When I was a small child I was steeped in the traditions of Tutti a Tavola ! There is something about a shared family meal that anchors a family. Not just at holidays, events and celebrations but regularly and reliably held family feasts. Although the specific foods that define a "feast" may vary, the experience is common to us all. In my Italian family, "Tutti a Tavola a mangiare !" simply means "Everybody to the table to eat !" It was time to shut out the rest of the world and commune as a family.
In the humble beginnings of our very Italian Stolo Family heritage there was a curious pie that played its way through every Easter holiday. It had a way of caressing the adoring faces of children with chipmunk like cheeks full of Easter morning chocolates. With sugar smudged grins we patiently waited for Grandma Marie to arrive at the table with the wonder of the Easter Pie. With orders from our mothers to leave it alone, my cousins Johnny and Bobby Maulucci and I waited patiently as she carefully cut a piece for each one of us. It was thick, dripping with the oils of fragrant Italian cheese and layered with generous portions of pepperoni. As if it could get any better, it was wrapped with a delightfully sweet Italian bread crust that made it an Easter miracle.
Years later I had the privilege of learning from my Aunt Tina Marie, I say this tongue and cheek as we happen to be very close in age, the art of the Easter Pie. She carefully has carried the tradition from her mother, my Grandma Marie mentioned above. With some of our Stolo family living so far apart these days, we cannot always gather around the same Easter tavola so we make the pie our special connection and constant to our Easter Day. My children now enjoy these rustic Italian flavors handed down through the generations with love. It's as if somehow our great Grandma Lucia Panico- Stolo is still lovingly preparing an Easter Pie for us through OUR hands.
Recently my "Aunt Tina " Stolo-Dietz and her husband Larry paid us a visit here in Southern Oregon and taught us how to cook the coveted Easter Pie! We had the best time preparing the ingredients together and watching Tina and Larry step by step.
|Tina Stolo-Dietz and Larry Deitz|
Here we are gathered in my mom's kitchen ! She was the inspiration for this gathering as we wanted to create the tradition here in our hometown of Grants Pass, Oregon.
Pictured above, Tina applies enough pressure to roll out the Easter Bread dough (recipe below) to approximately 1/8 of an inch. You may desire it a little thicker but take care if you don't want a "bready" crust encasing your filling.
Tina places the rolled-out dough onto a foil pie tin.
My mom Angie (Angela Marie Stolo - Everhard) prepared grilled cheese sandwiches for us while we created the pies together. Yum ! She is another great cook.
Tina uses culinary sheers to cut the excess off from the edges of the pie dough.
Meet Tina, our keeper of the family tradition !
Meet Larry,Tina's sous chef extraordinaire! It's fitting this time of year that I share with you a little about Tina and Larry and the example of service to others they provide. It literally would take an entire page to list the many ways these loving two have shared their ways with others. I will share a few here. On Thanksgiving, they donate their time to St. Catherine's Meals on Wheels delivering 70 dinners to senior citizens.
In addition, they will be participating in the Special Olympics celebration in Los Angeles for the World Games helping the Knights of Columbus provide dinner as well as other venue needs. For Christmas, Tina and Larry hosted a party for 150 foster children with the Knights of Columbus. Two years ago they began an event called "A Day of Sharing", an extravaganza free to all children regardless of their current situation with the intent of providing a safe play environment with a variety of games, foods and arts & crafts, free of the concerns they may daily face.
Larry carefully lines the pie dough with a layer of pepperoni in the pattern pictured below.
Tina attempts to teach me the art of rolling out the bread dough to its proper thickness. I had to try this a couple of times to get it right. If you're not careful, it will become too thick around your filling. Thank heaven I had her tutelage as this took some practice.
Practice makes perfect and Larry kept me laughing through the process!!!
Don't go cheap on the cheese or pepperoni ! Get a plentiful supply and pick your favorite brand.
Cut chunks of the pre-sliced pepperoni to fill the pie over the first layer. It's obvious why this is so deliciously sinful, isn't it ?
Larry prepares the egg, parsley & cheese mixture by whipping it quickly with a wisk.
Pour the egg and cheese mixture over the pepperoni so it looks like this.
Tina fluffs it up with a fork so the egg is dispersed around the pepperoni.
Roll out another thin layer of bread-dough crust and place it over the filling, creating rustic edges. Do not fuss or you will ruin the simplicity of this pie.
With any left-over bread dough, simply braid it and bake it for a preview treat !
Following the recipe, the pies are done when they are golden brown and an inserted skewer or toothpick comes out clean.
Cut and serve warm if you desire but traditionally we eat it at room temperature or cold from the refrigerator.
And, here is the final product ! Tutti a Tavola !
Stolo Family Easter Pie
This recipe makes 6 pies
Easter Bread Dough that serves as crust is as follows:
1 cup of oil
1 1/2 dozen eggs
1/2 cup of milk
1 pkg of yeast
2 1/2 cups of sugar
13 cups of flour
13 tsp baking powder
Mix together flour and baking powder in a bowl. Set aside. In another bowl mix the oil, eggs and sugar. Warm the milk and allow the yeast to bloom. Once bloomed, temper the yeast into the egg mixture. Incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet to form a sticky dough. Allow to rise overnight.
If dough is still sticky while rolling out, add a cup of flour with 1 tsp of baking powder.
2 dozen eggs
3 cups of parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp of ground pepper
1/4 cup of parsley
Following assembly directions above ( see pictures ), once assembled bake at 350 degrees for approximately 40 minutes, switching pies around the oven at 20 minutes to evenly cook them.
And here's our big, fun Italian Family in Covina, California enjoying the Easter Pie 2015! This is the lovely home of my cousin "Johnny" (and his wife Sue) mentioned above. Pictured from left to right are Anthony (Carly's boyfriend), Matthew and Carly Maulucci (John and Sue's children) and Sue Maulucci, Tina Stolo-Dietz and Larry Dietz.
Auguri di Buona Pasqua ! From our family to yours ....
|Because He Lives|