Critically acclaimed chef, restaurateur, award-winning author, and television personality, Mario Batali is arguably one of the most recognized and respected chefs working in America today. Together with his business partner Joe Bastianich, the duo have created an uber- successful restaurant and culinary empire in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Singapore.
Over the course of the next few days, Venice, Italy will be lit with food, entertainment, culture and tradition as Italians celebrate Venice Carnival. Although most of us won’t be able to travel there, we can certainly get a taste of Italy right at home. Here are some interesting facts about a traditional Italian dish that is tasty and easy to prepare:
Made from grain cooked in water, Polenta served as a Pre-Columbian Northern Italy staple. Sometimes made from chick-peas or chestnut grain, the porridge-like substance is also known as “Italian Grits.” READ MORE
A zeppola (plural zeppole, in southern dialects zeppoli) or St. Joseph’s Day cake, also called sfinge and in Rome Bignè di S. Giuseppe is a pastry typical of Roman, Neapolitan and generally peninsular Italian cuisine and are also served in Sicily and on the island of Malta. Commonly light, deep-fried dough balls about 2 inches (5.1 cm) in diameter, these doughnuts or fritters are usually topped with powdered sugar and may be filled with custard, jelly, cannoli-style pastry cream or a butter-and-honey mixture. Their consistency ranges from light and puffy, to bread or pasta-like. Zeppoli are traditionally consumed on La Festa di San Giuseppe (Saint Joseph’s Day), (March 19). In Rome, Naples and Sicily, these little pastries are sold on many streets and are sometimes gifts on this day. In parts of Calabria, the anchovy or a sultana variety are consumed on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. -(Wikepedia)
5 to 6 pounds pizza dough
1 (32 fluid ounce) bottle vegetable oil
2 cups flour
Several large brown bags, cupped open and placed on your kitchen table
The day before Christmas Eve, put the dough in a large pot and pound together. Cover with a warm cloth and place inside the oven to rise. Make sure the oven is turned off! Every couple of hours, pound the dough down. You can let the dough rise overnight.
On Christmas Eve morning, punch down the dough and let it rise another hour before cooking. Pour the oil into an electric frying pan until the pan is 1/2 full. (If you are using a deep pot, pour in all of the oil, since the pot is deeper than the frying pan.) While the oil is heating, take a little dough, one piece at a time, and shape each piece into a circle or your own design. Dip each piece into the flour and place on a floured cutting board (the flour helps keep the Zeppole from sticking). Once the oil is very hot, toss a small piece of dough into the oil to test it. If it starts to sizzle, the oil is hot enough. Place the shapes you made, into the oil one piece at a time. Be careful; the oil can splatter. As the Zeppole start to brown, turn them so they brown on all sides. It takes about 10 minutes to cook each one. Make sure you watch them; don’t overcook or undercook. Remove carefully one by one, with a slotted spoon as they are cooked and place them on the brown paper bags to drain. Work in batches until all the dough is used.
Once all the Zeppole are fried, divide them into 2 batches and place each batch on a large terrycloth towel. Wrap them up and place them in a pillowcase; keep them in a warm place in the house until you are ready to serve them. The towel will help absorb some of the oil. When you are ready to serve them, warm them on a tray in the oven for 5 to10 minutes. Dunk them in the marinara sauce at dinner; for breakfast, served instead of bread and spread butter on them.
Note: You can make about 3 dozen Zeppole with 5 to 6 pounds of pizza dough. That may sound like a lot, but if you have a crowd on Christmas Eve, serve them again on Christmas morning then during the week with the leftovers, you will consume them all before you know it!
Recipes may be reprinted with the following credit:
Recipes reprinted from RECIPES TO REMEMBER
by Barbara Magro