The Italian Easter Ham Pie aka Pizzagaina has now risen

One of the things I have been trying to do is run through some of my Mom’s old recipes in her club’s cookbooks that I haven’t ever made before. This year on request from the house; I was asked to attempt the Ham Pie in case my mom’s didn’t come. The traditional Easter ham pie is something of a must have in our house growing up and was left to me to chop for many years. It goes by several names aka “Pizza gaina” (or pizza ghan, puzza rustica, pizza china) and seems that the variations on the name is as abundant as the variations on the dough type; from crisp, flaky, savory pie to doughy pizza style. and yes I am sharing: for the full recipe see here

The Shopping

The shopping for this dish always proves to be expensive, but well worth it. Luckily many of the same meats and cheeses can be purchased at some of your better grocery stores if you don’t have a traditional Italian market. But plan ahead  – and don’t skimp on the eggs. Its often cheaper to buy the flat of eggs than a dozen or 18 count.

I opted to do most of my shopping at a small italian place in the Mission district of San Francisco, as it is closer to me than trekking to North Beach.  Lucca Ravioli Co has been around for almost century – and still holds a lot of that old world charm – just with a lot more younger faces. Lucca’s is a classic. Small and cramped with inventory that some people may never have seen in its “non ready to eat” form – it is  home to a wide assortment of imports and local artisan version of italian classics. (Hint: the Panettone just came in!)

Lucca Ravioli Co.  

1100 Valencia St. (Corner 22nd St.) call (415) 647-5581

Step 3 – And now the make; 

Once the dough is chilled – it is really mostly about putting it all together in order and baking. I thing of it as making a “quiche on steroids”.

  • Cut Meats & Cheese  ✅
  • Prepare your dry ingredients  ✅
  • Make dough and chill dough  ✅
  • Crack and whisk the eggs  ✅
  • Add meat & cheese to layed out dough ✅
  • Cover with egg mixture ✅
  • Do some fancy stuff on top ✅
  • A little sprinkle of grated cheese ✅
  • Baked till solid and toothpick comes out clean ✅
  • Let sit in the pans till cool, then remove and finish cooling on a rack

Hint: Give it a little foil “condom” in case the springform pan leaks

And the bake

Depending on the stove you use; they will back for anywhere for 52 – 90 min. Some recipes use a start high, reduce heat to 325 degree method, while others use a standard 350 degrees temp.

When they are fully cooled – you can wrap them in plastic wrap and  then in foil to freeze (they do that great), eat or leave in refrigerator and serve cold or room temp the next day. Mostly personal choice.

As luck would have it – my larger one was underbred and had a wet center – but you can slice them and toss them on a cookie sheet to back further – they won’t be as impressive but will taste the same.

Another fun fact- as a test I also made one in a loaf pan and it came out great. So don’t be afraid to play with the shapes of the pans.

Post Easter update: 

The full recipe for that amount meat will probably make 8 to 9 pies using a standard 8″ or 9″ cake pan. This will vary based on amount of eggs and the thickness of crust. 

Below are a few other recipes I found 

Clara Corrado’s Ham Pie (this is the one closet to my Mom’s version of the dough )

Pizza Gain Aka Pizzagaina, Pizza Rustica, Italian Easter Ham Pie

Easter Pie – A Family Feast

Another Easter Classic: Pizza Gaina

For the full recipe see here

Swedish Book Club Day

Since several asked about the Swedish themed recipes last week to go along with our Bookclub title of the month, A Man Called Ove

I’m sharing them here.


Midsummer Swedish Strawberry Compote – Jordgubbskrm Recipe – via

I didn’t make any changes to this recipe initially, but I did add fresh lemon and lime zest after I took it off the stove and while it cooled.

Note: Don’t second guess it and overcook it. It really does only take until the soft boil. 

Swedish Saffron Cake – curtesy of La Cigale

I made this as is but used the wrong pan. But the flavor rocked and Was perfect to be topped with the strawberry compote.

Note: this recipe is easy enough that it’s perfect for low tech cooking for those without a mixer.

Holiday Saffron Cake Recipe |

This was the “backup recipe” and was equally as good. More dense, this was the one that begged for a cup of coffee or tea to go with.

The Easter Bread Saga will not be rebroadcasted this year!

Yes – I am afraid it is true.. this year no ester bread.. and for some of you wanting to know why? Let me refresh your memories:

First is the making of the damn thing and all the time for the dough to rise, etc and then it’s the baking. So its a lot of work for a seasonal treat. But You can read about last years “saga” on my post “Easter Bread; the Saga of the Risen” and see the result and recipe on “The long awaited Easter Bread Recipe ( My Mom’s Version)“.


For those of you more adventurous types, the recipe can be found listed in the Recipe Index or below



Mom's Easter Bread

Note: This is a large batch dough and can be both messy and sticky while making. You can use a mixer or processor as well as mix and knead by hand ( just plan to get “close & personal” to your dough if you do).

Also – this uses an over-night rise for the first one – so you are looking at 8 – 10 hours of prep on this before actual baking.

