Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Gurgle, gurgle, gurgle...

video








Monday, December 23, 2013

Good news at the Italian Market

Good news for the Italian Market, on South 9th Street, in Philadelphia.  

http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20131223_Long-awaited_change_coming_to_Italian_Market.html?&c=n

Michele Gambino (right), business manager, United Merchants of the South 9th Business Association, talks with merchant Jonathan Rivera (left) of Tortilleria San Roman. The Italian Market is now more the Italian-Mexican-Vietnamese Market. December 17,  2013.( MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Staff Photographer )

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Cinnamon-raisin swirl bread

Wonderfully easy.

1 loaf frozen white bread dough, defrosted
3-4 Tbp cinnamon-sugar butter (see below)
1/4 cup raisins

Defrost the loaf of frozen dough, and roll out on a floured surface to about 15" x 6".  Smear the surface with the cinnamon-sugar butter, sprinkle the raisins on top, and then roll it up from the short end into a loaf.

Drop into a well-greased loaf pan, and let rise for a couple hours in a warm spot.  (I heat my oven for a few minutes, then turn it off.  That gives a nice, toasty environment for proofing the bread.)

When well risen, bake in a preheated 350°F oven for about 30 minutes, until golden on top.  Remove from loaf pan, and cool completely on a wire rack.



Cinnamon-sugar butter

1 stick butter (4 oz, 1/4 lb), fully softened, but not melted
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch salt (if you're using unsalted butter)

Combine ingredients into a paste.  Spread over hot toast or use in the cinnamon-raisin swirl bread above.  



Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Now THAT'S good stock

I made a big pot of turkey stock the other day, to have on hand for making my Thanksgiving stuffing and gravy.

I got some turkey necks and wings at Reading Terminal Market, and roasted them along with carrots, onions, and celery for about 2 hours at 325°F (along with a few turkey thighs -- more on that later).  I put the roasted meat and veggies into a big 12-qt stockpot, and added a roasted chicken carcass that I had in the fridge from dinner the other night, and a bone from a recent pork shoulder roast that I had saved and popped into the freezer.

Covered everything with water, brought the pot to a boil, lowered it to a simmer, and let the stock simmer gently for about 3 hours.

Discarded all the bones (not much in the way of meat to retain), and let the stock cool fully.

video

Now THAT'S good stock -- jiggly when cold, full of gelatin, which adds considerably heft and substance to a stock.  


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Eggs in purgatory, or shakshuka

Interesting dish -- seems there are versions of this throughout the Mediterranean -- Italy, Israel, North Africa, and I'd imagine the Spanish, Greeks, and French do it, too. 

Italians call this "eggs in purgatory," though why is unclear.  This dish is pure heaven, especially if you make the tomato sauce with fresh tomatoes in the height of summer. 

First, a simple, spicy tomato sauce:

1/4 cup olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 28-oz can whole plum tomatoes, crushed lightly with your hands
Salt & pepper
1 tsp thyme

In a skillet, warm the olive oil.  Add onion and garlic, and saute a few minutes until the onion is translucent and beginning to color.  Season with salt and pepper  Add the hot pepper flakes. 

Add the tomatoes, bring to a simmer, reduce heat, add thyme, and let simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes. 

Crack a few eggs into the sauce while it is simmering over a low flame, and let them cook gently for about 4 minutes.  You're essentially poaching eggs in a tomato sauce rather than water.

Serve immediately in wide soup plates, with toasted French or sourdough bread that has been rubbed with a raw garlic clove, and drizzled with olive oil.

 Eggs poaching in spicy tomato sauce.



You could clearly do this with other sauces -- a vegetable ragout like ratatouille would be great, or just a simple stew of yellow summer squash and fresh tomatoes.  Adding olives or capers to the tomato sauce would be an excellent choice, too.  If you had some grated pecorino or parmigiano, please do sprinkle some on top. 




Mushroom barley soup

On a frigid night like tonite, the allure of a bowl of hot soup cannot be underestimated.  

I love making soup -- simmering the stock, and getting it rich and flavorful, sauteing veggies for the base of the soup, adding those little 'hidden' ingredients that you really can't 'taste,' but improve the character of the soup so drastically, like a dollop of tomato paste, a glug of sherry or port, a couple teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce, a tiny bit of cream.  

