Venetian cuisine is usually divided into three main categories that are based on geography: the coastal areas, the plains and the mountains. Each one (especially the plains) can have many local cuisines – each city with its own dishes and preparation. The most common dish across the region is polenta, which is utilized in various ways within the local cuisines.
Coastal areas serve mainly seafood dishes.
In the plains, it is very popular to serve grilled meat (usually a mix of pork, beef and chicken) together with grilled polenta, potatoes and vegetables. Other popular dishes include risotto made with vegetables, mushrooms, pumpkin, radicchio, seafood, pork or chicken livers.
Bigoli (a typical Venetian fresh pasta, similar to a thick spaghetti), handmade fettuccine, ravioli and the similar tortelli (filled with meat, cheese, vegetables or pumpkin) and gnocchi (made from potatoes) are pastas that are served with meat sauce (ragù), often made from duck, and, sometimes, with added mushrooms or peas or the pasta is simply dressed with melted butter.
The mountain area cuisine consists mainly of pork or game meat served with polenta, mushrooms or vegetables and cheese. You may also find some dishes from the Austrian or Tyrolese tradition, such as canederli (potato/ bread dumpling) and sweet or savory strudel. A typical dish is casunziei, hand-made fresh pasta similar to ravioli that usually contain a roasted beet and smoked ricotta stuffing.
Venetian cuisine is typically seasoned with butter, olive oil, sunflower oil, vinegar, white wine, mostarda or salsa verde.
Sweet and Sour Sardines
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 2 lb. sardines, cleaned
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3/4 cups olive oil
- 1 large white onion, sliced thin
- 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup pine nuts (pignoli)
Combine wine and raisins in a bowl. Soak for 30 minutes; drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the broiler to high. Season sardines with salt and pepper on a baking sheet. Broil, until cooked, about 2 minutes; cool.
Heat oil in a 4-qt. pan over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook until browned, 10–12 minutes. Add vinegar, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until soft, 6–8 minutes. Stir in raisins, pine nuts and salt and pepper; let cool.
Place half the sardines in the bottom of an 8″ x 8″ dish; cover with half the onion mixture. Place remaining sardines on top; cover with the remaining onion mixture.
Marinate the sardines in the refrigerator for 4 hours. Serve with crusty Italian bread.
Bigoli in Salsa
- 14 oz bigoli/whole wheat thick spaghetti
- 5 anchovies
- 2 large onions
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Black pepper
- ½ cup dry white wine
Chop the anchovies and set aside.
Peel the onions and slice as thinly as you possibly can. Heat oil in a skillet with a cover, then turn heat to medium low and add onions. Cover the pan and cook the onions for 10 minutes, stirring frequently until the onions are a light gold color; do not let them brown.
Turn the heat down to low and add the anchovies, breaking them into a paste with a wooden spoon.
Add the wine, a little at a time, letting the wine evaporate before adding more. Add a big pinch of black pepper. Put the lid back on and cook gently on low heat for 10 minutes, so that the onions gradually melt into a creamy caramelized sauce.
Cook the bigoli/spaghetti in salted water according to package directions, then drain and add to the skillet with the onion mix. Turn the heat up high for a minute, mixing thoroughly.
To serve: grind additional fresh black pepper over each dish.
Pollo del Borgo (Chicken of the Village)
- 3 lb chicken, cut into serving pieces
- 2 onions, thinly sliced
- 2 zucchini, sliced into rounds
- 10 cherry tomatoes
- ½ cup tomato puree
- ½ cup chicken broth, plus more if needed
- 1 large bay leaf
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup dry white wine
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- Griled Polenta, recipe below
Heat the butter and oil in a pan large enough to fit all the chicken in a single layer.
Salt and pepper the chicken pieces. Add the chicken to the skillet and brown the pieces on all sides. Remove to a plate.
Add the onions, rosemary and the garlic to the skillet and cook until the onions soften. Return the chicken to the pan.
Add the white wine and cook until it has all evaporated.
Add the tomato puree, the bay leaf, zucchini and chicken broth. Cook for another 40 minutes on a low heat, turning the chicken occasionally and adding broth when needed to keep the sauce from reducing too much. Serve with grilled polenta.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt
- 1 2/3 cups polenta
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Put salt into 7 cups of cold water in a medium heavy pot. Add polenta and whisk. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring often; add oil, then reduce heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until polenta thickens and pulls away slightly from the bottom and sides of the pot, 20–30 minutes (depending on the polenta grind).
Pour into a greased square or rectangle glass dish; cool.
Turn out onto a bread board and cut into serving pieces with a wet knife.
Grill on a very hot, dry grill or sear in a nonstick skillet until golden brown.
Pincia – Veneto Bread Pudding
The Pincia is one of the oldest sweets in the Venice region. It’s traditionally served at Christmas.
