Many years ago, on WOR710 AM radio there was a food show called Food Talk hosted by former NY Daily News executive food editor and restaurant critic, Arthur Schwartz. It was a terrific show that talked about food, its trends, recipes and restaurants. Arthur Schwartz has written seven books; I have two, Naples at Table and Soup Suppers.
In Naples at Table he has many recipes from the Campania region of Italy. Many years ago, I made one of his recipes, Pastiera, also known as ricotta and grain cake and even wheat pie. I decided to make it again this year and started my search for canned cooked wheat. Back then, I was able to find it at the old Piancone’s Deli and Bakery in Bradley Beach, NJ. However, they’re long gone. In Cranford, NJ there is an Italian specialty food store called Pastosa that has both Italian specialty food products, fresh meats and prepared foods. I was lucky to find both the cooked wheat and orange flower water that is part of the pastiera recipe adds a unique flavor.
With today’s weather forecast being formidable, I had the opportunity to use my time to do some baking. Earlier in the week I made my own fresh candied orange peel. The recipe is also in Arthur’s book. However, I avoided giving that recipe as some might think it crazy to go to such lengths when you can probably purchase candied orange in a food store. I must say, there’s not much work in preparing candied orange, but it does take time. The dough for the cake came together easily. I did, however, add too much cold water to the dough which didn’t help when I had to roll it out for the baking pan. The filling too was a snap, especially since I had canned wheat for the recipe.
Once all the ingredients were in place and the cake assembled, about an hour of baking was all that was needed. Once out of the oven and cooled, it has to spend 12 hours in the refrigerator. It’s recommended that the pastiera be served at warm temperature and also have a dusting of confectioners’ sugar. From what I recall, it tasted delicious, better than what you get from our local bakery. Many years ago my Aunt Angie worked at a pastry shop the called J. Ferrara and Son Pastry Shop in Newark, NJ. While they made a delicious pastiera, homemade was better.
Now that I have my pastiera made, next is my mother’s pizza rustica, which is a savory Easter pie. It too is made with ricotta cheese and also contains basket cheese, mozzarella, pepperoni, boiled ham and prosciutto. There are many versions of this recipe and it seems that each family has their own twist on it.
A former teacher, shop-a-holic, empty-nester redefining quick, family approved dinners.