The best recipes come with a story. That’s why I’m always grateful when Journal readers share not just a recipe but the story of how they came to make it.
Holidays are all about family traditions, but Easter is also about the fresh flavors of pineapple and lemon. You’ll find both in these dishes from readers who answered my call for an Easter recipe swap.
They include Pineapple Timbale, Honey Hard Boiled Eggs, Risa’s Cheesecake, Italian Easter Egg Biscuits, Egg Biscuits and Pea Ricotta Mint Pesto.
Elaine Kallio wrote: “Almost 50 years ago while stationed in Germany with my husband, I sampled a dish at an Army Officers Wives Club potluck luncheon that intrigued me. It was delicious — a side dish that could be a dessert it was so good! Carol Z. who brought the dish said it was her grandmother’s recipe. I couldn’t figure out what exactly was in it, but Carol happily shared the secret. Since then, it’s become a staple, especially at Easter when I most often bake a ham — not because everyone loves ham so much, but rather because they all want Pineapple Timbale … and lots of it. It’s a lovely accompaniment to ham, and any leftovers are gobbled down as a dessert, warm or cold, and even for breakfast the next morning. I hope you enjoy it as much as we have.”
Elaine and her husband Don live in Pawtucket. Originally from Worcester, they traveled all over the world in the Army for 22 years until Don retired in 1994.
“We moved here for work and have been Rhode Islanders ever since.” she said.
Sue Rotella from Cranston wanted to share a recipe from her Auntie Evelyne DiStefano. “My family loves these honey eggs at our Easter table,” she wrote.
“This is an old Italian recipe from my dad’s mom, Angelina Rotella who passed it on to my dad, Thomas Rotella. Many family recipes were continued by us throughout the years and I know my dad who would be so proud of me for carrying on those traditions with my family now.”
Risa Atkinson, who lives in the Edgewood neighborhood of Cranston, wrote, “I’m going to share the recipe for the Pineapple Cheesecake I make every Easter.”
She said she’s been making it for so many years, she has forgotten where the recipe came from.
“I’ve made a few changes to the original. Anyway, so here goes,” she added.
Maria Izzi Greene said she was sharing her favorite recipe for Easter Egg Biscuits. She also said she has enjoyed the Journal’s recipe swaps during the pandemic.
“You have provided us with a connection to each other we would not have had during this pandemic. The best part of the Journal-printed recipes is that one will see the name of a neighbor, friend or relative within the pages. It always puts a smile on my face when I see a recipe sent in by someone I know,” she said.
Carol Desjarlais of North Smithfield also shared an egg biscuit recipe.
“I have been making these since my children were babies,” she wrote.
I asked The Rev. Henry Zinno to share a recipe. The pastor of Bristol’s Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church is a great home cook. During the pandemic, he’s been doing cooking classes on Facebook. He also cooks for Take-Out Feast Food for fundraising.
He calls his Pea Ricotta Mint Pesto “A great spring and Easter pasta sauce.”
Concerning measurements, he calls it all rather approximate, “which of course is a trademark for us Italian cooks,“ he said.
8 slices hearty white bread such as Pepperidge Farm
1 (16 ounce) can crushed pineapple in its own juice
¾ cup sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter a small casserole dish. I use a 6-inch by 10-inch if making only one recipe. Cut bread into cubes, include the crusts. Place bread, pineapple with juice and sugar into medium bowl and stir lightly.
Place mixture in buttered baking dish and dot with about 3-4 Tablespoons of butter.
Bake 35-40 minutes or until golden on top.
Shared by Elaine Kallio
Honey Hard Boiled Eggs
12 jumbo eggs
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ cup plain bread crumbs
6 ounces clover honey
2 tablespoons butter
Boil eggs for 15 minutes. Peel and cut in half.
Remove yolks and mash, then mix with salt, cinnamon, and bread crumbs. Slowly add the honey, a little bit at a time until soft yet firm enough to stuff the eggs.
Once eggs are stuffed, melt butter in a frying pan on medium heat. Then add the stuffed eggs yolk side down. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until brown. Flip egg over and cook a few seconds until browned.
Take out and place on a paper towel to drain. Once cooled, put the eggs in the fridge. They are best served cold.
