or: three's a charm
Not long ago, I wrote a post about pastiera, then another, where I presented a variation with chocolate of the same dessert. I then made pastiera a third time, hence the title of this post.
Marta of An Italian in the US brought me from Italy three of the ingredients for pastiera: a can of grano cotto (cooked wheat), some candied citron, and a vial of orange blossom water. I used half of each ingredient to make each pastiera, so after number two I had to be creative. To begin with, I found and purchased some candied orange peel. Then, I made my grano cotto.
I found that our local grocery store carries soft, hard white, and hard red wheat berries. I bought some soft wheat (portrayed on the left). I then followed the instructions on this site to prepare it: I soaked half a cup of soft wheat for three days, changing the water in the morning and in the evening. Then, I cooked it in 1.5 cups water for 90 minutes. After draining the excess water, the grano cotto can be used or stored for a few days. I used it right away.
My grano cotto had more texture than the canned one and contributed that texture to the final product. I followed the same recipe as the one described for the first pastiera, but I added a bit less sugar: 1 tablespoon less to the pasta frolla and 2 tablespoons less to the filling. Instead of fior d'arancio (orange blossom), I used half a vial of millefiori (literally, thousand flowers), another flavoring for pastiera that Marta had brought me from Italy. The three changes in the ingredients made for a final product that was different from the first one, but equally (may I say enthusiastically?) appreciated.
It amazes me that only a short while ago, I was intimidated by this dessert and now I feel like I can make it ad infinitum. For this transformation I will be forever thankful to Marta. There is no Italian saying non c'è tre senza quattro (good things come in fours, or four's a charm), but it ended up being like that for me: after the success of pastiera number three, I made a fourth specimen, using another batch of my home-made grano cotto, candied orange peel again, and the remaining millefiori. At this point, to get to number five I need to find more flavoring. Non temete (fear not), I will figure something out.
Special announcement: this week, I have the honor of hosting Weekend Herb Blogging, the famous blog event created in October 2005 by blogger extraordinaire Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen. Needless to say, I am looking forward to receiving submissions. Note that new rules for the event will be introduced starting July 20, so I recommend you read Kalyn's announcement here.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the grano cotto audio file [mp3].
[Depending on your set-up, the audio file will be played within the browser or by your mp3 player application. Please, contact me if you encounter any problems.]
You did a great job, Simona. We usually only make this on Easter with a variation on Christmas.
My family says people die in three's as well :(
Don't mean to be a Debbie Downer haha- It's an Italian thing ;)
Posted by: Maryann | July 06, 2008 at 03:24 PM
I'm not such a fan of dolci but I LOVE pastiera...
Do you like Michele Scicolone's recipe?
Posted by: Jeremy Parzen | July 06, 2008 at 05:07 PM
Interesting. I haven't ever heard of this type of dessert. Thanks for mentioning the new rules for WHB! I'm thinking about what new herby things I'm going to cook!
Posted by: Kalyn | July 06, 2008 at 07:33 PM
Quante belle novità e sperimentazioni trovo nei tuoi post: ammiro molto il tuo senso della "ricerca"
Posted by: lenny | July 07, 2008 at 01:11 PM
I'm really amazed and also proud! How great it is that you started making your own grano cotto :)
Looking forward to trying the 5th version if you make it when I'm around. :)
Posted by: Marta | July 09, 2008 at 07:55 PM
Hi Maryann. I have never heard the dying in 3's version. Thanks for letting me know.
Good to know that you like pastiera, Jeremy. If we organize a dinner one day I will know what to make for dessert. My recipe is lighter than the one you mention.
You are welcome Kalyn. I am also still in the thinking phase for my contribution.
Ciao Lenny e grazie. Tu sei una fonte di ispirazione per me.
We'll see I can do next week Marta.
Posted by: Simona | July 10, 2008 at 03:16 PM
Carissima non mi hai dato il tempo di avvisarti!
Ti stimo molto ed ho apprezzato il tuo valido aiuto spontaneo, quando ne ho avuto bisogno (mi riferisco al pdf che non ero in grado di caricare).
Un abbraccio grande
Posted by: lenny | July 11, 2008 at 01:13 PM
Grazie, cara Lenny. Aggiungero' il premio agli altri.
Posted by: Simona | July 15, 2008 at 02:43 PM
I am so impressed by the dazzling array of recipes and by your engaging write-ups. Well done. Well done, indeed!
Posted by: Susan from Food Blogga | July 16, 2008 at 06:19 AM
Oops, I somehow left my WHB comment on the wrong post. Sorry, Simona, I haven't finished my coffee yet. ;) I love this Pastiera post too. Thanks you for the enlightenment and thanks to Marta.
Posted by: Susan from Food Blogga | July 16, 2008 at 06:22 AM
Hi Susan and thanks. I figured your first comment was meant for the WHB roundup. See you soon.
Posted by: Simona | July 17, 2008 at 08:52 AM