There are few soups that aren't better the day after they're made, and this is certainly one of them.  I suspect that the reason has much to do with the starch that's added to the soup -- barley, rice, noodles.  As the soup sits, starch leaches from the barley into the stock, and consequently thickens it, gives it body, which adds a pleasant mouthfeel to the soup, and improves overall flavor. 

3/4 c pearl barley, cooked in copious amounts of salted water until tender, about 45 minutes. 

1 lb button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced
2 Tbp each, fresh sage and parsley, chopped

In a skillet, melt 4 Tbp butter in 2 Tbp olive oil, and sauté one finely chopped shallot about 2 minutes.  Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté until tender and lightly browned.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add chopped parsley and sage.    Set aside.

1 onion, chopped
1 large carrot, grated/shredded
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbp tomato paste 
6 cups stock (beef or chicken)

In a Dutch oven, sauté onion, carrot, garlic until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add tomato paste, and sauté a minute or two more.  Add stock.  Add the sautéed mushrooms and barley.  Bring to a simmer. 

Best served the next day.  

Quick cassoulet – bean-and-sausage casserole

Julia Child does cassoulet in her Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and it is a triumph of exhausting preparation and long cooking.  The recipe goes on for four pages, and includes pork loin, sausage, beans, bacon, and optionally duck or goose confit. 

Probably not the best choice for dinner on a Tuesday evening.

My version does require a tiny bit of forethought – soaking the beans, but not much beyond that.  

1 lb dry white beans (like Great Northern, navy, or cannellini)
About 8 – 10 cups water, to cover
2 tsp baking soda

8 cups fresh water (not the bean soaking liquid)
1 onion
1 rib celery
A couple cloves of garlic
Thyme
Sage
Bay leaf
Salt & pepper
Olive oil

2 cups fresh bread crumbs
2 Tbp olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
Dry herbs – thyme, sage, marjoram

Cover 1 lb white beans  with about 8 cups of cool water.  Add baking soda (which aids the cooking later).  Cover, and let sit in a cool place overnight. 

Drain the beans and discard the soaking water, and dump the beans into a Dutch oven.  Cover with another 8 cups of water, and toss in a peeled, halved onion, a stalk of celery, a couple cloves of peeled garlic, a bay leaf, and a few sprigs of thyme (or a teaspoon dried thyme), and a sprig of sage (or a bit of dried sage), and good teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper.  Drizzle a glug of olive oil over all.  


 Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and let simmer gently partly covered until the beans are tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Having been soaked earlier in water containing baking soda, the beans will cook fairly quickly, and should be fully tender within an hour’s simmering.  The water level should be at the top of the beans or just below.  Test the beans carefully for doneness, and test for seasoning, too.  Remove the veggies and herb sprigs if you’d like. 

While the beans are cooking, roast a pound of Italian sausage in the oven until browned. 

Nestle the sausage links into the beans.

Film a heated skillet with the olive oil, add the crushed garlic, and cook very briefly until fragrant.  Add the fresh bread crumbs and the herbs, and saute briefly until the crumbs are very lightly toasted (they’ll have the opportunity to brown more later). 

Sprinkle toasted crumbs atop the beans and sausage, and pop the Dutch oven, uncovered, into a 375°F oven for about 15 minutes, until the casserole is bubbly, and the crumbs nicely browned.  


Optional additions: you can pretty much add whatever meat you’d like to the beans prior to baking.  I’ve done this with sausage and big chunks of pork belly.  No reason you couldn’t add a broiled lamb chop or two, or a couple roasted chicken thighs. 

Stracotto, Italian-style beef stew

This is the Italian version of boeuf bourguignon or beef stew.  Stracotto” means “extra cooked,” or “well cooked,” an apt description of a long-simmered dish.  Unlike boeuf bourguignon, for which the meat is cubed and browned prior to braising, all the ingredients for stracotto are dumped into the pot, brought to a simmer, then stewed slowly until the meat is tender. 

There are many, many dishes in my family’s Italian and Italian-American repertoire, but this isn’t one of them.  Perhaps surprisingly, my grandmothers would have made more conventional American-style beef stew, rather than this decidedly Florentine piatto.  And perhaps that’s the reason: this is a Tuscan dish, and like balsamic vinegar, basil pesto, and parmigiano reggiano cheese, they were not well known in the southern Italian kitchen, and likely would not have emigrated to the US in the same way that mozzarella, provolone, pecorino romano, and ragù alla napoletana did. 

