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Archive for the ‘Main Dishes’ Category

postheadericon Zweibelkuchen ( Pa. Dutch Onion Pie)

Zweibelkuchen translates to “onion cake”/”tart” in German, but it’s also known in Pa. Dutch kitchens as “Onion Pie”.  Zwiebelkuchen is related to the Black Forest region of Germany. It is tradition that it is prepared at the beginning of fall, after the bountiful summer crop of onions come in and is usually served as a lunch dish.  This traditional German dish ranges in size and shape depending on the cook (and, in Germany, the area in which it is served); some are flat and cut into squares with a thinner layer of the topping (like this version), others are thicker and deeper and often made in a spring-form pan. No matter the size, shape, or depth,  the rich and buttery caramelized onions and savory bacon filling is consistent.  The German immigrants who became known as “Pennsylvania Dutch (“Deutsch” in German) enjoyed this dish in the motherland and re-created it in their new homes in America.  Zweibelkuchen is at its best when served lukewarm. Use good quality bacon if you can get it to make zweibelkuchen.

Zwiebelkuchen (Pa. Dutch Onion Pie)

Zwiebelkuchen (Pa. Dutch Onion Pie)

Zweibelkuchen (Pa Dutch /German Onion Pie)

Ingredients

    DOUGH:
  • 1 cup milk, lukewarm (110F degrees)
  • 1 package instant dry yeast (2 and 1/4 tsp)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, (375g)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 Tbsp vegetable oil
    ONION TOPPING:
  • 2 1/4 lbs yellow onions, finely diced
  • 5 slices good quality thick cut bacon, finely diced
  • 3/4 cup full fat sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds

Instructions

  1. Pour the lukewarm milk into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment.
  2. Dissolve the yeast in the milk. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to stand 5 to 10 minutes until foamy.
  3. Turn mixer on low and add the flour, sugar, vegetable oil, and salt and knead until a soft dough forms (about 5 minutes).
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead with your hands for one more minute adding as little flour as necessary to keep it from being too sticky to work.
  5. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let the dough rest in a warm place 45 minutes or until approximately doubled in size.
  6. Meanwhile, in a frying pan, fry the diced bacon until crispy.
  7. Add the diced onions to it, reduce heat to medium-low and allow the the onions to slowly cook to golden brown and carmelized, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly.
  8. In a mixing bowl, combine sour cream, eggs, salt and caraway seeds. Add the cooled onion mixture to it and combine well.
  9. Grease a 18 x 13-inch (known as a "half-sheet") baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.
  10. Flour hands lightly and spread the dough evenly pinching up a slight rim at the edges of the dough to hold the topping.
  11. Spread the onion mixture on top of it and sprinkle lightly with some additional caraway seeds is desired.
  12. Preheat the oven to 390F (200C) and allow the pie to rise a second time while the oven is heating.
  13. Bake on middle rack of oven 25-30 minutes until top is light brown.
  14. Let cool for a few minutes before serving. Best served lukewarm.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/05/12/zweibelkuchen/

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postheadericon Fried Chicken Livers

When I was a kid growing up in Schuylkill County in the Anthracite Coal Region, one of the rituals my family participated in was a weekly (or almost weekly) visit to a farmers’ market/”auction” to pick up fresh produce, baked goods, flea market finds and other items the household needed for daily life (like vacuum parts for the ancient Hoover or to drop off the “touch lamp” for repair…)  There are two markets that have been staples for generations in the area I grew up in, Renninger’s Market in Schuylkill Haven, Pa. and Hometown Farmers’ Market , Hometown, Pa.  Because my Dad, who owned a tractor-trailer and hauled coal to NYC and Philly, was on the road during the week, our “day out” was a trip to Renninger’s on Sunday afternoon.

Pop would circle and circle the dirt portion of the parking lot, kicking up a cloud of dust behind the Buick, looking for a convenient (translates into “close to an entrance door”) parking space to make shopping easier. Standard operating procedure was to buy “X” amount of goods and then Mom or Dad took the haul back to the car to drop the items off so we did not have to carry all the purchases around the entire market, juggling donuts or tomatoes while jostling our way through the crowd.

