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Fiadone con Formagio (Italian Savory Easter Cheese Pie)

April 11, 2017 Dessert, Menu No Comments

As I was going through my recipes to gather the ingredients to make my Easter pies for this upcoming week, I was quickly reminded of the adventure that I had gone through a few years back, tracking down the recipe for what was known to me as ‘pastiche’ (pronounced pah-steech). Long story short, my quest for this recipe started years ago when I was trying to duplicate an Italian cheese bread that our friend Lorena’s mom had shared with us. Her mom had referred to the bread as pastiche, but I could never find any such recipe by that name. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I came across the recipe for Umbrian cheese bread, which offered almost the same taste and consistency. The bread has since become part of our family’s Easter tradition.

I thought that I had solved the pastiche mystery…until I had mentioned it to our neighbors. They were also familiar with pastiche through their Italian neighbor, and I had assumed that it was the same recipe. But after sampling their version of pastiche, it turned out that it was nothing at all like what we were familiar with. This version was more of a savory cheese pastry. What I have learned over the years is that it is not uncommon for similar Italian dishes to be region-specific, whether the difference be in name or ingredient. What one family may refer to as a dish in their town, the next town over may refer to it as something else. My guess is that pastiche is a perfect example of this – it is more of a dialect term than a specific recipe.

This whole pastiche conundrum led me to try and search out yet another new recipe, to find a match to this delicious new version that I had tasted. Unlike my long hunt for the Umbrian bread recipe, this time I was able to track down a recipe fairly quick. My search for Italian Easter cheese pastry led me to a recipe for Fiadone cone Formagio, which is an Italian Easter pie made up of a savory cheese and egg filling, wrapped in a firm dough and folded into a half-moon shape. There are different variations that appeared to be regional-specific. Some used a filling combination of Parmigiano Reggiano, Romano and Caciotta cheeses, while others used a Ricotta filling. Some added meats to their fillings, while others added vegetables. Regardless of the unique regional flare, they all had one thing in common….none of them were referred to as pastiche.

I may never find out the true meaning or origin of the term pastiche. But one thing that I have learned over the years is that there is no shortage of phenomenal Italian Easter recipes. Below is my interpretation of Fiadone con Formagio. You can also find the link to my Umbrian Cheese Bread recipe, and my other Easter recipes below.

Buona Pasqua!

 

Fiadone con Formagio (Italian Savory Easter Cheese Pie)

As I was doing my research for this post, in true Italian recipe fashion I found various versions using various ingredients and measurements. One of the key ingredients that was consistent was Caciotta cheese, which is a rural semi-soft cheese from central Italy that could be made from either cow’s, goat’s, ewe’s or buffalo’s milk. You may find this during Easter season sold as ‘basket cheese’. I chose to use fontina, which is my personal preference for a semi-soft Italian cheese. Regarding the measurements, I went ahead with the measurements that I felt most comfortable and familiar with, based off of other similar recipes that I have made.

For the dough:

5 eggs, plus one egg for egg wash
3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
3 cups flour, sifted, plus more as needed
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon milk

Mix the 5 eggs and oil together. Mix the flour and salt together. Slowly fold in the flour into the eggs, either by had or by using a dough hook on a mixing machine. Add the teaspoon of milk. Continue to fold/mix for about 8-10 minutes, until well incorporated and a dough ball forms. You can add additional flour if needed to avoid sticking. Place the dough into a lightly sprayed bowl, cover with a towel and let it sit in a warm area for one hour. You can make one day ahead of time and refrigerate – be sure to wrap the dough ball in clear plastic wrap prior to refrigerating.

After the dough has sat for one hour, you want to roll it out to approximately 1/8″ thin. To help with this process, I used my pasta machine for a more consistent thickness. Of course, you can roll it out with a rolling pin if you do not have a pasta machine. Be sure to keep the dough floured to avoid sticking. Once rolled out, you can use a cookie cutter (approximately 3″-3.5″ wide) or a juice glass to cut the dough into circles. You should get 24 circles from this batter.