Shared by Sue Rotella
¼ cup (half stick) unsalted margarine, melted and cooled
1 cup (one sleeve) Honey Maid plain graham crackers, crushed to crumbs
2 8-ounce packages Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
1 14-ounce can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
3 large eggs
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice (approximately one large lemon)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease bottom and sides of a springform pan.
In a small bowl, combine the melted margarine and cracker crumbs. Pat firmly onto the bottom of the springform pan.
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in the condensed milk, salt and eggs until smooth. Stir in the lemon juice.
Pour into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cheesecake should spring back when lightly touched.
Cool to room temperature and then chill in refrigerator before removing from pan.
1 16-ounce can Dole pineapple chunks in its own juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Drain the juice from the can into a medium saucepan and add the cornstarch. Stir to mix then heat over medium heat stirring constantly until mixture just comes to a boil and turns translucent.
Add the pineapple chunks and then pour over the cheesecake. Chill until set.
Note: I use pineapple but you can also use any fruit of your choice. Canned pie filling such as blueberry also works.
Shared by Risa Atkinson
Italian Easter Egg Biscuits
2¼ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup of oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon lemon extract (pure lemon, not imitation)
For the glaze
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon lemon extract
Heat oven to 350 degrees
Line two cookie sheets with parchment Use one medium mixing bowl for dry ingredients and one large for wet ingredients
In medium bowl whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and set aside
Mix oil and granulated sugar together until blended. Add egg, ricotta and lemon extract, mixing until combined. On low speed (or by hand) add flour mixture to wet ingredients until blended. Let batter “rest” for about 15 minutes as it will be easier to handle.
Drop by tablespoonfuls onto prepared pans
Bake for 14 minutes or until lightly brown around edges
Let cool on sheets for at least 3 minutes then move to wire rack to cool completely
To make the glaze: Beat (with whisk) confectioner’s sugar, milk and lemon until well blended. Dip tops of cookies into glaze or drizzle glaze over tops while on cooling racks. Place parchment under the racks if you choose to drizzle the glaze on top for easy clean up. Set cookies aside until glaze hardens.
Easter Tip: The glaze can be made in small batches and tinted (ever so slightly) with food coloring for a pretty pastel effect. If bringing them as a gift I usually place some pastel Hershey kisses around the platter for fun.
I use lemon flavoring but anise and vanilla could be substituted. When the confectioners sugar glaze is still a bit wet some candy sprinkles can be placed on the top for a more festive look if you desire.
Shared by Maria Izzi Greene
1 cup sugar
¾ cup oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
4 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
Mix sugar, oil, eggs and lemon juice in one bowl. In a second bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Blend the two mixes together, alternating with the milk. Knead the dough well.
Roll into balls. Put on parchment covered cookie sheets.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to12 minutes.
To make frosting: Blend confectioner’s sugar with a small amount of milk, vanilla or anise flavoring, until you reach a spreading consistency. Frost cookies and sprinkle with colored sprinkles.
Shared by Carol Desjarlais
Pea Ricotta Mint Pesto
1 clove garlic
10-ounce bag of frozen peas
½ cup whole milk ricotta
Juice of half a lemon
1 teaspoon of salt
½ cup fresh mint leaves
¼ cup fresh Italian parsley
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Chop garlic clove slightly and sauté lightly in a little olive oil. Set aside.
Microwave the peas according to package directions. Let them cool a bit.
Add all the ingredients, except the olive oil, to a food processor and begin to blend. Slowly add the olive oil.
Adjust ingredients for taste. It may need some more of any of the ingredients If it is too thick. You may add a little water or add the salted pasta water when you are ready to put it over pasta.
This goes well over any pasta especially ravioli, tortellini, fusilli, spaghetti or gnocchi. Grate some more Parmigiano over it when ready to serve and a sprig of mint in the center will look good. Presentation is everything!
Shared by The Rev. Henry Zinno
Italian Egg biscuits are an Easter cookie. Two Journal readers shared their recipes.
Pastor Henry Zinno, shown here in his rectory kitchen at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Bristol, shared a recipe for PeaRicotta MintPesto.
Pineapple is an Easter flavor.