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Rita’s Fagottini con Crema di Amaretti e Fragole

These little pastries are quite tasty and much simpler than one might guess. Rita made them for a dinner among friends in Valpolicella and was kind enough to share the recipe:

You’ll need frozen puff pastry dough, amaretti di Saronno, and strawberry jam.

Thaw the dough according to the directions on the package, roll it out, and cut it into 2-inch (5 cm) squares. Grind the amaretti, or whirl them in a blender, to a fine powder. Combine the powder with strawberry jam to obtain a sweet paste, varying the proportions of the two ingredients to suit your taste.

Preheat your oven to 420 F (210 C), and while it’s heating put a teaspoon of the filling on each of the squares. Fold the corners of the squares up and pinch the tips together to form little baskets, and put them on a lightly greased and floured cookie sheet. Bake the fagottini for about 20 minutes, or until they have puffed up and are nicely browned.

Let them cool and they’re ready.

The rest of the meal this was served in.

Rice Fritters, Frittelle di Riso

Frittelle di Riso, Rice Fritters

Frittelle di Riso, Rice Fritters

Frittelle di Riso, or rice fritters, are a winter tradition in much of Italy, and (In Florence) especially popular on San Giuseppe, Saint Joseph’s (March 19). I took notes while Elisabetta prepared a batch, which went all too fast.

  • 1 3/4 cups (350 g) rice — cheap rice that gives off starch as it cooks will be fine
  • 1 quart (1 l) whole milk
  • The grated zest of a lemon, organically grown if possible
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • A walnut-sized chunk of unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • A jigger rum or vinsanto
  • 4/5 cup (100 g) flour
  • A packet active live yeast
  • Oil for frying

Begin by cooking the rice until it’s thoroughly cooked in the milk, together with the sugar, lemon zest, and butter. Let the mixture cool, and stir in the three yolks. Stir in the rum or vinsanto. Whip the whites and fold them in, then fold in the flour and the yeast.

Heat oil in a fairly deep pot and fry the mixture, a teaspoon at a time, removing the balls from the pot when they become golden. Drain them on absorbent paper, dust them with granulated sugar, and serve.

Yield: Fewer servings of Rice Fritters than you might think, because people always want more.

Cenci (or lattughe, or bugie…), another classic Carnival

Chocolate Covered Citrus Peel, Scorzette D’Agrumi Con La Cioccolata

Scorzette, Chocolate Covered Candied Orange Peel

Scorzette, Chocolate Covered Candied Orange Peel

 

The bitter sweetness of dark chocolate combines delightfully with the tangy sweetness of candied orange and lemon peel, and these chocolates are wonderful as snacks. They are also very nice at the end of a substantial meal, giving those who would be prostrated by a richer dessert a tasty alternative.

They’re easy to make, too, and therefore are an ideal stocking stuffer. Just make a lot, and don’t nibble, because if you do you won’t stuff many stockings. To serve (optimistically) 8:

  •  1 large organically grown, fairly thick-skinned orange
  • 2 large organically grown lemons
  • 2 3/4 cup (600 g) sugar
  • 1/3 pound (150 g) baking chocolate

Wash the fruit and dry it. Cut the orange into 8 sections and remove the skin from the sections without tearing it. Eat the orange (if you want). Peel the lemons the same way. You will now have 24 sections of citrus peel. Cut each one lengthwise into three thinner strips; you can, if you want, also trim away and discard some of the white pith to the inside of the strips.

Put the strips in a small pot with cold water to cover, and bring them to a boil over a brisk flame. Boil them for 30 seconds, and drain them, discarding the water, which will be bitter.

Set the sugar to heat in a saucepan with one cup of water. Stir as it dissolves, and once it has dissolved let it come to a boil without stirring further. When it has become transparent, reduce the heat to a simmer and add the citrus peels. Simmer another 30 seconds without stirring, turn off the burner, and let the peels steep in the syrup for at least 6 hours.

When the time is up, cover a dish with a sheet of aluminum foil. Remove the skin that will have formed on the syrup without stirring the syrup, and remove the strips of peel one at a time, letting them drip dry and putting them on the foil.

Shred the chocolate and heat it over a double boiler. When it is well melted and creamy, dip the strips a bit more than half way into it, it one at a time, and return them to the aluminum foil to cool. When they have cooled transfer them to a more elegant dish and serve.