Sunday always yielded a major haul of lovely produce in season, and if you played your cards right and shopped close to closing time, the farmers often marked the stuff waaaay down so they did not have to haul it back to the farm or dispose of it. Our purchases varied slightly from week to week, but there was one thing I got almost every Sunday we were at Renninger’s – fried chicken livers! A stand at the market sold, among other things, fried chicken livers — and I LOVED them (Pop loved gizzards and hearts). Crispy and golden brown, different in flavor than beef liver, I ate them dipped in a tangy, yet smooth horseradish sauce the stand provided. They were addicting.

After Mom and Pop passed away in the late 80s, I found myself going to the market less, but I always got some fried chicken livers any time I visited. When I moved away from the Coal Region for awhile, I longed for the fried livers and realized I could make them myself. They are a very budget friendly dish, cook quickly, and bring back very fond memories for me of Sunday afternoons spent with my beloved parents.

Most supermarkets and butchers sell fresh chicken livers relatively cheaply. If you can only get them frozen, make sure to thaw them completely in the refrigerator before cooking. To clean and prep the livers for cooking, remove the fatty-looking string that connects the small and large lobes of a complete liver and trim any visible pieces of white connective tissue.  You might also want to trim any green discoloration, which results from (harmless) contact with bile during processing.  You do not need to try to remove every thread crossing through the piece. The goal is to obtain a solid medallion. You will end up with oyster-shaped pieces from half an inch to two inches long.

Chicken livers are high in water content, so when frying in hot oil, they will “pop”; a long-handled spatula or spoon and spatter screen should always be used. The spattering will not last long and will completely subside when the livers are done. As at all times in the kitchen, take your time, pay attention and use common sense!

Fried Chicken Livers

Fried Chicken Livers

Ingredients

  • Canola oil or shortening for frying
  • 1 pound chicken livers, trimmed
  • 1 cup buttermilk OR evaporated milk (NOT sweetened condensed milk)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon seasoning salt
  • OR
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Optional - pinch cayenne

Instructions

  1. Clean the livers, rinse in cold water, drain.
  2. Use a deep fryer OR pour oil into a large frying pan to a depth of 2 inches; heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 375F degrees.
  3. Soak livers in buttermilk/evaporated milk for 5 minutes.
  4. Combine flour, baking powder, pepper, seasoning salt (or garlic powder, and salt) or in a small dish.
  5. Drain livers; dredge each liver in flour mixture, shaking off excess flour; transfer to a plate.
  6. Fry livers in batches until golden brown, 3-4 minutes, covering pan with a splatter screen.
  7. Transfer cooked livers to a paper towel-lined plate.
  8. Serve with hot sauce, cream gravy or dipping sauce of your choice, if desired.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/05/08/fried-chicken-livers/

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postheadericon Liver Noodles or Leberknoedel

We Pa. Dutch and Coal Region folk are a frugal lot. Not only do we use just about every inch of a butchered animal for food and sustenance, but we get creative and come up with multiple dishes using ingredients some consider less than crave-worthy. Take liver for instance; just about everyone has heard of liver and onions, but that can get a little boring. Plus, if you are like many a “Dutchie” you have some extra beef liver hanging out in your freezer just waiting to be put to good use. Enter the leberknoedel , or “liver noodles”, a traditional dish of German, Austrian and Czech cuisines (the word “Dutch” in “Pennsylvania Dutch” does not refer to the Dutch people or language, but to the German settlers to the region, known as Deutsch). Leberknoedel is usually composed of beef liver, though in the German Palatinate region pork is often used instead. .

Actually calling these “noodles” may be a bit of a misnomer to today’s cook — they are more like a “dumpling” than the flat, thin piece of pasta found in grocery stores in cellophane bags, dried and ready to be dumped into boiling water or stock which many people identify as “noodles”. Leberknoedel, rather, is like a dumpling. It is flavorful and can be eaten in soup or as the protein for a meal served with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. They pack a nutritional punch and are very budget friendly – liver is extremely inexpensive at your grocery store or butcher. Yes, they might appear a little plain (and gray), but if you like liver, you really should give these a try!

 

Liver Noodles (Leberknoedel)

Liver Noodles  (Leberknoedel)

Leberknoedel (liver dumplings)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound calves liver
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 tsp marjoram
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • Simmering soup or broth to cook leberknoedel in.

