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Antique Recipe Road Show

Antique Recipe Road Show


Antique Recipe Road Show

Perfection Salad

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Q.

I’m looking for a jello recipe that my then 90 year old aunt once served with our main course.  The molded dish was not sweet and would be sliced and a chunk was placed on your plate instead of spooning out portions.  It was made with lime jello and included shredded cabbage and possibly shredded carrots and vinegar.  I think it also contained sour cream. I am unable to find anything like it from current jello recipe books and on-line.  No other relatives have a copy of the recipe but remember it from childhood.  Sound familiar? I would appreciate any help in finding this recipe.  Thank You.
--CJ

A.

Hi, CJ.  Yes I know what this is.  It’s Perfection Salad, of course and

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Antique Recipe Road Show

Easter Pie or Pizza Rustica

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Question:

My sister and I have been searching for a recipe for Easter Pie that my grandmother used to make at Easter time. The versions that we have found are not the same like she made. Her Easter Pie was made with ham, hard boiled eggs, chunks of cheese and pasta. We have used other recipes and included the food items she used but there is something missing and we just can’t seem to replicate her recipe. I wish I had written it down like so many other of her recipes that I watched her make as a young girl.  My grandmother told me her parents were gypsies who lived in the hills above Salerno and tended goats.


--Sara

Sara.  Wow about the gypsies. 

My Ligurian ancestors made “Torta Pasqualina,” which translates literally as “Easter Pie.” But this not the answer you’re looking for because your family comes from Salerno, which is in the Campania region to the south.  I am certain you are referring to a very different dish that goes by many similar names such as pizza rustica or pizza chiena.  Chiena means “filled” in dialect.  So it is a stuffed pizza.  Italian Americans changed the word from chiena to gain.  So it is often be called pizza gain. Whatever the name, I think this is more or less the same as your Easter pie--an incredibly decadent thing, filled with cheeses and meat and eggs.  It ends the fasting of lent with joy and celebration of Easter. 

In searching for this recipe for you, I found an interesting little book online called ”> The story of a year, many years ago. It appears to be a very personal account of life in Salerno int he 60s or 70s, and includes recipes.  I emailed the author, Marco Ferraiolo, and asked about your Easter Pie.  He graciously wrote as follows (my rough translation):

“I believe the pie you’re looking for from the hills around Salerno is a “Tortano,” which is a pie/brioche traditional to the Campania region, prepared for Easter, and made with a bread dough, kneaded with lard, pork cracklings, pepper, pecorino cheese, salame, eggs.” He describes a method of making it with many layers of pastry surrounding the filling.

In various incarnations, vegetable pies, or torte, exist all over Italy, and it will be difficult to find your exact recipe.  There is no one recipe.  They vary from region to village, to family.

That said, in Arthur Schwartz’s wonderful Naples at Table:  Cooking in Campania, he gives a terrific recipe for “savory Easter ricotta pie,” of which he writes:  Pizza Rustica, an open, lattice-topped or fully enclosed pastry filled with ricotta, diced cheeses, and various preserved pork products, is also called pizza ripiena (stuffed pie) or in dialect, pizza chiena--from which comes the frequently used Italian American name pizza gain. Follow the jump to the end of this story for his recipe. 

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Antique Recipe Road Show

Citron for Christmas Breads and Fruitcakes

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Is citron grown and sold in the u.s? I’ve candied orange,lemon, grapefruit,and tangerine for panetone and lebkuchen,because store bought is so full of garbage. I’d also like to do citron but have not found any.

--Valerie Tassa

Valerie, I share your feeling about candied fruit here in the U.S. being really awful—sort of like sugary wax.  And while maybe with a lot of money and shipping from a gourmet company you CAN find good quality candied orange or lemon peel, it is especially difficult to locate citron, which is so little appreciated in the U.S.

For those not familiar...citron is of course the citrus fruit.  Its candied peel goes into various fruit cakes for the holiday.  You can see it pictured above with some candied orange peel.  This photo is from last winter when I bought these in the Mercato Orientale in Genoa, where the fruit goes by the name of cedro.  You can see just by looking at it this this has nothing to do with the hideous chunks of food colored stuff at the supermarket.  Nancy, wouldn’t you love to paint this?

Here are some more photos of candied fruits—many varieties—in the beloved Pietro Romanengo shop in Genoa.  They were in a huge basket on the counter, a feature of the Christmas Season.

