Candied Orange Peels

The holidays just aren’t the same if you don’t have the traditional foods you associate with those special occasions.  One of the things my mom always made for Easter is Grano Pie.  It’s basically just a cheese pie but with the addition of cooked wheat berries for texture and candied orange peel for flavor.  For the last few years, the responsibility for bringing these pies to our annual spring gathering has fallen to me.  I’m not sure why.  My sister Pauline is a better baker than I am and my sister Pat has been our annual source for candied orange peels for many years.  But, just in case you’d like to try these delicacies for yourself, here are the recipes.



Three large navel oranges

2 cups sugar

1 cup water


Peel the orange in 4-6 fairly large wedges.  Soak the peels overnight in a bowl of salted water using a plate on top to keep the peels under water.  Rinse the peels and put them in a sauce pan with enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil.  Discard the water and repeat two more times.  Using a spoon, scrape the white pulp (or pith) from the inside of the peels.

In a large heavy saucepan make a simple syrup by dissolving the two cups of sugar and 1 cup of water.  Put in the orange peels and let them simmer until they become translucent and have absorbed much of the syrup.  Store in a tightly closed container in the refrigerator

GRANO (Easter) PIE



1 3oz. package cream cheese

1 lb ricotta

2/3 cup sugar

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbs whiskey

2/3 cup cooked grano (hulled barley oats)

1 tsp grated lemon or orange peel

2 tbs chopped candied orange peel


1 1/4 cup flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking powder

2 1/2 tbs shortening (melted and cooled)

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg

ice water


Crust:  Mix together all ingredients except the ice water.  Add just enough water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough forms a ball.  Allow to rest in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.  Roll out on a floured surface and place in pie pan. (If too difficult to roll, you can just press it into the pie pan.  This is very delicate dough.)

Mix first six ingredients together then add the grated lemon or orange peel, candied orange peel and grano.  Pour into a 9″ pie shell and bake at 350 for one hour or until knife inserted in pie comes out clean.

SUBMITTED BY: Mary Ann Fennimore, Coral Springs, Florida

By now, Buckwheat Master Al Smith already has the sour dough starter bubbling away in giant stainless containers.  Over the next few days it’ll ripen to sour perfection for the festival that starts on Friday, April 9th at 10 am.   From then until closing on Sunday afternoon, Al and his crew will make more than 10,000 buckwheat and regular pancakes to go along with the home fries, applesauce, whole hog sausage and sweet pickles that make up each festival dinner.  This is old fashioned country fun with friendly people, beautiful scenery and lots of other arts and crafts vendors.  And it’s all for a great cause – the Ohiopyle-Stewart Volunteer Fire Company and the Ohiopyle Community Center.  Bring your bikes for a ride on the fabulous trail and bring your appetite for some of the most authentic and delicious buckwheats you’ve ever eaten.  Look for me.  I’ll be the one eating sweetpickles with my cakes.


Every year my Mom would celebrate my Father’s name day with a batch of Cream Puffs filled with ricotta cream.  She called them Sfingi di San Giuseppe.  The dough itself (pate choux) is a kind of kitchen miracle.  First you boil a cup of water with 8 tablespoons of oil and a half teaspoon of salt.  Then you dump in a cup of flour.  Instead of turning into a lumpy mess, the dough comes together into a smooth,shiny ball.  You take it off the heat and stir in four eggs, one at a time.  With the addition of each egg it looks like you are going to end up with a lumpy mess and then it suddenly comes together.  Then you add the next egg…

pate choux

You heat the oven to an impossibly high 450 degrees.  Drop the batter by spoonful onto a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes.  They puff up magically creating crispy exteriors and empty centers.  Cut a small slit in each to allow steam to escape so the outsides don’t get soggy.

I always loved the irregular shapes they form, individual as snowflakes. You really need to let them cool before filling.

I use a sweetened ricotta filling (one pound of drained ricotta to 3/4 cup powdered sugar, mixed well in the food processor) and then flavored with a teaspoon of vanilla or some amaretto.  If you like you can dd finely chopped candied orange peels and tiny morsels of chocolate.

I could eat this cream for breakfast on toast.  Let it set up in the refrigerator while the cream puffs cool.  Then just split each puff open and spoon in a nice dollop of cream.  Put them on a platter and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  This is the first year my dad isn’t around for his name day.   I’ve made a batch for my son, his namesake.  And so the tradition goes on.


I’m having post Home Show Let down.  All that planning and shopping and cooking and it’s all over in the blink of an eye.  Thanks to all of you who stopped by for one of our demonstrations and a sample of the dishes we prepared.  It was great to see both ends of our audience spectrum represented.

One of our Saturday RegularsJenel Faust


 We even had a few couples who came to the kitchen stage for every demonstration in a day – sort of a blitz cooking experience.

As usual, it would be possible to do all these shows (and not nearly as much fun) without the generous help of some of Pittsburgh’s finest Chefs and cooks.  We had Gaynor Grant from Gaynor’s cooking School on Carson Street, KC Lapiana (the Gadget Queen) from IN THE KITCHEN on Penn Avenue in the Strip District, Chef Eric Fisher from the Sewickley Golf Club (making Italian Wedding Soup), nie Ricci and his wife Sherry from Ricci’s Italian Sausages(making delicious Sausage Rolls), Randy Tozzie from Market District (making enough food for an army) and Chef Pat Joyce from the 17th Street Cafe on the South Side who brought 5 trays of stuffed hot banana peppers. 

Chef Pat Joyce from 17th Street Cafe

Chef Pat is one of our Steel City Chefs and a great supporter of WQED. 
And then there was Barbecue Stu who came by with his friend Chris and about five pounds of the most tender and succulent pulled pork this side of North Carolina.  The audience got to sample three of Stus fabulous barbecue sauces while he told us the secrets to award winning barbecue.
And then there was Carol Pascuzzi, the cheese lady from Penn Mac.  She brought with her a variety of Italian Cheeses of different styles and from different regions of Italy.  We nearly had to send for crowd control help when she put out a half dozn trays of cheeses, sausages, ham, olives and peppers for everyone to sample.

If you see Carol, ask her about the cheese from the north of Italy that is like a creamy version of Gruyere.  It has a flavor that grows in your mouth.

Dear Heart

Thank you, Dear Heart!

Lining up for cheese from Penn Mac


On my way back and forth from the parking area to the Kitchen stage, I passed Aunt Carol’s Gourmet Dips where they had the most amazing flavor combinations.  My favorite this year? – Bacon Chedder Burger.  No kidding.  You can see all their flavors at  Thank you ladies.  I’ll see you next year.

Aunt Carol's Dips