Instructions

  1. Clean liver by removing any veins or membrane.
  2. Using a food processor, combine the liver, butter, onion, parsley, and seasonings and process until smooth.
  3. Add the breadcrumbs and eggs and process until well mixed. Add a bit more bread crumbs (or flour) if needed, for dumplings to hold together.
  4. Using wet hands if needed, using about 2 tablespoons for each, form into balls.
  5. Bring broth (or soup) to boil. Add dumplings and reduce heat to a simmer. Dumplings will float to the top when they are done, about 20 minutes.
  6. Serve soup, garnished with parsley.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/05/06/liver-noodles-leberknoedel/

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postheadericon Mom’s Ham Salad

This ham salad was guaranteed to make an appearance in Mom’s kitchen twice a year; after Christmas and after Easter — the two times a year we had ham in a form other than center cut ham steaks which were always devoured completely at the meal when served.   But in my younger years, holiday dinners at our Coal Region home included far more folks than my immediate family and so what seemed to a kid like most humongous ham known to man-kind always appeared at the dining room table. Even with a lot of hungry mouths to feed, that meant plenty of leftover ham which was always a good thing!  Because leftover ham was only available twice a year, I looked forward to another one of my favorite holiday foods – ham salad!  I loved opening my metal Barbie (or Scooby Doo, or Monkees) lunchbox and finding a ham salad sandwich made on the square white bread I loved — you know the one — same “bottom” crust all the way around.  To insure I would have my “treat”, Mom always made sure to put some slices away immediately after Dad finished carving off the remnants of the Easter or Christmas ham. Even my ham-loving Pappy (grandfather) made sure to steer clear of the reserved ham; that yummy ham salad was so important to me!

I loved to help my Mom grind the ham for the salad through an old-fashioned, hand-cranked meat grinder clamped on to the side of the kitchen table.  I remember her years later, our roles reversed – she was now the observer watching me grinding and mixing – trying to hide the horrified look on her face as I pulled out my newly acquired food processor and commenced to tossing in the ham AND onion AND celery and EGG and employed the new preparation technique known as “pulsing”.    The look on her face may have been of dismay, but the look in her eyes as she gazed at that whirring wonder said, “Where have YOU been all my life?!?”  We officially retired the hand-cranked grinder for making ham salad that day.

This recipe is one that lends itself to customizing to your taste quite well…put the celery in or leave it out; use more or less mustard; use sweet or dill relish; add more mayo to make it creamier — see where I’m going with this?  There are many, many family recipes for ham salad, this is Mom’s and it is what I have always used. Sometimes, I don’t include eggs (after Christmas is usually egg-less — after Easter usually includes eggs because there are almost always hard-cooked eggs to be found in the fridge). Make it your own, however you do it, it is a classic way to use left-over ham in the Coal Region.

Mom’s Ham Salad

Mom’s Ham Salad

Ham Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 pound leftover ham, chopped in a food processor
  • 1/4 cup celery, finely diced
  • 2 Tablespoons finely minced sweet onion
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup sweet pickle relish, drained OR dill pickle relish, drained
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise or as needed to get the consistency you favor
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard

Instructions

  1. Run the ham through a meat grinder
  2. OR
  3. Cut the ham, onion, and celery (and eggs if using) into small chunks then pulse in a food processor until finely chopped,
  4. Place ham, celery, onion, eggs, in mixing bowl.
  5. Add relish, mustard, and mayonnaise. Mix well, adjusting mayo to your taste.
  6. Chill and use as a spread on crackers, sandwich filling, to stuff tomatoes, etc.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/04/22/moms-ham-salad/

 

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postheadericon Pickled Beef Heart

While the heart is an organ, beef heart doesn’t actually qualify as organ meat. It’s a muscle, so it has a texture more similar to steak than liver. Not only is beef heart packed with lean protein and essential amino acids, it’s also rich in vitamins, enzymes, and minerals. Think of heart as a type of steak.  The use of beef heart has a long history among the Pa. Dutch and Amish, many of who raised and butchered their own meats.  It is also enjoyed by many in the Coal Region as it was easily obtained from farmers and at butcher shops plentiful throughout the area. When he was a young boy, my Dad left school at 8th grade in order to help support his four brothers, a sister, and Mom and Dad (who was a miner).  He did odd jobs and cleaned up at the local butcher shop and was often given things like liver, stomach, and heart to bring home which helped feed a miner’s family and their hungry, growing kids. They never complained, grew to like it and, in his later years, Pop would ask my Mom to make pickled heart for him.  “Nose-to-tail eating” was a frugality often necessary to survive and make ends meet and many cultures became creative with it!

