Sunday, April 13, 2014

Maria's Italian Easter Bread (Reposted for this weeks Holiday!)

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon  almond extract 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons  vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour,  more if needed

  • In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water with a pinch of granulated sugar. Let stand for 15 minutes. Whisk in the remaining ingredients, except the flour.
                        Stir in flour, one cup at a time to form a wet and  noticeable sticky dough.

    Turn dough on a lightly floured surface. Knead for about 7 minutes, adding flour as needed to keep the dough from remaining sticking on the surface of the area.  You will  form a smooth and elastic dough feeling dough.
     Place dough in a lightly oiled large bowl. Lightly oil  surface of the dough, and cover the bowl with a damp dish towel. Place in the oven and turn the light in the oven on. Let the dough rise until doubled in size,  8-12 hours.
                      This is a  slow rising dough so I would make it and let it rise overnight. 
    In the morning the dough will be doubled,  punch dough down, and then turn onto a lightly floured surface again.  
    Divide in four pieces, and shape into four small oval loaves or each piece can be cut into three strips and braided in order to make  traditional Easter bread. You can also add boiled colored Easter eggs to these. Add them to the braid before baking.

    Place loaves on parchment lined baking sheets. Cover very loosely with  saran wrap, and let rise for 2 hours more.
            Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes  until golden brown, once baked cool on wire racks.

     There is a saying in Italian: Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con qui voi. Which means: Christmas with your family, but Easter with whoever you want!   Copyright@ Maria A. Piccirillo

    Mom's Easter Pie (Pizzagaine)

     1 Lb Ricotta cheese
     3 eggs and another for the egg wash
     1/4 Lb Provolone - Sharp
     1/4 Lb Mozzarella
     4 Tbs Grated Parmesan cheese 
     1/4 Lb Prosciutto
     1/4 Lb salami
     1/4 Lb Mortadella

    Cut all the meats & cheeses into cube size pieces, and put in a large bowl add grated Parmesan  and mix well, fold in the eggs and mix well again..    Fold in the ricotta and mix together.

    Preheat the oven at 350F

    Making Dough:  If you do not have time, frozen deep piecrusts are fine and Pillsbury pie crusts to make you strips across the top.

    In a large bowl, or mixer, add the flour, salt , butter that has been cut into cubes.    Flour  should be mixed into butter. Add the eggs  mix well add eggs, and milk, 1/4  or more if needed,  until you have a firm dough.

    Butter and flour  9" springform pan or a pan that would be of equal size.
    Cut about a  1/3 of the dough and set it to one side
    Roll dough in a thin pie circle, place it into pan so the it covers over the pan border, add your filling and spread to make an even topping.  Cut the extra dough from around the pan border.  With your leftover dough roll it thin and with a ravioli of pizza cutter, cut strips to make a crisscross pattern over the top of the pie.  Wet wash the strips with egg and bake for about 1hour 20 minutes, until it has a golden color.  Watch it for the last 20 minutes so that it achieves the color.

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

    Mom's Angel Food Cake


    1 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
    1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
    1 1/2 cups  egg whites at room temperature (12 large eggs)
    1 teaspoon cream of tartar
    1/3  teaspoon salt
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    1/2 teaspoon almond extract
     Preheat oven to 350 degrees
    In a large bowl sift together 3/4 cup granulated sugar and the sifted cake flour.

    In mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until they are foamy, slowly add  cream of tartar, lemon juice, and salt and  beat until soft peaks form, slowly beat in the remaining 3/4 cup granulated sugar, about tablespoon at a time, until glossy stiff peaks form. Scrape sides of the bowl so the all mixture is being mixed well. Beat in the vanilla extract and almond extract. Now sift the flour mixture over the egg whites just about one quarter of the flour mixture at a time, quickly fold together do not stir  the flour into the egg whites. I use a medium wire whisk and medium rubber spatula. Do not over mix it.


    Pour the batter into the pan cut spatula through the batter and even off the top and bake in the preheated oven for about 40 - 45 minutes. The cake is done when springs back when gently pressed and the top of the cake will have cracks and have a golden color.   Pour the batter into the pan and run a metal spatula or knife through the batter to get rid of any air pockets. Smooth the top and bake in the preheated oven for about 40 - 45 minutes. The cake is done when a wooden skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean and the cake springs back when gently pressed. The top of the cake will have cracks.  After you remove the pan invert it and cool for 1-2 hours.
    Once totally cooled. run a knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the cake and remove the cake from the pan.  I loosen the round the sides first, then around the middle, and then I pull the middle of the pan out, the I run the knife around the bottom of the pan to loosen it and place it on a cake dish.
    You can serve this cake with whipped cream, ice cream, strawberry or a raspberry topping, a chocolate sauce or my favorite, a confectionary sugar icing flavored with almond.




    Easter Ham with Apple & Maple Sauce

    4 tablespoons of packed brown sugar
    4 teaspoons of minced garlic
    6 pound ham
    ½ cup ginger ale  (cuts the salt from the ham)
    ½ cup mustard (Dijon)
    ¼ cup of apple cider
    ¼ cup of maple syrup (not low cal)
    Black pepper
    Sliced apples (optional)
    Preheat oven 325 degree

    Before rubbing the ham, pour the ginger ale over the ham.

    In a small bowl mix together garlic, brown sugar.  With your fingers rub ham evenly with this mixture, place ham on a rack in a shallow roasting pan.  Bake for about 1 ½ to 2 ¼ hours to avoid the ham getting too brown cover loose with foil in last 45 minutes of cooking. 

    In a small bowl stir together mustard, cider and maple syrup.  If you like you can season with pepper, and serve with apple slices, sauce can be put in a gravy boat for serving.

    Italian Eggplant Pizza Rounds

    One eggplant sliced rounds
    2 cups of Italian breadcrumbs
    1 teaspoon Mrs Dash Italian seasoning
    2 eggs beaten

    Double dip eggplant into egg then Mrs Dash Italian seasoning, seasoned bread crumbs.

    Bake at 375 for 20 minutes on cookie sheet sprayed with Pam until lightly browned.

    Slice mozzarella cheese thin, slice garden tomato thin. Layer onto baked eggplant add some Mrs Dash Italian seasoning,  and re-bake just until the cheese begins to melt.

    Serve hot.

    Rigatoni al Forno (oven baked Rigatoni)

    1 pound of Rigatoni pasta
    4 cups of tomato sauce
    ½ pound of hamburger
    ½ pound of Grated Parmigiano cheese
    1 pound of mozzarella
    ¼ pound of ham
    ½ cup of white wine
    Olive oil
    1 medium onion
    Salt optional

    In a sauce pan add some olive oil and chopped onion. Once the onion turns clear add the chopped meat and saute` in the oil and the onion.
    After 4 minutes add the wine and let it evaporate (Reduce) for 3-5 minutes.
    Add the tomato sauce and let everything cook at low heat for 20 minutes.
    Stir occasionally.
    In a separate pot boil water and cook the rigatoni. The rigatoni should be cooked "Al Dente". In an oven pan spread a thin layer of meat sauce and add a layer of rigatoni. Cover the rigatoni with a layer of sauce and sprinkle with Parmigiano.
    Add a layer of mozzarella cut in small cubes and a layer of slices of ham.
    Repeat the layering process until you have no more rigatoni. The last layer of rigatoni should be covered with a generous layer of sauce, a good sprinkle of Parmigiano and mozzarella cubes. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 375