  • 12 xl eggs (room temp.)
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar (you can add up to 3 cups – mostly to your taste)
  • 1 tbsp sugar (this for the Yeast to proof)
  • Grated rind of 2 lemons and 1 orange (or two if they are small)
  • Juice of 2 Lemons and 2 Oranges
  • 1/4 lb of Bakers Yeast or 6 packets of Active Dry Yeast (active live yeast, not rapid rise)
  • 1/2 cup of Olive Oil
  • 12 cups of flour (more or less)
  • 1/2 stick of butter (melted)
  • 1 cup warmed milk (118 to 115 degrees)
  • Parchment paper
  • 2 -3 Sheet try pans unless you plan to do them in batches.
  • Big Bowl!
  • clean towel and blanket (yes a blanket)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. I noted my oven runs hot so I used 325 for the second batch and let it cook an extra 5 minutes.

  2. Melt yeast in warm milk with the tablespoon of sugar, stir and set aside

  3. Beat eggs w/remaining sugar till well incorporated

  4. Add butter, yeast, lemon juice and grated lemon & orange peels mix together well.

  5. Add the Flour

    If you have a large surface area you can mix old school style and pour flour on the table, form a mound, make a hole in the center and add liquid mixture gradually as you work by hand.


    Use a bowl or mixer and add flour 2 cups at a time to liquid mixture.

    The dough will go from liquid to sticky mess so you will want to be prepared.

    Around the time you hit the 10th cup of flour, you will want to start to work the dough with your hands as you add the remaining flour*.

  6. Coat your hands from the 1/2 of Olive Oil to keep it from sticking (Don’t use flour on your hands) and knead dough.

    When you can shape a soft dough round that isn’t so sticky and stays together – you are done.

  7. *Depending go the egg size – you may need less or more flour so take your time.

  8. Oil the inside of a large bowl ( those old fashioned tupperware ones are great by the way). Place the dough in the bowl. Cover and “burp” if using tupperware or cover with plastic wrap. Drape a towel over the top and then fold the bowl into a blanket and set out of a breeze,overnight or 6 -7 hours.

  9. Unwrap and punch it down for the first time, rewrap and let rise again for 2-3 hours

  10. After the second rise

  11. Role each portion of dough out into a 12- 14 inch role, then either braid or circle around itself ( or any other shape you like). Place on parchment paper lined trays.  

  12. Let rise uncovered for up to 1 hour more. See the notes for more ideas and hints

  13. Coat with a simple egg wash

  14. Bake for 30 minutes or until a nice golden brown.

  15. Cool on a rack and eat! Even better the best day as “French Toast” or in bread pudding.

Now the timeline we use is:
10:00 pm make dough, wrap like a bundle (and in my Mom’s case – say a prayer – yes really)
7:00 am unwrap and punch it down for the first time, rewrap and let rise again for 2-3 hours,
9:30 – 10:00 am shape into individual loaves and let rise uncovered for up to 1 hour more.
11:00 am Bake
If you portion out the dough into 1/2 lb portions you can get  5- 6 loaves.
If you want to do a large braid, use about 1-1/2 lbs (1/2 per lb), But its up to you. I think 1/4 ld loaves would be nice gifts too.
You can also place a raw egg (especially pretty with colored eggs) in the center while they cook.
Topping with an egg wash and sprinkles also add some fun as would adding friend fruit to the batter.

Trisha Yearwood’s Cowboy Lasagna Rocks The Night!

So needing to make dinner one night for friends; I happen upon Trisha Yearwood’s recipe called Cowboy Lasagna who credits some of it to her husband Garth Brooks.

While I love my lasagna – its way to much work for a casual dinner, so this looked like a great option.

So let me say first of.. Don’t screw it the recipe. It is great as is. So good in fact that had I added beans to the sauce mixture, topped it with cheese I would eat it as is and forget the noodles!

You can get the full recipe here

A journey to “Paradise Found” while painful can shine @sfgmc

A heartfelt and courageous concert from the men of the San Francisco Gay Mens Chorus last night at the Herbst Theater. Dr Timothy Selig, with only half  (space constraints of the Herbst stage) of his talented arsenal of out and proud men, became a real-world “wall of hearts” over the weekend and clearly illustrated the power of love, integrity & resilience.

This diverse collection of “hearts”, rose to new heights to a full house to perform a concert worthy of it’s “Paradise Found” theme. Even more impressive was knowing that less than 24 hours prior, they had lost one of their own “hearts” on the very same stage.

Stay tuned for more details as SFGMC prepares for an incredible summer tour, dubbed  The Lavender Pen Freedom Tour as they raise funds while making diversity and inclusion heard in some of the more restrictive cities here in the Unites States. For more information and how you can help (or join them as part of the “Entourage”) visit

Equally entertaining was the richness of the “traditional meets contemporary” performances from the concert guest artists of  the evening, Patrick Makuakane’s Na Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu dance company. Along with the super talented troupe, we were tempted with a look at The Natives Are Restless, a new coffee-table book that tells the story of Patrick Makuakāne and Nā Lei Hulu through a stirring narrative, striking photographs, and arresting moments from performances through the years. 




REMEMBERING RYAN NUNEZ: A member of The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus (SFGMC) passed away on stage during the intermission of the choir’s Friday night performance.