“Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi voui” Christmas with your family, Easter with whomever you please. This old Italian saying sings the truth.
Colorful, flavorful and full of fun, Easter is my favorite holiday. Unlike Christmas, where there can be an overwhelming list of things to do (shopping, cooking, entertaining, overnight guests, etc.) Easter has NO to-do-list!
When my siblings and I all lived in California, the most memorable Easter’s were at my sister, Theresa’s. Her home in Placerville provided the perfect setting for the coloring of eggs, games and of course the quintessential egg-hunt.
The addition of live chickens, lambs and sheep on the property added to this holiday’s charm. I imagine it is very much the same in the Italian countryside.
Theresa is a generous soul and always extended an invitation to friends to join in our festivities. The menu was flexible and invited guests could bring what they wanted or nothing at all. The day was never so much about the food as it was about just being together.
Don’t misunderstand, we ate well but it was an easy and casual menu. We didn’t have the labor intensive traditional dishes that other holidays require … demand (lasagna). There was usually a ham, but not always, sometimes my brother-in-law, Bill, would barbecue. The only two items that were (are) consistently on the table every year are stuffed eggs and Bunny Cake. I have recently added this delicious ricotta pie with an amaretti crust to our Easter tradition … there’s always room on the table for one more dessert!
- 1 1/2 cups amaretti cookie crumbs
- 6 tablespoons butter, unsalted, melted
- 1/2 cup currants (or raisins)
- 5 tablespoons orange-flavored liquor (Grand Marnier)
- 1 1/2 cups ricotta
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 5 egg yolks
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of cinnamon
- In a small bowl, at least 24 hours ahead, put currants in the liquor to soak.
- In a food processor, crush the cookies to make very fine crumbs. (You could put cookies in a freezer bag, close and crush with a rolling pin).
- Mix in the melted butter until crumbs stick together (same as for a graham cracker crust).
- Spread the crumb-mixture over the bottom and sides of a 9 or 10-inch pie plate. Pat into shape.
- Bake the crust in a 300* oven for 20 minutes, then let cool for 30 minutes.
- In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, sugar, egg yolks, whole egg, lemon zest, salt and cinnamon. Stir until smooth.
- Drain the currants and add to the filling. (You’ll have about a tablespoon or so of liquor left in the bowl, why not use it to flavor some whipped cream to top fresh berries or drizzle over fresh orange slices … just a thought).
- Bake in a 350* oven for an hour or until filling is firm and golden.
- Let cool, then chill in refrigerator for several hours or overnight.