If you live in the Waterbury, CT area and have Italian-American blood in your veins, you've probably been noshing on frosted lemon italian cookies and biscotti from Sweet Maria's for a while (if you're lucky). For the rest of you: meet Maria Bruscino Sanchez, owner and baker at Sweet Maria's bakery. After a short career in the advertising industry, Maria followed her dream and opened a bakery in her hometown - pretty inspiring (and relevant) for a girl like me!
So this weekend, future MIL and I dropped by The Kitchen at Middlebury Consignment for an Italian Easter Sweets class lead by Maria herself. What we found was a beautifully updated kitchen filled with Italian ladies eager to learn from a master. And a list of yummy treats waiting to be sampled.
The topic was "Easter Sweets" but in 29 years of Easter celebrating, I've never had Italian meat or rice pie. But... OMG praise Jesus that I'm marrying into the Italian way of things! I could eat both of these and nothing else for 40 days and never want anything else - and that's saying something.
The Italian Rice pie is the delicious result of rice pudding getting frisky with tiramisu in a dark alley. It's creamy and rich with the texture of rice and the spice of cinnamon. And the Easter Meat Pie is meaty and cheesy with crust that goes for days. We ate it at room temperature but I'd love to try it warm. Imagine a quiche on steroids with two kinds of cheese and three types of cured meat. Salivating yet?
OK, are you now??
Many many thanks to Sweet Maria for sharing her secrets - now make this yourself! Your Easter guests will thank you, I promise. And let's just say I'm looking forward to Easter dinner at MIL's this year to continue my Italian culinary education :)
Pizza Piena (Easter Meat Pie)
1 1/2 cups ricotta (preferably whole milk)
1/2 cup grated pecorino Romano
3/4 lb. am (diced small)
3/4 lb. prosciutto (diced small)
1/4 lb. salami (diced small)
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 tsp. black pepper
1/3 cup shortening, melted, then cooled
1 1/2 - 2 cups flour
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Make crust. Beat eggs and cooled shortening. Add salt and pepper and 1 1/2 cups flour. Knead to make a soft, not sticky dough. If dough is sticky, add additional flour. Cover and set aside.
Make filling. Beat eggs, ricotta, pecorino Romano. Add chopped meat, parsley, and black pepper.
Reserve 1/4 of the crust dough. Roll out 3/4 of the crust dough like a pie crust. Place into a 9-inch springform pan. Pour in filling.
Roll out remaining crust. Cut into strips. Layer strips over filling in a lattice pattern. Crimp edges of crust all around.
Bake 1 hour and 15-20 minutes, or until center is set. Cool pie in pan 3-4 hours or overnight.
Refrigerate and cut into pieces.