Tag Archives: Easter

Natural Dye for Easter Eggs

This year, when coloring eggs, I experimented with some natural Easter egg dye from vegetables and spices.  The top row are various shades of blue from red cabbage on brown eggs (the left two) and white eggs (the right two).  The second row are reds, pink and browns from onion skins and beets.  From left to right:  red from yellow onion on a brown egg, pink from beet juice on a white egg, brown from onion skin on a white egg and brown from onion skin on a brown egg.  The bottom row are shades of yellow from turmeric.

This method is more time-consuming and laborious than just buying a PAAS kit. The results are not instantaneous either.  And the colors are not as exciting…but it is SAFER and HEALTHIER.

I used onion skins, turmeric, beet juice, and red cabbage to get brown, yellow, pink, and blue eggs.  The red cabbage worked out the best.  Turmeric would be the winner because it made a nice yellow and it was the easiest to do.  For all the eggs, be sure to refrigerate them as they are soaking in the dye, especially overnight.

Blue Eggs

2 heads red cabbage

6 cups water

6 tablespoons white vinegar

a dozen hard-boiled white and brown eggs

Roughly chop the cabbage. In a large pot, add water and vinegar.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the cabbage and reserve the “dye.”  Let it cool.  Put it in a smaller pot or bowl so that it will cover the eggs.   This should be enough for a dozen eggs, give or take one or two.  These will take on good color in no time.  I left some in overnight.  The brown eggs are a deep bluish-green and the white eggs are a nice blue.  If you soak them for only a few minutes, they will be a lighter blue.

Red eggs

12 yellow onions

4 cups water

4 teaspoons white vinegar

6 eggs, not pre-boiled

Skin the onions. Put onion skin, water and vinegar in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then lower heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the skins and reserve the “dye.”  Let it cool. Put it in a smaller pot or bowl so that it will cover the eggs (add a little water if you need to). Boil the eggs as you would for hard-boiled eggs.  I brought them to a boil, then shut off the heat and let them sit, covered for 10 minutes.  The color on brown eggs is very deep red.  Leave in overnight for best color.  I did not try these on white eggs because I ran out, so I want to do it again on white eggs.

Now, if you don’t boil the eggs in the dye and just soak them in the onion dye, they will be brown, not red.

 

Brown eggs

1 bag red onions

4 cups water

4 tablespoons vinegar

6 hard-boiled white and brown eggs

Skin the onions. Put onion skin, water and vinegar in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then lower heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the skins and reserve the “dye.”  Let it cool. Put it in a smaller pot or bowl so that it will cover the eggs.  Leave in overnight for best color.  You can see the brown eggs are darker and more reddish-brown than the white eggs.

Yellow eggs

3 teaspoons turmeric powder

3 tablespoons white vinegar

6 white eggs, not pre-boiled

water to cover eggs

Put all in a pot.  Boil as you would hard-boiled eggs. I brought it to a boil, turned off the heat, covered it and let it sit for 10 minutes.  Then, I rinsed them and let them dry.

Pink eggs

Juice from two cans or two packages of beets

6 white hard-boiled eggs

Add some water so that the juice will cover eggs.  Soak overnight.

OK, these don’t really get very pink.  I want to try these again using fresh beets because the color is supposed to be hot pink.  Stay tuned.

 

Gluten-Free Italian Easter Pie, Pizza Chiena/Pizza Rustica

pizza chiena, pizza rustica

Gluten-Free Pizza Chiena or Pizza Rustica, or Savory Italian Easter Pie

Pizza chiena or pizza rustica is a savory Neapolitan pie served at Easter time.  My family is from the area surrounding Naples and they called it pizza chiena, pronounced like pizzagaina, or pizzagain, as they pronounce the hard ch sound as a hard g in Neapolitan dialect and the last vowel is often left off.

pizza chiena, pizza rustica

Gluten-Free Pizza Chiena

For the crust:

5 cups gluten-free flour, not sifted

5 teaspoons xantham gum

3/4 cup shortening

4 eggs

warm water

olive oil

Put your flour on your work surface.  Dot with shortening and incorporate until it becomes somewhat crumbly (won’t be as crumbly as gluten flour would be).

Make a well and add eggs, incorporating them.  Add enough warm water until you have a workable dough.  Knead for about 5 minutes.  Put a little olive oil in a bowl.  Add the dough ball.

Cover with plastic wrap or a towel and let rest for about a half hour.

