Sunday, March 20, 2016

Cloak Sunday: Preparing for the Feast

This Sunday is what most people in the U.S.A. call Palm Sunday. If it were up to Luke 19:28-40, it would be known as Cloak Sunday because he fails to mention palms or branches at all.
"After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, “Why are you untying it?” just say this: “The Lord needs it.” ’ So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’ They said, ‘The Lord needs it.’ Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying,
‘Blessed is the king
   who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven,
   and glory in the highest heaven!’
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, order your disciples to stop.’ He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.’"
Previous posts on these pages have cataloged the many names people have given this
the Sunday before Easter. Here is an updated list,
  • Kyriake
  • Fig Sunday
  • Heorte ton baion
  • Heorte baiophoros
  • Lazarus Sunday
  • Dominica in Palmis
  • Dominica Palmarum
  • Dies Palmarum
  • Dominica Hosanna
  • Pascha floridum
  • Pâques fleuries
  • Pascua florida
  • Dominica florida
  • Dies floridus
  • Flower Sunday
  • Olive Sunday
  • Branch Sunday
  • Sallow Sunday
  • Willow Sunday
  • Yew Sunday
  • Blossom Sunday
  • Sunday of the Willow Boughs
  • Blumensonntag
  • Blumentag
  • Secundus floricultus (Armenian seventh Sunday after Easter)
  • Secunda palmarum dominica (Armenian seventh Sunday after Easter)
With the plethora of names for this Sunday come a plethora of shopping lists for next Sunday's dinner. Everybody seems to have their own tradition when it comes to Easter dinner. Yes, part of the preparation for Easter means that during Holy Week, your family's "Martha" will probably be running around gathering ingredients and working in the kitchen.

Growing up, my mother would always cook a leg of lamb on Easter with rice and gravy on the side. Around here, people tend to eat ham, so our shopping list may include ham, sweet potatoes, brown sugar and pecans (for the sweet potato casserole).

This week, I received an interesting recipe in my e-mail box from Cook's Country (free subscription required) for "Torta rustica, or Italian Easter pie", something I had never heard about before. I looked up a little history from Italian Food Forever,

"Although the Easter table may vary greatly from region to region across Italy, there are some basic elements that are commonly found everywhere. Eggs are considered a symbol or renewal and life, and feature prominently in the day’s dishes, in both soups such as Brodetto Pasquale, a broth-based Easter soup thickened with eggs, and in many breads, both sweet and savory. Lamb is the symbol of birth and the shepherd, and both lamb and kid are commonly found on Easter menus, usually roasted or grilled on a spit. Other symbols that may be brought into the Easter feast are the cross which symbolizes resurrection which some breads are shaped into, and the dove symbolizing peace which the famous Easter sweet bread the Columba Pasquale is shaped as. Many other dishes commonly found on Italian tables each Easter are seasonal specialties that highlights the season’s finest fresh produce such as artichokes, asparagus, baby peas and fava beans which overflow local market stands in all their glory. 
Every region seems to have its own particular version of Easter pie, made with eggs, which reflect fertility, and cheese, and my version of Torta Pasqualina is similar to what you would find in Liguria. Torta della Pasqualina, is another rich pie that contains ricotta cheese, eggs, and a selections of cold meats and cheeses. In Campania, the specialty is called Pizza Rustica, and in Umbria, Torta di Pasqua. These pies or tortas often contain greens as well as ricotta and other vegetables. 
Most Italian families will also make a number of traditional sweets each Easter season, including the very popular sweet breads found across Italy each year. Some of these breads include Pupi con L’uova which are doll shaped breads made for children, and the Columba, a dove shaped sweet bread similar to Panettone."

Here a sample of the recipe from Cook's Country (go there for the detailed instructions),

"Made to feed a crowd, torta rustica, or Italian Easter pie, is a hefty construction of meats and cheeses wrapped in a pastry crust. So that it can stand up to the considerable fillings, we reinforce our crust with eggs and knead the dough to develop gluten. Instead of the deli’s worth of meats called for in some recipes, we use just two: hot capicola and Italian sausage. For cheese, we found that aged provolone and salty Pecorino make a good pair, while creamy ricotta mixed with eggs holds it all together. Sautéed broccoli rabe adds freshness and a touch of bitterness, and it wouldn’t be Italian without garlic."
  • eggs
  • water
  • all-purpose flour
  • salt
  • unsalted butter,  chilled
  • vegetable shortening,  chilled
  • olive oil
  • broccoli rabe
  • hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • salt
  • garlic cloves
  • whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • Pecorino Romano cheese,
  • eggs
  • pepper
  • aged provolone cheese
  • hot capicola
  • egg yolk
I trust Cook's Country for most things except I prefer to add a bit of cayenne pepper to many recipes. If you bake an Easter Italian Pie, remember to let it cool for 4 hours before eating.

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