Pastiera, an Italian Easter "pie," has always been part of the holiday's menu for me. It's a unique dessert, like a creamy baked rice pudding (you could thank the addition of ricotta cheese for that) with a soft, golden crust. Though the recipe is now ascribed to a Neapolitan nun who added ingredients symbolic of the Resurrection (eggs) and spring (oranges and lemons), the dish may ironically have pagan roots. The grain component (here I use rice, but wheat or einkorn could be substituted instead) links it to the goddess Ceres and the festivals welcoming spring's return. Since the pie tastes better when the flavors have a chance to blend, traditionally it should be mixed on Good Friday, baked on Holy Saturday, and eaten on Easter.
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tbsp honey
1/4 cup oil
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tbsp marsala or vermouth
scant 1/4 cup milk (or less as needed)
2 cups cooked rice (arborio preferred)
1/2 lemon, zested
1/2 orange, zested
2 tbsp oil
1 cup milk
2 cups ricotta
2 whole eggs, plus two yolks
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp orange juice
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1. Follow the directions on the package of rice to make 2 cups of cooked rice. Let cool. Reheat the rice in a saucepan over medium heat with the oil, milk, and lemon and orange zest. Bring it to a low boil for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Place the mixture in a large bowl, let cool, then place in the refrigerator.
2. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the ricotta, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and orange juice. Place in refrigerator, preferably overnight, to allow the flavors to meld.
3. To make the dough, sift the flour, cornstarch, sugar and baking powder in a bowl. Add honey, oil, egg, zest, and liquor. Stir briefly until the mixture is lumpy. Add the milk gradually as needed and knead until the mixture is smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 15 minutes.
4. Roll out about two thirds of the pastry and place in a greased 11-inch spring-form pan or a deep tart pan with removable bottom. Trim the extra pastry around the edges and add to the remaining pastry. Roll out the rest of the pastry and with a crimper pastry wheel cut long strips about 1-1/2 inch wide.
5. Fold the rice mixture with the ricotta mixture. Fill the pastry-lined pan. Gently place the strips on the edge of the pastry in a lattice pattern. Brush gently with beaten egg whites and bake in a pre-heated oven at 395° F for about 60 minutes or until the top is golden. Allow to cool completely before removing from pan. (Pie is best served one day later.)
[brightly colored gifts]
[yummy (and festive) candy]
[the famous (but super sweet) cadbury creme egg]
[cheerful flowers: mini daffodils and tuplips]
[a gorgeously wrapped chocolate egg]
[seven-layer cookies via a family friend]
What is it about holidays that makes you overindulge? No matter how you plan, it always seems like you've had too much food, too many sweets, or too much relaxing when everything's said and done. Of course there's always the day after to recuperate–although things are a bit different if the holiday in question is Easter and you happen to be in Italy where the Monday after Easter Sunday is "La Pasquetta," a further extension of the holiday's celebrating. Festivities include eating leftovers al fresco, a tradition that actually might be possible today in NYC, where temperatures are supposed to reach 60 degrees (fingers crossed!).
What do you think? How was your Easter weekend?
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I still can't believe it's Easter weekend already–though winter drags, time sure does fly. I like to think of anything involving coconut (food, drinks, suntan lotion) as super spring/summery, so I thought these light and fluffy cupcakes that have the shredded white stuff inside and out would be a perfect holiday treat. They're vegan (though I'm not), which means no eggs, milk or butter are involved in their creation. To make them even more festive I enacted a decoration I first spotted on Pinterest: using this set of rabbit silhouettes, I traced outlines on plain white paper, affixed the cut-out forms to toothpicks with tape, and centered them on each one from the batch. Welcome spring–we've been expecting you.
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon white or apple cider vinegar
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoon coconut milk (or water)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a muffin tin with paper liners, set aside.
2. Sift together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl combine the wet ingredients.
3. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and whisk until just combined, being careful not to over-mix. Fold in 1 cup of unsweetened coconut.
4. Fill each muffin tin about two-thirds full. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from the muffin tin and place on a cooling rack.
5. Mix all icing ingredients until smooth and spreadable. Frost when the cupcakes have completely cooled, sprinkling additional unsweetened coconut on top.