I was so exhausted from all my culinary efforts – and you will notice there are no photos of the disaster area that was the kitchen or the pastry that had to be scraped off the walls – that though this was meant to be posted yesterday (Friday) I only got around to it today.
In the old days, back when I was an acolyte, I would have been at church by 0900 this morning if not earlier. This morning I was up at 0900 attempting to make short crust pastry for the next step in Marco’s Mother’s Pastiera. I was using lard rather than butter – good old fashioned pork fat that they sell in the stores here not the “vegetable” shortening that we get back in Canada. I had forgotten that it does have a “porcine” smell until it has cooked. That was my first surprise of the morning.
Once the pastry was made and set in the fridge to chill it was time to pick up Marco’s Mother’s recipe where I left off yesterday. The Good Friday portion of the process if you will.
|The ingredients for the fillings: 6 eggs – separated; 2 bottles of fiori d’arancia; the ricotta/sugar mixture and the boiled grano prepared yesterday; candied fruit and 4 packets of vanilla powder.|
Preheat the oven to 180c. Remove the ricotta-sugar and boiled grano mixtures from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature.Separate 6 eggs.Beat the yolks and incorporate them into the ricotta-sugar mixture.
Whip the egg whites with an electric mixer – surprise #2: I couldn’t find our electric mixer, I’m sure we have one but… so I used the whisk – until they form soft peaks. (It only took 7 or 8 minutes with the whisk and actually did wonders in releasing a few aggressions I’d built up.) Fold them well into the ricotta-sugar-yolk mixture. Add the boiled grano-cream and mix well.
Add 4 sachets of vanilla, 3 bottles of fiori d’arancia – surprise #3 just before I started this step a blast of Robin Hood’s horn on my iPhone announced that I had a message from Marco. He had seen yesterday’s post and noticed I was using the large size of fiori d’arancia and hold off on 3 bottles – just make it 2 and see how strong the smell of orange blossom was. If I felt it needed more than add the 3rd!!!! Mix well. Then add the candied fruit and mix well. Note to self: next time maybe toss them in a bit of flour so they don’t sink to the bottom! Mix well.
Roll out the pastry (thin) and fit into a baking dish that has been buttered and floured lightly. Make sure you have enough pastry to cut the decorative strips that are essential for a proper Pastiera. Pour the batter in – during cooking the pastiera will grow so it’s important not to overfill the pan. Surprise #4 – I had a whole lot of batter left over!!!! A quick message to Marco to ask exactly how big a pastiera his mother’s recipe makes? The reply: one or maybe two pans of normal size. Thank you Marco! Thankfully I had made enough pastry for two but ended up making another lot as its seems that maybe just maybe Mother Marco’s recipe can make three!!!!
Cut 6 strips of pastry and make a diamond pattern – if they sink in a bit don’t worry it is okay!
Bake in preheated oven for two hours (more or less). Do not open the oven – surprise #5 he tells me this in an e-mail after I’ve opened the oven twice to look! Once they are cooked – you can tell because the filling will be puffed up and golden brown, mine only took about 90 minutes – turn off the oven and do not – repeat – do not remove until the oven has completely cooled down! Surprise #6 – this came in a message just before I was going to remove them.
By this time the entire apartment was filled with the smell of orange blossoms, Lionel and Laurent said they could smell it in the lobby downstairs. Surprise #7 – they came out looking like pastiera!
Now of course they have to be left for 48 hours – covered but not in the refrigerator – NEVER in the refrigerator!!!!! – and presented at pranzo on Easter Sunday.
That will be surprise #8 – will it actually taste the way it should??? And the tasters will be a table of Italians including at least two Napoletani!!!!!!
23 aprile – San Giorgio