I’m a firm believer that aliens exist.
I also happen to hold strong beliefs that we forge, maintain and express connections through our food.
Be it the way we choose to procure our ingredients (local vs, imported, organic vs conventional), who cooks with us in the kitchen, or who we share our meals with – they all mean something. Which is why I’m so careful to harvest as much as I can seasonally from local farmers who practice organic growing methods.
I also make a point to eat as many meals with the people around me that matter. And not just because they bring the wine.
…Though that helps.
From farm, to factory, to store, to kitchen, to table, to mouth, to belly, to pooper. Every meal tells a story about how that dish got in front of us. And those stories are cooked up and served to us each and every time we put our forks in our gobs.
And this is why I’m sharing Emily Richard’s new cookbook with you today. In Per La Famiglia: Memories and Recipes of Southern Italian Home Cooking, Emily walks us through the family relationships and recipes she’s nurtured through delicious meals and traditions, passed down from generation to generation.
I aim to do the same thing here on She Eats – it’s as much a tool to store my recipe collection as it is a method to connect with you. That, and make poop jokes.
Like Emily, I grew up in a home where dinner at the table was a nightly – and mandatory – ritual. The one exception being Sundays when Mom and Dad would chow down on pizza in front of the hockey game while my brother and I retreated to our rooms, ‘za in hand, to watch whatever wasn’t hockey. But 6 nights out of 7, dining with family, talking about our days and connecting with each other was the norm.
And now, 20 years or so later, I look back on those evenings fondly.
…My age, however, is another question entirely. Yikes.
These days, John and I continue the tradition. Albeit we don’t have a kitchen table and are usually perched on the couch with our plates precariously balanced on our laps. But the point is we enjoy a meal together.
I lose pieces of my dinner to mysterious couch monsters.
Some weeks this is the only time we we get to connect with each other because our schedules are so busy. And it’s always over food. More often than not, Italian food. Not because I’m Italian by heritage like Emily. More like because I love carbs.
Plus you know, wine with every meal.
Yeah. I went there.
Straight from the pages – and Emily’s Nonna – (and with permission of the publisher to re-publish here), I have a recipe for Italian bread for you. But not just any Italian bread….
Egg and raisin bread.
This Italian bread is fragrant, delicious and super simple to make. Even those of us who aren’t the most gifted of bakers can do it. The loaf is slightly reminiscent of holiday time (hence the reason it’s often served at Easter) and reminds me faintly of Panettone with the use of orange zest and dried fruit. It would make one hell of a french toast on Easter Sunday. Or any weekend really. It’s comforting yet light and ridiculously aromatic, making it well suited for a Winter or Spring brunch.
My only criticism of Emily’s recipe is that the timing for kneading the dough wasn’t included nor was it explained how to shape the dough so it looks like the photo in the book. That being said, those things are easy enough to Google. Which I did. And I officially now know how to braid bread.
And I’ve included those instructions below.
In our hot little hands we have an autographed copy of Emily’s new book AND a a gnocchi board AND a three-piece Microplane Elite Grater/Zester set for the winner, so they have everything they need to start making Emily’s delicious recipes.
….And then invite me over for dinner. I’ll bring the wine.
Because like I said – I write this blog for you. For food. And to connect over it all. That, and as a beacon to the aliens that I can cook.
That’s reason enough to convince them not to take me out when they take over the world, right?
Giveaway after the recipe!
- 1 C (250 ml) sugar
- 1/2 C (125 ml) warm water
- 1 Tbsp (15 ml) dry active yeast
- 1 C (250 ml) + 1 Tbsp (15 ml) milk
- 3 large, pastured eggs
- 1/2 C (125 ml) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 Tbsp (15 ml) orange zest
- 1/4 tsp (1 ml) anise extract (optional)
- 5 C (1.25 L) all-purpose flour + more for dusting
- 1 tsp (5 ml) salt
- 1/2 C (125 ml) golden raisins, soaked
- 1 large, pastured egg
- 1 Tbsp (15 ml) milk
- In a bowl dissolve 2 tsp (10 ml) of the sugar in warm water. Sprinkle with yeast, cover and let stand for 10 minutes or until frothy. Whisk in milk.
- In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, remaining sugar, butter, orange zest and anise extract, if using. Whisk into the milk mixture.
- In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt.
- Pour yeast mixture over flour mixture, stirring to make a soft, slightly sticky dough. Stir in drained raisins. Scrape dough onto a well floured work surface and knead for about 7-10 minutes to make a soft, smooth dough. Because humidity and elevation effect moisture and flour, add more flour if dough is sticky.
- Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let rise for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Punch down dough and divide into 4 or 6 balls. Roll out each ball of dough as desired and place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets or in greased baking pans. Let rise for about 1 hour or until doubled in volume.
- Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
- Whisk together the egg wash ingredients and brush the tops of the loaves. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until golden and brown. Let cool slightly before removing from pans to cool completely on a wire rack.
- Yields: 4-6 loaves
- To soak raisins, simply pour boiling water over the raisins to cover and let stand 10 minutes until ready to use. Drain before using.
- To braid dough - replace Step #6: Punch down dough and divide into 4 even pieces. Roll 3 of the pieces into long logs to braid. Pinch the top of the logs together and then braid just like hair - folding one outside piece over the center one and then do the same on the other side. Try to keep this tight as you go. Once you reach the end, pinch the ends together just like at the top and fold under. The 4th piece of dough can be rolled into 1 1/2" balls to make buns. Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets or in greased baking pans. Let rise for about 1 hour or until doubled in volume.
ENTER THE GIVEAWAY:
* Contest open to Canadian mailing addresses only and who have reached the age of majority in the province, state or territory in which they reside, but unfortunately is void in Quebec. No purchase necessary to enter. Winner is chosen at random via Rafflecopter. Winner will be contacted via email and given 48 hours to respond. If not, a new winner will be chosen. Winner selected MUST correctly answer a skill-testing mathematical question.
MANDATORY: Simply leave a comment in the comment section of this post and tell me what family dish or recipe you can’t live without!
BE SURE to click the widget options below for both mandatory and optional entries because you can’t be entered to win if the widget doesn’t know you’ve done it! Your email address is ONLY used to contact you if you’ve won, not for any other purpose, and is never made public. Promise.
Giveaway closes Wednesday, March 30, 2016 @ 11:59pm.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Whitecap Books DID provide me a review copy of Emily’s book and Microplane provided us kitchen tools to give to you at no cost. Regardless, I only recommend, giveaway or share products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. All opinions, words and information here are entirely accurate and a reflection of my true experience and were not influenced, in any way, by the above mentioned products or companies. Opinions and views are my own. Because that’s how I roll, yo. I’ve never been one to shut my mouth – I’m not going to start now.