A 3-lb beef chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat, and cut up into 1-inch cubes.
Olive oil
2 medium onions, slices
A few cloves garlic
Salt & pepper
Optional: thyme, bay leaf
Most of a bottle of dry red Italian wine, like a Chianti

Beef, onions, just barely covered with red wine.

Film the bottom of a sturdy Dutch oven with olive oil.  Add beef, season it well, then onions and garlic.  Add wine until the meat is very nearly covered.   Though most recipes one sees don't call for it, I think a bit of thyme and a bay leaf make a fine addition to the preparation. 

Bring to a simmer, cover, then place in a 325°F oven for about 3 hours until the meat is very tender. 

To thicken, add a few teaspoons of cornstarch or flour mixed with water, and stir over heat until thickened. 

Serve with buttered noodles, gnocchi, polenta, or buttered boiled potatoes.  

 Stracotto fiorentino, served with potato gnocchi tossed in butter and sage.

Sun-dried tomato pesto

This is a burst of summer sunshine during the gray, gusty November chill. 

3 oz package sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 c golden raisins

Soak in hot water 15 minutes, drain (retain the liquid), set aside. 

1 large bunch basil (a generous two cups of tightly packed leaves)
1/2 bunch of parsley   

The amount and balance of the green herbs isn’t critical; use what you can get.  In November, you’re only likely to find parsley.

3 cloves garlic
A couple tablespoons of the soaking liquid
Olive oil, about 1/2 cup
1/2 pecorino romano cheese
2 oz chestnuts (about 6; I find these in the local Korean grocery store in a foil pouch.  If you can find them, use other nuts of your liking.)
1/2 cup pistachios
1 tsp salt
Optional additions:  capers, olives

Start by processing the green herbs. Add the tomatoes and raisins, with a bit of the liquid, and process until coarsely chopped.  Add garlic, cheese, chestnuts, pistachios, salt (olives and capers, if you’re using them) and process again until a paste has formed.  With the processor running, add the olive oil until a smooth paste is achieved. Taste for seasoning, and adjust as necessary.

Dress a pound of rigatoni with the pesto, adding a bit of the pasta cooking water as needed to ‘loosen’ the dish.  Mix well.  Pass cheese at the table.  Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Peach-blueberry pie

I thought I'd posted a recipe for a basic fruit pie here before, but it seems I have not.  Pandowdies, cobblers, yes, but a two-crust pie, no.  Frankly, I don't make them too often, opting for the pandowdy (top crust only) or cobbler (sweet biscuit topping), or crisp (breadcrumb and oatmeal topping).   

So, at the request of my cousin Lea, here it is!  I've converted to metric where I could for Lea's sake. 

Fruit filling
6 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, sliced (about 4 cups by volume)
1 pint blueberries (about two cups by volume, probably about 3/4 lb, or about 350 g)
1 cup sugar (abut 225 g)
Pinch salt (3 g)
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (5 g?) [canella]
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (2 g?) [noce moscato]
2 tablespoons butter (60 g)
3 tablespoons Minute tapioca, flour, or corn starch (25 g)
Juice of half a lemon

Mix the fruit, sugar, salt, spices, lemon juice, and flour or cornstarch in a bowl.  Let sit 10 minutes. 

Pie crust
3 cups flour (375 g)
1 teaspoons salt (6 g)
14 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and chilled (200 g)
½ cup ice-cold water (120 ml)

Pulse flour, salt, and butter in a food processor into pea-size crumbles. Add water; pulse until dough comes together. Divide dough in half and flatten each half into a disk. Wrap disks in plastic wrap and chill 1 hour before using.

Roll out half the dough, and fit into a pie plate.  Turn fruit mixture into the crust.  Dot with butter. Roll out the other half of the dough, and cover the fruit.   Tuck the edges of the top crust under the edges of the bottom crust all around the pie.  Crimp lightly.  Cut a few slits into the top crust as vents.

Bake in a pre-heated 400°F (200°C) for about 1 hour, or until the crust is nicely browned and the juices bubble up a bit.

 Fruit mixed with sugar, tapioca (or flour or cornstarch), spices, salt, lemon juice.

