Easter is two weeks away, and I’m starting to crave the traditional dishes we eat once a year at this time. When you see what’s in the recipes, you’ll probably think we should eat them only once a decade, but a little lard hopefully won’t do too much damage. If you celebrate Easter, what’s your favorite recipe?
In my grandmother’s house it’s always Ham Pie, or Easter Pie. Easter Pie is a quiche-like savory pie filled with eggs, cheese and meat. The period before Easter, or Lent, is a time of fasting. So come Easter Sunday, people were ready to indulge and they did so by eating rich, cheesy and meaty Easter Pies. Easter Pie has many different names and recipes, depending on what section of Italy you’re from. Ours is simply ham, eggs and five different types of cheeses.
We also have a sweet Ricotta Pie made with sugar and ricotta cheese – similar to a cheesecake, but better. I recommend an artery-opening red wine to go with the meal.
For the crust: (yields 4)
-4 cups flour -1 tsp salt
-1 cup Crisco – 1 whole egg
-⅓ cup lard -1 tbsp white vinegar
-1 tbsp sugar -1/2 cup cold water
To make pie crust: Mix flour, sugar and salt. Add Crisco and lard with a pastry blender or in food processor. Slowly add liquid ingredients and mix until crumbly. Do not overmix; dough will get tough. Divide into 4 balls. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Roll out on floured board.
For the pie:
-3 cups cubed ham
-3 cups cubed cheese (colby, cooper sharp, Swiss, Italian basket cheese and white American)
-1 cup grated parmesan cheese
-pepper to taste
To make the pie: Preheat oven to 375. Layer cubed ham and cheese in a pie plate lined with unbaked pie crust. (See pie crust recipe below.) Beat eggs, parmesan cheese and pepper in a small bowl. Pour egg mixture over ham and cheese. Place a top crust on pie and flute edges. Puncture top crust with a fork to vent. Bake for 55 minutes.
-1 lb thin linguine
-1 dozen eggs
-2 tbsp butter
-1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
-fresh ground pepper to taste
-½ cup of reserved pasta water
Cook the linguine according to package directions. In a bowl, beat the eggs with the cheese and pepper. In a greased 9 x 13 glass dish, combine the cooked pasta, ½ cup of pasta water, butter and egg mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Cut and serve.
-1 lb. ricotta cheese -1/2 pint whipping cream
-4 eggs -1 tsp vanilla
-4 tbsp sugar -pinch of salt
-1 tsp cornstarch -powdered sugar
-zest and juice of 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, beat all ingredients until well blended. Pour the mixture into an unbaked 10-inch pie crust. (See homemade pie crust recipe or use a refrigerated pie crust.) Bake for one hour, until a toothpick comes out clean. When cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar.