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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Tag Archives: Easter

Easter

The traditional Italian-American Easter meal is rich, festive, elaborate and labor-intensive. The array of dishes might include a big antipasto, a thick pizza rustica, homemade pasta, lamb accompanied by several vegetables and numerous pastries. Does this sound like a lot of work? So this year why not try a brunch, instead. Much of the work and preparation can be done ahead of time.

The word “brunch” obviously stands for “breakfast” and “lunch.” It’s served midday and combines the best sweet and savory elements of both of these meals. It’s the most common way to celebrate Easter and Mother’s Day and has even become a way of dining at weddings and family celebrations.

How did this type of meal evolve? It was common among Christians to have a large post-church meal on Sundays. Catholics used to require fasting from midnight on before receiving communion, so after leaving their place of worship, many people ate a large meal combining breakfast and lunch. Some churches even hosted the meals on the premises. We also know that during much of Western history, the Sunday midday meal was the largest meal of the day, followed by an early evening smaller supper.

A British writer named Guy Beringer first used the word brunch in 1895. In his essay, “Brunch: A Plea,” he advocated for a meal that was lighter than what was traditional at the time. The midday post-church meal in turn-of-the-century Britain consisted of heavy meat pies and filling foods, but Beringer proposed a lighter meal, which started with breakfast food before moving onto dinnertime fare. He wrote, “[Brunch] It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.”

bloody mary

Beringer also noted that a later meal on Sunday would make it easier for those who liked to drink on Saturday nights. He wrote, “By eliminating the need to get up early on Sunday, brunch would make life brighter for Saturday night carousers.” He even suggested that instead of coffee and tea, perhaps this new meal could start with an alcoholic beverage.

Eggs-1

Although brunch originally conjured up images of idle ladies of leisure, Americans became very taken with brunch after World War I. During the Roaring Twenties, partygoers created a mini-brunch that took place in the early morning hours between dinner and breakfast, to refresh and sustain people who were dancing and drinking all night long. One women’s magazine recommended that in constructing a brunch menu, “a delicate hash, light fish balls, liver and bacon were all appropriate.” Tastes have changed … the menus of today’s best brunch establishments feature such creations as lemon-ricotta pancakes, frittatas and Eggs Benedict. According to one legend about the invention of Eggs Benedict, Mrs. LeGrand Benedict in 1893 asked for something new and different during her regular meal at Delmonico’s and she and the maître d’ came up with Eggs Benedict. Others say that in 1894, Mr. Lemuel Benedict requested the combination of poached eggs, Canadian bacon, English muffins and Hollandaise sauce in order to recover from a hangover. Either way, the chef recognized the dish’s potential and it’s been a brunch classic ever since.

One thing that hasn’t changed from Beringer’s original vision of a brunch is its association with alcohol. Most brunch menus serve drinks. A Bloody Mary in particular was developed specifically to be drunk in the morning to quell the pain of a hangover. The Bellini, a cocktail of sparkling wine and peach juice or puree, was invented in the 1930s by Giuseppe Cipriani at Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy and named after one of Cipriani’s favorite Renaissance painters, Giovanni Bellini. Along with its sister, the Mimosa, these cocktails became associated with brunch because their light, drinkable flavor made it seem acceptable to drink them in the morning. Also, brunch is usually a leisurely meal, not rushed, and lounging with eggs and pastries does seem to lend itself to enjoying a cocktail or two.

Easter Brunch Menu

Prosecco Strawberry Cocktail
Italian Easter Bread
Cold Poached Salmon with Mustard Sauce
Asparagus, Orange and Lentil Salad
Caramelized Mushroom and Onion Frittata
Homemade Sausage Patties
Italian Easter Cookies

strawberry_drink_vert

Prosecco Strawberry Cocktail

Ingredients

  • 2 cups hulled strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 bottle chilled Prosecco 
  • 1 orange, sliced into rounds
  • Mint sprigs, for garnish

Directions

In a blender, puree 2 cups hulled strawberries and 2 tablespoons water until smooth. In a pitcher combine strawberry puree,orange juice, sparkling wine and orange slices. Stir gently. Serve garnished in tall glasses with mint sprigs.

Italian Easter Cheese Bread

Italian Easter Cheese Bread

Crescia al Formaggio or Italian Easter cheese bread is still mostly unknown in this country. This light-textured, golden egg bread containing Parmesan cheese makes a wonderful, savory aroma as it bakes. Be aware that this isn’t a soft, moist loaf. It’s very light, crusty and dry inside. Serve it in thin slices with butter or use the leftovers for grilled sandwiches or paninis.

Dough

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, white reserved
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper (black if you don’t mind the specks, white if you do)
  • 1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan, Romano or Asiago cheese, or a combination

Glaze

  • Reserved egg white (from above)
  • 2 teaspoons cold water

Directions

Combine all of the dough ingredients except the cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed for 10 minutes, until the dough becomes shiny and satiny. It’ll be very sticky; stop the mixer to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl a couple of times during the mixing process.

Add the cheese and beat until well combined.

Scrape the dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and set it aside to rise for 1 hour; it rise much. Gently deflate the dough, turn it over, return it to the bowl and allow it to rise for an additional hour; again, it may not seem to rise much — that’s OK.

Oil or flour your hands. To make a traditional round loaf, form the dough into a ball and place it in a large souffle dish or another round, deep pan. The pan should be about 6″ to 7″ wide, and 3″ to 4″ deep.

To make a braid:

Divide the dough into three pieces; roll each piece into a 12″ log and braid the logs. Nestle the braid into a lightly greased 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.
Cover the loaf lightly with a thin kitchen towel and allow it to rise for 2 hours (or longer, depending on the warmth of your kitchen); the dough should become noticeably puffy, but it won’t double in size.

To bake the bread:

Put the oven rack in a lower position, just below the middle and preheat the oven to 425°F.

Whisk the reserved egg white with the water and brush the top of the loaf.

Place the bread in the oven and bake it for 15 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F, tent the bread lightly with aluminum foil and bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes, until it’s a deep, golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 190°F. The braided loaf will require less time than the round loaf.

Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Use a knife to loosen the edges, if necessary, and turn the loaf out onto a rack to cool completely before slicing.

Store airtight, at room temperature, for several days. Freeze, tightly wrapped, for longer storage. Yield: 1 loaf.

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Asparagus, Orange, and Lentil Salad

Red or Pink lentils cook quickly and become mushy if overcooked.

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 1 medium-size fennel bulb
  • 2 large oranges, peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 2 pounds fresh asparagus
  • 1 1/2 cups dried pink/red lentils, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • Baby arugula leaves for garnish

For the dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Rinse fennel thoroughly and trim the root end of the bulb. Trim stalks from the bulb and chop fronds to equal 1/4 cup. Thinly slice bulb and mix with oranges, black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and let stand until ready to complete the dish.

Cut asparagus tips into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Cut stalks diagonally into thin slices, discarding tough ends.

Bring 3 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add asparagus and cook 1 to 2 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process; drain. Pat dry with paper towels.

To make the dressing:

Whisk together vinegar, shallots, honey, Dijon mustard, kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil until blended.

For the lentils:

Bring 3 cups water and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add lentils; return to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring often, 8 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain well and rinse with cold water. Toss lentils with 1/4 cup of the dressing.

Combine parsley, asparagus, fennel mixture and fennel fronds in a large bowl; toss with remaining vinaigrette according to taste. Spoon lentils onto a serving platter; top with the asparagus mixture and garnish with arugula.

poached salmon

Cold Poached Salmon with Mustard Sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 salmon fillets (6 ounces each)
  • Sea salt and finely ground black pepper
  • 3 cups chicken stock, or low-sodium canned broth

Mustard Sauce

  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon ground dry mustard
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper. Place in a large, ovenproof sauté pan with the chicken stock and heat over medium heat just to a simmer. Place the pan in the oven and poach the salmon until the flesh is opaque, but still medium rare, 12 to 15 minutes.

Make the Mustard Sauce. Combine the mustards, honey and vinegar in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the oil and stir in the chopped dill.

Transfer the fillets to a platter and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Slice the salmon into thin slices and serve with Mustard Sauce on the side.

frittata

Caramelized Mushroom and Onion Frittata

Ingredients

  • 1 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 8 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream or half & half
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions

Preheat the broiler.

In a 10-in. ovenproof skillet, saute mushrooms and onion in butter and oil until softened. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook for 30 minutes or until deep golden brown, stirring occasionally. Add shallot and garlic; cook 1 minute longer.

Reduce heat; sprinkle with cheeses. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, cream, salt and pepper; pour over the mushroom mixture. Cover and cook for 4-6 minutes or until eggs are nearly set.

Uncover skillet. Place pan under the broiler. Broil 3-4 inches from the heat for 2-3 minutes or until the eggs are completely set. Let stand for 5 minutes. Cut into wedges. Yield: 4 servings.

sausages_hd

Homemade Sausage Patties

Makes 8 small patties

Ingredients

  • 1 poundlean ground pork or ground turkey
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried sage, crumbled
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried fennel, crushed
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

Mix together the ground meat, garlic, sage, thyme, fennel, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add the egg white and combine thoroughly. Cover and chill for at least 15 minutes

To easily form the sausage patties, rinse your hands in cold water. Divide the mixture into eighths and shape each portion into a 2 1/2-inch disk. Patties can be made to this point and refrigerated or frozen until ready to use.

Heat a skillet over high heat and then add the oil. Once the oil is heated, swirl it around the pan. Cook the sausages on both sides until completely cooked through and golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. Drain and serve immediately.

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Italian Easter Cookies

Dough

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise seed
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups (10 5/8 ounces) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Icing

  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Multicolored nonpareils

Directions

Beat together the oil, butter, eggs, vanilla, salt, baking powder, anise and sugar until smooth. Add the flour, beating until smooth. Refrigerate the dough for at least one hour or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Pinch off the dough into 2-teaspoon-size (1/2-ounce) balls; a teaspoon cookie scoop works perfectly here. Roll the balls into logs about 4 inches long and about 1/2-inch in diameter. Coil into doughnut shapes, leaving a small hole in the middle.

Place the shaped cookies on lightly greased baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between them.

Bake for about 18 minutes. They may have the merest hint of golden color on top, but they definitely won’t be brown. Do not overcook or they will get too hard to eat.

Remove them from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool completely before icing.

To ice the cookies:

Combine all icing ingredients in a saucepan and heat on low until the mixture is lukewarm, stirring often. Hold one of the cooled cookies by the bottom and dip the top of the cookie into the glaze, letting the excess icing drip back into the pan. Immediately sprinkle with the nonpareils and place on a wire rack to let the icing set.

Allow the frosting to harden before storing the cookies. Yield: 3-3 1/2 dozen cookies.

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Holidays with traditional family meals as part of the celebration often result in lots of leftovers. When you get tired of leftover ham or turkey or egg salad sandwiches, its time to get creative.

Here are a few ideas for Easter dinner leftovers, using some of the most common foods served at Easter time.

Leftover ham? Slice it, chop it and freeze it in plastic bags to mix into future omelettes, soups or hash browned potatoes.

Leftover asparagus? Make an asparagus omelette. Chop the already cooked asparagus and add to beaten eggs, add a little grated cheddar or American cheese and make an omelette for a quick lunch or dinner.

Leftover turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes? Make a quick Shepherd’s pie. Slice the turkey meat, then layer it on the bottom of a greased baking pan, pour leftover turkey gravy over it, layer leftover stuffing on top, layer any leftover veggie over that and, lastly, layer leftover mashed potatoes on top. Press everything down firmly and bake at 350 degrees F. for about 35-40 minutes or until heated through and the potatoes brown. Cut into squares and serve hot.

Leftover pork roast? Make a great panini sandwich. Cut leftover roast into 9 thin slices. Drain a 7 oz jar of roasted red peppers and cut into 6 slices. Spread 2 teaspoons of pesto sauce on each of 6 slices of country bread. Top 3 slices of pesto covered bread with 3 slices of pork, 2 slices of red pepper, 1 slice of cheese of choice and a slice of pesto covered bread. Cook in a panini press according to machine directions. Makes 3 sandwiches.

Just a few recipes below, but don’t let your leftovers go to waste. Think of a way to use them.

Ham and Asparagus Frittata

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
8 eggs
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup chopped ham
Leftover asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°F. In an ovenproof skillet on the stovetop, heat olive oil and sauté onion until barely softened.

In a medium bowl, beat eggs then add cheese. Pour into hot pan. Top with ham and asparagus. Turn heat to low and cook 2—3 minutes to seal bottom.

Place skillet in the oven and cook an additional 20 minutes or until puffed and barely set. Remove and cool slightly.

Serve with a salad and whole wheat biscuits.

Cobb Salad

4 servings

Ingredients:

Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salad

  • 10 cups mixed salad greens
  • 8 ounces shredded cooked beef, chicken, turkey, ham or seafood
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped (dyed Easter Eggs work here)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large cucumber, seeded and sliced
  • 1 avocado, diced or use leftover vegetables
  • 2 slices cooked turkey bacon, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese, (optional)

Directions:

Whisk vinegar, shallot, mustard, pepper and salt in a small bowl to combine. Whisk in oil until combined.

Place salad greens in a large bowl. Add half of the dressing and toss to coat.

Divide the greens among 4 plates. Arrange equal portions of meat, egg, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, bacon and blue cheese (if using) on top of the lettuce.

Drizzle the salads with the remaining dressing.

Mediterranean Deviled Eggs

Makes 12 deviled eggs

Ingredients:

  • 6 colored hard boiled eggs leftover from Easter
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, more for garnish
  • 1 ½ teaspoons finely chopped, rinsed capers
  • 3 anchovy fillets, cut in half
  • 1/2 a lemon zested, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • Ground black pepper to taste

 Directions:

Peel and slice eggs lengthwise. Remove yolks and place them in a medium bowl. Arrange egg white halves on a serving plate.

To prepare the filling: add parsley, capers, lemon zest and juice, mayonnaise, mustard and 1 tablespoon water to yolks and mash. Add pepper to taste. Scoop filling into egg white halves. Top each with an anchovy half and sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

Variation: mash anchovies and add to the yolk mixture when adding the other ingredients.

Leftover Roast Beef Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium yellow onions, cut into small wedges
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 lbs leftover cooked beef, chopped
  • 64 ounces low sodium beef stock or beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 8 ounces uncooked egg noodles or pasta of choice

Directions:

In a large pot, cook onions, celery, mushrooms and garlic in oil until onions are golden.

Stir in the cooked beef.

Add the beef broth, Italian seasoning and the Worcestershire, stirring to mix and seasoning to taste with salt and pepper Bring mixture to a boil and stir in uncooked egg noodles.

Reduce heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10-12 minutes or until noodles are tender.

Leftover Dinner Lasagna

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Dash white pepper
  • 3 cups lowfat milk
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 9 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
  • 2 cups diced fully cooked ham or ant leftover meat
  • 2 cups leftover vegetables, such as broccoli, asparagus, peas, spinach etc.
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 cups (12 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

In a heavy saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until smooth. Gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in the onions, lemon juice and hot pepper sauce.

Spread a fourth of the white sauce in a greased 13-inch x 9-inch baking dish. Layer with three noodles, half of the ham and vegetables, 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, 1 cup cheddar cheese and a fourth of the white sauce.

Repeat layers. Top with the remaining noodles, white sauce and cheeses.

Bake uncovered at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand for 15 minutes before cutting. Yield: 12 servings.

Lamb Ratatouille

Ingredients:

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound cooked lamb or beef, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 medium-sized eggplant, peeled (if desired) and cut into 1 inch cubes, tossed with 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 red bell peppers, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup white wine or all stock can be used
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • A sprig each of fresh thyme, parsley and basil
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for about 2 minute; then add the eggplant. Mix and let the eggplant brown slightly, then add the wine. Cook until the wine is reduced, about 3 minutes.

Add 1/4 cup chicken stock. When the chicken stock has reduced add the zucchini, red peppers and tomatoes. Stir everything together and add herbs and season with salt and pepper.

Add another 1/4 cup chicken stock and let it reduce and continue adding the remaining stock, 1/4 cup at a time. Simmer until the eggplant is cooked to the desired texture and mixture has thickened. Stir in the leftover lamb and heat.

Parmesan Pizza

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb pizza dough, store bought or homemade, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
  • 2 cups shredded roasted chicken breast or any leftover meat
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onions
  • 1/3 cup diced green or red bell pepper
  • Shredded basil for garnish

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Stretch dough out to fit your pizza pan (about 14 inches round or a 9 x 13-inch rectangle).

Spread 1 1/2 cups of sauce over the dough and arrange chicken on top of the sauce.

Sprinkle mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, bell pepper and onions over the top.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until crust is lightly browned and cheese is bubbly. Top with shredded basil before serving.

Rhubarb Bread Pudding

Use up leftover bread for a dessert. Any fruit can be substituted for the rhubarb in this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 8 slices bread without crusts, toasted and cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 5 eggs or egg substitute equivalent
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar or sugar substitute for baking
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups diced rhubarb
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F .

Place bread cubes into a buttered 2 quart casserole dish.

Combine the milk and butter in a saucepan and heat just to the boiling point. Pour over the bread cube and let stand for 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Stir in rhubarb. Pour over the soaked bread and stir gently until evenly blended. Sprinkle walnuts over the top.

Bake for 50 minutes or until the top is brown and a knife inserted 1 inch from the edge comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

 


The Italian Easter table is an array of symbolic dishes of the season. Every province has its own unique specialties that represent resurrection, fertility and rebirth. The spectrum covers earthy foods, both savory and sweet. An ancient Italian saying, “Natale con i tuoi, la Pasqua con chi vuoi”, means “Christmas at home and Easter with whomever you wish.” But for the most part, Italians return to the family home to celebrate the holiday.

A traditional meal is usually roasted leg of lamb with fresh rosemary and crushed garlic. It is served with asparagus, homemade pasta and a large salad. Vegetables typically play an important part in Italian meals, especially spring vegetables because they are tender and delicate. These include early peas, baby artichokes, asparagus, spinach and Swiss chard side dishes. They are also an important ingredient in egg-rich savory tortes that are combined with hard-boiled eggs and different kinds of cured meats. These tortes are served as appetizers or main dishes throughout the holiday.

Torta Pasqualina (Easter Cheese and Spinach Pie)

You may substitute 2 sheets of puff pastry for the homemade dough. See directions below.

For the dough:

  • 8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Water

For the filling:

  • 2 pounds fresh spinach or Swiss chard
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup of finely chopped onion
  • 1 pound ricotta cheese, drained in a sieve for 30 minutes
  • 1 cup milk
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Egg Wash For Puff Pastry:

1 Large Egg

Directions:

For the dough:

Mix the flour, oil and salt and gradually add enough water (about 1 cup) to make a stiff dough that leaves the sides of the bowl cleanly. (The dough will become sticky if too much water is used.) Knead the dough thoroughly and divide it into 10 equal-sized balls. Put on a lightly floured pastry board and cover with a damp cloth for 15 minutes.

For the filling:

Wash the spinach or chard well, drain thoroughly and cook in as little water as possible until soft. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil and saute the onion until soft but not brown. Drain the greens and chop finely. Add to the onions and cook for a few moments. Set it aside to cool.

Mix the ricotta with milk, add a pinch of salt and put aside.

Brush a large deep pie dish or 9 inch springform pan with olive oil.

Roll one ball of pastry into a wafer-thin sheet larege enough to fit in the pan, keeping the rest of the pastry balls under the damp cloth. Place the dough in the prepared pie dish, brush lightly with oil and trim off excess pastry. Repeat this with five more balls of pastry, brushing each layer with oil and layering one on top of the other.

Spread the cooked onion and greens on top of the sixth layer of pastry, and spread the ricotta mixture on top. Hollow 4 wells in the filling and crack an egg into each one. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and Parmesan.

Roll out the remaining balls of pastry in precisely the same manner as teh bottom layers and place them, one by one, on top of the filling brushing each layer with oil.

Prick the top layer with a fork, brush it generously with oil and trim off any overlapping pastry.

If using puff pastry:

  • Allow the pastry to come to room temperature.
  • Roll out the two layers until fairly thin, making them large enough to cover the springform pan with a enough overhang to cover the filling.
  • Lay one layer over the other to cover the bottom and sides of the pan.
  • Put the filling into the pan, smoothing it evenly.
  • Make four hollows evenly spaced around the filling and carefully crack the eggs into the hollows.
  • Fold the overhanging edges of pastry over the top of the pie, folding to fit.
  • Beat the egg with a teaspoon of water and brush over the top of the puff pastry.

Bake either pie in a 400-degree oven for about 40-50 minutes or until the pie is golden brown. It may be served hot or cold.

Torta Pasqualina

Eggs, the symbol of life, are an essential component of Easter foods. In nature, hens lay fewer eggs during the long winter and more in spring, as the days grow longer and temperatures get warmer. Aside from dyed and decorated eggs, Easter treats include egg-shaped cookies and marzipan and chocolate eggs.

Easter bread and pastry are found on every table. On the sweet side are round breads from Sicily and Abruzzo with colored hard-boiled eggs baked into the loaf. Also popular for Easter is Colomba, a sweet bread baked in the shape of a dove. The dough contains candied citrus and is topped with toasted almonds and sugar crystals.The dove is a universal symbol of peace.

PASQUA: FIRST COURSE

Easter feasts encourage an adventurous spirit in the kitchen. At Christmas and New Year’s Eve, Italians are likely to stick to traditional dishes, but at Easter, there is much more diversity. There is no typical antipasto or even primo piatto (first course) for Easter, but young cured meats and cheeses are usually served in some form.

Some popular first course dishes include: Fried Artichokes, Insalata di Polpo (Octopus Salad), swordfish or tuna seasoned with grapefruit and generous platters of young pecorino, fava beans and salumi.

Popular pasta dishes for Easter are Lasagna, in all its varieties and Baked Pasta, for which every household in Italy has a different recipe. Those who have the time and skill to prepare homemade pasta, might make their own local specialty (such as, orecchiette, cavatelli or pici), or stuffed pastas such as ravioli or tortelloni. An alternative to pasta is risotto made with fresh seafood and baby peas or asparagus.

PASQUA: THE MAIN COURSE

For secondo (the main course), roasted or grilled meat is usually served. For centuries, the most popular choice for Easter has been lamb—not just in Italy, but in many other Mediterranean and European countries too. In Rome lamb is marinated with lemon and rosemary and then roasted.

Another typical Roman recipe is Grilled Lamb Chops served with roasted potatoes and artichokes. In Tuscany, lamb is slowly braised with onions and carrots, then served with seasoned cannellini beans. In the Puglia region, boiled lamb is served with fresh herbs and vegetables. In Trentino, polpettine (little meatballs) are made with ground lamb, scallions, parsley and rosemary and served with tomato sauce as an entree.

PASQUA: DESSERT COURSE

Dolci (dessert) is an important part of the Easter feast. Chocolate eggs are among the favorite. In Italy and they contain a surprise inside for the children.

The Pastiera Napoletana is another authentic Easter tradition, originating in Naples, this cake is made with ricotta cheese, candied fruit and orange-blossom water.

The Pizza Pasqualina, a dessert made with cinnamon and chocolate, is a specialty of northern Lazio.

In Sicily, cassata and cannoli are the traditional desserts; and in Sardinia, Casadina, a puff pastry dessert stuffed with ricotta and raisins, is usually served.

Pane di Pasqua (Easter Bread) is a famous Easter treat made all over Italy. Sometimes it is prepared as a dessert and other times as a savory pastry. 

In vegetarian households, the symbolism of the “sacrificial lamb” can be represented by small lamb-shaped cakes and pastries that are eaten for dessert.

EASTER MENU:

Lemon Gnocchi with Peas and Spinach

Potato gnocchi are flavored with fresh citrus, sweet peas and baby spinach

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 8 ounces fat free half & half
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • Fine Sea Salt
  • 3 cups packed baby spinach leaves
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 (1-pound) package Potato Gnocchi
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated

Directions:

In a large skillet, combine peas, half & half, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes, until tender. Stir in spinach and cook uncovered until leaves are wilted. Remove pan from heat and mix in lemon zest and juice.

Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add gnocchi and cook until they float to the top, about 4 minutes. Drain gnocchi, reserving 1/4 cup of pasta water, if needed.

Mix hot gnocchi with the vegetable sauce in the saucepan. Add some of the reserved pasta water, if needed. Stir to coat. Top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve.

Serves 4 

Roman Grilled Lamb Chops

Though this classic Easter recipe for lamb originated in Rome, it has long since become a national favorite. 

Ingredients:

  • 8 to 12 lamb chops
  • 3 fresh bay leaves, finely ground
  • 3 sage leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • A few juniper berries
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Black peppercorns
  • 1/2 glass dry white wine
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 lemons, cut into wedges

Directions:

Layer the lamb chops in a large container.

With a mortar, a knife or an electric grinder, finely grind all of the herbs and spices—including the salt and pepper. (If you use a knife, use the flat side to first crush the juniper berries, peppercorns and salt.) Place them in a bowl, then mix with the wine and the olive oil, stirring with a fork. Pour this marinade into the container with the layered lamb chops. Marinate overnight.

Ideally, lamb chops are best grilled on an open coal fire or barbecue, but you can also cook them on the stove in a cast-iron grill or a heavy pan. They will be ready very quickly—lamb chops (unlike pork chops) can be served rare or medium-rare, according to your preference. Serve them hot with a couple of lemon wedges.

Roasted potatoes are usually served with this dish.

Serves 4

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Coarse sea salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large sheet pan with aluminum foil.

Toss the potatoes with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil; spread them evenly on the sheet pan, and bake, turning occasionally with a spatula, until golden brown on the outside and creamy inside, about 20 minutes.

While the potatoes are roasting, finely chop the rosemary and garlic together. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on top of the stove.

Drizzle the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil over the potatoes, sprinkle with sea salt and 2 tablespoons of the rosemary-garlic mixture. Mix well.

Return the pan to the oven to heat the seasonings through.

Serve as a side dish.

 

Sauteed Broccoli Rabe with Garlic

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 pounds broccoli rabe, thick stems removed and discarded, cut into 3 inch pieces
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese

Directions:

In a large deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add the onion, garlic and pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until the onion softens, 5-6 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe and 1/2 cup water; season to taste with salt and pepper and toss gently.

Cover and cook until the broccoli rabe is softened, about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the water has evaporated and the broccoli rabe is completely tender, 2 minutes longer. Stir 1/4 cup of the pecorino into the broccoli rabe. Sprinkle with remaining pecorino over the broccoli rabe and serve.

 

Springtime Lemon Cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs

Frosting:

  • 12 ounces chilled mascarpone cheese
  • 1 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 teaspoons lemon zest, plus extra for ganish

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with cupcake liners.

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl until combined.

In a separate bowl, combine milk, olive oil, lemon zest and vanilla. Set them both aside.

Beat butter and sugar in the large bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well until mixture turns pale yellow. Turn the speed down to low and add the flour mixture and milk mixture, alternating both. Continue to beat until combined.

Fill muffin cups two-thirds of the way full with batter. Bake until golden and cooked through, about 17 minutes. Check with a toothpick to be sure. Allow cupcakes to cool before frosting.

Frosting: In a bowl, beat the mascarpone, vanilla, lemon zest and sugar at a medium speed until the frosting is light and fluffy. Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle the top of each cupcake with a little lemon zest.

Makes 2 dozen cupcakes

 


Italian Easter dessert recipes are a mixture of tradition, symbolism, light textures and rich tastes. Each region in Italy has its own specialty desserts, so you would have to travel the country to understand the entire array of Easter desserts available in Italy.

Italian Easter Cookies

At Easter-time in Italy, cookies made of light and airy meringues are very popular. For an added after dinner touch, try a chocolate-espresso. Almond biscotti, a twice baked cookie, for dipping in after-dinner-drinks are also popular.

Italian Easter Pastries

Pastries abound in Italian desserts–for Easter, too! — including the well known cannoli and the layered chocolate, liquor and cake pastry known as tiramisu. For most Italians though, Italian sponge cake is preferred for a light finish to a large meal, especially when topped with fruit and flavored syrup.

Italian Easter Fruits, Nuts, and Grains

Fresh fruit is a popular dessert any time of year in Italy. But it can also be found in tarts, fried pies or served whole with Italian cheeses.

Rice even makes an appearance in Italian Easter dessert recipes. Black Easter Rice is made by mixing rice with milk, dark chocolate, cocoa, candied fruit, orange zest and spices.

Italian cooking uses almonds and nuts as additions to cake batters, pastry toppings and fillings.

Neapolitan Easter Pie (Pastiera)

No Easter celebration in southern Italy would be complete without a slice of sweet ricotta pie. Each region has its own version.

