Hi everyone. Sorry it’s been so long. Unfortunately, I was laid off from my job this week so I just haven’t been motivated to write. But I owe you, my readers, an Easter Recap.
Easter was held at my mother’s home this year, where it normally takes place. As usual, we had too much food. Is this an Italian thing or do all families on holidays have enough food to feed four times as many people coming? Our menu consisted of:
Appetizers: cold antipasto platter, stuffed mushrooms, onion-dill dip, stuffed artichokes, deviled eggs, skinny kielbasa (not sure of the correct term!)
Main courses: ham, lasagna, meatballs, kielbasa and saurkraut
Dessert: pineapple bake, Easter pie, poppy seed roll, nut roll, seven layer bars, various cookies
I personally contributed the stuffed mushrooms, onion-dill dip, ham and Easter Pie. The Onion-Dill dip is a recipe I received from a co-worker about 9 years ago. She had brought this very flavorful, yet simple dip into a work party. Unfortunately, I cannot remember her name to give her credit for the recipe. She had served it in a bread bowl but it can be served with just crackers and vegetables. I also made this dip light, but you don’t have to. But be forewarned, it’s very onion-y but tasty.
The next appetizer I made was stuffed mushrooms. I love stuffed mushrooms and they are super simple to make. I use the recipe from the Cucina & Famiglia: Two Italian Familes Share Their Stories, Recipes, and Traditions by the actor Stanley Tucci and family. If you choose to make this recipe, I recommend to get the most flavor, use fresh herbs and the best olive oil.
For the ham, I used Alton Brown’s City Ham recipe that includes layers of flavors: spicy brown mustard, brown sugar, bourbon (but I used whiskey), and gingersnaps. The smell alone while the ham bakes is heavenly as it wafts through your home. It creates a fabulous crust with an unique flavor.
For dessert, I made Giada De Laurentiis’ Easter Pie. This was the first time making this but it’s popular Italian Easter dessert. Well, only my mother and myself tried it! Neither of us liked it. It wasn’t horrible, just blah. It’s a ricotta cheesecake that is not too sweet with rice and orange zest among other ingredients. This recipe is the only one I do not recommend.
Overall Easter was a nice family holiday as usual, followed by a night of Mylanta shots. Enjoy the pictures and recipes!
- Onion-Dill Dip – 4 stars
- Stuffed Mushrooms – 5 stars
- City Ham – 4 stars
- Easter Pie – 1 star
Onion – Dill Dip
1/2 sweet onion diced very fine
handful of fresh dill, finely chopped
1 cup light mayo
1 cup light sour cream
Mix all four ingredients and serve!
10 oz. large mushrooms
1/2 cup plus 1 T olive oil
3/4 cup plain bread crumbs or more as needed
1/2 cup pecorino Romano or Parmesean cheese
1 tsp finely chopped garlic, about 2 small cloves
2 T finely chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper
1 T extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 375. Remove stems from mushrooms and set aside. Finely chop half the mushroom stems and discard the other half (I seem to use all though). Warm 1 T of olive in small saute pan over medium heat. Add stems and cook until softened and lightly browned. In medium bowl, mix cooked stems, bread crumbs, cheese, garlic, and parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Slowly stir in 1/2 cup of olive oil. If the dough is too oily add more bread crumbs. Divide the filling between the mushroom caps. Place on baking sheet. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over mushrooms and bake until browned but firm. About 8 minutes. Serve warm. *Note I often add the garlic to the saute pan instead and cook up with stems.
|1 city style (brined) ham, hock end*
1/4 cup brown mustard
2 cups dark brown sugar
1-ounce bourbon (poured into a spritz bottle)
2 cups crushed ginger snap cookiesHeat oven to 250 degrees F.Remove ham from bag, rinse and drain thoroughly. Place ham, cut side down, in a roasting pan. Using a small paring knife or clean utility knife set to the smallest blade setting, score the ham from bottom to top, spiraling clockwise as you cut. (If you’re using a paring knife, be careful to only cut through the skin and first few layers of fat). Rotate the ham after each cut so that the scores are no more than 2-inches across. Once you’ve made it all the way around, move the knife to the other hand and repeat, spiraling counter clockwise. The aim is to create a diamond pattern all over the ham. (Don’t worry too much about precision here.)Tent the ham with heavy duty foil, insert a thermometer, and cook for 3 to 4 hours or until the internal temperature at the deepest part of the meat registers 130 degrees F.Remove and use tongs to pull away the diamonds of skin and any sheets of fat that come off with them.Heat oven to 350 degrees F.Dab dry with paper towels, then brush on a liberal coat of mustard, using either a basting brush or a clean paint brush (clean as in never-touched paint). Sprinkle on brown sugar, packing loosely as you go until the ham is coated. Spritz this layer lightly with bourbon, then loosely pack on as much of the crushed cookies as you can.Insert the thermometer (don’t use the old hole) and return to the oven (uncovered). Cook until interior temperature reaches 140 degrees F, approximately 1 hour.Let the roast rest for 1/2 hour before carving.*Cook’s note: A city ham is basically any brined ham that’s packed in a plastic bag, held in a refrigerated case and marked “ready to cook”, “partially cooked” or “ready to serve”. Better city hams are also labeled “ham in natural juices”
|3/4 cup powdered sugar, plus extra for garnish
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
1/2 cup cooked short-grained rice
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
6 sheets fresh phyllo sheets or frozen, thawed
3/4 stick (3 ounces) unsalted butter, meltedBlend 3/4 cup of powdered sugar, eggs, vanilla, orange zest and ricotta in a food processor until smooth. Stir in the rice and pine nuts. Set the ricotta mixture aside.Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.Lightly butter a 9-inch glass pie dish. Lay 1 phyllo sheet over the bottom and up the sides of the dish, allowing the phyllo to hang over the sides. Brush the phyllo with the melted butter. Top with a second sheet of phyllo dough, laying it in the opposite direction as the first phyllo sheet. Continue layering the remaining sheets of phyllo sheets, alternating after each layer and buttering each sheet. Spoon the ricotta mixture into the dish. Fold the overhanging phyllo dough over the top of the filling to enclose it completely. Brush completely with melted butter.Bake the pie until the phyllo is golden brown and the filling is set, about 35 minutes. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool completely. Sift powdered sugar over the pie and serve.