Italian Easter Pie

March 26, 2016

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Easter preparations are in full swing in the Runcible Kitchen here. And the star of the show is this Italian Easter Pie! Yesterday I made my traditional Apple & Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns. Good Friday just wouldn’t be the same without them!

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And as for today, it was time to try out a new recipe. And I think this one will be making frequent reappearances. Behold this fantastic Italian Easter Pie!

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What we’ve got here is basically an Easter Calzone or “stuffed pizza” filled with smoked ham, hard-boiled eggs and cheese. Traditionally it is eaten in Italian households the day before Easter, but would certainly be welcome on any Easter Brunch table and would also be a great recipe to keep on hand should you have any extra hard-boiled eggs lingering around after the holiday.

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I found this recipe on the King Arthur Flour blog. Rather, I should say I was looking over various Easter bread recipes, trying to pick one to make. Last year I had made Slovak Paska Bread

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and was very happy with the results, so I thought I’d stick with the bread theme. I had pretty much decided on the Polish Babka. But then the Husband happened along and saw the Italian Easter Pie recipe and he was smitten. He loves eggs. Loves them. Could eat them everyday. Prepared anyway. Never gets tired of them. And we had just received an order of King Arthur Italian Style Flour that we were going to try out with a new pizza dough recipe. Sooo….his choice was clear and I got busy making the Italian Easter Pie.  Now I will say, this recipe makes two 12″ Easter Pies. It will serve a whole lot of folks! Apparently there are as many variations on Italian Easter Pie recipes as there are Italian households out there. Everyone has a family favorite. Whilst this pie has fairly mild flavorings (that is why it is important that you use good quality, flavorful ham), I also ran across a recipe that uses a lot of spicier meats, like sausage, pancetta, and salami which looked great. (I’m keeping that one a secret for now to perhaps surprise the Husband with later.)

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I was very happy with how this Easter treat turned out. The crust is light and thin, and I will mention that the Italian Style flour was really easy to work with and roll out.

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The savory filling was perfect, hearty yet not heavy or dense. Italian Easter Pie is generally served warm or at room temperature. And though it is usually enjoyed for brunch or breakfast, I think it would also be great for dinner along with a side salad. Rustic, homey and delicious, this Italian Easter Pie would be perfect for all of your Easter holiday celebrations!

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Italian Easter Pie

  • Servings: 2 - 12
  • Difficulty: easy
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recipe slightly adapted from: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

For the Crust:

  • 5 cups (539 grams) King Arthur Italian Style Flour or 4 3/4 cups (566.9 grams) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (43 grams) nonfat dry milk
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) olive oil
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (255 grams) lukewarm water (90° F – 100°F)*
  • *If you use all-purpose flour, increase the water to 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces)

For the Filling:

  • 1 dozen large eggs
  • 1 pound good-quality, full-flavored ham
  • 2 cups (425 to 454 grams) ricotta cheese, part-skim preferred
  • 1 cup (113 grams) freshly grated Parmesan cheese, lightly packed
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh thyme (leaves only)
  • 2 teaspoons Penzey’s Pasta Sprinkle (optional – it is a blend of sweet basil, turkish oregano, thyme & garlic)
  • salt, coarsely ground black pepper, and chopped fresh parsley, to taste

For the Glaze:

  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tablespoons (25 grams) sugar
  • Maldon Flaky Sea Salt to sprinkle on edge of crust (optional)

Directions:

Mix and knead together all of the dough ingredients — by hand, in a mixer, or in a bread machine — until you’ve made a soft, smooth dough. 

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and allow it to rise for 1 to 2 hours, until it’s quite puffy, nearly doubled in bulk. While the dough is rising, make the filling.

Hard-boil and peel 6 of the eggs. 

Place the hard-boiled eggs, ham (cut in chunks), and fresh thyme in the work bowl of a food processor. Process until chopped and combined. Don’t over-process; the ham and eggs should still be a bit chunky. You can also simply dice the eggs and ham, and chop the thyme, if you don’t have a food processor.

Combine the ham, boiled eggs, and thyme with the raw eggs, ricotta, and Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and about 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper. Add the Pasta Sprinkle if you are using it.

