I’m a mutt when it comes to where my family is from originally.  My mom’s side it Italian, Polish and a sliver Lithuanian. My dad’s side is English and Scottish. Growing up in NJ was great because I was exposed to all different cultures, ethnic foods and traditions.

Janovics Family (My great grandpa is the second from the right) (Heather Davis)
Janovics Family (My great grandpa is the second from the right) (Heather Davis)

My mom gets frustrated because my family always requests lasagna for EVERY holiday, so growing up we always had lasagna and ham for Easter. How do they fit together? I have no idea.

Aunt Maureen and my Mom (Heather Davis)
Aunt Maureen and my Mom (Heather Davis)

A few years ago, my Aunt Maureen came to North Carolina for a weekend to cook Pizzagaina Pies and Rice Pies for Easter with my mom. They had recipes from my Grandma Mancini, but they were trying to figure out if they were complete (another great-aunt of ours was not very forthcoming when it came to recipes).

Here they are:

Roses Rice Pies

Crust (Used for Pizzagainas and Rice Pies)

5-7 C Gold Metal flour (may need more to get the right consistency)

1 T baking powder

2 T – Crisco (heaping)

3 eggs

2 C luke warm water (1/2 C  at a time)

1 t salt

1 t pepper

Combine 5 C flour and baking powder into a bowl.  Cut in shortening till well combined.

Make a well in the center of the flour about 4-5 inches deep.

Add eggs, salt, pepper and ½ C water and mix.

Alternate  flour and water  (ending with flour)  till dough is no longer sticky.  Kneed dough for 5 minutes  then cut in half.  Wrap in plastic and let rest for 1/2 hour.

This dough may also be used to make ravioli.


1 1/2   lbs. long grain rice cooked – Carolina

3 lbs. of ricotta cheese

3/4  lbs. of grated Locatelli cheese

7 large eggs

1 tsp. black pepper


1 sticks pepperoni sliced and cut into 1/4 inch cubes. (This can be mixed in at the end if you desire to make ½ with and ½ without pepperoni)

Use half the dough from above.  Cut dough in half again to make 2 Rice Pies.

Roll out single dough to the thickness of a pie crust.  Scoop 1/2 the rice mixture into the center of the dough. Fold in half and seal the edges.  I usually stamp a thimble along the edge.  Brush top with egg and water mixture.

Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

Bottom crust should be a golden brown.

Cube all meats into small bite size pieces.  In a bowl combine meats, Farmer’s cheese, Loccatelli cheese and eggs.  Mix well.  Moisture should be very moist.

Roll out pie crust and place into a 9 inch glass dish.  Pour mixture inside dish.  Roll out top crust and place over pie pan.  Seal edges and brush with an egg and water mixture.  Make slits for steam.

Bake 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Knife inserted in center should come out clean.

Italian Easter Pie – Pizzagaina

*Use crust from the Rice Pie Recipe above*


3  lbs.  Prosciutto cut into 1/2 inch slices

3 lbs. of imported ham (Thumann’s) or Capicola cut into 1/2 inch slices

3 lbs. of sweet dry Italian sausage with fennel

3 lbs. of Sopressata

2 lbs. of Farmer’s cheese

4 T (heaping) Loccatelli Pecorino Romano cheese

6 large eggs (mixture should be moist)

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