For the filling:

People use different ingredients in the filling.  It usually always has ricotta, eggs, grated cheese and salami.  From there, it varies.  You can also use gluten-free soppressata, capocollo, mortadella, or Italian sausage.  We only used soppressata, capocollo and salami.  One of my grandmas used provolone.  Also, some provolone can be sharp and you don’t want it to be too dominant a flavor.  Some people lump all the ingredients in there, some people chunk it, some people dice it very small, some people layer it.  It’s all your preference. 

1 lb. ricotta (Use a good brand with no added gums or thickeners.)

1 lb. basket cheese (If you can’t get this where you are, you can just use another pound of ricotta.  Or you can let one pound of ricotta sit in a colander or in cheesecloth the night before to drain out water.)

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1 cup gluten-free salami, diced or not (You can use any of the above listed meats, as long as they are gluten-free.)

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1 cup gluten-free prosciutto, diced or not

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8 eggs

1 cup grated pecorino romano cheese

1 cup fresh mozzarella, diced

black pepper to taste

egg yolk for egg wash

In a bowl, mix all ingredients.  Just stir it all together.  No mixer needed.

Grease and gluten-free flour a 10-inch springform pan or a 13×9 rectangular pan or a large cake pan or pie dish (depends on how much filling you have).

Cut off 2/3 of dough.  Roll it out into a circle and line springform pan.

Fill with filling.

Roll out remaining dough into a circle.  Top pie with it.  I used an Italy-shaped cookie cutter to decorate the top.  You can use any shape you like or no shape at all.  Brush with egg wash.

Bake at 375 degrees for 1/2 hour.  Lower heat to 350 for 1 more hour.  Let cool for a few hours.  Refrigerate.  We eat this at room temperature or cold from the refrigerator.

Pastiera, Pizza Grano or Easter Wheat Pie

Pastiera, Pizza Grano or Easter Wheat Pie

pastiera, pizza grano, Easter wheat pie, wheat pie

The pastiera, or pizza grano is also known in English as a wheat pie.  It’s a traditional Neapolitan dessert pie made at Easter time.  In the past, some people made these at home and other people bought them at Italian bakeries.  Unless you live near an Italian bakery, you will probably not be able to find one.  These pies have wheat but depending on where they are made, they can also have rice.  Part of my family is from the Benevento area of Italy, and they make the pie with rice.  I made an Italian Easter rice pie last year.

pastiera, pizza grano, wheat pie

Pastiera, Pizza Grano or Easter Wheat Pie

For the crust:

2 cups sifted flour

1 cup granulated sugar

pinch salt

1 stick butter, room temperature

2 eggs

Combine flour, sugar and salt.  On your work surface, make a well in the flour.  Add the eggs.

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Dot the butter around and mix all together.  Work the dough until you have a dough that doesn’t stick (you may need to add more flour).

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Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

For the filling:

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 can/jar cooked wheat (You will find this at an Italian market.  Or you can buy wheat berries and cook them yourself.)

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon sugar

5 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 lb. ricotta (Try to buy a good brand that doesn’t have added gums or thickeners.)

1 tablespoon orange blossom water (This is not orange extract.  You will find this at Italian markets.  If you can’t find it, you can use vanilla instead.)

8 oz. chopped citron (This is hard to find.  Some grocery stores carry it.  Italian markets have it too.  It depends on where you live.  The higher percentage of Italians, the more likely you are to find it.)

In a pot, add the milk, wheat, butter and 1 T sugar.  Bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until it’s a thick custard.  Transfer it to a bowl and allow it to cool.

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By hand or with a mixer, mix the eggs, sugar, ricotta and orange blossom water until well combined.  Mix in the cooled wheat custard.  Stir in the citron.

Grease and flour a 9- or 10-inch springform pan.  (You can also use a pie plate or cake pan.)

Take out your dough.  Cut off 1/3 of it to save to make strips for the top.  Roll the dough out into a circle and put into springform pan.

Pour the filling into the crust.  Roll out the other piece of dough and cut strips to make a crisscross design on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for about an 1 hour (not less but maybe a little more).

Treats From Leftover Easter Candy

Do you have some leftover Easter candy and don’t know what to do with it?  Well, so did I, so I made some treats with it.  First, I had gotten two Reese’s peanut butter eggs and a Reese’s peanut butter bunny.  So I made this Easy Easter Pie from Hershey’s website.   What I did–Instead of the 20 Reese’s peanut butter cups and 50 Hershey’s Kisses, I used one of the peanut butter eggs and the peanut butter bunny and melted them in a double boiler.  I didn’t have a prepared graham cracker crust, but I did have graham cracker crumbs, so I made one.

peanut butter pie

I also made Rice Krispie Treats from leftover Peeps.  I had a pack of five pink and a rainbow stick with four multicolored Peeps.  So I added regular mashmallows and made the treats the traditional way.

rice krispie treats

They had a light pink hue to them that you can see better in the following picture.  Here’s a piece of the peanut butter pie too.