Deflate the dough, and divide it into four pieces. 

Roll two of the dough pieces into rounds about 13″ in diameter, and place them on lightly greased or parchment-lined 12″ pizza pans. Or roll into ovals about 10″ x 14″, and place on two lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets. Note: If you’re using parchment, it’s easiest to roll right on the parchment, then lift the crusts, parchment and all, onto the pans. I actually baked these pies on a pizza stone which I preheated in the oven. So I simply rolled the crusts out and assembled the pies on parchment paper. Then I transferred the pies to the heated stone on a pizza peel or paddle.

Divide the filling evenly between the two crusts, covering them to within 1″ of their edges. You’ll use a generous 3 cups (about 27 ounces) for each crust.

Roll out the other two pieces of dough, and place them atop the filled crusts, gently stretching them, if necessary, to cover the filling. Seal the crust edges by rolling the bottom crust up over the top, and pinching together.

Using a sharp knife or pair of scissors, cut a 1″ hole in the very center of each top crust; this will allow steam to escape.

Make the topping by whisking together the egg and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Paint each crust with some of the topping; this will yield a golden brown, shiny crust with mildly sweet flavor, a perfect foil for the salty ham. Sprinkle flaky sea salt on the rolled edge of the dough.

Allow the pies to rest while you preheat your oven to 350°F, about 15 minutes. They don’t need to be covered.

Bake the pies for about 25 – 35 minutes, until they’re a deep, golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and carefully slide them off the pan/parchment and onto on a rack to cool. 

Serve warm or at room temperature. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Enjoy!

Italian Easter Pie brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links to Useful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Italian Easter Pie:

Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Thermoworks Super-Fast Thermapen Cooking Thermometer

6 Quart Dough Rising Bucket

Cuisinart Food Processor

Norpro Silicone Pastry Mat

SAF Instant Yeast

Emile Henry Flame Top Pizza Stone

14″ x 16″ Aluminum Pizza Peel

King Arthur Flour Italian Style Flour – This is a 00 Flour

Non fat Dry Milk Powder

Maldon Sea Salt Flakes (Fleur de Sel)

Penzey’s Spices Pasta Sprinkle (this is a link to the Penzey’s website)

I should also mention that King Arthur Flour has a wonderful shop full of kitchen essentials as well as their quality ingredients on their website. Definitely worth taking a peek!


Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup with Ham

December 12, 2014

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It may not technically be winter yet, but I think old man Winter is definitely stirring. It has not only been hovering around freezing here, but is has also been wet and windy as well. Yup, you get chilled to the bone the second you peek your head out of the door. This kind of weather just begs that you to have a big old pot of soup simmering away on the stove…say like this Split Pea with Ham Soup. Thick, rich and hearty, it is comfort food at it’s finest.

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I was inspired to make up a batch of this soup when I found myself with a ham bone after the Thanksgiving festivities. I don’t know about most of you folks, but we can’t manage to have Thanksgiving with just turkey. Nope…there has got to be ham as well. (and oysters since I grew up on an island…). I used to just toss that ham bone out without a second thought. But now I know that was really a mistake. The ham bone gives this soup such an amazing flavour and to be honest contributed quite a bit of meat. I thought we had pretty much picked it clean, but after it spend many hours simmering away, meat was just falling off of that bone. Which brings me to the other fantastic thing about this soup. It is incredibly easy to prepare. I just put all of the ingredients in the crock pot in the morning and eight hours later, after a wee bit of immersion blending, dinner was served!

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No fuss, no muss, and a big payoff. The husband says it is the best Split Pea Soup he has ever tasted. So there you have it. Christmas is right around the corner. If you find yourself with a ham bone left over, you’ll know just what to do!

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Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup with Ham

  • Servings: 4 - 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: Garnish With Lemon

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16-ounce) package dried split peas, rinsed
  • 5 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 leftover ham bone (or 3 ham hocks – 1 1/2 lbs. Store bought ham hocks don’t have a lot of meat left on them, though they provide a lot of flavour. If you want a meaty soup you might need to supplement it with a little extra ham.)

