I love holidays.  I love getting together with everyone and I love the excessive amount of food.

We eat well at our house, but it takes a crowd of people to have a dozen different foods out at any given moment.  And a dozen different foods is so much fun.

It’s even more fun when it’s down the road at Marie and Steve’s…  An impeccable table – of course – and a bountiful array of creative culinary creations that would please the palate of the most discriminating diner.

I love it!

We started off with a table of appetizers… Victor made Uncle Rudy’s Easter Pie, but made it in a tart pan this year instead of the traditional pie plate.  It really was good.  Extraordinarily good.  Stellar.

Uncle Rudy’s Easter Pie

Makes 2 pies

  • 3 Lb Ricotta
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/2 cup  grated cheese
  • 1/2 lb ham, diced
  • 1/4 lb prosciutto, diced
  • 1/4 lb pepperoni, diced
  • To Taste;
  • Garlic Powder
  • Pepper
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Parsley

Blend eggs and ricotta.  Add diced meats and seasonings.  Pour mixture into prepared pie crust and top with second crust.  Crimp edges.

Bake at 375° for 45 minutes to 1 hour – the crust should be nice and golden brown.

The photo above shows a 12″ tart pan.  The recipe made one traditional 10″ deep-dish pie and the 12″ tart.

Earlier in the week I had received an email recipe from La Cucina Italiana magazine.  The email title was “An Adorable Polenta Dumpling.”  How could I pass that up?!?

“Canederli” di Polenta allo Speck


  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Fine sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cups coarse polenta
  • 1/4 pound speck, finely chopped
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley


In a large saucepan, combine water, milk, 3 tablespoons butter and ¾ teaspoons salt; bring to a boil over high heat. Slowly add polenta in a thin stream, whisking; reduce heat to medium and cook, whisking constantly, 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until polenta is thickened and tender, 40 to 45 minutes. (Because it uses less liquid, this polenta is thicker than usual.)

Remove polenta from heat; stir in speck, egg yolks, cheese and parsley. Let stand until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes.

Line a large platter with parchment paper. With damp hands, form 1-tablespoon portions polenta into 40 (1-inch) balls and place on prepared platter.

In a small saucepan, heat 8 tablespoons butter over medium-low heat until butter becomes lightly browned, about 13 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large non-stick skillet, melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat. In two batches, cook dumplings until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes per batch.

Divide dumplings among 4 bowls, spoon brown butter over the top. Serve immediately.

So… I used a small scoop and made about 65 little balls.  I started frying them in the butter as described in the recipe. but they decided to make a mess of my skillet.  I ended up putting them on a buttered sheet pan and sticking them under the broiler.  I then drizzled them with the browned butter.

They came out great!  Victor’s mom – who always says she hates polenta – had one not knowing what they were and loved it!  Them.  She had more than one.  So much for hating polenta.

And things only got better.

A cold pea salad with mint, onions, feta… awesome.

And a marinated Shrimp Pasta Salad with just the right amount of everything.

Marie’s Pineapple Bread Pudding that I absolutely love…

And roasted asparagus, grilled lamb loin chops, and a spiral-cut ham.


After feasting on all of this, the table was cleared, the coffee was made, and the desserts arrived.

Desserts.  Plural.

I totally forgot to take any pictures of the Apricot Crostata, the Lemon Cream Tart, the Chocolate Mint Brownie Cake, the Platter of Fresh Fruits, or the half-dozen varieties of homemade cookies at Marie’s, but we did bring a bit of a dessert plate home with us…

I felt it my duty to try some of everything.

And it was all wonderful.

We got the recipe for the Lemon Cream Tart from Victor’s friend, Jenni.  It’s quite simple, but really packs a lemony wallop!

Creamy Lemon Pie

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 (8- or 9-inch) baked pie crust or graham cracker crumb crust
  • whipped cream. for added flavor, fold some lemon curd into the whipped cream just before serving
  • Lemon zest (optional)

Preheat oven to  325°.   Beat egg yolks, gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice.  Pour into crust.

Bake:  30-35 minutes, until set.  Cool for about 1 hour and then chill at least 3 hours before serving.

I made this in a 10′” tart pan with a graham cracker crust.  I also added lemon extract to the whipped cream and folded in about 2/3 cup lemon curd to the cream before piping it on top.

I wish I had taken a picture of the whole tart – it was really pretty.

Oh well…