 

For the filling:

3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
3/4 cup grated fontina cheese
3 eggs, beaten
dash ground black pepper

Mix the cheeses, eggs and pepper together using a spatula.

 

Assembly:

Pre-heat oven to 350˚. Once the cheese mixture is combined, you will want to add a heaping teaspoon of the filling to the center of each circle. Fold the circles in half, pinch them together and seal them with the edge of a fork. Lightly scramble the remaining egg for the egg wash, and brush the top of the circles with the egg wash. Place the filled pastries onto lightly sprayed baking sheets. Bake at 350˚ for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 325˚ and bake for another 20 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool completely.

Serve once cooled, or you can refrigerate the pastries for up to one week. You can warm them in the microwave oven for 15 seconds before serving.

Other Easter Recipes

Umbrian Cheese Bread

Easter Ham Pie and Easter Rice Pie

Easter Strata

Italian Love Cake

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Easter Wishes: My List of Easter Recipes

Easter week is here once again and I’m sure that many of you, like myself, are preparing to bake the traditional Easter breads and pies. It’s a time of year that I look forward to and take pride in being able to carry on my family’s traditions. Over the past few years, I have shared on this blog many of my family’s traditional recipes. In fact, as I was preparing to write this week’s post, I realized that I have run out of family recipes to share with you. Instead of searching out and sharing a recipe that I am not familiar with, I thought it would be best to simply share all of the links to my previous Easter posts, in case you are looking for a last minute idea for your Easter week family gatherings. Below are a list of all Easter-related links, most of which are from my family’s table, along with a few delicious dishes that were submitted by my friend Emma Caparelli Loerky.

I do, however, have one new item to share with you. My good friend Joe was gracious enough to allow me to share a photo of his Great-Grandmother, Giuseppina Benincasa, flipping her Easter fritatta. This photo was taken at her house on Tulip Street, in the Tacony section of Philadelphia. Everything about this classic photo sums up the love and dedication that so many Italians and Italian-Americans bring to the kitchen, especially during this special time of year. As soon as I first saw this photo, I knew that every one of my readers would enjoy it. Thanks, Joe, for allowing me to share it.

Happy Easter to you and yours!

Giuseppina_Benincasa_flipping_the_Easter_Fritatta

Giuseppina Benincasa flipping the Easter Fritatta.

Please click on the links below for previous Easter recipes.

 

 

Easter Ham Pie

 

 

 

Easter Rice Pie

 

 

 

Mascarpone Cheese Cannoli

 

 

 

Easter Strata

 

 

 

Easter Cheese Bread

 

 

 

Taralli Dolci di Pasqua (Easter Ring Cookies)

 

 

 

Italian Love Cake

 

 

 

Honey Fig Gorgonzola and Prosciutto Crostata

 

 

 

Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs

 

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Taralli Dolci di Pasqua (Easter Ring Cookies)

Earlier this week, a good friend of mine had asked me for a recipe for Easter cookies that her Mom would make. I knew exactly what kind of cookies they were based on her description, but had no recipe for them. I reached out to Emma, my guest blogger and keeper of many traditional Italian baking secrets. Sure enough, Emma also knew exactly what I was looking for, and she had the recipe on hand! Thanks, Emma for again taking the time to put together this tremendous cookie recipe. I hope you all enjoy!

TARALLI DOLCI di PASQUA (EASTER RING COOKIES)
By Emma Caperelli Loerky 

In keeping with Dominic’s traditional Italian Easter food theme, I have decided to share a recipe that is similar to the one my mom always makes during the Easter season. The recipe comes from one of my favorite cookie cookbooks, Cookies Unlimited, by Nick Malgieri. It is a  very easy to make cookie called Easter Ring Cookies or Taralli Dolci di Pasqua. Fancy tools are not required to make them because the dough is mixed by hand, cut into 16 pieces (or, if you prefer smaller cookies, you can divide the dough into up to as many as 40 pieces), rolled between your hands to form a rope, at which point the ends are pinched together to form a circle. After baking and cooling, the cookies are then dipped into a glaze and sprinkled with multicolored nonpareils.

