Christmas In Italy
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 egg yolks
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup currants, soaked in warm water for 1 hour and drained
2 oranges, zested
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Butter and flour an 8-inch round deep cake pan or panettone mold. In a mixer, cream the butter with the eggs and egg yolks until pale yellow, 3 to 4 minutes.
Replace the beater with the dough hook attachment, and with the mixer running, add half of the flour. Add half the milk and mix for 1 minute. Add the remaining flour followed by the remaining milk and all of the sugar and mix well. Continue mixing and kneading with the dough hook until the dough becomes dry enough to handle. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and sprinkle with the currants, orange zest, cream of tartar, and baking soda. Knead by hand for 5 to 10 minutes.
Place the dough in the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. The top will be quite cracked. Remove from the oven, invert onto a rack and cool. Slice into wedges to serve.
Northern Italian Stuffed Pasta Shell Recipe
3 packages frozen, chopped spinach
3 pounds ground round
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
2 large onions, chopped
Salt and pepper
2 jumbo eggs
1 (1-pound) package jumbo pasta shells
2 cups tomato sauce (your own or ready-made)
Place frozen spinach in a strainer and run under hot water until thawed. Squeeze all of the water out and place in a large bowl. In a large saute pan, cook the ground round until browned. Drain meat, reserving 2 tablespoons fat in the pan, and place meat in the same bowl with the spinach. Stir in the cream cheese until blended with the meat and spinach. Saute the chopped onions in the reserved meat fat until transparent. Transfer onions to the bowl with the other ingredients and stir to combine. Add grated cheese, salt, and pepper, to taste, and combine. Let mixture cool and then add the eggs. The filling can be made up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cook pasta shells in boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain and cool to the touch. Stuff the shells with the meat mixture. Place shells in a large baking pan and cover with tomato sauce. Cover with foil and bake for approximately 1 hour. Serve.