Mom used to clean the heart first, cook it, then slice it or cut it into bite-sized pieces. Some cooks clean it after cooking. This recipe has optional pickling spice and is from a very old Pa. Dutch Cookbook, but many people, like my Mom, never used pickling spice. The option is yours.To prep the heart pre-cooking, cut away the fat, membranes, valves, tendons, and other connective tissue that doesn’t look very appetizing, so that you’re only left with nice and clean pieces of muscle. Then soak the heart in a salty cold water bath to help draw out the blood from the heart. Discard this soaking liquid. Beef heart is cooked when a knife or fork enter without difficulty.

Pickled Beef Heart

Pickled Beef Heart

Pickled Beef Heart

Ingredients

  • 1 beef heart (cleaned and cut into 3 or 4 pieces)
  • Beef stock or broth to cover meat (OR salted water)
  • One peeled and halved medium onion
  • PLUS one thinly sliced onion for layering in the jar with the heart and brine
  • Salt to taste - amount depends on how salted your broth/stock is
    Brine
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • black pepper
  • salt to taste
  • OPTIONAL 1 Tablespoon pickling spice (cloves removed)

Instructions

  1. Clean then cook heart meat in the broth (using enough to cover and salt to taste) in covered pot approximately 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until done. Heart beef is cooked when a knife or fork enter without difficulty.
  2. Drain, cool to handle, and slice the meat.
  3. Place the sliced beef heart and onions in a large glass jar, alternating layers. Pepper the meat generously. Set aside.
  4. Combine vinegar, water, salt (and optional pickling spices) in a saucepan and bring to a boil, remove from heat, and pour over beef heart in jar.
  5. Refrigerate and wait a couple days before eating.

Notes

Some cooks add some peeled garlic cloves to the jar.

http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/04/18/pickled-beef-heart/

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postheadericon Potato Pampushki – Cheese Stuffed Potato Cakes

Pampushki are starchy bites usually served with soup, such as borscht.  Much of the time, pampushki are yeast rolls, usually drizzled with butter and garlic. Pampushki (singular – pampushka) is common in Russia, Ukraine, and other parts in Eastern Europe. These pampushki are made with potatoes, stuffed with cheese, and pan fried until cooked and crispy…need I say more?! Think of them as stuffed potato pancakes.

What sets these pampushki apart from generic potato pancakes is that they are made with both mashed potatoes and shredded raw potatoes.  Creamy, crunchy, and fried to golden, brown, and delicious, they contain a luscious cheesy filling made from farmer’s cheese, Parmesan and chives. You can use shredded mozzerella cheese or the cheese of your choice and add to or change up the filling to suit your taste; caramelized onions, bacon,or chopped mushrooms, etc. Potato pampushki can be served as a main course, side dish, appetizer, or snack. Make them half the size as directed to use as appetizers.

Potato Pampushki

Potato Pampushki

Potato Pampushki

Ingredients

  • 2 and 1/2 cups mashed potatoes (Yukon Gold preferred because of medium starch content)
  • 1 and 1/2 pounds raw potatoes, peeled (Yukon Gold)
  • 1/2 cup farmer's cheese or ricotta
  • 1/8 cup grated parmesan cheese, mozzarella, or cheese of your choice
  • 1 Tablespoons fresh chives, minced OR
  • 1 teaspoon dried chives or to taste
  • 2 to 4 Tablespoons heavy cream (as needed)
  • salt, pepper as needed
  • Oil as needed for pan frying

Instructions

  1. Cook potatoes until tender, mash fairly smooth. Measure out 2 and 1/2 cups. Set aside.
  2. Peel and grate the 1 and 1/2 pounds of raw potatoes on the large grate side of a box grater.
  3. Spread the grated potatoes onto a clean kitchen towel or cheesecloth and squeeze out all moisture you can.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the grated potatoes with the mashed potatoes. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper. Set aside.
  5. OPTIONAL: You can also add caramelized onions to the potato mixture for added flavor. Set aside.
  6. In another bowl, combine the farmer's cheese OR cheese of your choice, the parmesan cheese, the chives, and 2 Tablespoons heavy cream. Add additional cream as needed to bring the mixture together into a thick paste.
    Assembly
  1. Take about a ¼ cup of potato mixture and form into a flat patty in your palm.
  2. Place about a tablespoon of the cheese filling into the center of the patty.
  3. Fold the potato mixture over the cheese filling, pinching it shut completely enclosing the cheese filling in the potato mixture. Add more potato mix to the top if needed to completely seal the filling inside.
  4. Slightly flatten the patty and shape it into an oval shape. Repeat with remaining potato and cheese mixture.
  5. In a nonstick skillet,add enough oil to cover bottom about 1/4 inch, heat to medium.
  6. Once oil is hot, add the pampushki. Cook the potato pampushki about 5 to 7 minutes per side, until golden brown.
  7. Drain the potato pampushki on paper towels.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/03/29/potato-pampushki-cheese-stuffed-potato-cakes/

