There are some things I remember about Easter as a child that I’d rather forget, like getting live chicks that had been dyed various colours (and grew into some pretty vicious chickens!), to wearing my little gold cape as an altar boy in the Sunday Easter service, full of pomp and circumstance. Then there are the memories I cherish, like, well, my mother and her food! From her famous Salami Pie to her Italian Ricotta Cheesecake, Wheat Grain Pie, and “Didals” (Italian beer pretzels), amongst a huge array of other dishes, the table was laden with everyone’s favourites. Food was always her expression of love and generosity.
My mother, like many women of her vintage, rarely ever used written recipes or standard measures, and had a finely tuned sense of when a mixture was “right”. Unfortunately most of us don’t have that ability and may never know the delights she produced. Fortunately for me, I have a very talented brother, Ralph, who loves to cook and has lovingly worked through our mother’s recipes into writing, standard measures and methods the rest of us can understand so that she and her food can be remembered always. [I am thinking of incorporating some of these into my Italian cooking class in Sydney – what do you think?]
Recently Ralph sent me a collection of his versions of my mother’s Easter recipes, including Salami Pie, which I translated into Australian and happily share with you below. I know it may sound over the top (Well, that’s because it is!), but it is one of those things that once you eat a slice you will want more and more. So making it just once a year at Easter is probably a good thing for your health, if not your appetite! I’m looking forward to making this tomorrow. Thank you dear brother for making these delicious memories real for me again; you are a star! And that is what family is all about!
220 gm pepperoni
220 gm boiled ham
220 gm salami (hard or Genoa)
110 gm capicola
110 gm prosciutto
220 gm Farmers cheese
220 gm fresh mozzarella
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp chopped garlic
2 tbsp black pepper
11-12 eggs, beaten
4 cups all purpose flour (unbleached preferred)
1 tbsp baking powder
3 tbsp solid vegetable shortening (e.g. Crisco) or butter
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
6 eggs, plus 1 egg
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp water as needed to make smooth, pliable dough
- Start by making the crust using a large mixer with the dough hook. Combine the dry ingredients, then cut in shortening, olive oil and 6 eggs. Add enough water to make smooth, pliable dough.
- Turn out onto your bench and kneed for about 5-8 minutes to make nice, pliable dough.
- Cut the dough into two pieces; one consisting of 2/3 of the dough and the other of 1/3. Roll out the larger piece to about to ¼ inch thick. This takes some heavy rolling, but it’s important the dough not be too thick.
- Use vegetable shortening to coat a 7-8 cm deep heavy oven proof pan such as an iron skillet.
- Lay the rolled dough into the pan, and shape to the pan as you would a pie crust. Cut off excess dough above the height of pan.
- Cube all the meats and cheeses and combine with the remaining ingredients. Add in the beaten eggs and combine well. Pour the filling into the crust and pack down eliminating any air.
- Roll out the remaining dough to about 6mm thick. Place this over the filling. Push down on top crust to force any remaining air out. Brush the connecting parts of the top and bottom crusts with a little water to help stick them together, and seal the edge of the crust.
- Bake at 200 C for 10 minutes. Beat the remaining egg lightly. Brush the crust of the pie with egg, reduce the temperature to 180 C, and bake for an additional 1 hour. Check after 50 minutes to be sure pie is not overdone. Insert a knife into the pie to check for doneness. The pie is done when the knife comes out dry.