In Naples, the ricotta pie is called “pastiera” and it is thickened with softened wheat berries.

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups wheat berries
  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 5 large eggs, divided
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 pounds fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup candied citrus
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 orange
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Directions:

Cover wheat berries with 2 cups water in a bowl; soak, changing water daily, for 3 days. Drain and boil in a pot of fresh water for 15 minutes; drain.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour and the 2 tablespoons sugar. Blend in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Add 1 whole egg and stir with a fork until just combined. Turn out dough onto a work surface.

Knead just until well combined, then form into a disk.

Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.

While dough is chilling, cut a 1-inch-wide strip of zest from the lemon, avoiding the white pith.

In a large saucepan, combine milk and zest; bring to boil. Add wheat berries, reduce heat to low and cook until liquid is absorbed, about 45 minutes.

Spread wheat berries on a plate and cool; discard zest.

Heat oven to 375°F.

Separate the remaining 4 eggs.

In a large bowl stir together wheat berries, ricotta, remaining cup sugar, candied citrus, egg yolks, orange extract, finely grated zest from the orange, 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest and cinnamon.

Beat egg whites in another bowl to soft peaks and fold into ricotta mixture.

Grease a 9-inch springform pan; dust with flour.

Divide dough into 2 pieces, one larger than the other (three-quarters and one-quarter).

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger piece into a 15-inch round with a floured rolling pin.

Fit dough into prepared pan, leaving a 1/4-inch overhang. Chill for 10 minutes.

Roll out remaining dough into a 9-inch round. Using a pastry wheel or pizza cutter, cut 3/4-inch-wide strips.

Spoon filling into crust. Arrange strips over filling to form a diagonal lattice.

Crimp edges of crust. Bake until filling is set and crust is golden, about 1 hour. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Run a thin knife around edge of the pie and remove the side of the pan. Chill cake at least 2 hours. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Italian Easter CookiesItalian Lemon Ring Cookies

Dough

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract

Icing

  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3-4 teaspoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • Sugar Sprinkles, if desired

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325ºF. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, oil, milk and lemon extract on low speed until well blended. Stir in the flour mixture until dough is formed. Let rest, covered for 20 minutes.

Break off small pieces of the dough and roll into pencil thin strips 4 inches long. Twist dough pieces to make circles or braids. Place on parchment-lined cookie sheets and bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove cookies from cookie sheet and allow to cool on wire racks.

Icing: Mix together the confectioners’ sugar, milk and lemon extract until smooth. Add more milk, if necessary. Using a metal spatula, frost the tops of the cookies. The frosting will drip down the sides and coat the cookies. Return to wire racks for frosting to set. Sprinkle with multi-colored sprinkles, if desired, before frosting is set. Store in an airtight container. Makes 36.

Pinza Goriziana (Traditional Easter Cake)

A soft and light dessert from Italy’s Friuli region.

Ingredients

  • 7 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 oz butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, divided
  • 9 egg yolks, divided
  • 2 tablespoons instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon oil
  • Pinch salt
  • Powdered Sugar, optional

Mix together 4 cups flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, yeast and 1/3 cup milk in an electric mixer bowl. Knead until the dough is smooth and uniform, then let it rise for 30 minutes.

Once the dough has risen, knead it again, adding half of the remaining flour (1 ¾ cups), all of the remaining sugar, half (2 ½ oz.) of the butter (melted and allowed to cool), 1 egg, 6 egg yolks, half of the remaining milk (1/3 cup) and a pinch of salt. Mix together until you have a soft dough and let rise for another hour.

After the dough has risen a second time, add the remaining flour, 3 egg yolks, the remaining milk, the other half of the melted butter, the lemon oil and rum. Mix together until smooth and uniform, then shape the dough into a ball. Let rise for another hour.

Place the dough in a round baking dish lined with parchment paper. Whisk the remaining egg and brush it onto the dough. Bake the “Pinza Goriziana” in a 320° F oven for 40 minutes.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired, when cool.

Easter Knot Cookies

These are  traditional cookies from Italy flavored with vanilla and almond extracts. They are tied in loose knots and baked, then frosted.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder

Icing

  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • Multi-colored sprinkles, if desired

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease cookie sheets.

In a large bowl, cream together 1/2 cup butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 teaspoon almond extract, 1/4 cup milk and oil.

Combine the flour and baking powder and stir into the sugar mixture.

Roll dough into 1 inch balls. On a lightly floured surface, roll the balls out into ropes about 5 inches long.

Tie into loose knots and place cookies 1 inch apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 5 minutes on the bottom shelf and 5 minutes on the top shelf of the preheated oven, until the bottoms of the cookies are light golden brown.

When cookies are cool, dip them into the icing and sprinkle with multi-colored sprinkles, if desired

To make the icing: cream together the confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon almond extract.

Beat in 3 tablespoons milk, one tablespoon at a time.

 

Italian Easter Egg Basket (Pupa Cu L’ova)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 16 tablespoons butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons anise extract
  • 6 cups flour
  • 6 teaspoons baking powder
  • 6 eggs, uncooked and dyed in Easter egg colors

Directions

Combine butter and sugar until light and fluffy in an electric mixer. Add eggs one at a time and beat thoroughly after each. Add the anise extract, mix thoroughly.

Combine flour and baking powder and add to bowl. Mix until a dough forms.

Take a small amount of dough, roll into a ball, flatten it to make a 4-inch round and place on a baking sheet. Place a colored egg in the center.

Pinch another piece of dough, roll into a “rope” 1/4 inch in diameter and cut into 2 pieces, each long enough to crisscross over the egg. (See photo above.)