- 1 lb (3 cups) stale bread without the crust, cut into small cubes
- 6 cups milk
- 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 2 eggs
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel or mace
- 1/4 cup dry plain breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- Powdered sugar
Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan and sprinkle with the bread crumbs. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Soak the raisins in warm water to cover. Put the bread cubes in a bowl and pour the milk over the bread.
let both soak for half an hour. Drain the raisins.
Beat the butter, sugar and eggs in an electric mixer. Add the flour, ground fennel and the soaked raisins. Mix well.
Pour butter/egg mixture over the bread/milk mixture and mix well.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top with sliced almonds.
Bake for about an hour until firm or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cool in the pan; remove and dust with powdered sugar.
- Brudet (Croatian Seafood Stew) (thedomesticman.com)
- Polenta Chips (incrednibbles.wordpress.com)
The voice of Snow White in the first full-length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, released in 1937 belonged to Adriana Caselotti. The 21-year-old coloratura soprano beat out 148 other candidates for the role. Her father Guido Caselotti, an immigrant from Italy, was a teacher of music and a vocal coach. Her mother, Maria Orefice (from Naples), was a singer in the Royal Opera. Her older sister, Louise, sang opera and gave voice lessons. When Caselotti was seven, the family went to Italy while her mother toured with an opera company. Caselotti was educated at an Italian convent, San Getulio, near Rome, while her mother performed in the opera. When they returned to New York three years later, Caselotti relearned English and studied singing with her father. After a brief stint as a chorus girl at MGM, Walt Disney hired Caselotti as the voice of his heroine, Snow White. She was paid a total of $970 for working on the film (now worth approximately $15,751). She was under contract with Disney and Disney prevented her from appearing in further films and other media, even for Disney, after Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, was released. Jack Benny specifically mentioned that he had asked Disney for permission to use her on his radio show and was told, “I’m sorry, but that voice can’t be used anywhere. I don’t want to spoil the illusion of Snow White.” She was named as a Disney Legend in 1994, making her the first woman to receive the award in the voice category. She died in 1997 at age 80.
Neapolitan Baked Tomatoes
Makes: 4 servings
- 4 ripe but firm beefsteak tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
- 1 medium zucchini, chopped (about 1-1/2 cups)
- 1/2 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped
- 2 teaspoons snipped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/2 cup Gaeta olives, pitted and chopped, or other Italian olives, pitted and chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Use a serrated knife to cut about 1 inch off the stem end of each tomato. Using a small spoon, carefully hollow out the tomatoes, leaving 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick shells and being careful not to puncture the sides. Save the pulp for a sauce. Sprinkle cavities with salt. Place tomatoes, upside down, on a double thickness of paper towels to drain.
In a small bowl whisk together 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, 1 tablespoon of the parsley and 1 clove of the minced garlic. Add panko, stirring until coated with the oil mixture. Set aside.
In a large skillet heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add zucchini and onion; cook and stir about 3 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in spinach. Cover and cook about 1 minute more or until spinach begins to wilt. Uncover; stir. Cook, uncovered, about 3 minutes or until liquid has evaporated. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons parsley, the remaining 2 cloves minced garlic, the oregano and pepper; cook and stir for 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a bowl; cool for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
When the vegetables have cooled slightly, stir in mozzarella and olives. Spoon vegetable mixture evenly into tomato shells. Arrange filled tomatoes in a 2-quart square baking dish. Sprinkle panko mixture evenly over tomatoes. Bake about 30 minutes or until tomatoes are soft and topping is crisp and golden brown. Serve warm.
Among the many Italian Americans in Hollywood is the legendary, Francis Ford Coppola, who won four Oscars in 1975 for The Godfather, Part II. He was born April 7, 1939 and In 1970, he won the Oscar for best original screenplay as a co-writer with Edmund H. North for the movie, Patton. His directorial fame came with the release, of The Godfather, in 1972, a film which revolutionized movie-making in the gangster genre, earning praise from both critics and the public before winning three Academy Awards—including his second Oscar (Best Adapted Screenplay with Mario Puzo), Best Picture and his first nomination for Best Director. He followed with The Godfather Part II in 1974, which became the first sequel to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Highly regarded by critics, it brought him three more Academy Awards: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director and Best Picture and made him the second director, after Billy Wilder, to be honored three times for the same film. The Conversation, which he directed, produced and wrote, was released that same year, winning the Palme d’Or at the 1974 Cannes Film Festival. He next directed, Apocalypse Now in 1979, which was critically acclaimed for its vivid and stark depiction of the Vietnam War, winning the Palme d’Or at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival. Coppola is one of only eight filmmakers to win two Palme d’Or awards.
