The last of the pork recipes . . . sigh.
I have enjoyed this chapter. Yes, I have.
Last week we had a special event here - mom had a 'big' birthday. We flew my sister up for a surprise. It was quite a surprise . . . tears flowed . . . I, being excessive emotion adverse, hid upstairs until dry eyes returned.
Once it was safe to return downstairs, I got busy serving up mom's special birthday dinner. The first course was this pizza rustica - we invited Marcella to the feast in a way. Of course mom took me to task for calling this a pizza. 'It's NOT pizza!' she declared.
I explained that it was a traditional dish from Abruzzi and wondered who she was to challenge the Italians for how they chose to name their foods . . . indeed! The nerve of we North American's for thinking that we know more about Italian food than Italians themselves!
Pizza rustica isn't the easiest dish I've made from Essentials but it sure got placed quickly on my top 10 list (yes, the same top 10 list that must contain 20 items by now).
The pasta frolla (Italian sweet pastry) is made first and chilled. Once chilled, it is used to line a deep dish. The pastry shell is then filled with the most wonderful filling of eggs, cheese, and meat.
Marcella indicates that the dish is traditionally made with hard boiled eggs which she omits because she thinks it is rich enough without them. She also cuts back on the sugar in the pastry (mom's diabetes was thrilled with this). As well, the dish is traditionally made with cinnamon, a spice Marcella has an aversion to so it is left out of the recipe as well. (Really? Cinnamon? How could anyone NOT LOVE cinnamon? Now surely Marcella must understand Irene's aversion to eggs, Palma's aversion to tomatoes, beans, chocolate, and most things healthy, and my aversion to tripe, kidneys, brains, and the like - we all have our likes and dislikes - quirky things we humans).
Anyway. I see that I have lost my thread . . . as usual. Thanks goodness it wasn't 'Jerry and Gretel 'in the famous fairy tale for those children would never have found their way home with me trying to follow a defined path through the woods. LOL
Back on track.
The addition of cinnamon in the traditional recipe makes me think that this must be an ancient dish - certainly my food history has shown me how common it was in renaissance times to mix sweet, savoury, and spicy things all together in special dishes. Of course back then the spice was used to cover up food that was likely past its prime . . . today we get to enjoy the wonderful flavour combination. Thank goodness for refrigeration!
Once covered with the rest of the pastry , the pizza rustica is baked for 45 minutes until a deep brown.
I took it out of the oven to a chorus of ohhs and ahhs.
Notice the Canadian maple leaf on the top of this quintessential Italian dish? The cultures merge together over time, yes, they do.
Then I served up a piece as the first course - the ohhs and ahhs soon became muffled as everyone enjoyed this amazing dish!
We all declared it to be wonderful. I immediately hid the remaining rustica so that I and only I would be able to enjoy the leftovers at a later date. There are limits to my generosity and apparently my limit is half of a pizza rustica.
I sure was glad that I had invited Marcella and her skillful recipes to the table. It was a night of chatter, laughter, wine, memories, and wonderful Italian food . . . in fact, by the time we finished dessert we had been at the table for close to three hours. What could be more Italian than that?
On to the variety meats . . . hold on to your hats, gentle readers, for this is gonna get messy methinks!