Fave dei Morti

A Recipe for All Soul's Day The Fave dei Morti are delicious and simple cookies whose main ingredient is ground almonds. They are traditionally eaten on All Soul’s Day (November 2), which follows All Saint’s Day. Fave are broad beans, so the literal translation is “beans of the dead”. The connection between broad beans and …

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The Epiphany. . . La Befana

From the archive – La Befana

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January 6 is a National holiday in Italy. It is the Epifania (Epiphany), a Christian holiday celebrated precisely on January 6, 12 days after Christmas.

The word Epifania derives from the Greek word epifanèia, which means “the manifestation or the appearance”.

The Epiphany celebrates the first manifestation of Jesus to the world through the visit of the Re Magi (three wise men) coming from the East, led by a comet to adore the Baby Jesus and to offer their gifts of gold (symbol of royalty), frankincense (symbol of divinity) and myrrh (symbol of the future redemptive suffering).

The celebration of the Epiphany is also accompanied by traditions of very ancient lineage (solar cults) and in particular the visit of laBefana on the eve of January 6. The tradition of La Befana may actually predates Christianity, as it is believed to have derived from a pagan goddess or oracle that Romans sought…

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A sunny dish for this rainy day: Zucchini alla scapece

Oh my . . . how long has it been! So long that I almost feel as intimidated as I was when I wrote my first post. In fact, one of the reason why I haven't been writing is because I did not know how to come back. I kept thinking: "Am I supposed to …

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La Pastiera Napoletana

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Pastiera - Easter DesertThis is the last day of My Easter baking marathon, time for the sweet things.

La Pastiera is another traditional dish of the Neapolitan cuisine.

The nuns of the ancient convent of San Gregorio Armeno were considered to be master in the preparation of the Pastiera. They used to prepare great quantities for the rich families during Easter time.

Today, there are two different ways of preparing the Pastiera: the traditional one mixes the ricotta cheese to the eggs; the most recent one, adds to the mix thick pastry cream.

I follow the traditional recipe, I do however, purée half of the wheat/milk mixture to favor a creamier texture.

The Acqua di Millefiori (Literally “ Thousand Flower Water”) is the one ingredient in the Pastiera that gives it its very distinct aroma . . . It truly reminds you that it’s Primavera (Spring)!

The Pastiera has to be…

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Easter Baking. Pizza Piena

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The Pizza Piena is a traditional Neapolitan recipe very typical during Easter time. In Naples they call it “Pizza Chiena” and it is a must on the Easter Sunday table.

It’s a traditional country pie and, as I mentioned in my previous post, it is called Chiena or Piena (full) because it’s very much stuffed with salami, sheep cheese and eggs.

All the ingredients have a symbolic value: sopressata (type of salami) as symbol of wealth for the farmer’s tables, pecorino (sheep cheese) as symbol of innocence (sheep milk = food of the lamb), ouva (eggs) as symbol of birth and therefore symbol of resurrection. And of course the farina (flour), as bread, prince of the table.

One of the most important ingredient is the fresh sheep cheese, called primo sale (literally “first salt”). The name is used to describe the early stage of its aging. The primo…

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