From Easter tart to rabbit with herbs here are the delicacies that you can prepare to celebrate Easter, a religious celebration in all Christian Catholic Countries. Here are the recipes by La Cucina Italiana to properly replicate Italian Carnival at home.
5 Recipes for an
Italian Easter Day
With its Christian celebration of the Resurrection and the pagan marking of the reawakening of nature, Easter is a feast with multiple meanings, every element of which is loaded with a deep symbolic value. This is especially true at the table. In Italian tradition, there are certain ingredients that form an essential part of this occasion: fresh salads, a sign of the blossoming of the earth and the return of the warm weather; lamb, the symbol of the Paschal Victim, the figure of Christ himself; rabbit, a representation of fertility, the renewal of life and spring; white and fresh ricotta, the image of purity and also of abundance.
Finally, no Easter would be complete without eggs, which represent the birth of a new life and evoke the sign of perfection with their shape. Eggs are served up in appetizers, paired with raw vegetables or used as a filling for tantalising savoury pies. They round off the lunch in their delicious sweet form, with chocolate eggs delighting children in many countries. A more typically Italian treat comes in the form of the columba, or dove, a delicious leavened cake, covered with an unmistakable almond icing and its unmistakable bird shape that reveals yet more symbolism: a wish for peace and salvation.
These elements can be used as the starting point for putting together a menu that follows the dictates of the classic cuisine. Alternatively, the tradition can still be continued while combining the various ingredients to create new dishes, giving Easter lunch a personal touch and truly unique meaning.
TOTAL TIME: 1 hour, 30 minutes plus chilling
MAKES: 8 servings
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
5 cups (2½ pounds) fresh ricotta
14 large eggs
3/4 pound good quality cooked ham or mortadella, diced
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons minced fresh marjoram
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cumin seeds
For the pastry: In a bowl, quickly mix together the flour, water, oil and salt. Transfer the mixture to a work surface. Briefly work the dough with your fingertips until it forms a ball. Divide into two balls, one slightly larger than the other (one third to two thirds); shape balls into flattened disks, wrap separately in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the larger piece to a 14 ½-inch round, ⅛-inch thick. Transfer to an 11-inch springform pan, pressing into edges and leaving a ¼-inch overhang.
For the filling: Preheat the oven to 350°. In a bowl, combine the ricotta, 7 of the eggs, ham, marjoram, salt, and pepper; spoon into the prepared crust. With the back of a tablespoon, create 6 deep egg-shaped indentations in the filling. One at a time, crack an egg into each indentation.
Roll the remaining dough into a 11-inch round. Cover the top of the tart with dough; pinch together the edges and trim any excess dough. Whisk together the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush the top of the tart with the egg wash and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and cumin seeds. Bake tart, rotating halfway through, until top is puffed up and golden, 55 to 60 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool on rack to room temperature
Rabbit and herb salad
TOTAL TIME: 1 hour, 30 minutes
MAKES: 4 servings
1 (3-pound) rabbit, cut into 8 pieces
1 3/4 cups dry white wine
2 tablespoons whole celery leaves (from inner heart)
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
6 quail eggs or 2 large chicken eggs
1/2 cup shelled fresh fava beans (1/3 pound in pods)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons pine nuts
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh mint
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Fine sea salt
2 cups torn bibb or butter lettuce leaves
1 cup torn arugula leaves
1 cup torn chicory or frisée leaves
12 large basil leaves, torn into pieces
12 sprigs fresh chervil
1/2 teaspoon fresh marjoram leaves
2 dried apricots, thinly sliced
1/4 cup candied citron slices
Place rabbit in a large heavy saucepan or Dutch oven. Add wine. Add water to cover by 1/2 inch, celery leaves, peppercorns, sugar and coarse sea salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer; cook until meat is tender, about 1 hour.
Transfer rabbit to a plate; discard broth. When cool enough to handle, shred meat from bone.
In a small saucepan, cover eggs with cold water by 1 inch and bring just to a boil. Remove pan from heat and let eggs stand, covered, 3 minutes for quail eggs or 8 minutes for chicken eggs. Drain water from pan and run cold water over eggs, cracking shells against side of pan. Peel and quarter eggs.
Cook fava beans in a large pot of boiling salted water 2 minutes, then drain and place in a large bowl of ice water. Drain. Slip outer skin off each bean and discard skin.
In a small skillet, heat pine nuts over low heat, occasionally shaking pan back and forth, until lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly, 2 to 3 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, lemon juice, mint, ground pepper and generous pinch fine sea salt.
In a large bowl toss together bibb lettuce, arugula, chicory, basil, chervil and marjoram; divide among serving bowls. Top with rabbit, eggs, fava beans, pine nuts, apricots and citron. Drizzle with dressing
Stuffed leg of lamb with potatoes and anchovy sauce
TOTAL TIME: 2 hours
MAKES: 8 servings
LAMB AND POTATOES
4 large eggs
2 (2 1/2-pound) boneless legs of lamb, each leg butterflied
2 slices white sandwich bread, torn into pieces
1/2 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
1 leafy rosemary sprig plus 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 pounds small potatoes (each about 1 1/2 inches in diameter), peeled
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
3 flat anchovy fillets
For lamb and potatoes: Place eggs in a saucepan just large enough so that eggs sit in a single layer. Fill pan with tepid water to cover eggs by 1 inch. Over high heat, bring water just to a low boil, then remove from heat and cover. Begin timing immediately, 6 minutes.
Transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water to stop cooking; let cool completely. On a work surface, gently tap boiled eggs all over to crack. Peel under cold running water; set aside.
Heat oven to 400º with rack in middle.
Pat dry lamb. On a clean work surface, open 1 lamb leg. From thickest end, cut a piece, approximately 1/2 pound, to level surface of meat. Repeat with second lamb leg. Finely chop each 1/2 pound piece. In a large bowl, soak bread in milk until softened, about 1 minute. Squeeze out excess milk and return bread to bowl; add chopped lamb, parsley, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Mix together until just combined well.
With lamb legs open and a short side of each leg facing you, spread 1/4 of the chopped lamb mixture into each space where excess meat was cut. On top of chopped lamb, arrange eggs, side by side, with narrow ends facing you. Spread remaining chopped lamb over eggs.
Roll up each leg; tie each once lengthwise with kitchen string, then tie crosswise at 1-inch intervals.
Arrange lamb in a 13- x 9 1/2-inch roasting pan. Rub each leg with 1 tablespoon oil and season all over with salt and pepper. Roast 30 minutes, then pour wine over lamb. Add rosemary sprig and bay leaves to pan. Reduce heat to 350º and continue to roast until thermometer inserted diagonally into the thickest part of meat registers 160º for medium, about 45 minutes more.
Meanwhile, parboil potatoes in a large pot of salted boiling water, 4 minutes, then drain and pat dry. In a large cast iron or heavy skillet, toss potatoes with 1/4 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 cup oil; set aside.
Reserving pan juices, transfer lamb to cutting board; loosely tent with foil.
Increase oven temperature to 400º. Roast potatoes 20 minutes, then sprinkle with rosemary leaves; roast 5 minutes more. Turn off oven, leaving in potatoes to keep warm.
For sauce: Combine oil, shallot and anchovies in a small skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until shallot is tender and anchovies dissolve, about 5 minutes. Add pan juices from lamb, bring to a boil and cook until sauce is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Slice lamb legs crosswise. Serve with potatoes and sauce.
Fresh Ricotta Pastries
1 hour, 15 minutes | Makes 8 pastries
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
Fine sea salt
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ pound whole milk ricotta cheese
2 large eggs, separated
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Unsalted butter for greasing muffin tin
Confectioners sugar for dusting
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and pinch salt.
Mound flour mixture, then form a well in center. Add eggs and oil to the well. Using a fork, gently break up yolks and slowly incorporate flour from the inside rim of the well until liquid is absorbed (about half of the flour will be incorporated), then knead in bowl until dough forms a mostly complete mass. Transfer dough and any flour in bowl to a clean work surface to knead together until smooth, about 5 minutes. Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make filling.
In a large bowl, whisk together cheese, egg yolks,
granulated sugar and zest until smooth. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat egg whites to stiff peaks. In two additions, fold whites into cheese mixture.
Heat oven to 375º with rack in the middle. Grease 8 muffin cups with butter. Roll out dough to a 14-inch square, 2 millimeters thick. Using a fluted pastry wheel, cut out 8 (4-inch) squares from
dough; discard excess dough. Fit squares into prepared muffin cups, pressing centers into cups and letting corners of pastry overlap edges of pan. Divide filling among dough-lined cups, then fold
dough corners over filling.
Bake, rotating once, until pastries are puffed and golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack, 10 minutes. Gently twist pastries to release from cups. Serve warm or at room temperature, dusting with confectioners sugar just before serving.
MAKES: 8 servings
For the dough:
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm milk
3 1/4 cups flour, divided, plus extra
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup superfine sugar
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, divided, plus extra
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup candied orange peel, diced, plus extra
For the topping:
4 egg whites
1 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus extra
4 amaretto cookies, ground
1/3 cup almond flour
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almonds
Coarse sugar for sprinkling
Prepare the dough: In the bowl of a mixer, combine the yeast with the milk and ⅓ cup of warm water, and mix. Mix in 2 cups of the flour, and set aside to rise for 1 hour. Press on the dough to deflate it, and return to the mixer along with the egg yolks, superfine sugar, the remaining 1¼ cups flour, 3 tablespoons butter, vanilla extract, baking powder and a pinch of salt. Mix well, and set aside to rise for another 3 hours until it doubles in volume. Mix in the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter, the confectioners’ sugar and the candied orange peel. Set aside to rise for at least 10 hours or overnight.
Divide the dough into 3 pieces (1 longer piece for the body and 2 smaller pieces for the wings). Fit into a dove-shaped paper mold, and place on a baking sheet.
Preheat the oven to 375°.
Prepare the topping: In a bowl, beat the egg whites until medium peaks form. Fold in 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar, the amaretti and both flours. Drizzle on top of the dough, and set aside to rise for the fourth time, until the dough fills the mold and holds shallow indentations.
Sprinkle with the almonds, and dust with ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F, and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, and set aside to cool. To serve, dust with more confectioners’ sugar, and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Tagged with: #ITALIAN FOOD
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