This is a mildly sweet cookie and is meant to be eaten with a cup of coffee or tea (or, as my son prefers to eat them, with a nice, cold glass of milk). These cookies stand up to dunking well, and, in my opinion, that is how they are best eaten.

A few things to make note of when making this cookie:

If you divide the dough into smaller pieces, cooking time will most likely be cut in half. In my oven, I found that the cookies were finished after about 25 minutes, so be sure to check the cookies often during the last 5 – 10 minutes of baking time. And, as with all cookies, halfway through baking I switched the baking sheets from top to bottom and also rotated the pans to ensure even baking. The cookies are done once they turn a light golden brown color.

Also, the icing sets VERY quickly, so make sure you have your nonpareils ready because you will need to sprinkle each individual cookie immediately after dipping it in the icing or the nonpareils will not stick. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. And don’t skimp on the icing, it brings a lot of the sweetness to the cookie. I like to dunk the cookie in the glaze a few times just to make sure the cookie is sufficiently iced.

Which brings me to my next tip – I usually have just enough icing for my cookies without any leftovers to spare. It could be because of my thoroughly dunking each cookie in the glaze several times, but you may want to double it just to be safe. And because the glaze sets so quickly, you will most definitely need to reheat it in between icing the cookies. I found it easier to keep it warm on low heat over the stove, but, should you choose to do this, be careful not to let it burn, or to get it on your skin. I learned the hard way that the icing can get very hot.

Lastly, these cookies spread quite a bit during baking so you don’t want to overcrowd them on the cookie sheet. Depending on the size of your pan, I recommend no more than 6 cookies per cookie sheet for the large cookies. If you choose to make your cookies smaller, leave at least 2 inches between each cookie to allow room for them to spread.

Enjoy and Happy Easter!

Easter Ring Cookies
From Cookies Unlimited by Nick Malgieri

Cookie Dough Ingredients:
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
pinch of salt
6 room temperature eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Icing Ingredients:
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
4 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Multicolored nonpareils

Instructions 

For the dough:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder. Break eggs into a large bowl and whisk until broken. Whisk in the sugar in a stream followed by the melted butter then the vanilla, whisking smooth after the addition of each ingredient. Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly.  Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces (or up to 40 if you prefer smaller cookies). Using your palms, roll each piece of dough into an 8 inch rope. Pinch the ends of the rope together to form a circle. Place the dough on parchment lined cookie sheets at least 2 inches apart. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until puffed and golden, rotating the pans about halfway through baking. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and cool completely before glazing.

For the glaze:
Combine all icing ingredients in a saucepan and heat on low until the mixture is lukewarm, stirring often. Hold one of the cooled cookies by the bottom and dip the top of the cookie into the glaze, letting the excess icing drip back into the pan. Immediately sprinkle with the nonpareils, and place on a wire rack to let the icing set.

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Easter Cheese Bread

March 31, 2012 Appetizer, Menu 1 Comment

Of all the recipes that I have featured on my blog, this is one that I am most excited to share with you. Not only is it another fine example of an Italian delicacy that is enjoyed during the Easter season, it is also a recipe that I have been searching out for years! A few years back we were visiting our friend at her parents’ house. Her mom, who is from Italy, shared with us an Easter cheese bread that she made. She called it ‘pastiche’ (pronounced pas-teech). It was a savory bread that had cheese baked into the texture, and it was one of the most delicious breads I’ve ever tasted. When I asked if she would share the recipe, she looked at me, smirked and said in her slight broken English, “nah, you can’t make this.” As it turns out, this recipe was a special recipe that came from her home town, and it was something that I figured was just guarded by those who learned how to make it over the years. Honestly, it was like a punch to the gut being told ‘no’.

Never being one that is told that I can’t do something, I spent the next few years searching out the recipe, but with no luck. There were no recipes online for ‘pastiche’, and the most results I would find for a search on Italian cheese bread was for Domino’s bread sticks. Epic fail.

