You didn’t think I’d write about our Italian traditions for Christmas Eve and leave out Easter, did you? Easter will be here very soon, which can only mean one thing – time to make the Easter Pizzas. These go by many names – Pizza Gaina (Chena, in Italian,) Pizza Rustica, among others – in my family they are known as delicious and Mommy is the keeper of the recipes.
Sorry, I’m not allowed to put the recipes here because Mommy says they are secret family recipes. She says I will have them one day, when I am old enough to become the keeper and I can decide what to do with them then, but for now she is not willing to share. Apparently, there are not many people in the family that even have the family recipe. I know it is an old one. Mommy has put the recipes on her computer and has put away the thin pieces of paper with the handwritten recipes so they don’t get ruined. These recipes come from my great, great Aunt Michelena (or Merch, or Marge, depending on how close you were to her.)
I never had the chance to meet her, but Mommy and Nonno say she was a wonderful lady who was always welcoming and always had food. If you stopped to visit her, she would say, “Do you have time for a little piece of cheese? Maybe a little sandwich?” And before you knew it there would be an amazing spread of antipasti on the kitchen table. I think I would have liked her.
So, Mommy got the recipes from her great aunt Merch, and aunt Merch probably got them from her mommy (that would be Nonno’s Granma!)
Anyway, you can imagine these are pretty special recipes. If you want to make Easter Pizzas yourself, you can find recipes in many places – just “Google it.” There are many variations. The ones Mommy makes are like Italian cheesecake. She makes a few variations herself. This year she made two different kinds: a sweet and a savory. Here’s a bit of what the process looks like:
First, the crust is pretty sticky. It includes egg and quite a bit of shortening. I don’t know if it’s shortening because butter changes it too much or if butter was just too expensive. Either way, we don’t mess with it.
Mommy let me help roll out the dough, even though I was feeling a little under the weather with a spring cold.
The fillings have lots and lots of ricotta and eggs. They both start with the cheese being mixed with some flour (and sugar and a little orange zest for the sweet one) and then adding the eggs and beating it until it gets frothy.
Then the sweet one gets poured into the crust and baked.
The savory one gets an assortment of meats and cheeses mixed in before being poured into the crust. This year Mommy used some hot sausage, Genoa salami, sharp provolone and Romano.
They get baked at 350 for about an hour.
Don’t they look yummy?