Coppola was born in Detroit, Michigan. His father was Carmine Coppola, a flautist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and his mother was Italia (née Pennino). Coppola is the second of three children: his older brother was August Coppola and his younger sister is actress, Talia Shire. Born into a family of Italian immigrant ancestry, his paternal grandparents came to the United States from Bernalda, Basilicata. Coppola received his middle name in honor of Henry Ford, not only because he was born in the Henry Ford Hospital but because of his musician-father’s association with the automobile manufacturer. At the time of Coppola’s birth, his father was a flautist, as well as arranger and assistant orchestra director for The Ford Sunday Evening Hour, an hour-long concert music radio series sponsored by the Ford Motor Company. Two years after Coppola’s birth, his father was named principal flautist for the NBC Symphony Orchestra and the family moved to New York, settling in Woodside, Queens, where Coppola spent the remainder of his childhood. Contracting polio as a boy, Coppola was bedridden for large periods of his childhood, allowing him to indulge his imagination with homemade puppet theater productions. Reading, A Streetcar Named Desire, at age 15 was instrumental in developing his interest in theater. Eager to be involved in film-craft, he created 8 mm features edited from home movies with such titles as, The Rich Millionaire and The Lost Wallet. As a child, Coppola trained initially for a career in music. He became proficient on the tuba and won a music scholarship to the New York Military Academy. However, Coppola entered Hofstra University in 1955 and majored in theater arts. There he was awarded a scholarship in playwriting. This furthered his interest in directing despite the disapproval of his father, who wanted him to study engineering. Coppola decided he would go into cinema, instead.
Apulian Fedda Rossa
Makes 8 servings
- 1 large loaf 2-day-old round Italian country, cut in half
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 pounds very ripe tomatoes, chopped and drained
Prepare a hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill for 15 minutes on high.
Put the bread halves on the grill and cook until they brown, then turn and brown the other side, 5 to 10 minutes.
Dip the grilled bread into a shallow baking pan filled with water for 2 seconds on each side, then return to the grill until the bread dries out, 5 to 10 minutes.
Sprinkle the bread with olive oil, salt, lots of freshly ground black pepper and cover the bread with the tomatoes.
The producer of all but one of the first 17 James Bond movies was Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli. (1909 – 1996). Broccoli launched the 007 film series in 1962 with Dr. No. His last film was Golden Eye in 1995. Most of the films were made in the United Kingdom and they were often filmed at Pinewood Studios.
Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli was born in the borough of Queens, New York City, the younger of two children of immigrants from the Calabria region of Italy, Giovanni Broccoli and Christina Vence. He acquired his nickname after his cousin, Pat DiCicco, began calling him “Kabibble,” eventually shortened to “Kubbie” and adopted by Broccoli as “Cubby. Broccoli married three times. In 1940, at the age of 31, he married actress Gloria Blondell (the younger sister of Joan Blondell); they divorced in 1945 without having had children. In 1951, he married Nedra Clark, and the couple were told they had fertility problems and would never have children. They adopted a son, Tony Broccoli, after which Nedra became pregnant. She died in 1958, soon after giving birth to their daughter, Tina Broccoli. In 1959, Broccoli married actress and novelist, Dana Wilson (née Dana Natol) (1922 – 29 February 2004). They had a daughter together, Barbara Broccoli, and Albert Broccoli became a mentor to Dana’s teenage son, Michael G. Wilson. Broccoli insisted on keeping his family close to him when possible. Consequently the children grew up around the Bond film sets and his wife’s influence on various production decisions is alluded to in many informal accounts. Michael Wilson worked his way up through the production company to co-write and co-produce. Barbara Broccoli served in several capacities under her father’s tutelage from the 1980s on. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli have co-produced the films since the elder Broccoli’s death.
Calabrian Eggplant and Spaghetti Timballo
A timballo is a pasta pie.
- 2 large eggplants
- 1 lb. thin spaghetti
- 16 oz can Italian whole tomatoes
- 6 ounces salted ricotta, shredded (Salata Ricotta is a firm cheese and should be available in a well stocked delicatessen — If it is not, use a mild pecorino romano
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 20 basil leaves, shredded
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Wash the eggplant and cut them lengthwise into thin slices. Put the slices in a colander, salting each layer, and set the colander in the sink for an hour to allow the salt to draw the juices from the eggplant.
Sauté the garlic in 3 tablespoons of oil until it begins to turn golden, then remove and discard it. Chop the tomatoes in the pan and cook over medium high heat for 15 minutes, mixing often. Remove pan from the and let the sauce cool.
Pat the slices of eggplant dry and broil or grill them, turning them so both sides are golden.
Cook the pasta in abundant salted water until it reaches the al dente stage and drain it.
Combine the pasta with the tomato sauce, 4 ounces of the grated ricotta and half the basil leaves.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a greased 8-inch springform pan arrange the eggplant slices to cover the bottom and come up over the sides of the pan. Fill the eggplant “crust” with the pasta, fold the eggplant slices over the top of the pie and use the remaining slices to form a top crust.
Press down firmly with your finger tips to level the surface of the pie, drizzle the remaining oil over it and bake the pie for 20 minutes.
