t ever finish it. They are usually heavy and all seem to be somewhat the same. This is a very old recipe of my mothers and is lighter with an Italian twist. The original recipe was topped with cornflakes, however I have replaced the cornflakes with chopped walnuts sprinkled at the bottom of the mold pan so that the top of the cake is decorated with walnuts and doesn’t need the cream cheese frosting. Put a dollop of cream cheese or Mascarpone maple cream topping on the side or make two carrot cake molds and fill the middle of the cake with the topping. I find that the cream cheese topping done this way helps to keep the cream cheese moist and prevents it from drying out and cracking.
Pecans can be substituted and the cream cheese topping can be substituted with Mascarpone Cream. Add little maple syrup and crushed walnuts or pecans to the Mascarpone for a different variation.
1 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
2 cups solid vegetable shortening or half shortening and butter
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons lemon juice
6 cups grated carrots
Cream Cheese Frosting
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 oz. butter, softened
1 1/3 cups confectionary sugar
Mascarpone Maple Cream Filling
Yield: 1 1/2 cups
1 8 oz. container Mascarpone Cheese
6-8 tablespoons of maple syrup
1/4 cup pulverized walnuts/pecans
Other Things Needed
1 bundt pan, greased
In a mixer, place the shortening and sugar and beat until blended. Add the eggs one at a time while mixing. Put in the lemon juice. Mix the flour, salt and baking powder and add it a little at a time to the mixing bowl, blending it before you add more flour. Once the batter is smooth, fold in the carrots.
In a well-greased bundt pan, spread the walnuts/pecans over the bottom of the pan. Pour in the batter and place the pan in a larger pan of hot water. The water should come up to about the middle of the pan.
Put it in a 350ºF oven for 1 hour. Allow the cake to cool before adding the filling.
NOTE: Put the larger pan on the rack in the oven, pour the hot water in the pan and place your cake pan into it. This way you don’t risk dropping the hot water or splashing water into your cake batter. It is much safer than doing it on the counter and bringing it to the stove.
Two mold pans can be used instead of one. Fill the center of the cake with your Cream cheese or Mascarpone cream filling.
Mix the softened cream cheese with the softened butter and add the vanilla and sugar blending it until it is smooth.
Mascarpone Maple Cream
Bring the Mascarpone to room temperature. Pulverize the nuts in a food processor. Mix all the ingredients together until the cream is smooth. You can adjust the recipe to make it stronger. Add other varieties of syrup or chopped dates, chopped fruit etc. to compliment your dessert.