Recipe by Ashley E. Rodriguez
The cherry blossoms are in bloom and the start of our Summer garden line the window sills anxious for the last frost to pass so they can be planted firm in the rich soil. All of this means Spring is here and I couldn't be happier. The grey Winter months are often long and arduous but this year they proved to be some of the hardest to endure. The day after Christmas our little family found out it was growing by one more person. The excitement was quickly shadowed by dreaded "morning sickness" which for me lasts well into the night. So instead of being a regular in my kitchen cooking and baking the day away, the couch and I became fast friends.
Not only was I not cooking but I couldn't even think of food. This was coming from someone who plans what's for lunch while consuming breakfast. As the grey is fading, so is my sickness and it's being replaced by an ever growing belly, late Winter blooms and the anxious arrival of fresh Spring produce.
So with my return I wanted to bring you something special, Easter Pie. This classic Italian dish is typical around this time of year as we head into Easter season. This savory pastry resembles a quiche with a base of eggs and three cheeses. Every Italian grandmother has her own version but this one is filled with fresh spinach, which to me screams Springtime. You can also add prosciutto or bacon to the recipe.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family and I have. Thank you for your patience in my absence. I couldn't be happier to hop back into the kitchen and share these recipes with you all. Happy Spring.
adapted from marthastewart.com
Makes enough for one 9-inch lattice-topped square pie
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (1 1/2 ounces)
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
- 3/4 cup lard, cold, cut into small pieces
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup ice water
Put flour, cheese, salt, and pepper, in the bowl of a food processor; pulse several times to combine. Add butter and lard; process until the mixture has the consistency of coarse crumbs, about 10 seconds. With the machine running, pour ice water through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream until the dough just holds together. You can also do this by hand, as I did, if you don't have a food processor.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide dough in half, and form each piece into a flattened square. Wrap each piece of dough in plastic, and chill at least 1 hour or overnight before using.
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh spinach, trimmed
- 3 1/4 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (1 1/2 ounces)
- 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese (1 1/2 ounces)
- 1/2 lb prosciutto, chopped (optional)
- 1 large whole egg, plus 2 large egg yolks
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
On a nonstick baking mat or lightly floured piece of parchment paper, roll out one piece of dough, about 1/8 inch thick. With a dry pastry brush, sweep off excess flour; fit dough into 9-inch pie or tart pan, pressing into corners. Prick the bottom of the dough all over with a fork. Roll out the remaining dough in the same manner. Transfer dough strips (on parchment) to a baking sheet. Chill pie shell and dough round until firm, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F degrees. Bake until the edges just begin to turn golden, about 20-30 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat; add spinach and cook until just wilted. Drain spinach on paper towels, then finely chop (for about 4 cups).
In a medium bowl, combine spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, prosciutto, the whole egg, 1 egg yolk, salt, and nutmeg. Spread evenly into cooled pie shell. Place other dough round on top. Using kitchen shears, trim dough flush with the top of the pan. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining egg yolk and the cream; brush egg wash over the top and the edge of the pie shell.
Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until crust is golden brown, about 45 minutes (if edges or top of crust browns too quickly, loosely cover with aluminum foil.) Cool slightly on a wire rack. Using parchment paper overhang, gently lift pie out of pan. Serve warm or at room temperature. The pie is best eaten the same day it is baked, but it can be kept, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
About Ashley E. Rodriguez
Food became my life while living in Italy. Growing up I was fortunate to have been brought up around a mother who intuitively knew how to cook, and just by being around that, it rubbed off on me. But it was in Italy where I truly began to appreciate the power of good food.
For me food is so much more than following a recipe in order to reach a desired product. As much as I enjoy that tasty product and the process in which it was created, my personal infatuation with food focuses on the aspects that go beyond satisfying a bodily hunger. I am completely and utterly obsessed with food because of its effect on the people who consume it, grow it, produce it, enjoy it, and live for it. Food is culture, it nourishes our bodies, it is passion, it is hard work, and for many it is their livelihood.
My culinary career has been primarily pastry focused. I worked under the Captain of the winning American Coupe du Monde team (the Olympics of bread baking) at the Essential Bread Baking Company in Seattle, WA. From there I went on to Los Angeles where I studied under Sherry Yard (Executive Pastry Chef for Wolfgang Puck's restaurant empire) at Wolfgang Puck's famous Spago restaurant in Beverly Hills. While working with Sherry, I also assisted her with her second book, Desserts By The Yard.
I moved back to Washington State and began my pastry business, fulfilling all sweet needs. You can see my work in numerous publications including Seattle Metropolitan Bride & Groom. Currently I am focusing on training my two young boys to have distinguished palates. You can also find me writing, teaching and creating a television program on the subject of real, good food.
Photographs copyright by Gabriel Rodriguez. Used with permission.
© Copyright 2006-2010 by Westport E-Business LLC and Artazza.com. All rights reserved.