Let the timballo cool covered with aluminum foil. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and remove the pan ring. Turn it out onto a serving dish, slice it, and sprinkle the remaining shredded ricotta and basil over the top.
The man behind Tom and Jerry, Yogi Bear, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, The Smurfs and Scooby-Doo is Joseph Barbera, director, producer and co-founder of Hanna-Barbera Film Studios. A banker and free-lance cartoonist, Barbera met Bill Hanna at MGM in 1937. The team created Puss Gets the Boots, which was nominated for an Oscar and inspired the Tom and Jerry cartoons. In 1957, they started their own animation studio and went on to win seven Oscars during their long collaboration.
Joseph Barbera was born on Delancey Street in the Little Italy (Lower East Side) section of Manhattan, New York, to immigrants, Vincent Barbera and Francesca Calvacca, both born in Sciacca, Agrigento, Sicily, Italy and he grew up speaking Italian. His family moved to Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York when he was four months old. He had two younger brothers, Larry and Ted. Barbera’s father, Vincent, was the prosperous owner of three barbershops who squandered the family fortunes on gambling and, by the time, Barbera was 15, his father had abandoned the family. Barbera displayed a talent for drawing as early as the first grade.
During the Great Depression, he tried unsuccessfully to become a cartoonist for a magazine called, The NY Hits Magazine. He supported himself with a job at a bank and continued to pursue publication for his cartoons. His magazine drawings of single cartoons, not comic strips, were published in Redbook, Saturday Evening Post and Collier’s—the magazine with which he had the most success. Barbera took art classes at the Art Students League of New York and the Pratt Institute and was hired to work in the ink and paint department of Fleischer Studios. In 1932, he joined the Van Beuren Studios as an animator and storyboard artist. When Van Beuren closed down in 1936, Barbera moved over to Paul Terry’s Terrytoons studio. Lured by a substantial salary increase, Barbera left Terrytoons and New York for the new Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) cartoon unit in California in 1937. Barbera’s desk was opposite that of William Hanna. The two quickly realized they would make a good team. By 1939, they had solidified a partnership that would last over 60 years. Most of the cartoons Barbera and Hanna created revolved around close friendship or partnership; this theme is evident with Fred and Barney, Tom & Jerry, Scooby and Shaggy, The Jetson family and Yogi & Boo-Boo. These may have been a reflection of the close business friendship and partnership that Barbera and Hanna shared.
Sicilian Grilled Swordfish with Citrus and Saffron
Makes: 4 servings
- 4 – 5 ounce swordfish or tuna steaks, cut 1 inch thick
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions (scallions)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
- 2 blood oranges or pink grapefruit
- 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons snipped fresh mint
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Olive oil
Rinse fish; pat dry with paper towels. Set aside. In a small saucepan cook the green onions and garlic in the 2 tablespoons of oil for 1 to 2 minutes or until onions are soft and garlic is fragrant. Remove saucepan from heat. Crumble saffron threads into oil mixture; stir. Let stand to infuse the saffron.
Meanwhile, cut a thin slice from one end of each orange and the lemon, so fruit will sit level. Working on a cutting board, cut down from the top of the fruit to remove peel and white part of the rind. Working over a bowl to catch juices, remove the sections by cutting into the center of the fruit between one section and the membrane; cut along the other side of each section next to the membrane to free the section. Remove seeds.
Add saffron oil to the bowl with the fruit sections and juices. Stir in mint, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper.
Lightly brush both sides of the swordfish steaks with additional olive oil; sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Grill fish on the rack of a covered grill directly over medium heat for 8 to 12 minutes or just until fish flakes when tested with a fork, turning once halfway through the cooking time. Gently stir fruit-mint mixture to combine; spoon over fish. Serve immediately.
One of Hollywood’s most gifted directors, Frank Capra, was born in Sicily in 1897 and spent his sixth birthday in steerage on a 13-day ocean voyage to America. Although he is perhaps most famous for his film, It’s A Wonderful Life, his film portfolio includes Mack Sennett and Our Gang comedies; American Madness (1932), based on the life of banker, A.P. Giannini; It Happened One Night (1934) with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, (1939) starring Jimmy Stewart. Capra won three Academy Awards for Best Director during his career.
Capra was born Francesco Rosario Capra in Bisacquino, Sicily, a village near Palermo. He was the youngest of seven children of Salvatore Capra, a fruit grower and the former Sarah Nicolas. They settled in the Italian section of Los Angeles, where Capra’s father worked as a fruit picker and young Capra sold newspapers after school for 10 years until he graduated from high school. Instead of working after graduating, as his parents wanted, he enrolled in college. He worked his way through college at the California Institute of Technology, playing banjo at nightclubs and taking odd jobs, which included working at the campus laundry facility, waiting tables and cleaning engines at a local power plant. He studied chemical engineering and graduated in the spring of 1918. Capra later wrote that his college education had “changed his whole viewpoint on life – from the viewpoint of an alley rat to the viewpoint of a cultured person”.