Directions:

Place all of the ingredients in the slow cooker; gently stir. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Or if you are short on time, cook on high for 4 hours.

Remove the bay leaf from the soup and discard. Remove ham bone from soup and pull remaining meat from the bone. It should fall off quite easily. Set meat aside.

At this point, you can either remove a few cups of the soup, puree in the blender and return to the slow cooker or use your immersion blender for 10 seconds to puree the soup slightly. Stir the reserved ham back into the soup and serve warm.

Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup with Ham brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

 

 

 


Spicy Ham & Black Bean Soup

January 17, 2013

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I’m so excited! I was actually able to use the ham bone that was left over from our Christmas ham this past year. I always have great intentions of using the ham bone, but always seem to be busy with post-holiday stuff at the time it makes itself available to me. So, I wrap it up ever so carefully and put it in the freezer, confident I will make some sort of delicious soup or stew. Well, of course, I sort of forget it is in there until we have an extended power outage and I’m sitting on the floor performing triage on all of my rapidly melting frozen goodies. (Falls Church seems to lose power all of the time! I grew up way out in the country, on a little island and I used to think we lost power there a lot. HAH! Falls Church definitely takes the cake in that department!) At that moment, the old Christmas ham bone does not warrant a place in the Coleman cooler. So it is either flung into the trash or it is given to a very lucky fox who goes running about the neighborhood with it like he won the lottery. This year, my refrigerator outsmarted me and promptly died a couple of days past Christmas. Quite considerate when you think it could have just given up the ghost right before our big Holiday meal. So there was no freezing of the ham bone, oh no. I had to act right away! Luckily I had just received a slow cooker. I took a quick peek online and found a great recipe, which I did adapt a bit. I just popped all of the ingredients into the slow cooker in the morning and didn’t think about it again until it was dinner time. Well, that’s not really true. Since it was my maiden voyage with a slow cooker I was looking at it constantly, but next time I’m sure I will pay it no mind and just let it do its thing. I’m happy to report that the soup was a huge success. We’ve eaten it simply ladled into bowls as well as over rice,  though always sprinkled with gooey melted cheddar cheese and fresh cilantro with a hunk of cornbread, slathered in butter on the side. Delicious!  Nice and spicy. It will really warm you up on a damp and rainy day. I’m very pleased with it and I’m not really that much of a “bean person”. My husband LOVES beans. All of them. Even those lima beans, which he calls “butter beans”, which I call “chalk beans”. Boo! You won’t catch me making any kind of lima bean concoction any time soon. But these black beans are winners. And let me tell you, my husband is in bean heaven! Tonight, for this recipe’s next incarnation, I’m thinking I’m going to mix some rice in with it to thicken it up a bit, roll it up in some tortillas and serve them smothered with cheese, guacamole, salsa and a bit of chopped lettuce and tomatoes. (This recipe does make a whole heck of a lot of soup, so if it’s just two of you, you might need to get a bit creative with how you present it…) All in all a big win! Yay ham bone & yay slow cooker!

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Spicy Ham & Black Bean Soup

recipe adapted from: andreasrecipes.com

yield: approximately 10-12 servings (a whole mess of soup!)

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces dry black beans
  • 2 quarts water
  • bone from a large ham
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon Chili powder
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground Chipotle pepper
  • water, enough to cover all of the ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • cheese and more cilantro to garnish

Instructions:

The night before you make the soup, pick through the beans and remove any bad beans or other debris. Put the beans into the pot and add 2 quarts water. Remove the beans that float. Soak beans overnight.

Place the ham bone in the bottom of a 6 quart slow cooker pot. Add the drained soaked beans, the peppers onion, tomatoes (with liquid) chili powder, garlic and spices. Add enough water to the pot to cover everything. Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for 6-7 hours, until the beans are tender.

About 1 hour before serving, add the salt, pepper and chopped cilantro. Stir to incorporate. Place the lid back.

Just prior to serving, remove the ham bone. If any meat is still clinging to it, remove it and add it back to the soup. Ladle it into bowls or serve over rice, garnished with cheddar cheese and additional fresh cilantro.

Enjoy!


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