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Easter 2007

04/08/07 | by JAdP | Categories: Food and Drink

As I've said in the past, Easter is my favorite holiday for food. As such, we very much follow tradition from year-to-year. This year was no different, but as many food oriented traditions, the amounts eaten and the time taken to eat are both much less than in previous generations. When my grandmothers served an holiday meal, it would start in the morning and proceed into the evening meal. Now, we had a two three course brunch.

The Italian "breakfast" course


Mazzarelles are one of my favorite things to eat, but are only made for Easter. Stefano, who owns and rents a villa in Abruzzo, provided me with the correct spelling in a comment [lost apparently when we blacklisted angelfire.com for spamming, rats, fixed it now] in 2005. There are many individual variations of this dish in my family. Dad made them this year, and his have more tomato sauce than mine do, but it's very good. Here's my recipe.

  1. Clean, devein, trim and properly prepare the heart, kidney and liver from an unweaned lamb. Likely you'll need to know a shepherd/ess [I used to know a shepherdess in Mendocino, but long ago, and I've lost touch] to obtain this; if not, use calves' liver.
  2. Slice the organ meat into julienne strips.
  3. Sauté the strips of meat in olive oil with garlic and crushed black pepper until just browned
  4. Remove the meat
  5. Deglaze the pain with white wine and reserve for the sauce
  6. Wrap some [about two ounces or a small handful] strips of each type of meat in two leaves of romaine lettuce, with a trimmed, whole green onion and a sprig of Italian [flat-leaf] parsley [Plus - added 20120407: seeing sprig of marjoram as well, tried it this year & very good], tie each packet with the green stalk of other green onions or chives that have been soaked in room temperature salted water; they'll need to be very flexible or you'll get frustrated [of course, the traditional tie is cleaned lamb intestine, or butcher's twine]
  7. In a large, flat-bottomed, high-sided pan, simmer three glasses of the dry, white wine that you'll be serving with the meal.
  8. Add the lettuce packets of lamb organs, and one roma tomato per packet that have been peeled, halved cross-wise and seeded; the packets should be just covered with liquid
  9. Simmer for an half-hour, then place in a 325°F oven for two hours, checking to assure that the pan doesn't dry out or the packets blacken; add water, baste and cover if needed; salt to taste about half-way through
  10. Remove the packets with a slotted spoon and place in the serving dish
  11. Stir the sauce, and cook down if needed; the sauce can be passed through a food mill if desired, but I prefer to just spoon it over the packets
  12. Serve hot with spiniad and frittata
Parsley, walnut, & garlic frittata
  1. The leaves from about an half bunch of Italian [flat-leaf] parsley, cleaned and left to dry, then chopped fine with a mezzaluna
  2. 10 whole, large eggs, beaten with 2 tablespoons of heavy cream, a teaspoon of very cold water, 3 tablespoons of ricotta, the parsley, salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  3. Crush a clove of garlic and sauté in a tablespoon each of olive oil and unsalted butter [this gives a higher smoking point temperature than either alone] until just starting to brown
  4. Remove the garlic, and pour in the egg mixture
  5. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and check after 10 minutes to assure that the eggs have set; if they are, loosen the frittata from the bottom of the pan by banging and judicious use of a spatula
  6. Place a dish that is a bit larger in diameter than your pan over the top of the pan, placing your hand firmly on the bottom of the dish, lift the pan by the handle and, holding it all tightly together, flip over so that the frittata is on the plate
  7. reheat the pan over medium-high heat, add a bit of butter if needed, and slide the frittata, pale side down, into the pan, to brown that side; repeat this operation several times until the frittata is nicely browned on both sides, but don't overcook; the interior should be moist
  8. This dish is normally served at room temperature, so you can make it right after putting the mazzarelles into the oven

Spiniad [Easter bread]

Spiniad, at least that's what it sounds like my grandparents would say, is an Italian Easter Bread. The paternal side of the family would make it in a coffee can, so that it puffed out the top, much like a Christmas panettone, to look like a chef's hat; the maternal side made it in a ring, with one hard-boiled egg - still in the shell and boiled in holy water - set in place like a jewel decorating one corner. They're both very rich in eggs and slightly sweet, reminiscent of challah. Dad made a variation this year in his bread machine. You can find a more traditional recipe on the web. Unfortunately, I don't have either of my grandmothers' recipes.