At age 25, he took a sales job selling books. During his book sales efforts and nearly broke, Capra read a newspaper article about a new movie studio opening in San Francisco. Capra phoned them saying he had moved from Hollywood and falsely implied that he had experience in the budding film industry. The studio’s founder, Walter Montague, was, nonetheless, impressed by Capra and offered him $75 to direct a one-reel silent film. Capra, with the help of a cameraman, made the film in two days and cast it with amateurs. After that first serious job in films, Capra looked for similar openings in the film industry. Because of Capra’s engineering education, he adapted more easily to the new sound technology than most directors. He welcomed the transition to sound, recalling, “I wasn’t at home in silent films”.
He eventually became a creative force behind major award-winning films during the 1930s and 1940s. His rags-to-riches story has led film historians to consider Capra the “American Dream” personified. Capra was four times president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and three times president of the Directors Guild of America, which he helped found. Under his presidency he worked to give directors more artistic control of their films. During his career as a director, he retained an early ambition to teach science and, after his career declined in the 1950s, he made educational TV films related to science subjects.
Sicilian Pizza With Sausage and Peppers
Serves: 4 servings
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 1-pound balls prepared pizza dough, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup canned crushed tomatoes
- 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese or Italian cheese blend
- 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed, crumbled
- 1 green bell pepper, sliced into rings
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Drizzle the olive oil in a 10-by-15-inch baking dish or on a rimmed baking sheet. Place the balls of dough side by side in the baking dish and pinch the edges together to make one large piece of dough. Press and stretch the dough so it fills the dish. (If using a baking sheet, press and stretch the dough into a 10-by-15-inch rectangle.)
Spread the crushed tomatoes over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge. Top with the red pepper flakes, cheese, sausage and green pepper.
Bake the pizza until the crust is golden brown and the sausage is fully cooked, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool slightly, then cut into squares.
A Chorus Line, one of Broadway’s longest running shows, was choreographed by the late Michael Bennett, who received a Tony for his work. Bennett was born Michael Bennett DiFiglia in Buffalo, New York, the son of Helen (née Ternoff), a secretary and Salvatore Joseph DiFiglia, a factory worker. His father was Italian American and his mother was Jewish. He studied dance and choreography in his teens and staged a number of shows in his local high school before dropping out to accept the role of Baby John in the US and European tours of West Side Story. Bennett’s career as a Broadway dancer began in the 1961 musical, Subways Are For Sleeping.
Bennett made his choreographic debut with A Joyful Noise (1966), which lasted only twelve performances and in 1967 followed it with another failure, Henry, Sweet Henry (based on the Peter Sellers’ film, The World of Henry Orient). Success finally arrived in 1968 when he choreographed the hit musical, Promises, Promises, on Broadway. With a contemporary pop score by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, a witty book by Neil Simon and Bennett’s well-received production numbers, including “Turkey Lurkey Time”, the show ran for 1,281 performances. Over the next few years, he earned praise for his work on the drama, Twigs, with Sada Thompson and the musical, Coco, with Katharine Hepburn. These were followed by two Stephen Sondheim productions, Company and Follies co-directed with Hal Prince.
A Chorus Line, the musical, was formed out of hundreds of hours of taped sessions with Broadway dancers. Bennett was invited to the sessions originally as an observer, but soon took charge. He co-choreographed and directed the production, which debuted in May 1975 off-Broadway. It won nine Tony Awards and the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Bennett’s next musical was a project about late-life romance called, Ballroom. Financially unsuccessful, it garnered seven Tony Award nominations and Bennett won one for Best Choreography. He admitted that any project that followed A Chorus Line was bound to be an anti-climax. Bennett had another hit in 1981 with Dreamgirls, a backstage epic about a girl group like, The Supremes, and the exploitation of black music by a white recording industry. Unlike his more famous contemporary, Bob Fosse, Bennett was not known for a particular choreographic style. Instead, Bennett’s choreography was motivated by the form of the musical involved or the distinct characters interpreted.
Bennett died from AIDS-related lymphoma at the age of 44 and he left a portion of his estate to fund research to fight the AIDS epidemic. Bennett’s memorial service took place at the Shubert Theatre in New York (the home at that time of A Chorus Line) on September 29, 1987.
- Italian American Culture – The Art Of Writing (jovinacooksitalian.com)
The vanilla bean is actually the fruit of an orchid. The vanilla orchid is the only one among over 20,000 varieties of orchids that produces something edible. The plant is a climbing vine that must have some type of support and partial shade. The vanilla orchid produces waxy greenish-yellow flowers that grow in clusters.
In the 14th century, the Spanish conquistadors under Cortez, watched Montezuma, Emperor of the Aztecs, pulverize vanilla beans, combine them with chocolate and serve it as a drink to his guests. By the middle of the 15th century, the Spanish were importing it to Europe to use as a flavor in the manufacturing of chocolate. When chocolate was first introduced to Europe in the sixteenth century, it was cinnamon that was usually used as a flavoring ingredient. It was not until the eighteenth century that vanilla took over that role, however, vanilla really came into its own as an ingredient in ice cream.
