Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Ricotta Pie

Yesterday was Kim’s birthday so we celebrated in a quiet sort of way. With Oliver back at Small Liberal Arts College it was just the three of us gathered around – me, Kim, and Lauren – and since none of us are very good at actually procuring gifts at the specific time required (vide supra, re: movable feast tradition) it was mostly just an evening of good food and good company.

At a certain point that’s really all you ask.

Other than a card and the promise of a birthday present (currently in transit), my main contribution to this was to make the cake, and this year it was a ricotta pie. About twenty years ago my mom collected a bunch of recipes from the various scattered branches of my family and my grandmother’s ricotta pie was one of them. My mom had to translate it out of my grandfather’s directions and there’s a certain amount of wiggle room that comes with that process, but so it goes. As my mom said in the collection, “you’re making a pie, not building a bomb. It won’t blow up if you’re a tad over or under.”

If you’ve never had one of these things, you should. They’re a traditional Italian Easter dessert – apparently my grandmother would make one every year when my mom was younger – and they’re rich in the way that something with two pounds of ricotta cheese and a dozen eggs would be. They’re really, really good.

We have a lot of eggs. Lauren’s chickens have been laying like mad for months now, and while we do the best we can to keep up the fact is that they pile up now and then. This was a good way to use up a bunch of them in a tasty manner. Lauren’s chickens produce wonderful eggs, by the way. I’ve made this pie several times and it has never been that golden yellow before.

The thing about this pie is that it has a genuinely old-fashioned taste to it. There is no way you would ever confuse this for a recipe created anytime in the last fifty years. It tastes like the sort of thing that a society a lot closer to the edge of things than the modern US is at present would make to celebrate the fact that life is good anyway. Eggs. Ricotta. An orange. Two shots of whiskey. Sugar. All things that were often scarce back in the day and treasured for that reason. It is a time capsule in a baking dish.

We didn’t have it much when I was a kid – by then the health mavens had ginned up a ruckus that made people believe that anything that rich was something akin to cyanide and gunpowder stew and scared everyone away from such things – but I do remember it appearing now and again.

There is nothing like good food to remind you of good times and create new ones on a grey November evening.


KimK said...

And he’s not exaggerating! It really is fabulous. Makes a great breakfast, too.

David said...

With that many eggs, I sure hope so! :)

Ewan said...

Oh come on. Are you really that desperate for comments that you are actually going to wait for someone to request the recipe?

Fine, fine. I so move. Lucy will second. Motion carries.

Ewan said...

Also: I am very glad to 'hear' your tone here - especially the comment on 'closer to the edge of things' back then - as rather more sanguine than it has been for lo! these many posts. Welcome back from the ledge.

David said...

Well, it's not so much "desperate for comments" as it is "not really thinking things through," which defines so much of my life, really.

And I'm very deliberately trying to avoid the current Fascist coup attempt, which continues unabated at the moment. We'll see what happens. In the meantime, there are other things to talk about.

Here's the recipe. Let me know if you ever make it!



2lb ricotta cheese
10 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/4 cups sugar
Grated rind of one orange, plus the juice
2 shot glasses of whiskey
Less than 1/4 cup of flour


1 1/4 cup sifted flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs

1. Mix filling together in a large bowl and set aside.
2. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl.
3. Add butter and eggs to flour mixture and beat until blended.
4. Press crust mixture into bottom and sides of a greased 8x8x2 pan
5. Pour in cheese mixture
6. Sprinkle cinnamon on top
7. Bake for 90 minutes at 350F.
8. Let cool before cutting. It's really rich - cut into small pieces.


LucyInDisguise said...

Damn public transportation! Late Again!

Been a little tied up for the last few days with, ah, family matters (Yeah, that sounds believable. I do believe I'm going to make an honest attempt to pass it off like that.)

Happy, & many reruns, and all that other Barfin' Day Jazz to our celebrant Kim

Ewan anticipated correctly (either that or it is a first unauthorized use of a time machine) here's the required 'Second'.

Would anyone like to point out to our host that there is a difference between cake and pie? At least in the more civilized parts of the world? Nobody said, "... Let them it pie". Well somebody did, but it didn't become a famous quote.

Well, at least the # of eggs adds up to an even dozen. Can you convert that recipe into Danish?

Wait - forgot - my wife can't read Danish. Nevermind.

Also, the current coup attempt appears to be stuck on the merry-go-round inside the house of mirrors.


LucyInDisguise said...

eat. Let them eat cake.

It's been that kind of week.


David said...

I hear you on the family matters, Lucy - I've read through your email twice and will likely do so at least twice more before I sit down to respond. I had no idea this would get so complex! But really - family. Of course it was going to get complex. :)

I'm just glad we have a recipe at all, to be honest. My grandfather wrote down a lot of my grandmother's recipes by watching her make things and taking notes (and asking questions, which could be unhelpful at times - my mother has distinct memories of asking my grandmother about such things: How much do you put in? Enough. How much is enough? You'll know! Enough!). All I know is that it came down to me as "Ricotta Pie" so that's what we call it.

Don't even get me started on "gravy," which my Italian family used for both the brown stuff that you get from meat drippings and the red stuff that non-Italians refer to as spaghetti sauce. There are three topics that reliably set people off when I post them in my Facebook feed: 1) Two spaces after a period. 2) Yes to the Oxford comma. 3) It's gravy - you can call it spaghetti sauce if you want but a) don't ever say 'red sauce' and b) don't try to correct my own family history.

And thus we come full circle. Family.

I ended up using 13 eggs in this one because some of Lauren's chickens are bantams and their eggs are rather small.

I'm hoping the current coup dissolves into a pile of slapstick and criminal indictments, though I will admit the ongoing purge at the Pentagon does worry me.

LucyInDisguise said...

Red sauce is ketchup. Gravy comes in all 256 colors of the rainbow. Just ask my wife.

While researching that other topic, I found myself on the Oxford Dictionary site trying to figure out the rules for using the Oxford comma, and looked up the word 'family' just for giggles. The definition was just one word - 'complex'. So, as I frequently do in such circumstances, I looked up 'complex'. All that was there was the word 'family', and a group portrait of all my wife's relatives.

Figures. 😁

Life goes on, unabated and without reprieve, apparently.


For the record - Grammerly does not believe in the Oxford comma.

David said...

Figures! Life is what it is. It beats the alternative.

I find I like your wife more and more. :)

Grammerly can take a long, slow, and rain-soaked walk off a short pier.