 Turned out into the bottom crust.  Dotted with butter.

 Top crust laid over fruit, edges crimped, vents cut into top crust.

 Golden brown and bubbly.

A slice of perfection!


Friday, August 16, 2013

Blueberry tiramisù

I'm honestly reluctant to call this dessert a "tiramisù," as it contains neither coffee, nor chocolate, nor mascarpone, nor eggs.  But it resembles a tiramisù in its structure (ladyfingers, or savoiardi), a flavoring, and a creamy layer, repeated.

In the same way that we now call pretty much anything in a stemmed cocktail glass a "martini," we'll call this a "tiramisù."

I opted to not use eggs as this will be traveling in 80-degree weather to a pool party, and thought the raw eggs typical in a tiramisù might not be the best idea.  I opted not to use mascarpone because it's unreasonably expensive, and for a pool party, Philadelphia cream cheese -- with a bit of whole-milk Greek yogurt to add some sharpness -- will do just fine. 

There are a few components to this dessert.  We'll do each separately. 

Lemon simple syrup
1 c sugar
1/2 cup water
Juice of half a lemon
Squeezed lemon rinds

Zest one lemon.  Set zest aside for later use.  Squeeze lemon halves into small bowl.  Set aside.
Combine sugar, water, and squeezed lemon halves in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Stir.  Lower heat to medium, and let simmer about 5 minutes until clear.  Set aside to completely cool.  Add half the lemon juice.



Blueberry compote
3 pints blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
Scant 1/2 cup water
Pinch of salt
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch of cinnamon

Bring berries, sugar, water, and salt to a simmer.  Stir.  Let cook just a few minutes until there is a thin sauce.  Set aside to cool completely.  Stir in the other half of the lemon juice and the cinnamon.


Crème filling
2  8-oz packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
Pinch salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of a whole lemon
1/4 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt
1 pint whipping cream

Whip cream to soft peaks in a bowl.  Set aside. 

Beat softened cream cheese with sugar, vanilla, salt, lemon zest, and yogurt, until the mixture is creamy and the sugar is dissolved (there will be no grittiness remaining). 

Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until combined.  Refrigerate until read to use.



Assembling the tiramisù
Simple syrup
Berry compote
Crème filling
1/2 pint fresh blueberries

Put a layer of soft ladyfinger cakes in a deep 9" x 13" baking dish or foil pan.  Lightly drizzle lemon-flavored simple syrup on the cakes.  Cover the cakes with half the berry compote.  Spread half the crème filling over the berries.  Repeat with another layer of cakes, syrup, berries, crème.  Top with the fresh blueberries. 

Cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Syrup-soaked ladyfingers, with berry compote spread over.

Berries covered with creme filling.

Second layer.  Ladyfingers soaked with lemon-flavored syrup.

 Final layers of berry compote and creme filling, then topped with uncooked berries. 


Special bonus treat.  Leftover ladyfinger, spread with a bit of homemade raspberry jam, and a bit of creme filling, topped with another ladyfinger.   Dang.  Heaven on spongecake. 











Monday, August 12, 2013

August tomatoes

August.  Tomatoes.  Gratin.  Crostini. 

A great way to enjoy the wonderful tomatoes in the markets this month.  I picked up a few pounds of beautiful red and yellow tomatoes at a farm stand while driving across the Delmarva Peninsula this weekend, on my way from Stone Harbor, NJ to Annapolis MD.

The first thing I did after returning home was to make a quick Sunday supper of tomato and mozzarella crostini.  Magnificent.  These were the yellow tomatoes -- to my taste, quite different in character from red tomatoes.  Sweet, fruitier.

I toasted some good Italian bread, then rubbed the slices with a clove of raw garlic (you can see the garlic left after the rubbing in the photo).  Plopped a thick slice of tomato on top of each slice, seasoned with salt and pepper, then topped with a slice of fresh mozzarella and a good glug-glug of Spanish olive oil.

You could, if you had some lying about, put a dollop of basil pesto on each slice of bread or atop the mozzarella, but I didn't have any handy, so forewent the pesto.  Next time.  I need to make some pesto anyway with the bounty of basil in the garden.  



I made a tomato gratin as a side dish for Monday's dinner, to accompany oven-roasted sausage and peppers. 

