Tuesday, March 24, 2009

La Pastiera

You know that you're in Positano, if you go there for your Easter holidays and get given at least three Pastiere, one of which is from your Taxi driver.

I could not step past Easter without mentioning this traditional Neapolitan tart which graces the table of any self-respecting family from the Campania region. Not being from here myself, locals take it upon themselves, with their ever-present generosity, to bake a tart for my family. Presuming that I can't cook Italian style and sometimes forgetting my Calabrian heritage, Pastiera after Pastiera from well-meaning relatives and friends is tasted and eaten, often only by my husband and myself.

Lots of Positanesi will declare the Easter Pastiera their favourite dessert. But they are also sticklers for purity and perfection. Last Easter, I offered a slice of a homemade Pastiera to my daughter's boyfriend from Positano.
The tart had been decorated with a glace cherry in between each lattice, and he remarked 'Ma no ! Ma questa non e` la vera Pastiera. La Pastiera non tiene le ciliegine sopra' (This isn't the real Pastiera. The true Pastiera doesn't have the glazed cherries on top.) He then promptly brought me one from his mother.

The typical ingredients of cooked wheat grains and orange blossom essence give the tart it's particular taste. Candied fruit or candied Cedro lemon are added according to individual preferences, some going as far as making a modified Pastiera for different fussy members of their family adding more or less fruit or orange blossom essence in the mix. To tell you the truth, it is a tart that I've never attempted, as I have more than enough coming in from elsewhere but the very best I have ever had, has to be the one from our taxi driver Giulia.

Sorrento Rainbow Car Service is the friendliest private car service we've ever had. No flight ever comes in too late for them, no trip is ever too short. They'll even pick up bulky shopping that we've had to leave in Sorrento and drop it off in Positano when they go past. We ask them favours and they never hesitate in replying 'yes, of course! '. Seventeen years now, and they've picked us up and dropped us off, stopping on the wayside for carsick children, taking corners slowly for our comfort. They make leaving Positano more bearable- that's how good they are.

So good, that they've become friends of the family. Guilia in fact, makes the Pastiera for her clients in industrial quantities, so that when I asked her for the recipe she gave it to me in doses of kilos. I've copied the recipe for you as it's the tart which is milder in taste and only has the candied Cedro lemon in it. These specialty ingredients will be available from an Italian Delicatessen during this time of the year.

Giulia's Pastiera

500gms of flour
250gms of softened butter cut into pieces
225gms of sugar
3 eggs
A tiny pinch of salt
Some grated orange and lemon peel

Knead together then place in fridge for an hour.


500ml of cream made with 3 eggs, 3 spoons of sugar, 3 spoons of flour and 1/2 a liter of milk
500gms of ricotta blended with 500gms of sugar
6 eggs
500gms of cooked wheat grains (available in jars) mixed with a little butter, 250mls of milk, grated peel from one lemon. Cook in a saucepan stirring till creamy.

Mix all these together with two-three ampoules of orange blossom water, 200gms finely chopped candied Cedro lemon, 2 sachets of vanilla, and grated lemon and orange peel.

Roll out biscuit crust and place filling inside. Decorate in lattice with remaining pastry.

Bake 180/200 degrees C. for a little more than an hour. Cool to eat and refrigerate the rest. Can be prepared several days ahead.

Speaking of friends, a lovely lady Anne of Oxfordshire sent me a Friends Award sometime ago. I have been reluctant to pass it on as it's so difficult to limit myself to only a few of you. Lots of you tune in here from the States or even from Australia looking for news about Positano and I am really happy to hear from you in the comments to know what you like or don't. Of course there are the expats in Italy from my blogroll who drop by too to share their experience. Thank you everyone!

I'll pass the award on, but cheat a little and give it to two bloggers who have been here from the beginning (less than a year ago.) Casalba and Lucy from On my way to work .

For the rest of you, that is for those who have been to Positano and those who dream of going, you can take a virtual drive through the main road in town on Google Map Street View. If you ever go in 'Person' make sure you turn off and take stairs and alley ways, and don't miss the best part of the real town.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

What's flowering in my garden in Positano.

A single peach blossom.
Uva Fragola -strawberry flavoured grape vine.

There is nothing like the rebirth of Nature for inspiration. What's flowering in my garden at Positano will have to do till I get my head around my capricious computer problems.

Notice the bare earth -Many thanks to our gardener.

Sage - Rampant and huge if not pruned heavily each winter. It easily smothers any herbs sitting beside it.

La Zagara- or orange blossom

Our Wisteria just promising blooms in the wake of the season.

To allay any confusion, these were photos that I took at this time last year when Easter came much sooner, and we had over a week of torrential rain.