As European explorers traveled the forests of Central and South America, vanilla became more common in Europe. Europeans followed the example of the tribes in the New World and used vanilla as a nerve stimulant and as an aphrodisiac. The Spanish were responsible not only for importing the vanilla pod to Europe, but also for supplying Europe’s languages with a name for it. In Spanish it is vainilla, a diminutive of vaina, sheath, a reference to its long narrow pods.
By the early 1800’s vanilla plants were growing in botanical collections in Germany and France. Horticulturists were experimenting with conditions for its growth. From Europe, it was transported to Reunion, Mauritius and the Malagasy Republic. It there that workers discovered that hand pollination of the flowers was necessary to produce vanilla beans.
Vanilla is the second most expensive spice after saffron, because growing the vanilla seed pods is labor-intensive. Despite the expense, vanilla is highly valued for its flavor, which author Frederic Rosengarten, Jr. described in The Book of Spices, as “pure, spicy and delicate” and its complex floral aroma depicted as a “peculiar bouquet”. As a result, vanilla is widely used in both commercial and domestic baking and in the manufacture of perfumes.
Interestingly, fresh vanilla beans have no taste or aroma. They must undergo an extensive curing process that results in the release of vanilla with its distinct aroma and flavor. In Mexico the traditional curing process involved spreading the beans on dark blankets in the sun wilting. More commonly today, oven wilting is used for the initial dehydration. Then the vanilla is placed in special boxes wrapped in blankets or mats, to sweat. Next, the vanilla is alternately sunned and sweated for several days until the beans turn a deep chocolate-brown. Afterward, they are placed in sweating boxes or in beds covered with waxed paper to dry slowly at a moderate temperature for 45 days. Then they are kept for about three months in closed containers to develop their full aroma.
Vanilla Extract is the most popular and the easiest way that vanilla can be used. Here are a few tips for when to use the extract:
- When baking and cooking, where the vanilla will be exposed to heat for long periods of time. Heat weakens vanilla bean’s fruit like flavor, so there isn’t much point in using the more expensive bean pod.
- Extract can be used to flavor sweet and savory egg batters, for example, waffle and pancake batters.
- When you need vanilla’s flavor quickly and don’t have time to steep a bean in the recipe’s liquid.
- A small amount of extract can be used to cut the acidity in some sauces.
- Do not add vanilla extract to hot liquids as the alcohol evaporates, along with some of the vanilla flavor.
Vanilla beans not only impart flavor to dishes, but add a special visual element. Here are a few tips for when to use the vanilla bean:
- In lightly cooked sauces and syrups. By using the vanilla bean, you get all of the flavor elements of the vanilla bean in your cooking.
- When the presentation calls for the actual bean. Adding vanilla beans to Crème Brulee is worth the extra expense.
- If you object to the alcohol used in the extract but still want vanilla’s rich complexity.
- To flavor coffee and other hot drinks. Drop a small piece of the dried bean in with the coffee beans before you grind them.
How To Use Vanilla Beans
The first thing you need to do is split the bean lengthwise, using a paring knife. Then scrape the seeds free from both sides of the bean pod with the edge of the knife and add to whatever it is you are cooking. If you are cooking a sauce, add the pod to the mixture as well. After the mixture has steeped, remove the pod, but DON’T THROW IT AWAY! Rinse the pod and allow it to dry at room temperature. Bury the used, dry vanilla pods in your sugar for a wonderful vanilla flavored sugar.
Vanilla can also be produced synthetically from wood-pulp by-products. Reading the labels of products supposedly made from vanilla may surprise you. In the United States, for example, while ice cream labeled “vanilla” is made from pure vanilla extract and/or vanilla beans, ice cream labeled “vanilla flavored” may contain up to 42 percent artificial flavorings and ice cream labeled “artificially flavored” contains imitation flavorings only. But as good cooks will attest, there is no substitute for the flavor of pure vanilla.
Cooking With Vanilla
You can also use all whole milk, no cream in this recipe
(Makes 1 quart)
- 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1-1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, milk and sugar. Cook over medium heat until the mixture comes to a simmer. Remove from heat. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the milk, add the bean pod and let sit for 30 minutes. Strain into a clean bowl removing the vanilla bean pod. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.
Without an ice cream maker: Spoon chilled mixture into a shallow metal pan; freeze until almost firm, about 3 hours. Break into chunks; purée in a food processor. Pack into an airtight container and freeze until firm, about 1 hour.
Vanilla Zabaglione with Raspberries
Steeping the vanilla seeds in the Marsala adds flavor to this classic Italian dessert.
- 1 cup Marsala
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
- 1 dozen large egg yolks
- 5 cups raspberries
In a small saucepan, whisk the Marsala with the sugar and vanilla bean seeds and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and cool.
Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of water to a simmer; turn the heat to moderately low.
Fill a large bowl with ice water.
In a large stainless steel bowl, whisk or beat the egg yolks at low speed to break them up. Gradually add the Marsala mixture and beat until smooth.
Set the bowl over the simmering water in the saucepan. Beat the egg yolk mixture until it is hot and foamy and leaves a ribbon trail when the beaters are lifted, about 10 minutes.
Don’t cook the zabaglione for too long, or it will curdle. Transfer the bowl to the ice water bath and let stand, whisking the zabaglione occasionally, until cooled.
Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour or until thoroughly chilled.
Spoon the chilled zabaglione into small serving dishes and garnish with the raspberries.
Vanilla Almond Biscotti
- 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups blanched slivered almonds, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Position rack in center of oven.
With a small knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and place in a small bowl. Add the sugar and use your fingers to mix the vanilla evenly into the sugar. Set aside.
With an electric mixer, cream the butter until light. Add the vanilla sugar and mix until fluffy. Add the eggs and the vanilla extract and mix until smooth. Stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and almonds and stir into the butter mixture.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide the dough into 3 pieces. On a lightly floured surface, shape each piece of dough into a log that is about 1 1/4 inches in diameter.
Place the logs on the baking sheet, spacing them as far apart as possible. Bake in the center of the oven until lightly browned, about 30 minutes.
Place the logs on a cutting board and let them cool slightly. With a serrated knife, cut the logs on the diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick pieces. Place on the baking sheet, cut side down.
Bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes, turning them once. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool. Store in an airtight container.
YIELD About two dozen
Light Mascarpone Panna Cotta
This lighter version of a classic dessert delicacy is the perfect ending to a rich meal.
- 6 panna cotta molds
- 3 teaspoons gelatin
- 3 tablespoons nonfat milk
- 2/3 cup nonfat milk
- 2 1/2 cups fat-free half-and-half
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 vanilla beans
- 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
- 1/2 cup lowfat sour cream
Sprinkle the gelatin over the 3 tablespoons milk and let sit for 15 minutes to soften.
In a saucepan, stir the milk, half and half, sugar, and vanilla bean over medium heat until it just starts to boil. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, whisk together the mascarpone and the sour cream until smooth.
Stir the gelatin mixture into the heated milk mixture and stir well for at least 2 minutes or until bits of gelatin are no longer visible.
Pour the mixture through a strainer into the mascarpone mixture to remove any bits of hard gelatin.
Spray six 1/2 cup custard molds with cooking spray and pour the panna cotta into each mold. Chill overnight. Serve inverted onto a plate with a fruit or chocolate garnish.
Vanilla Ricotta Cheesecake
- 6 large fresh figs, stems removed and cut into quarters
- 2 tablespoons Marsala wine
- 1/2 cup liquid egg substitute
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon tapioca starch
- 4 cups ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 6 tablespoons light agave nectar
- 2 packets stevia, such as, Stevia In The Raw, or ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 lemon, zested
- Olive oil cooking spray
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Whisk the egg substitute with the tapioca starch in a large bowl until fully incorporated. Add the ricotta, yogurt, agave nectar, stevia, vanilla and lemon zest.
Whisk together until the ingredients are fully combined.
Coat a 9-inch springform cake pan with cooking spray and place the pan in a deep baking dish — one that’s a little larger than the cake pan.
Pour hot water in the baking dish until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan.
Pour batter into the pan.
Place in the oven and bake until the cheesecake is cooked through and set, about 60 minutes. Remove the cake pan from the water bath and cool completely on a wire rack.
Cover and refrigerate until fully chilled. Combine the figs and Marsala in a small bowl and set aside at room temperature until the cake is ready.
To serve: remove the cheesecake from the pan. Place slices of cake on serving plates and spoon the figs alongside, topping them with any Marsala remaining in the bowl.
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Since the history of Italian food is so rooted in the regional cultures, it is interesting to take a look at the main regions of the country and what kinds of food products and dishes each one is known for. The most well known regions in Italy that are noted for their culinary distinctions are the following: Abruzzo-Molise, Apulia, Calabria-Lucania, Emilia-Romagna, Liguria, Lombardy, Naples-Campagna, Piedmont, Rome-Lazio, Sardinia, Sicily, Tuscany, Umbria-Marche and Veneto. These areas can be split up roughly into three categories: northern, central and southern Italy.
Northern Italian cuisine is characterized by less use of olive oil, pasta and tomato sauce and more use of butter (or lard ), rice, corn (for polenta), meat and chesses for cream sauces.
Much of what the rest of the world considers Italian food comes from the central regions of Italy. Velvety smooth olive oils, world-famous cheeses, savory cured meats and rich tomato sauces grace the tables of this region. Beef dishes can be found more often here and the hills of Tuscan and Umbria are known for their wild boar. Both coasts share their love of locally caught seafood and the mountainous countryside is known for its hearty fare.
