Thursday, April 20, 2006

Carrying the Botticelli Torch

No, I haven't actually attempted oil painting yet. But there's more than just great Renaissance masterpieces to be passed down through the Botticelli family lineage. My Nana (Botticelli) has carried a heritage of Italian holiday delicacies, which we only have one day a year (i.e. Easter has its own dishes and Christmas likewise). Being removed from my family for a time, and in Canada with my own new family, I felt the need to call Nana and inscribe a few of her recipes for myself, so I could enjoy Easter the way I had for over two decades.

After being quite nervous in attempting these traditions on my own, and venturing to Ottawa's "Little Italy" to find some necessary ingredients, I successfully made two Botticelli Easter favorites.

The first were my Nana's Anise Cookies which, ironically, she didn't bake this year, so I made everyone jealous on Easter Sunday when I emailed a picture to the family gathering! Although there is some anise in the cookie itself, most of it is in the icing. Anise is the flavor of Sambuca and black licorice.

The other dish is a real family favorite, called Pizza Pastare, or Pastare (pa-STA-ray, but with the Italian rolled "r" it sounds kind of like pa-STA-day). Pizza just means pie contrary to the North American assumption. It's made with 2 lbs. of Ricotta, 1 lb. orzo pasta, a dozen eggs, a stick of pepperoni, and lots of Pecorino Romano cheese. It bakes all together and its texture is like that of a very firm cheesecake, but not creamy, more crumbly.

Mille Grazie Nana! (Not that she has, or would know how to use, a computer.)