Easter treats

 

Pizza Chiena

I made pizza chiena, or pizza rustica, for Easter this morning.  These are savory Italian Easter pies that I’ve written about before.  This pie is one of those recipes that everyone has a variation of.  Some people put provolone or other types of Italian meats in it too.  It varies a lot.  I put what I like in it.

I made a meatless version for the vegetarians. I used frozen pie crusts for this one. No reason, other than that’s what I had on hand. I had originally planned to make my own pie crust, but in the interests of time because I’ve had a lot going on, I used premade crust.

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For the meat version, I used a refrigerated pie crust.

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Pizza Chiena

5 eggs, beaten

1 lb. ricotta (I use Calabro brand.)

4 oz. shredded mozzarella

1/3 cup grated pecorino romano

1 cup diced salami

2 oz. diced prosciutto

salt and pepper

Mix everything together and put in prepared pie dish.  Add top crust.  Bake 350 for 1 hour.  Serve room temperature or cold.  (This pie should be kept refrigerated when not serving.)

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Italian Easter Rice Pie

This year for Easter, I made an Italian Easter rice pie.  I’ve written before about the Italian Easter pies, the pizza chiena, or pizza rustica, and the pastiera, or pizza grano.  This is a variation of the pizza grano.  The pizza grano is a Neapolitan wheat pie served at Easter.  My family traditionally made this pie at Easter time.  Part of my dad’s family is from the area near Benevento, Italy, and there they make a variation with rice instead of wheat.  So he grew up with both the wheat and rice pies at Easter.

I wanted to be ambitious this Easter/Lent and make a lot more, but I haven’t had the time.  I had wanted to make hot cross buns, but instead just got some yummy ones from a bakery.  I’m also going to make a pizza chiena.  My grandma has a variation of the pizza chiena that is vegetarian, using mashed potatoes.  I don’t think I will be making that one this year though, as I don’t have time.  Now, I do have a homemade crust recipe, but I can’t publish it or else I may get the malocchio from my aunt.

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Italian Easter Rice Pie

1 1/2 cups whole milk or 1 cup skim/1/2% milk and 1/2 cup light cream/half and half

1/2 cup rice

5 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 pound ricotta (I use Calabro brand.)

1 tablespoon orange blossom water  (You can find this at any Italian specialty shop like Di Palo’s or order it online.)

1 teaspoon vanilla

8 oz. candied citron  (You can find this at any Italian specialty shop like Di Palo’s or order it online.)

1 deep dish frozen pie crust

1 regular frozen pie crust

Cook rice according to package directions (with water).  Add milk and cook on low until milk is absorbed.  Cool.  Beat eggs and beat in sugar.  Add ricotta, orange blossom water, vanilla and citron and stir.  Put into deep dish pie crust and top with top crust.  (I used a regular pie crust for the top and cut strips with a pastry cutter.)  Bake at 350 for 1 hour.  Cool and serve.

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Obscure Italian Easter Foods

Earlier this week, I wrote about the Italian Easter pies, pizza grano (pastiera) and pizza chiena (pizza rustica), which are both served on Easter Sunday.  There are lesser-known foods that Italians eat at Easter.  Last year, I wrote about casatiello, a peppery Neapolitan Easter bread made with meat and cheese.  Here’s a recipe for casatiello.  Unlike pizza chiena, it’s a bread–not a pie, though some ingredients are similar.  It often has a hard-boiled egg in it for decoration.  I have seen Italian Easter bread at area bakeries, but it is not the casatiello my family made.  The bread I’m seeing at the bakeries is more like a plain bread with the hard-boiled egg in it. 

Easter bread

In addition to casatiello, there’s another dish served on Easter; however, it’s probably something you won’t be serving any time soon.  It’s called capuzelle, or lamb’s head.  Yes, it is sheep’s head.  My late aunt was one of only two people in my family who actually liked eating capuzelle.  My grandfather, who came from a mountain town in Southern Italy, ate capuzelle, including the eyes.  Ewe, gross, no pun intended.  I don’t know anyone who eats this anymore.  Like cotenne, which I’ve written about before, it was something that was eaten when people utilized all parts of an animal.  Here’s an essay about it that was published in Gourmet in 2009.  I am glad I don’t have a picture of this, but if you are interested, do a search on Google if you dare.  If you’re adventurous, Staten Island restaurant Enoteca Maria serves it.