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postheadericon Pagach (aka “Pierogi Pizza”)

Pagach is made of mashed potatoes and dough (sometimes with cabbage or sauerkraut instead of potatoes).  It originated as a Lenten dish in Slavic regions. It is popular in Northeastern Pennsylvania (the “Coal Region) and Southwestern Pennsylvania, areas shaped by the large population of Catholic immigrants from Eastern European countries. Pagach can be served as a side or as a main meal. Many times it is made as Friday night supper since it contains no meat. Pagach can be rolled out round or in a rectangle.

The potatoes or cabbage filling will often include butter, onions, cheese, and seasoning. Think of it as if a pierogi and a pizza fell in love and had an offspring! Although, traditionally, the filling is encased in the dough, in many restaurants in Northeast and Southwest Pennsylvania, it is constructed as a typical “pizza” — the fillings placed on top of the rolled out dough then baked, hence the name  “pierogie pizza”.  Pagach is delicious while it’s still warm, but can also be eaten the next day. You could use it as a side dish, a snack, or as a meal on its own.

This recipe is for the traditional construction of the filled and flattened pagach and includes three fillings: potato, cabbage, and sauerkraut.

Pagach (“Pierogi Pizza”)

Pagach (“Pierogi Pizza”)

Pagach

Ingredients

    Dough
  • 3/4 cup scalded milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tbsp. sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. shortening
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 -1/4 ounce packet dry yeast (2-1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water (105 F)
    Fillings
    Cabbage:
  • 1 medium head cabbage, chopped fine
  • Butter
  • Saute cabbage in butter until soft.
    Potato:
  • 3 medium potatoes, mashed with no added liquid
  • Chopped chives
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Combine potatoes, chives, and egg
  • OPTIONAL: add shredded cheddar cheese to taste if desired
    Sauerkraut:
  • 1/2 pound sauerkraut, drained
  • Butter
  • Fry sauerkraut slowly in butter about 5 minutes.

Instructions

  1. Make filling of your choice, cool.
  2. In large bowl, pour milk over salt, sugar, and shortening. Cool to lukewarm.
  3. Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water.
  4. Add egg to lukewarm milk mixture.
  5. Add yeast/water mixture.
  6. Add about half the flour. Beat well.
  7. Add remainder of flour. Beat well.
  8. Turn out onto floured board and knead about 5 minutes.
  9. Place in greased bowl and let rise until doubled in bulk - 1-1/2 to 2 hours approx.
  10. Divide dough into 2 portions.
  11. Flatten/roll out one piece to about 2-inch thickness.
  12. Place desired filling in center.
  13. Draw up outside edges of dough to encase filling and pinch together to cover filling. The end result should look similar to a coin purse.
  14. Roll this "pouch" out gently to about 3/4 inch thick. Filling should remain inside dough. Think of a disk with the filling completely contained inside. Follow the same method for remaining half of the dough.
  15. Place each disk on a greased cookie sheet.
  16. Let rise about 1-½ hours.
  17. Bake at 375 F degrees about 20 to 30 minutes.
  18. When done, serve warm slathered with butter or sour cream. May also be brushed with heavy cream and sprinkled with sugar.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/03/26/pagach-aka-pierogi-pizza/

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postheadericon Italian Easter Pie (Pizza Rustica)

Lent, the season preceding Easter, is a time of penance and abstinence; in Italian households this pie, stuffed full of cheese, meats, and eggs is the sign that Lent is over and Easter has arrived.  Pizza Rustica is made all over Italy for Easter and in many Italian-American homes throughout the US and here in the Coal Region. Of the twenty-three million people who emigrated from foreign countries to live in the United States by the start of World War One, nearly five million were from Italy. (Lackawanna County in NE Pa. boasts one of the nation’s largest and most diverse Italian American populations.)  All were devoutly Catholic and possessed a passion for their home region and an adherence to its traditions, customs and dialect.