Pizza or Torta Rustica

We didn't make this dish this year, but my maternal grandmother would always serve this with Easter brunch. 'Tis like a quiche in that it has a pie crust. The filling is ricotta based, mixed with egg, some chopped parsley, grated parmigiana, salt and pepper, and poured into the pie crust, studded with chunks of fontina, prosciutto, and salami, and baked. Served at room temperature.

The American "lunch" course"

Ham basted with cola and white wine, glazed with fresh pineapple, ginger marmalade, nutmeg, paprika, stone ground mustard and turbinado sugar

Jewell yams with butter, turbinado sugar, allspice and pecans

French green beans almondine

Potato salad


What? You think that you can't eat any more. Try to resist, just try.


[also known as Neapolitan Easter cake, although ours is with rice not the traditional wheat berries, even though it comes down from my Neapolitan, maternal great-grandmother]

  1. Make a pie crust of 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cold and cut into 7 ounces of unbleached flour mixed with 1 tablespoon of turbinado sugar [crushed], knead into the dough 3 large egg yolks and 1 tablespoon of whiskey or dark rum and form into a ball, cool for an half-hour and roll out, line a 10-inch spring-form pan, reserve the remaining dough
  2. Make the filling of

    • 15 ounces of ricotta
    • 3 whole large eggs, beaten
    • 3 drops of pure bourbon vanilla extract
    • zest from one lemon and one orange
    • grind of nutmeg
    • one half cup [dry, pre-cooked measure] of brown arborio rice cooked in sweetened milk or coconut milk
  3. Pour the filling into the crust
  4. roll out the remaining pie-crust dough, and cut into half-inch wide strips, and make a basket weave over the top of the filling
  5. Bake in a pre-heated, 350°F oven, checking after 45 minutes, and then every 15 minutes, until a clean, stainless-steel knife inserted half-way between the edge and the center of the pan, comes out clean; if the crust begins to over-brown, cover with aluminum foil
  6. After removing from the oven, let stand at room temperature for two hours, and remove the spring-form pan
  7. place in the refrigerator, but remove at least an half-hour before serving
  8. serve cool with...
Coffee with Anisette

My grandparents would also serve that at the end of a meal. I do it a bit differently than they did. A good pot of Joseph's blend, brewed for five minutes, in a French Press using filtered water right off the boil, and served laced with warm milk, turbinado sugar and Sambuca Black. Oh, yes, very nice.

I might come back later and update this post with some details, but I started cooking 10 hours ago, and now, I think, 'tis time for a little nap.

Updated on 2007 April 14 with recipes and links.

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I'm Joseph A. di Paolantonio and this blog has two main foci: my interest in food, and my interest in the future. This provides a look into my personal life, and is separate from my consulting work…though there will be overlap. I am an independent researcher, working as a strategic consultant and I'm an executive with over 20 years of commercial experience with a technical interest in the intersection of Internet of Things, with advanced data management and analysis methods. I view data science as a team activity, and I feel that the IoT must be viewed as a system. I am leveraging my past activities to understand the adoption and impact of the IoT; first, as a system engineer in aerospace, where I developed Bayesian risk assessment methods for systems within the Space Transportation System (including the Space Shuttle), Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer, Gravity Probe B, and many more, and second, as a enterprise data warehousing, business intelligence and analytics professional. Between my aerospace and IT careers, I indulged my hobby of cooking by starting a food company, Montara Magic, centered around my chocolate sauces. My education combined chemistry, mathematics and philosophy. I performed research into molten salt fuel cells in graduate school, and in photovoltaic materials for a short time in industry. The lure of bringing the human race into space was strong, and when I was offered the chance to combine my chemistry and mathematics skills to develop new risk assessment and system engineering methods for space launch and propulsion systems – I couldn't resist. I perform independent research and strategic consulting to bring value from the Internet of Things, Sensor Analytics Ecosystems and data science teams.I am a caregiver, a lover of science fiction and speculative fantasy, and my passion to learn has led me to a pilot's license, an assistant instructor in SCUBA, nordic and alpine skiing, sea kayaking, and reading everything I can, in as many topics as I can.

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