Seal the edges to the round by pressing firmly. Repeat until all the dough is used up.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

 Barbara Lucchi's Ciambella Romagnola

Italian Ring Cake

A traditional cake that is easy to make. It’s usually eaten for breakfast, dipped into warm milk or caffè latte. It’s also served at the end of a meal, either with a glass of dessert wine or with the slices drizzled with zabaione or  fruit sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted over a double boiler or in the microwave and allowed to cool
  • 4 1/8 cups unbleached flour
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup milk, plus a little more at the end
  • 6 teaspoons baking powder
  • Coarse sugar, optional

Directions:

Put the sugar into the electric mixer bowl and crack the eggs into it. Beat with the mixer set to low/medium for 3-4 minutes, or until the mixture is a creamy yellow.

Add about a third of the flour to the egg and sugar mixture and beat the batter for about a minute. Add another third of the flour and beat for a minute more.

Add the melted butter and beat for another 30-40 seconds. Next, add the lemon zest.

Beat in half of the milk and half of the remaining flour. Then beat in the rest of the milk and the rest of the flour.

Add the baking powder and beat until creamy.

Butter a 10 inch tube pan and then flour it, tapping it upside down to remove excess flour.

Pour the batter into the pan. Give the filled pan a couple of quick shakes and tap it once or twice against your countertop to level the batter.

Sprinkle the top with coarse sugar, if desired.

Bake the cake on a low rack for 40-45 minutes. Cool before removing from the pan.


The Italians love to celebrate holidays with food and Easter is one of those special holidays. Easter is preceded by Lent, a time of fasting for many Christians. Come Easter Sunday, it is time to celebrate, splurge and indulge.

Eggs are often associated with Easter and are considered a symbol of birth and life. The tradition of giving eggs as gifts can be traced back to the Persians, who used to exchange eggs at the beginning of Spring, while the custom of decorating eggs was popular in ancient Egypt. The tradition of exchanging eggs for Easter, however, dates back to the Middle Ages, beginning in 837 AC, when it was prohibited to eat animal products during Lent. During the forty days prior to Easter, eggs were conserved and decorated.

Beginning in the 12th century, the eggs were blessed and given to servants and children as part of a ritual called “Benedictio ovorum.” This is where the tradition of exchanging Easter eggs all began, well before the arrival of chocolate in Europe. Originally, eggs were painted in various colors and given to children in the streets of Europe as an Easter present. The tradition of chocolate Easter eggs, probably, did not began until the 19th century.

Bread is also an important part of any Easter celebration. Italian Easter Bread is rich with symbolism, baked in the shape of a wreath to symbolize the crown of thorns worn by Jesus Christ at the crucifixion. The three pieces of dough braided together represent the three elements of the Holy Trinity. The bread is either baked with colored eggs directly in the dough or with white eggs that can be decorated after baking.

Several other Easter breads are shaped or decorated in ways that recall the Easter story. In northern Italy they make the Colomba Pasquale, a dove-shaped loaf, symbolizing hope. Likewise the cheese-enriched Italian Easter bread called, Crescia al Formaggio, forms a dome because it is baked in tall narrow pans that force the bread to rise in a dramatic dome shape. In Sicily, they make small Easter breads, called “pupi cu l’uova”, that are shaped like dolls and have an egg in the center.

Italian Easter Bread

Easter bread with colored eggs embedded in the dough.

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup warm milk (120 to 130 degrees F.)
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • grated orange zest
  • 1/4 cup chopped blanched almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
  • 5 hard boiled eggs
  • vegetable oil

Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • sprinkles or nonpareils, for decorating

 Directions:

In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Add milk and butter; beat 2 minutes on medium.

Add 2 eggs and 1/2 cup flour; beat 2 minutes on high. Stir in fruit, nuts and aniseed; mix well.

Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl; turn once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Dye the hard boiled eggs in Easter colors and lightly rub with oil.

Punch dough down. Divide in half; roll each piece into a 24-in. rope. Loosely twist ropes together to form a circle and tuck eggs into openings. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan; cool on a wire rack.

Decorate with a glaze and sprinkles, if desired.

Colomba Pasquale– Easter Dove Cake

While Italy offers many traditional Easter breads, the best-known by far is Colomba Pasquale, Easter dove bread, a native of Lombardy in the north, but available everywhere at Easter time. Even in America one can find these panettone-like breads in the “dove” shape around the Easter holidays. Studded with citrus peel or dried fruits, spread with a coating of sugar-nut syrup and sprinkled with almonds and sugar, the Easter Dove Bread is a special treat.

Sponge:

  • 1/2 cup warm milk, 105 -115 degrees F.
  • 1 envelope (2-1/4 teaspoons) dry yeast, divided
  • 3/4 cup flour

Dough:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk, save egg white for icing
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Grated zest of 1 orange or lemon
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup dried fruit (combination of dark and golden raisins and candied orange peel)

Almond Topping:

  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, divided
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 egg white
  • Confectioners’ sugar

To make the sponge:

In a small bowl, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of yeast into the warm milk.

Stir the yeast into the milk and allow to sit for 5 minutes to dissolve.

Stir in the 3/4 cup flour to form a smooth paste.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

Let sit 12 hours or overnight, unrefrigerated.

To make the dough:

Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and egg yolk together.

Beat in the sugar, remaining yeast, salt, orange zest and vanilla extract.

Add the sponge and softened butter; beat to combine.

Add 2 cups of flour and beat just enough to blend in the flour.

If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook.

Otherwise, transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface.

Knead the dough until smooth and elastic.

By hand you will knead for about 10 minutes.

If you are using a dough hook, knead about 5 minutes.

Add the dried fruit and knead just enough to incorporate.

Place the dough in a large buttered bowl.

Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel.

Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 2 hours.

To shape the dove:

Punch down the dough and transfer to a lightly floured surface.

Divide the dough into 2 equal size pieces.

Form each piece into a log about 12-inches long.

Place the first piece into the dove mold in what would be the dove’s wings..

The second piece is placed from head to tail on top of the first piece.

Pat the dough down around the edges of the mold to fill in any gaps.