2 tomatoes, sliced 1/4" thick (about 10 slices total)  (I used one red and one yellow tomato.)
1 Tbp butter
1 Tbp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 c panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper
3 Tbp grated parmigiano or pecorino cheese
2 Tbp chopped fresh basil
2 tsp thyme

Melt the butter and olive oil in a small skillet.  Add crushed garlic and saute 30 seconds.  Add bread crumbs, salt and pepper, and stir for a few minutes until very lightly -- but not fully -- browned, and the crumbs are completely coated with the oil and butter mixture.  Add basil, thyme, cheese.  Mix well.  Set aside. 

Arrange about 1/3 of the crumbs in the bottom of a greased gratin dish.  Bake in a 375°F oven for 10 minutes until golden brown.  Cool slightly.

Arrange half the tomato slices in the gratin dish.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cover with another 1/3 of the crumbs.  Add another layer of tomatoes.  Cover with the remaining 1/3 of the crumbs.  Drizzle with a bit of olive oil.

Bake in a 375°F oven for about 20 minutes.



Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Pie cherries!

Pie cherries = cherry pie!!


It'll be a grand and glorious Fourth!

Four quarts of sour pie cherries.  Step one: stem the cherries.


Step two: pit the cherries.


Dang, took me about an hour and a half to stem and pit all the cherries.  The delightful part is that I'm allergic to the raw cherries (not life-threatening, but really annoying sneezing, itchy eyes, etc.).  I have to wear gloves when I handle the fruit.

6 cups stemmed, pitted pie cherries
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
4 1/2 Tbp Minute® tapioca
1/8 tsp almond extract
2 Pillsbury pie crusts, rolled out and cut into strips
1/4 cup half-and-half
Turbinado sugar

Combine the cherries with sugar, salt, Minute® tapioca, and almond extract, and let sit for about 10 minutes.  Pour into an appropriately sized baking dish.  Cut the pie crusts (I used a ravioli cutter, which gives the edges) into strips, and artfully arrange them over the fruit in the baking dish.

Brush with the milk, and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.



Place on a non-stick foil-lined baking sheet, and bake at 375°F for about 60-65 minutes, or until crust is nicely browned, and the fruit is bubbling up around the edges. 


Cool completely.  Serve with sweetened whipped cream or ice cream.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Blue cheese dip or salad dressing



I make this dip frequently to keep in the fridge for dipping veggies (steamed broccoli is the best), for potato chips, tortilla chips, or, with a healthy dose of hot sauce, to transform a mundane chicken cutlet into a Buffalo chicken cutlet. 


This recipe will be sufficiently thick to use as a dip.  To use as a salad dressing, thin it with 1/4 cup milk or buttermilk.  

1 small shallot, minced (about 2 Tbp)
4 oz crumbled blue cheese
16 oz sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbp vinegar
1 tsp black pepper
6 dashes hot sauce (Tabasco, Frank's Red Hot, sriracha)

In a bowl, combine ingredients.  Mix well.  Refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to bloom.

Sprinkle some chopped scallions, chives, or parsley on top for color, if desired.  


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Spatchcocked chicken

One of my Facebook friends requested a recipe for this roasted chicken.

 
Which became part of this dinner, along with the mushroom rice pilaf.  Sorry, didn't snap a pic of the green salad with roasted garlic-mustard vinaigrette.  You'll have to take my word for it.


A 3 1/2 - 4-lb fryer chicken was seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic powder (I use Paula Deen's 'house seasoning' recipe -- 4 parts salt, 1 part pepper, 1 part garlic powder), dried rosemary, thyme, and marjoram.  Drizzled a bit of olive oil over all, then a squirt or two of red wine vinegar, sprinkled a bit of paprika on top, popped it onto a heavy-duty foil-lined baking sheet, and into a 400°F oven (convection) for about 50 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer in the breast read 145°F.