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For more on citron, here’s a nice blog post by Susie Wyshak’s blog called artisanfooddiscoveries.  She does a great job on the citron and even includes a youtube video of John Kirkpatrick’s Lindcove Farm, which I believe is the only one in America that grows citron.  nuttyfig.com

Unfortunately, Americans think of fruit cakes as kind of a joke--though in recent years, there has been some efforts to revive them.  Not sure how that’s going when there’s so much chocolate around.  I think that there are just lots of people who don’t like candied fruit peel.  That’s cool.  But I wonder if those people have just never tasted any of decent quality.  When it’s good, candied fruit peel is delicate and tastes intensely of the fruit . . . not wax.  It is primo “not to be forgotten” territory, a technique invented so as not to waste even a fruit rind--a precious source of flavor, and really quite a brilliant use of sugar. 

Candied fruit has deep roots in ancient Jewish, Arab, and Christian tradition. Persians and Arabs were known for their advanced technique with sugar and candying not just fruit but flowers.  This technique was introduced to Europe around the Middle Ages.  Jews use citron --etrog-- for their fall holiday Sukkot.  And then, many of the famous Christmas breads--from Tuscany’s panforte to English fruit cake and German stolen--come from the east-west trade of the Middle Ages. 

Okay, Valerie, now to your question.  I don’t know where you live, but you can find fresh citron in the markets in California this time of year.  Here’s a market that sells citron.  Maybe you can call and ask them to ship some to you.  http://www.berkeleybowl.com

I also put in a phone call to John Kirkpatrick, the citron farmer.  I’ll let you know if I hear anything.

If you can’t get some fresh citron, perhaps these markets will probably ship you something of higher quality in the already-candied product: Both Kalustyans and Corti Brothers are known for their imports of high quality, and both sell citron.
http://www.kalustyans.com and www.cortibros.biz/. Note that Corti doesn’t have citron listed in their online catalog, but they have it on their shelves, so call.

Please let us know how you make out.  And send us pictures!  We’ll post them!

Next week, I’m going to post a story of my own holiday candied-fruit bread called pandolce.

Stay tuned.


Antique Recipe Road Show

French Creams (and a little Candy History)

Q: Hi Laura and Nancy, Thanks for the lovely blog. Do you have a recipe for French Creams? For a short while we could get real French creams imported from Britain here (Toronto, Canada). Now the candies are more like corn candy shaped like French Creams.  Thanks Pat

Dear Pat,
You’re in luck, as Laura did turn up a recipe for French creams, and I found a bit of candy history that includes a nod to the French for their superior candy making skills. Did you know that India was amongst the first cultures to refine sugar-cane to sugar around 3000 B.C? The Persians and Arabs also excelled at candy making.  During the Middle ages when trade between Europe and the Arab world intensified, sugar and candy found their way to the ports of Europe. 

Columbus planted sugar cane in the Caribbean.  But of course the story of sugar and candy is deeply connected to slavery, and trade.  It’s a complex one. Sugar is also very much a story of class.  Sweetened and refined foods were once considered marks of civilization.  Sugar was scarce and candy scarcer for the Medieval rich who paid dearly for it and in fact, sugar remained a luxury until very recently as I’m sure you know.  Here’s a recipe for French creams from the White House Cook Book, 1887.  Please let us know if you try it.

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Antique Recipe Road Show

Sugar and Heat for Your Jam

Q, Can strawberry jam be made without sugar and without cooking?

(I came to the conclusion that in the 1800s, they may not have had sugar or pectin) Raw is better than cooked and NO SUGAR is certainly better than even one granule of sugar.

Thanks
Dawn.

A.  Dawn, First of all, the answer is yes, absolutely, you can make no-cook jam with some pectin (a thickener) and eliminate the sugar if you wish--especially if you have wonderfully ripe and sweet fruit.  I have a friend who makes no-cook berry jam in Maine and swears by it.  I always wanted to try it myself, so if you have a recipe, feel free to share because I’d love it. 

However, I’m pretty certain that you need the consistently low temps of a fridge or freezer to do it, and so these types of jams are probably of the modern electrical era. 

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Antique Recipe Road Show

Hamantaschen with poppy seeds?

Amy asked:

My mother had a terrific recipe for hamantaschen that she made for many years while I was growing up. It was the cookie crust one, not the yeast-dough type. However, she took to experimenting with new recipes she found and ultimately we can’t find our favorite. Do you have one that will remind me of childhood? And while my mother used to fill them with prune or apricot jam, my family loves poppyseed filling. I have a bag of poppyseeds in my freezer waiting for instructions on how to turn them into something luscious.

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