Traditional Family Recipes by Eleanor Gaccetta

Every culture has family traditions and recipes which extend for many generations. In my book Generations of Good Food, I follow six generations of my mother’s Italian family. Most of the traditional food recipes are tied to holidays.

As a kid, I remember the weeks leading up to Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday being a whirlwind of activity in the kitchen. My mother and her sisters would gather at different houses and bake. Sweet Easter Bread on page 93. The recipe routinely draws comments like “seriously, who bakes with 8 pounds of flour, a pound of butter, and a dozen eggs?” But that recipe makes eight big loaves of bread or a million dinner rolls which would feed many families. It can be halved into four loaves which is manageable. The Italian Ricotta Cheese Pie on page 87 isn’t a pie at all. This is generally on Holy Saturday to be fresh for Easter brunch. The sweet variation is baked in an 8 x 8 square pie made with ricotta cheese, eggs, and sugar in a light pastry crust. The combination of eggs and cheese makes a layer of sweet, rich custard. The other variation is to combine the ricotta and eggs with cooked sausage and (optional) bits of ham to make a savory dish. Finally, what would Easter be without the Bunny Cake found on page 132!!

My mother would make 10-12 of these each year – sending them out the door to grandkids and young neighborhood kids.