November 21, 2007

Twisting Thanksgiving- Tuscan Style

Salami for dessert??

Living in foreign countries changes your prospective on everything.
When I moved here in 1984, I brought my American traditions with me to share with my new Italian friends.

To show that an American could cook, I took out all the stops and threw Thanksgiving dinner, of course on a more sensible night, like Saturday.

I cooked and cooked for three days straight, having to run scavanger-hunt style shopping techniques to source out ingredients, then, not normally available.

Some foods just did not exist, like cranberries, but red currants did.
American style ham for baking..NO.. boil my own then bake it.
Chicken wings.... for cat's... so having my butcher cut and prepare them for me.
Canned pumpkin for pie.. no..

Over the years, I adapted to a Tuscan thanksgiving.

My pumpkin is the appetizer, not the pie.
Grilled and marinated with garlic, olive oil and chili pepper.
But what about a savory pumpkin flan to start?

Or Pumpkin soup , topped with crushed amaretto cookies, and parmesan
the flavors in the pumpkin filled ravioli's from Mantova.

For dessert instead of pumpkin pie, I do a fun chard pie, Torta alle erbe, from Lucca.

In Lucca they create spikey thick crust, Torta coi Becchi

Substitute boiled swiss chard for cooked pumpkin this year!

For this recipe I chopped 2 cups of cooked chard
and added
2 eggs beaten with 1/2 cup of sugar
add 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice and bake.

There are many versions of this tart, many with pine nuts and raisins added.
Some have rice and chocolate.

Next time I am going to add one more egg and some cream like for pumpkin pie,
making more if a sweet quiche.

The Italian pie crust, Pasta Frolla, is more like a cookie dough and melts in your mouth!

Pasta Frolla

I learned to make the pie crust with these percentages

300 grams of pastry flour/ 3 cups( white lily in America)
200 grams of sweet butter/ 6 ounces
100 grams sugar/ 1/2 cup
1 large whole egg and one yolk

I always think of this as making cookies sideways.

First you cut the butter and sugar into the flour.
I use my hands as I find it relaxing.

Once the dough looks like grated parmesan cheese or a fine crumble topping, add the whole egg and the yolk and squeeze the dough together quickly.

Let rest for 10 minutes and roll out.
It is a very soft and forgiving pie crust that is easy to use and incredible to eat!

Each Italian mamma here has her own version, with grated lemon zest, a 1/2 tsp baking powder, some milk. Each gives it a little twist!

Experiment and have fun.
They also vary the percentages.
Look in your cookbooks for Butter Cookies and Sugar Cookies.
Sugar cookies are crunchier due to the higher ratio of sugar;
butter cookies melt in your mouth!

Twist your thanksgiving up this year!

Salami Dolce- Sweet Salami
Salami dolce is a favorite with kids of all ages!

Love it served with some soft whipped cream and berries on the side.

6 ounces cookie crumbs
(best are small rectangular cookies called Marie in Italy, and Petite Beurre in the U.S.)
1/2 cup sugar
5 ounces melted butter
2 egg yolks
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Melt the butter and let it cool.
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until it resembles cake batter.
Add the melted butter and cocoa powder.
(And more cocoa powder if you want it really dark.)
Crush the cookies in a food processor or with a rolling pin, leaving some pieces a little larger than others so they resemble the fat in a salame.
Form a salame-like shape and roll it in aluminum foil. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes or until firm. Unwrap and slice. Serve with soft whipped cream and fresh berries.


  1. I've always wondered about the sweet chard pie. I guess it makes sense because the green leaves do become sweeter when you cook them. Thanks for the picture, now I know how it looks. X

  2. I love the salami cookies, Judy. I've never seen anything like them. I was reading your cooking school site and the recipes there are amazing. If I ever get over to Italy, I would definately ask you to teach me a thing or two. A very Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Judy :)

  3. Wow, what lucky guests you will have. The salami looks amazing and the pumpkin soup is so clever. I'm going to try the pasta frolla. I'd heard it was difficult, but you make it easy.
    Have a great Thanksgiving!

    Italian Woman

  4. I'm making the chard pie tonight!

  5. I made the chard pie, and I can see how this recipe can be very versatile. Unfortunately I started making it after a couple of glasses of wine, and burned the pine nuts, lol! It didn't need them as it was delicious just the same.

    I can't tell you how excited I am to have found this idea of a green vegetable dessert pie! Next time I'll blanch the chard stems, then maybe slice them on a thin diagonal to add bulk to the filling as I found 3 bunches of chard not quite enough.

    I also can see your idea of wanting to add another egg and some cream as a play on quiche.

    I consider myself a cook and not a baker, I rarely bake (if I bake it, I eat it, lol). So I appreciate that you included such a nice pastry dough recipe. It helped a great deal to not have to look one up, as it's been years since I made, much less rolled out, a pie crust. The recipe easily made enough for two pies, and half of it went in the freezer for another time.

    Thank you.