But finally, this year I found a lead. Apparently, our neighbors’ friends, who are also from Italy, make a bread this time of year that they call pastiche. I also found out that they are from Abruzzi. My friend’s parents are from Abruzzi. I begin to think “hey, this is all starting to add up!” I searched out Abruzzi cheese bread and..BINGO! I finally found what I was looking for.

Crescia al formaggio is a traditional savory Umbrian bread that is made during Easter time with various cheeses, specifically grated Pecorino Romano and/or Parmigiano, along with chunks of a semi-sharp-or sharp cheese (such as provolone or fontina) folded into the dough. Although quite flavorful on its own, it can also be served  during any meal along with eggs, prosciutto and other Italian meats, or even with peppers.

To say that I was happy when I found this recipe would be an understatement. As soon as I read the description and saw a photo online, I knew that I had finally found what I was looking for. And, to my my surprise, there were quite a few variations that I found of this bread. Some were honestly more difficult than others, incorporating home-made cheeses. I now understand why my friend’s mom doubted my skills. But I also found some other less complicated versions. One that specifically intrigued me was at Italian Food Forever. I gave the recipe a try, and it tastes exactly how I remembered. Pure heaven. I reached out to Deborah Mele of the website, and she graciously agreed to allow me to share her recipe here. Thank you very much, Deborah!

But what about the mystery of ‘pastiche’?

Of all the recipes that I found, none of them refer to it as pastiche. I’ve tried various searches over the years on the word (not eve sure if I were spelling it correctly). Nada. I have also since found out that our neighbors friends do not use flour in their recipe. Only eggs and home made cheese. So while theirs may not be the same ‘pastiche’ as I’ve had before, it was enough to lead me to a solution. But finally, after a little deep digging, I did come across one possible answer. According to Wikipedia, pastiche (which aslo means hodge -podge) is the French version of the Greco-Roman dish pastitsio or pasticcio, a kind of pie made of many different ingredients. I guess this is the Easter bread version of the Gravy vs. Sauce argument.

Whatever you choose to call it, definitely add this recipe to your Easter menu.

Buona Pasqua!

CRESCIA – UMBRIAN CHEESE BREAD
Courtesy of Deborah Mele at Italian Food Forever

Yield: 1 Large Loaf

Prep Time: 2 1/2 hrs

Cook Time: 40 mins

A cheese packed bread traditional to Umbria often served with cured meats.

Ingredients:

1 3/4 Cup Warm Water
1 Tablespoon Active Dry Yeast
6 Extra Large Eggs
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Coarse Black Pepper
1 Tablespoon Sea Salt
2 Cups Grated Pecorino Cheese
8 Cups All-purpose Flour (Or Tipo 0)
8 Ounces Young Pecorino Cheese Cut Into 1/2 Inch Dice

Directions:

(Note – this recipe calls for a soufflé dish, but I used a spring form pan and it worked fine).

Spray a large soufflé dish with oil, and using a strip of parchment paper, line the top of the dish adding an additional 2 to 3 inches of height.
Add the yeast to the water in a bowl and mix, then let sit 5 minutes until bubbly.
In another bowl, beat first the 6 eggs, then add the olive oil, salt, pepper, and grated cheese.
Add the yeast mixture to the egg mixture and stir until combined.
Add half the flour and stir, and then continue to add flour one cup at a time until you create a firm dough that is not too sticky.
Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead by hand, folding in the diced cheese as you work the dough.
Knead for about 5 minutes or until the cheese has been incorporated into the dough, and the dough is smooth.
Lightly oil a large bowl with olive oil and let the dough rise until doubled, covered, in a warm spot.
Punch down the dough and form it into a ball and place it into the prepared soufflé dish.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Cover the bread with a kitchen towel and let it rise for about 30 minutes.
Bake the bread for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 190 degrees F.
Let the bread cool for 10 minutes, remove it from the baking dish and let cool to room temperature before cutting into it.

Adapted From Mary Ann Esposito

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