2019: R… A to Z Italian Famiglia Foods and Memories: Rice Pie
I’m back for “Year 4” of the A to Z… April Challenge!
My first year of this challenge had me racking my brain for a writing topic… especially as I didn’t quite understand the process. But finally I came up with 2016: Southern Foods and Memories. They said write what you know… and being a girl born in the South… well this was what I knew. 2017: Conversations with Mama was a somewhat easy one for me as I’d journaled our conversations for years so I researched some of my favorite topics to write on. 2018: All About Nancy Drew has been my favorite topic so far, and I don’t know if I’ll ever come up with another to equal it. It literally had me researching every day for over six months… researching, reading and perfecting every post. I was totally consumed with Nancy Drew for months… and still am! I didn’t want to “not” participate this year, but I was drawing a blank. Finally, mid February, I came up with writing on my husband’s Italian family foods and memories. I did my Southern foods the first year, so it was time to finally give his family their due! I’m also participating in the yearly 52 Ancestors 52 Stories this year… I am really feeling over-extended this month. April is a tough month for me, as we usually are traveling to my mother’s and my son in Florida… but somehow I’ll manage!
I think I can safely say that before marrying into an Italian family, I had never eaten any of the foods I’m blogging on this month… such an underprivileged child I was! Growing up in the South where we ate fried chicken, okra, black-eyed peas, butter beans, mashed potatoes, creamed style corn and southern biscuits! Oh My…!
I remember my first reaction to hearing the mention of rice pie – I’m sure I made a face! Don’t forget, I’m from the South and never heard of this pie until I married Steve… who was from a far away place called Connecticut… far,far, away from Georgia. Rice just wasn’t an ingredient that I had ever heard of in a pie… but over the years, I’ve changed my mind, and if you like rice pudding… you’ll love it!!! It’s a sweet desert and hard to stop with just one piece, especially using Aunt Mary’s sweet pie crust… it’s the best!
Rice, along with Wheat and Ricotta are pies associated with Easter in Italian families. They were beyond strange sounding to me when I married into this family, but they are high on my favorites now! I worked hard in gathering recipes for them as they were another food item that had no written recipe. Grandma Minnie held those recipes in her mind only… they all depended on her, at every holiday… to tell them again… the recipe!
I changed up their rice pie in the addition of adding Italian Cream to the mixture, which gave the pie a creamier addition… as many had said theirs was coming too dry. Being a girl from the South… never cooking Italian foods before… I became quite proficient in baking their Easter pies! (My recipe for Italian Cream can be found under letter “I” for Ice Box Cake.
Note on Rice: I make it easier on myself by using rice in the bag, but it’s your choice which rice you’d like to use.
Note on Italian Cream : Don’t add vanilla extract to the Italian cream when using in the pies… but if you forget… it’s ok, as hubby has added it before and I didn’t really notice much of a difference.
Lemon & Orange: I usually buy 2 of each. Once I’m satisfied with the sweetness, I zest some of each in batter and squeeze juice in… watch out for seeds! If you don’t want the citrus in your pie… leave it out… but a hint of it in the pie… makes the pie… in my opinion! One of my favorite things to do is tasting the batter as I’m mixing… makes me want to hurry up and bake so I can have a slice!
For some reason, I never seem to end up with just one pie… somehow it ends up being two or three pies… but that’s ok… more to share! I use the taste test for sweetness with the sugar, but remember – when you make that final taste and think you need a little more sugar – don’t! It’s usually sweet enough, you’ve just tasted it so much that your taste buds aren’t working anymore. You don’t want it too sweet, just the right amount with a hint of lemon and orange. Always save a couple of slices in the freezer for yourself for another day – it goes way too fast!
Rice pie is a sweet desert and most definitely hard to stop… with just one piece! If making extra sweet crust at one time, wrap with plastic wrap and keep in fridge. Let sit out about 20 minutes before rolling.
I only use a certain crust with my Easter pies, a sweet pie crust recipe given to me years ago by Aunt Mary… I’ve had very good luck with it, but it can be a little tricky. It’s like the old fairytale saying… “when she was good, she was very good, but when she was bad, she was horrid!” I’ve only had maybe one horrid time, but I always go back to it… as I love the sweet taste… the sweetness and softness of the dough is definitely a winner!
Aunt Mary’s Sweet Pie Crust
From the very first time I tasted Aunt Mary’s sweet pie crust… it has been my “go to” pie crust! It’s a smooth and delicate crust using confectioners sugar and egg yolks… so you’ll need to take your time with it. Baby it by taking the time to have enough flour on your table in rolling out… and roll it out very carefully. I have rolled it out between parchment paper at times… but often I forget!
When I have it rolled out to the size of my pie dish… I roll the crust very gently back up on my rolling pin… but before you do that, have your greased pie dish close by… as you don’t want your dough weighing down on itself and sticking together… you want to get it off your rolling pin, and into that waiting dish… right away! If you take your time with this dough… you will love it! It pairs well with any sweet type of pie… I use it for my rice, wheat, ricotta, and chocolate pie.
Do let me know if you feel ambitious and give it a try!
Continue reading more of the A to Z… Cooking Famiglia Italian Foods and Memories
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