Spring and Easter Traditions from Around the Globe

When it comes to Easter and springtime eating traditions, two ingredients consistently appear in recipes from around the world. The first ingredient is sausage and the second is eggs. Before modern conveniences, pigs were taken to slaughter in autumn and the meat was cured for many months until it was ready for eating. The first of the meat would be ready in the spring and that is why it is so often used in dishes for this season.

Eggs represent the new growth and births that take place during spring and therefore make an appearance in many recipes this season as well. While eggs are common in American homes during spring whether deviled or hard-boiled and colorfully dyed, they also play a key role in many other country’s traditions for spring and Easter. For example, a town in France gathers to make an omelet with over 5,000 eggs.

For those of you not quite feeding the whole town, there is something that combines eggs and sausage for a delicious treat—the classic Scotch Egg. The Scotch Egg was invented by the London department store Fortnum & Mason’s in 1738 and is now often found on dining tables throughout Britain. It is just the thing to add some international flavor to a picnic or brunch with friends and family.

Another recipe that incorporates our spring ingredients is Portuguese Roasted Potatoes. Pork, ham, and sausage are commonly found in dishes from Portugal. These potatoes are made with smoked sausage and go well as a side item for any spring dinner.

For dessert try the delicious Torta di Riso, or rice pie, traditionally made for Easter in Italy.  It is like two pies in one, so don’t be shocked by the nearly dozen eggs the recipe calls for. There is a dense base of rice crust and a lemony topping sure to sweeten your meal.

Below you will find the recipes for these three dishes, and if you need ingredients, look no further than the International Food Club online marketplace.

Scotch Egg

Scotch Eggs

Yields: four

Ingredients:

6 eggs
1/2 lb plain sausage meat
1/2 lb pork mince
3 tbsp chopped mixed herbs (like chives, sage, parsley and thyme)
A pinch of ground mace
1 tbsp English mustard
Splash of milk
1 3/4-2 cups flour
3 1/2 oz panko breadcrumbs
Vegetable oil, to cook

Directions:

Put four of the eggs into a pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for five minutes, then put straight into a large bowl of iced water for at least 10 minutes.  Put the meat, herbs, mace and mustard into a bowl, season and mix well with your hands. Divide into four. Carefully peel the hard-boiled eggs. Beat the two raw eggs together in a bowl with a splash of milk. Put the flour in a second bowl and season, then tip the breadcrumbs into a third bowl. Arrange in an assembly line.

Put a square of cling wrap on the work surface, and flour lightly. Put one of the meatballs in the center, and flour lightly. Then put another square of cling film on top. Roll out the meat until large enough to encase an egg and remove the top sheet of cling wrap.

To assemble the egg, roll one peeled egg in flour, then put in the center of the meat. Bring up the sides of the cling wrap to encase it, and smooth it into an egg shape with your hands. Dip each egg in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs, then egg and then breadcrumbs.

Fill a large pan a third full of vegetable oil, and heat to 350°F (or when a crumb of bread sizzles and turns golden, but does not burn, when dropped in it). Cook the eggs a couple at a time, for about seven minutes, until crisp and golden, then drain on paper towels before serving. Now the eggs are ready to be enjoyed on any spring day.

Sausages And Potato Stew

Portuguese Roasted Potatoes

 Yields: eight servings

Ingredients:

3 cups water
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
4 tbsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp granulated white sugar
1 1/2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 medium sweet white onions, chopped
1 1/2 large tomatoes, seeded & chopped
4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
6 large baking potatoes, scrubbed & cut into 2-inch chunks
1 1/2 lbs smoked sausage, thinly sliced

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°F. Pour water into a roasting pan. Add vinegar. Sprinkle paprika and sugar over the water; mix to remove the lumps. Add salt, pepper, onion, tomato, parsley, potatoes and sausage. Toss and mix well.

Bake, uncovered, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Stir a few times while cooking. Once that is complete, this perfect pairing item is ready to serve as a side for your Easter dinner.

 

Torta di Riso (Traditional Italian Easter Rice Pie)

Yields: one pie (10.5-inch pie plate or 10-12- inch square or rectangular glass dish)

Ingredients:

Crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 stick unsalted butter (chilled)
1 extra large egg or 2 small eggs
1-2 tbsp ice water, or as much as needed

Filling:
1/2 cup uncooked Arborio rice
4 cups water or whole milk*
7 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tsp lemon extract (or the zest and juice of 1 Meyer lemon)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 lb ricotta cheese (drained)
*Though 1/2 cup arborio rice to 4 cups water or milk usually works perfectly, depending on the brand of rice, some absorb more, some less. If you find the rice is completely cooked after the 20 minutes and there is still some water left, you can simply drain it.

Directions:

With a food processor: For the crust, combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade; pulse several times to combine. Add the butter and pulse about 10 times until the dough becomes pebbly in texture. Add the eggs and pulse repeatedly until the dough begins to stick together. Slowly add the ice water by the tablespoonful, while using a few long pulses. Add more drops of ice water as necessary, until the dough holds together well. Invert the dough onto a floured work surface. Form into a circle, flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate while preparing the filling. (Dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before continuing.)

Without a food processor: If you don’t have a processor, then combine the dry ingredients in a bowl; add chunks of chilled butter, and using a pastry blender or two forks, chop the butter until it resembles little pebbles. At this point, add the eggs and ice water, and stir with a spoon until the dough begins to form. Using your hands and working the dough as little as you can, transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Knead until the dough holds together. Form the dough into a ball, flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic, and chill while preparing the filling. (Dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before continuing.)

To make the filling, place the rice and water in medium heavy-bottom saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook the rice, uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 15-20 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the rice is sticky. The rice should still be firm as it will finish cooking in the oven. Remove from heat and set aside.

Add the eggs and sugar to a large bowl and using a hand-mixer, beat until well combined. Add lemon extract and vanilla extract, and beat on low for about 10 seconds. Add the drained ricotta and beat on low for a few seconds until just combined. Add cooked rice and mix with a rubber spatula until well combined, making sure there are no clumps of rice. Place in the refrigerator.

Place a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375F. Coat the 10.5-inch pie plate with cooking spray. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll into an 11-inch circle. Transfer the dough to the prepared pie plate, gently pressing it into the bottom and sides. No fluted crust in necessary since, like a tart, the crust is flush with the filling. At this point, set the crust in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes to get it really chilled, which will make for a flakier crust.

Remove the chilled crust from the freezer and pour the filling to about 1/4 of an inch below the top of the crust, as it will puff up slightly when baking. Note: If you have some extra filling left over, then you can pour it into a small baking dish or ramekins for a crustless version, and follow the same baking instructions.

Bake for 1 hour or until the filling puffs up, turns golden, and is “set,” meaning it should not be jiggly when you gently move the pie plate from side-to-side. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack. Serve at room temperature or chilled and enjoy this delectable dessert.

 

Scotch Egg recipe and image via The Guardian

Portuguese Roasted Potatoes recipe and image via yummly

Torta di riso recipe and image via blogher

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