That said, there was one thing that I did differently for these two birds. (Yes, I roasted two at once, one for dinner, and one for leftovers -- chicken sammiches, a bit of chicken salad...)  Instead of using cut-up chicken, or just a whole chicken, I spatchcocked these birds before roasting.  Yeah, spatchcocked.  I cut the backbone out of the chickens with kitchen shears, then splayed the birds open, pressing down a bit on the breasts to break through the breastbone.  It's the ideal way to prep a chicken for outdoor grilling, and for oven-roasting, it allows for more uniform and quicker cooking, too.  It also exposes all the skin to the heat of the oven, which gives a great crisp exterior as a result.  You certainly don't have to do this to roast chicken, but I recommend it.  Next time, I'll be sure to have someone photograph the process.  It's a bit messy handling the camera with slick chicken hands. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Mushroom barley soup

I'm bummed.  I made this soup for Sunday supper a couple weeks ago, but didn't take any photos.  Not only was it a beautiful soup, but it was remarkably delicious.  Mom, Dad, Dewey, and I enjoyed a nice supper together with the soup, bread, and a green salad.

If there's any 'trick' to doing this soup well, it's to make it the day before.  No question that the soup develops flavor and character when it sits in the fridge overnight.  Considering there's barley in it, too, the soup thickens a bit upon standing, which accentuates its texture and makes it seem 'richer' than it is. 

3/4 c pearl barley
1 shallot, chopped fine
1 lb button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced
2 Tbp each, fresh sage and parsley, chopped

1 onion, chopped
1 large carrot, grated/shredded
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbp tomato paste 
6 cups stock (beef or chicken)

Start with the barley,which you'll cook in copious salted water, drain, then set aside.  The barley will take about 45 minutes to cook until tender, but not mushy. 



 
In a skillet, melt 4 Tbp butter in 2 Tbp olive oil, and sauté one finely chopped shallot about 2 minutes.  Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté until tender and lightly browned.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add chopped parsley and sage.    Set aside.

In a Dutch oven, sauté onion, carrot, garlic until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add tomato paste, and sauté a minute or two more.  Add stock.  Add the sautéed mushrooms and barley.  Bring to a simmer, lower heat, and let simmer gently for 15 minutes before serving.  

Toss some chopped parsley or minced chives on top of each serving if you want.

Again, this is SOOOO much better the next day.  

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Savory Easter pie

After abstaining from meat for the forty days of Lent (back when one did abstain from meat -- and dairy and eggs -- for the forty days of Lent), one’s craving for these things must have been immense. It’s then easy to understand how a savory pie that contains pounds of meat and cheese bound together only with eggs came about. 

Pizza rustica, as it's sometimes known among Italians, is rich, decadent, and utterly delicious.  It's not vegan, vegetarian, kosher, low-fat, low-cal, but damn, it's magnificently good.  The pizza rustica is a quiche, though a typical French-style quiche would be made with eggs and cream binding the ingredients together.  This uses just eggs.

This recipe makes four standard nine-inch pies. I would suggest you use your favorite pie-crust recipe, or simply use store-bought Pillsbury pie crusts, which I must confess, are pretty damn good.  Make the whole recipe, and give the pies away as gifts.  You'll have friends for life.

Mom always seemed to make her meat pies on Good Friday, and we wouldn't be able to taste them until Saturday morning.  She's smarter than we ever imagined!!

1 1/2 lbs ham, cut into ¼-inch cubes
1 8-oz pepperoni, peeled and diced
1 lb whole-milk ricotta
1 basket (1 lb) farmer cheese, diced
1 lb  whole-milk mozzarella, diced
6 hard boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
1 Tbp black pepper
1 c grated pecorino cheese
12 eggs, beaten

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Add beaten eggs and mix well.  Ladle into crusts.  Cover with a lattice top crust, if desired.  Bake at 350°F until mixture is fully set, 55-60 minutes, until the egg custard is set.

 I used half of this 3-lb ham, cut into thick slices, then cubed.

 An 8-oz pepperoni, skin removed, sliced, then diced. 

 "Farmer," or "basket" cheese, readily available in supermarkets in the Philadelphia area around Easter, though I would imagine less available elsewhere.  If you cannot find it, a ricotta salata would work well.  

 Farmer cheese, cubed. 

 Whole-milk mozzarella.  I used supermarket mozz, and would
not use a high-quality fresh mozzarella for this -- it's far too moist.  

 Pie crust laid into the pie plate.  You can see a bit of overhang. 

 Overhang, tucked under itself around the rim.  

 Edges crimped.  


 Cheese and meat mixture ladled into pie crusts, and the pies set into the oven.

 My scribbled notes as I assembled the ingredients.  As if often the case, I might start
with a written recipe, but will always keep notes of what I actually do.
 

The product of the morning's labors.