Zitella's Favorite Recipes

Buona Pasqua!

Easter Tulips

Buona Pasqua means Happy Easter in Italian.  Saying it evokes vivid childhood memories of Easters spent at my grandparents’ house.  I remember each and every Easter dress, coat, and hat I wore.  But mostly, I remember the food.

An Italian-American immigrant, my father’s mother was old-school when it came to holiday cooking.  For Easter, she made lamb.  A whole baby lamb.  Maybe it’s a texture thing, but I’ve never cared for it.  Despite the accompanying caramelized roasted vegetables that decorated the large oval meat platter, the lamb looked like a small dog sprawled out on the good bone china.  It was enough to make my little brother cry.  “It’s a puppy!  Don’t make me eat it…”

My reward for suffering through the lamb was the Easter bread, called “cuzzupe.”  My grandmother and her sister each made it differently.  A serrated knife was needed to saw through my grandmother’s cuzzupe, which was intentionally dry and hard, to symbolize unleavened bread, while my Aunt Theresa’s cuzzupe was moist with a subtle vanilla aroma.  Regardless of which sister you asked, getting the recipe for cuzzupe was not an easy thing.  My mother eventually pieced together this much from them:

7 ½ eggs cuzzupe
1 stick butter
1 ¼ tbs vanilla extract
2 ½ tbs sugar
3 ¾ tsp baking powder
Salt
Add flour, a little at a time – enough flour to knead
confectioner’s sugar and egg white for the icing

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?  Why were they so specific about the SEVEN AND A HALF eggs, yet so vague about the quantity of flour?  Did they know just how much flour was needed simply by how the dough felt in their hands?

When I began hosting Easter at my house, I tried making the cuzzupe.  It was a disaster.  Luckily my mother has the patience, and she continues to make it every year, adjusting the recipe here and there.

Me?  I like a sure thing.  So I make the “cassata” or Easter cheesecake.  And I’m happy to share the recipe with you.

Easter Cheesecake recipered poppy

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4 thoughts on “Buona Pasqua!

  1. Dana says:

    Happy Easter Christine!
    Our Easter tradition is making pizza rustica (ham pie). We have three different recipes from each side of the family. Happy to share.

    Like

  2. Thanks for the recipe! Just saw that LaCascia’s Bakery was offering Pizzagaina pies for Easter. I’ll bet they are similar to Dana’s pizza rustica (above). Next year we are going to try a big one! Thank goodness leftover ham is so versatile.

    Like

    • Hi Cathy! Hope you and your family had a wonderful Easter. My mom makes pizza rustica, although it’s not one of my favorites. Very dense and heavy. And that’s what happens it you eat a lot of it – you mid-section gets dense and you get heavy!

      Like

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