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Easter Ricotta Pies

April 20, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 275

Easter Pies

Back in the day, Catholics and many other Christians observed a meatless Lent in the weeks preceding Easter.The ban on meat ended only with the feast of Easter.The feast when everything exploded in flowers and green and freshness.There were the Easter pies.For several days before Easter the pies were in process.In my family there were four distinct kinds, all of which were founded on ricotta cheese.Two were sweet and two were savory.The most basic and perhaps the favorite, was a simple ricotta cheese pie.The sweet and creamy ricotta teased the palate with hints of orange and lemon.The next version was the same ricotta but this time with the addition of sweet cooked rice.Then there were the savory versions.The savory versions added distinct flavors and textures: greens, ham, eggs.The basic savory pie was created by the addition of cooked and drained spinach to an unsweetened ricotta. The more complex version, and the most engaging, included ham and hard boiled eggs.While the sweet versions served as heavenly desserts, the savory pies would do well as a hearty lunch or even a dinner.

Traditionally, the end of the Easter abstinence from meat came at the ringing of the noon church bells on Easter Saturday.In the neighbor where we lived, there was no church nearby.The signal that Lent was over came with the howl of the fire station's twelve o'clock siren accompanied by the howls of every dog in the neighborhood.That siren was the cue.All the pies,and there were usually at least two of each kind, were moved from the refrigerator to the window seat in front of the dining room bay window.Lent was over.Meats and cheeses and eggs were now legal.Of course, the first pies to be annihilated were the sweet ones.But, it was also lunch time; so, there were also a few slices of the savory varieties.Ricotta pies were as essential to Easter as our cream eggs and the jelly beans of our Easter baskets.

In Italy, there is a great respect for tradition, especially for the traditions of food.These days, among Italian Americans, I fear that many traditions are disappearing.The current generation of Italian Americans, while considering themselves knowledgeable about food, are not always interested in the work that traditional foods demand.

The one thing that I found on almost every recipe, American or Italian, was that the pasta frolla, the crust, should be handled as little as possible.The use of a food processor versus blending by hand was almost 50/50.Many recipes called for starting with the food processor to blend the butter, flour and sugar and then finishing with the eggs by hand.One important to watch for is the texture of the dough just after adding the butter and eggs when turning it out of the Cuisinart.The dough may very well be somewhat dry and crumbly.This will depend on the water content of the butter and the size of the eggs.If it is crumbly be extremely careful about adding water.I usually just wet my hands and that little amount is sufficient to make the dough pliable.Kneed it quickly, wrap it in plastic and let it in the refrigerator for at least an hour or, better, overnight.

For the cheese filling it is also essential to use a really good ricotta and fresh pastured eggs.Grocery store brand ricottas tend to be very watery.If you have to use them, be sure to put the cheese in a strainer with a weight on it for about an hour to push out the water.Pastured chicken eggs will also have wonderfully yellow yolks enrich the color of the cheese.And for the savory versions, not only are the hard boiled eggs a dazzling daffodil yellow but a good,properly raised and humanely slaughtered pork renders a much tastier ham pie.These pies require some time and some work but all in all they are easy and so well worth every effort.

Seethe recipes at The Food Table

http://thefoodtable.com/ricotta-rice-pies.html

http://thefoodtable.com/ricotta-ham-pie.html

Source: EzineArticles
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Easter Ricotta Pies

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Ricotta And Rice Pie

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Ricotta And Ham Pie

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Italian Easter Pie

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