Traditionally made on Good Friday but not enjoyed until Easter Sunday, (it is a perfect make ahead dish for an Easter brunch) this pie’s exact filling ingredients change from family to family, but the idea is always basically the same – hearty meats and cheeses in a rich egg-y filling baked in a crust.  As long as you like YOUR recipe, that’s all that matters – all are equally delicious. Often, the family recipes are passed down and the next generation of cooks is mentored to create the dish to ensure that their family tradition continues.

Make this to your taste – feel free to use a mix of your favorite meats; sausage, ham, pepperoni, soppressata,  mortadella, capicola or hard salami. Just be sure you use about 2 pounds total. Your local deli that slices to order would likely be more than happy to cut the deli meats into slabs for you which is better for chopping up than trying to use thin slices. You can use the crust included in this recipe, your own favorite crust, ready made pizza dough, even puff pastry. You can make a pattern on the crust or leave it plain The goal is to enjoy your creation! (Recipe from today.com)

 

Italian Easter Pie (Pizza Rustica)

Italian Easter Pie (Pizza Rustica)

Italian Easter Pie

Ingredients

    Crust
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes, chilled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup ice water
    Filling
  • 8 ounces sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 and ½ pounds ricotta
  • 3 large eggs
  • 8 ounces mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 8 ounces Genoa salami, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 8 ounces pepperoni, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4 ounces smoked ham, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 ounces prosciutto, cut into 1/4–inch cubes
  • 4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
    Egg wash
  • 1 large egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon water

Instructions

    Crust
  1. In a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  2. Add the eggs and water and pulse until evenly moistened and just coming together.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a board and knead several times.
  4. Divide the dough into 2 pieces (one is 1/3 of the total of dough and the other is 2/3).
  5. Wrap and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375° and butter and flour a 9-inch spring form pan.
  7. Roll the larger piece of dough on a floured surface, to a 15-inch round. Ease it into the pan without tearing and tuck it into the corners. Refrigerate while you make the filling.
    Filling
  1. Brown the sweet Italian sausage in a medium skillet over moderately high heat, breaking it into small lumps. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Add the ricotta, the 3 raw eggs, mozzarella, salami, pepperoni, ham, prosciutto, hard cooked eggs, Parmesan and parsley and stir to combine.
  3. Scrape the mixture into the crust and spread to an even layer. Brush the edges of the crust with some of the egg yolk mixture.
  4. On a floured surface, roll the remaining, smaller piece of dough to a 10-inch round. Place on top of the filling, pressing the pastry edges together.
  5. Trim the edges to 1/2-inch and tuck the overhang underneath. Crimp with a fork and brush the surface with the egg yolk mixture. Cut a small steam vent in center.
  6. Bake on bottom rack of oven until golden and the filling is bubbling, about 75 minutes.
  7. Loosely cover with foil halfway through to prevent over browning.
  8. Transfer to a rack to cool, then refrigerate for several hours.
  9. Remove the ring and slide the pizza rustica onto a platter.
  10. Cut into wedges. Serve cold or reheat.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/03/17/italian-easter-pie-pizza-rustica/

 

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postheadericon Pickled Beef Tongue

Beef tongue has been prepared and eaten in different regions of the world since ancient times. Beef tongue is found in many cuisines that make up the Coal Region including Eastern European, German and Pennsylvania Dutch, English, Italian, and Mexican to name a few.  In Russian cuisine the cooked beef tongue is sliced and served cold for “zakuska” (a starter) by itself or as a part of assorted cold meats platter. Tongue can be roasted, boiled, barbecued, smoked, or pickled. Although it might seem intimidating, cooking beef tongue is quite simple to do. It is tender and delicious and can be served on a sandwich, with mustard and/or horseradish sauce. Some pickled beef tongue recipes call for “pink salt” aka potassium nitrate in the brine which helps the meat retain its pink color (think corned beef or salamis), but this one does  not.  Some cooks prepare it by doing nothing more than cooking the tongue in salted water, cleaning it, slicing it, pouring pure vinegar over it in a jar and allowing it to marinate.