Cover with a kitchen towel.

Let rise in a warm place until doubled, 45 to 60 minutes.

In the meantime, make the icing and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

To make the topping and bake the bread:

In a food processor, combine 1/4 cup of almonds, granulated sugar, 1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch and egg white. Process to a smooth paste.

Carefully spread the topping on the risen bread.

Spread the remaining sliced almonds on top.

Dust with a heavy coat of confectioners’ sugar.

Place the mold on a baking sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake an additional 20-30 minutes.

If the top is getting too brown, cover the bread with a piece of foil during the last 10 minutes of baking.

The internal temperature of the bread should be about 190 degrees F. Remove from the oven and transfer the bread to a wire rack to cool

The Dove Mold Can Be Ordered From Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001AS04H0/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B001AS04H0&linkCode=as2&tag=mangiabenepas-20

Easter Bread Wreath 

Starter:

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cool water
  • 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast

Dough:

  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast, for best rise; or regular instant yeast
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground anise seed, optional
  • grated peel of 1 large orange

Glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • sprinkles or nonpareils, for decorating

Directions:

To make the bread: Mix together the starter ingredients, cover the bowl and set it on the counter at room temperature overnight.

Next day, combine the starter with all the remaining dough ingredients. Mix and knead, using an electric mixer until the dough is elastic and satiny.

Grease a large bowl, add the dough and let rise for 1 to 2 hours, until doubled and puffy. 

Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface, divide it into three pieces, and shape each piece into an 18″-long rope. Braid the ropes together and connect the two ends to form a wreath.

Cover the wreath and allow it to rise until puffy, about 1 to 2 hours.

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F.

Bake the wreath for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven heat to 350°F and bake for an additional 20 minutes, tenting it for the final 10 minutes of baking.

The finished loaf will be golden brown, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will register at least 190°F.

Remove the wreath from the oven and transfer it to a rack to cool.

To make the glaze: Stir together the sugar and 2 tablespoons of orange juice. Add more liquid 1/4 teaspoon at a time, until the glaze is thin and pourable.

Drizzle the glaze onto the cooled braid, then decorate with sprinkles, if desired.

Yield: one loaf.

 

Italian Easter Cheese Bread

This bread is traditionally eaten on Easter morning for breakfast or lunch and served with Italian sausage or salami, boiled eggs and a glass of red wine.

Italian Easter cheese bread is excellent for making ham sandwiches.

This version is baked in a loaf pan, instead of a dome shaped pan.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, white reserved
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper 
  • 1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano or Asiago cheese

Glaze:

  • reserved egg white (from above)
  • 2 teaspoons cold water

Combine all of the dough ingredients, except the cheese, in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed for 10 minutes, until the dough becomes shiny and satiny. 

Stop the mixer to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl a couple of times during the mixing process.

Add the cheese and beat until well combined. This is a sticky dough, so don’t be tempted to add more flour.

Scrape the dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and set it aside to rise for 1 hour; it won’t rise very much.

Gently deflate the dough, turn it over, return it to the bowl and allow it to rise for an additional hour; again, it may not  rise too much.

Oil or flour your hands.

Divide the dough into three pieces; roll each piece into a 12″ log; and braid the logs. Nestle the braid into a lightly greased 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.

Cover the pan with a kitchen towel and allow it to rise for 2 hours (or longer, depending on the warmth of your kitchen); the dough should become puffy, though it won’t have doubled in size.

To bake the bread: Put your oven rack in a lower position, just below the middle and preheat the oven to 425°F.

Whisk the reserved egg white with the water and brush the top of the loaf.

Place the bread in the oven and bake it for 15 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F, tent the bread with aluminum foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes, until it’s a deep, golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 190°F. 

Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Use a knife to loosen the edges, if necessary, and turn the loaf out onto a rack to cool completely before slicing.

Store airtight, at room temperature, for several days. Freeze, tightly wrapped, for longer storage.

Yield: 1 loaf.

 



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kirilson photography

the stories behind the pictures, and vice versa

Food and Footsteps

Unique insights for independent travellers

Adventures of a Busy Mom

Making blessings out of this busy life!

Tasty&Delicious^

Rekindle your love for food!

Safira's Journey

Create Your Own Happiness

My Bicol Blog

This blog is all about roaming the Bicol Region, Philippines wisely on a budget. We'll talk about what Bicol has to offer when it comes to great hotel deals, good food and where to go on your vacation. So, I hope this blog site will be helpful to those of you on the look out for great deals while you have fun in Bicol. After all, the wisest of us believe that the concept of toil is just a myth, and life should be a never-ending vacation.

DADDY'S CUISINE

Happy Eating

Cafe Book Bean

Talk Books. Drink Coffee.

Bite Me up With Shreyu

Cooking up with smiles across miles

Manish writes

A learner | Dreamer | Introvert | Traveler

❤ Marriage Kingdom ❤

http://cateringatheart.yolasite.com/

Becca's Blogs

Live. Laugh.Love

Goal Digger

Be Positive, Patient and Persistent...

FreeKING'S Blog

Thankyouverymuch!!!!

The Mediterranean Diet Unplugged

A blog on living healthier to lose weight, lower cholesterol, and reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and other diseases.

Pushpita's Chakhum

Food. Stories. And. More.

Sensible Nonsense

Greetings fellow Earthlings. The blog is about getting some perspective about daily life things. The not so boring stuff.

No Plate Like Home

Tasty one pot and 30 min meals

Lisa Everyday Life

My Life.- Everyday is an Adventure.

The Tiny Potager

Self Sufficiency and Sustainable Living - with a family of six

Free-spirited Wanderer

Lessons, Stories and Adventures in life

Delicious Cravings At Vania's Kitchen

Celebrating the variety in FOOD...

Genç Yazarlar Kulübü

Edebiyatı tüccarlardan alıp,halka vereceğiz.

Her Lost Mango

Her Everyday Blog

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