 

 

Cenci, lattughe, bugie… Tasty Carnival pastries!

Cenci in a Florentine Pastry Shop

Cenci in a Florentine Pastry Shop

To begin at the beginning, though the word Cencio generally means rag, come Carnevale it also means a very simple, supremely tasty pastry whose many aliases include Frappe, Chiacchere (gossips), Lattughe (lettuce leaves), Busie (lies), and Nastrini (ribbons), while Ada Boni, who borrows Pellegrino Artusi’s recipe, uses the more poetic “Lover’s Knots.” They are very pretty when carefully made, so she is probably right.

To make a batch you’ll need:

  • 1 3/4 cups (225 g) flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon brandy
  • A pinch of salt
  • More confectioner’s sugar for dusting
  • Oil for deep frying

Make a fairly stiff dough with these ingredients, kneading it thoroughly, and adding more flour if it comes out too soft. Flour it and let it rest, covered tightly with plastic wrap, for about an hour.

Making Cenci: Dust with Powdered Sugar

Making Cenci: Dust with Powdered Sugar

Roll the dough out into an eighth-of-an-inch (3 mm) thick sheet, and use a serrated pastry wheel to cut it into strips as long as your palm and two fingers wide.

Make a cut down the middle of each cencio (so as to obtain two strips joined at the ends), twist the side strips without breaking them, fry them in hot oil or lard, and dust them with confectioners sugar when they’re cool.

This recipe, Artusi says, is sufficient to make a platterful. He finishes up with, “Should the dough have formed a crust while it sat, knead it again before you roll it out.”

This Recipe, Illustrated

Frittelle di Riso, Rice Fritters: Another Carnival Treat

How to Make Cenci for Carnevale: An Illustrated Recipe

Cenci in a Florentine Pastry Shop

Cenci in a Florentine Pastry Shop

To begin at the beginning, though the word Cencio generally means rag, come Carnevale it also means a very simple, supremely tasty pastry whose many aliases include Frappe, Chiacchere (gossips), Lattughe (lettuce leaves), Busie (lies), and Nastrini (ribbons), while Ada Boni, who borrows Pellegrino Artusi’s recipe, uses the more poetic “Lover’s Knots.” They are very pretty when carefully made, so she is probably right.

Making Cenci: A Ball Of Dough

Making Cenci: A Ball Of Dough

To make a batch of cenci you’ll need:

  • 1 3/4 cups (225 g) flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup (30 g) confectioners sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon brandy or grappa
  • A pinch of salt
  • More confectioner’s sugar for dusting
  • Oil for deep frying

Make a fairly stiff dough with these ingredients, kneading it thoroughly, and adding more flour if it comes out too soft. Flour it and let it rest, covered tightly with plastic wrap, for about an hour.

Making Cenci: Cutting Them Out

Making Cenci: Cutting Them Out

Roll the dough out into an eighth-of-an-inch (3 mm) thick sheet, and use a serrated pastry wheel to cut it into strips as long as your palm and two fingers wide.

Make a cut down the middle of each cencio (so as to obtain two strips joined at the ends) and twist the side strips without breaking them.

Making Cenci: Frying...

Making Cenci: Frying…

While you are cutting your cenci, set your oil to heat, either in a deep frier or in a pan atop the stove. Since cenci are delicately flavored, the oil should be new.

Slip several cenci into the hot oil. They will immediately rise to the surface, bubbling furiously.

Making Cenci: Gently Turn Them

Making Cenci: Gently Turn Them

Gently turn the cenci as they fry in the hot oil so they cook evenly.

Making Cenci: Drain Well...

Making Cenci: Drain Well…

Remove the cenci from the oil when they have become golden brown, putting them to drain on absorbent paper. Be careful not to over brown them, lest they become bitter.

Continue frying until you have cooked all of the cenci. They will look inviting at this point, but patience!

Making Cenci: Dust with Powdered Sugar

Making Cenci: Dust with Powdered Sugar

Take a small finely woven wire mesh strainer and fill it with confectioner’s sugar. Dust the cenci with the sugar, and they’re ready!

Making Cenci: Enjoy!

Making Cenci: Enjoy!

This recipe on a single page

Frittelle di Riso, Rice Fritters: Another Carnival Treat