Pickled Beef Tongue

Pickled Beef Tongue

Pickled Beef Tongue

Ingredients

  • 1 - 3 to 4 pound beef tongue
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon pickling spice
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 rib celery
  • 1 small peeled onion

Instructions

  1. In large pot, cover tongue with cold water, add salt, carrot, onion, celery; cover and simmer until tender (a couple of hours).
  2. Drain and reserve 2 cups broth.
  3. Cool tongue until able to handle, then peel off thick covering.
  4. Combine reserved broth with the vinegar, sugar, and pickling spices. Add salt to taste.
  5. Place tongue in non-reactive bowl or jar. Cover with vinegar mixture.
  6. Cover, chill for 48 hours. Remove from vinegar mixture, slice across the grain and serve.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2018/12/17/pickled-beef-tongue/

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postheadericon Baccala for Christmas Eve

Pennsylvania was a leading state in developing heavy industries in the late 19th century such as coal, iron and steel, railroads, and cement and glass. These industries hired huge numbers of new immigrants, especially Italians and Poles, who filled the need for large numbers of men who were eager to accept unskilled low paying jobs. Immigrants also composed a large percentage of the work force of other smaller industries in Pennsylvania.  So many Italians headed to Pennsylvania that by 1890 their population was the second highest in the United States. Between 1880 and World War I more than four million Italians immigrated to the United States. Eighty percent of them were southern Italians. In Pennsylvania, over 70% of Italians who came moved to the mid-size and smaller industrial towns scattered throughout the state. Italians settled in the soft coal fields of southwestern Pennsylvania, as well as in the eastern Anthracite towns of Pittston, Shamokin, Hazleton, and Nanticoke, to name only a few and in the industrial towns of Reading, Scranton, and Allentown. The ancient tradition of eating fish on Christmas Eve dates from the Roman Catholic custom of abstinence from meat and dairy products on the eve of certain holidays, including Christmas.  As many Italians are Catholic, Christmas is one of the most important holidays to them and one of their traditions involves eating 7 different seafood dishes on Christmas Eve. The number seven is rooted back in ancient times and it can be connected to multiple Catholic symbols. Flash forward to the early 1900s, when the official “Feast of the Seven Fishes” first emerged. Italian-American families rekindled the Old Country’s Christmas Eve tradition by preparing a seven-course seafood meal that both made them feel close to their homes, while celebrating the sea, a major connection in Italy. Today, it’s considered one of the oldest Italian traditions. Many of the dishes will differ from family to family, however, one dish is usually included – Baccala. Baccala is dried and salted cod, sometimes referred to simply as salt cod; cod which has been preserved by drying after salting. To prepare for this dish soak the cod in cold water to cover in a cool spot or refrigerator for at least 24 hours or up to 3 days, changing the water frequently. After 24 hours, break off a tiny piece of fish and taste for saltiness. If fish is still quite salty, continue soaking until water is very clear and fish is almost sweet in taste. You can find salt cod at many markets, grocery stores, fish mongers, and even over the internet.

This recipe is adapted for today’s cooks from “Treasured Italian Recipes“, 1989

Baccala for Christmas Eve

 Baccala for Christmas Eve

Baccala - Salt Cod

Ingredients

    Marinara
  • 2 - 28 ounce cans whole tomatoes, lightly drained then crushed with a fork
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 leaves basil, torn
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • Olive oil
    Bacala
  • Marinara sauce
  • 4 or 5 large potatoes, quartered, boiled, and hot
  • 2 pound or so fresh baccala, rinsed thoroughly OR dried (If you use the dried variety of baccala that has been preserved in salt, you will need to soak it before using, changing water frequently. Note this is the better of the two for flavor and preferred.)
  • 1 can unpitted black olives

Instructions

    Marinara
  1. In bottom of large sauce pan, saute onion in small amount of oil.
  2. Add remainder of ingredients and simmer about 30 minutes.
    Baccala
  1. When sauce is ready, cut your fish in large pieces.
  2. Carefully drop them in the sauce (they should be covered by the sauce).
  3. Sprinkle with black pepper.
  4. Poach until fish almost flakes; surround fish with hot potatoes.
  5. Top all with black olives and continue cooking until fish flakes.
  6. Serve immediately.
  7. Add additional salt at the table if needed; baccala usually has a lot of of its own salt. For those with a spicy appetite, a little red pepper can be offered at the table.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2018/12/14/bacala-for-christmas-eve/

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