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The Annual Easter Egg Coloring and Pizza Party just happened to fall on our niece Elizabeth’s birthday this year… and what’s an Easter Egg Coloring and Pizza Party without Peeps?!?

I thought Peeps atop cupcakes would be fun with “Happy Birthday Elizabeth” spelled out on top. I went downstairs to fetch the cupcake tins – and they weren’t there! I searched high and low to no avail. I think I must have left them at work. But no problem – the mini pans were down there. Cupcake recipe makes 24, mini-cupcake pans make 48. Set.

I make the batter, fill the 48 pans – and haven’t made a dent in the batter. They come out of the oven, I make another 48 – and still have batter. I stopped at 96 cupcakes. Really. That was enough.

Yellow Cupcakes

  • 4 cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350°. Line twenty-four muffin cups with paper liners.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in buttermilk until just combined. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, beating until just combined after each addition.

Divide batter among muffin cup sand bake about 22 minutes, or until golden and a tester comes out clean.

I had so many cupcakes, I added the other two March birthday-babies and still had several dozen left over. Everyone got cupcakes.

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And there was cake. And pizza that I didn’t take pictures of.

And then the coloring began…

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You will note there are not a lot of children at the table.

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This is one of several trays of eggs. We did 4 dozen altogether. The perfect amount for stuffed eggs and a bit of egg salad.

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The eggs were simply done: mayonnaise, salt, pepper, a bit of garlic powder, and a bit of dill. Paprika on top.

Victor found a recipe for a ricotta pastry in La Cucina Italiana magazine he had to make for today. They also call for a full-sized cupcake tin, but, the tins were still MIA – so he went with a mini, as well. I think the minis worked really well…

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First, 24 little squares of pastry dough had to be made, cut, and placed in the tins…

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Then they had to be filled…

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Baked…

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And then plated on a lovely pink Easter tray…

Soffioni di Ricotta

Dough

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Fine sea salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

 Filling

  • 1/2 pound whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Unsalted butter for greasing muffin tin
  • Confectioners sugar for dusting

Instructions

For Dough: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and pinch salt. Mound flour mixture, then form a well in center. Add eggs and oil to the well. Using a fork, gently break up yolks and slowly incorporate flour from the inside rim of the well until liquid is absorbed (about half of the flour will be incorporated), then knead in bowl until dough forms a mostly complete mass.

Transfer dough and any flour in bowl to a clean work surface to knead together until smooth, about 5 minutes. Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make filling.

For Filling: In a large bowl, whisk together cheese, egg yolks, granulated sugar and zest until smooth. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat egg whites to stiff peaks. In two additions, fold whites into cheese mixture.

Heat oven to 375º with rack in the middle. Grease 8 muffin cups with butter.

Roll out dough to a 14-inch square, 2 millimeters thick. Using a fluted pastry 
wheel, cut out 8 (4-inch) squares from dough; discard excess dough. Fit squares into prepared muffin cups, pressing centers into cups and letting corners of pastry overlap edges of pan. Divide filling among dough-lined cups, then fold dough corners over filling.

Bake, rotating once, until pastries are puffed and golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack, 10 minutes. Gently twist pastries to release from cups. Serve warm or at room temperature, dusting with confectioners sugar just before serving.

They were really good – like a lemony-ricotta-cheesecake. I had more than two.

We loaded up the car and headed over to Steve & Marie’s… I really can’t believe I didn’t take a single picture of the actual dinner. I got all the desserts, of course, and even a few appetizers. Nothing about the dinner. It was really, really good, too!

We had:

  • Ham with an apricot sauce
  • Grilled rack of lamb
  • Roasted asparagus
  • Pineapple bread pudding
  • A really fabulous Lentil salad
  • Pasta salad with smoked salmon
  • Red potato salad
  • Spinach salad with strawberries and balsamic
  • Kalamata olive bread

It was just stellar. The salads were all fantastic. My favorite was the lentil, but I had double helpings of all of them. The potato salad was simply dressed with olive oil and green onions… Everything was great. Really great.

Back to the appetizers…

Besides the stuffed eggs, I made the Polenta Bites I made last year. The recipe also comes from La Cucina Italiana.

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I started off this year by baking them in the oven instead of trying to fry them. It worked perfectly.

“Canederli” di Polenta allo Speck

Ingredients

  • 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

 Instructions

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.

These really are flavorful – and so easy to make.

Victor also made Uncle Rudy’s Easter Pie. This is the second time he’s made it in a tart pan instead of pie plate.  It is awesomely-good.

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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.

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I thought this would be a good place to throw in a picture of Uncle Beep and Miles. What a cutie. And the baby ain’t bad, either…

A couple of years ago, Victor’s buddy Jenni sent him a recipe for a Lemon Tart. It is fabulously-tasty and really easy to make.

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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.

This year, I made the crust with the Coconut Cookies I made a few days ago. I made the whipped cream with just a pinch of sugar and lemon extract, and then added a dollop of lemon curd to each of the cream dollops. It was pretty stellar.

And there was more…

Joanna made her famous Wedding Rings…

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Joanna’s Wedding Rings

Cookie Dough

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 5 cups flour
  • 3 tbsp vanilla
  • 5 tsp baking powder

Glaze

  • Powdered Sugar
  • Water
  • Vanilla

Beat together shortening, sugar, and eggs. Add flour about 2 cups at a time.  Roll pieces of dough into 4″ ropes, form into rings.  Bake at 450° for 10 minutes.  Cool and brush with glaze.

They are such a simple cookie but oh, so good!

And there were more…

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Carrot Cake – half with almonds, because sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t…

And even more cookies…

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And then… just because… Fresh fruit!

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It was a great two days. We ate, laughed, played with the baby, ate, laughed, and played some more.

Just the way it’s supposed to be.

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