From the pizza of Naples to the countless types of dried and fresh pasta, the food of the south is the heart of Italy. This is the cuisine found in most Italian-American cuisine. Here you will find rich and spicy tomato sauces and the almost exclusive use of olive oil in cooking. In fact some of the best olive oil comes from this region, but very little of it is exported. The south is home to citrus fruits, fields of durum wheat for pasta, olive groves and vineyards. The sea is used to its fullest extent with all manner of seafood included in dishes from tuna to anchovies and clams to sea urchins.
Pigs are grown throughout Italy, and though many become sausage, salami or prosciutto, just as many do not. It is the one meat that is found in all the regions of the country. Historically, while a good portion of the hog was used for cured meats, many other recipes and uses for pork became popular in Italian cuisine. Each region has its own unique way of cooking pork. Here are five pork chop recipes to illustrate the regional variations of this cuisine.
Bolognese Style Pork Chops
- 6 thick (3/4 -1 inch) rib pork chops with bone
- 6 large slices of prosciutto
- 6 slices Italian fontina cheese
- 2 bay leaves
- A clove of garlic, minced
- 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and minced
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt & freshly ground pepper
Trim all the gristle and fat from the cutlets, then cut them in half, leaving the halves attached only along the bone, so that the cutlets will open like a book.
Open the meat and fill each with a slice of prosciutto and one of cheese, trimming their edges so nothing sticks out.
In a skillet with a cover large enough for the meat to lie flat, heat the oil with the bay leaves. Place the pork chops in the pan and brown them on both sides, turning them carefully.
Season the meat with the minced herbs, salt and pepper, cover, and cook over a medium heat for about 15 minutes, turning the meat occasionally; should the meat look as if it’s drying out or over browning, reduce the heat.
Tuscan Style Pork Chops
- 1/2 cup chopped pancetta (about 3 ounces)
- 6 – 6 ounce thick-cut bone-in pork chops
- Ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 cup frozen pearl onions, thawed and drained
- 1 cup roasted and peeled chestnuts (fresh or unsweetened canned or jarred), roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced, or 1/2 teaspoon dried sage, crushed
- 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 cup dry Marsala or dry sherry
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup chopped pitted dried plums (prunes)
- Small fresh sage leaves
In an extra-large skillet cook pancetta over medium heat until fat is rendered and the pancetta is brown but not too crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to a paper towel-lined small bowl; set aside.
Sprinkle all sides of the pork chops with salt and pepper. Add pork chops to the hot drippings in the skillet; cook for 4 to 6 minutes or until golden brown, turning once halfway through the cooking time. Using tongs, transfer chops to a plate.
For the sauce: add butter to the skillet; heat over medium heat until no longer foamy. Add onions and chestnuts to the hot butter; cook about 5 minutes or until golden brown, shaking the skillet occasionally. Stir in garlic and thinly sliced or dried sage; cook about 30 seconds more or until fragrant. Add broth, Marsala, vinegar and honey. Bring to boiling.
Cook, uncovered, about 5 minutes or until liquid begins to turn syrupy, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Stir in dried plums and cooked pancetta; season to taste with pepper.
Return pork chops and any accumulated juices to the skillet; spoon sauce in skillet over chops. Cover skillet; reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 12 to 15 minutes or until pork is cooked through. Serve sauce over pork. If desired, garnish with small sage leaves.
Pork Chops Roman Style
- 4 bone-in pork chops, 1 inch thick
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons. honey
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the chops and cook, turning once, until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
Reduce the heat to medium. Add the honey, vinegar and thyme and cook until the liquid is thickened and reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Stir in the broth and bring to a simmer.
Return the pork chops to the pan, cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover and cook, turning the chops occasionally and basting with the sauce, for about 15 minutes more for medium doneness. Transfer the chops to a platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil.
Increase the heat to medium-high and simmer until the sauce is syrupy, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter until it is incorporated. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the sauce over the pork chops. Serves 4.
Neapolitan Pork Chops
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 6 pork rib or loin chops, cut about 3/4 to 1 inch thick
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 pound mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 2 green or red bell peppers, cleaned and chopped
- 1/2 cup canned chopped Italian tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons dry red wine
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet with a cover. Add garlic and cook until lightly browned. Season chops with salt and pepper.
Place chops in the skillet and brown on both sides. Add mushrooms, bell peppers, tomatoes, oregano and wine.
Cover and cook over low heat about 1 hour or until tender.
Sicilian Style Pork Chops
- 12 ounces Swiss chard, ribs removed
- 1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts (pignoli), toasted and chopped
- 4 pork loin chops, each 1 1/2 inches thick (about 10 ounces each)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
Finely slice Swiss chard. In a 2-quart saucepan, heat Swiss chard and 1 inch water to boiling over high heat, cover and cook 5 minutes. Drain, pressing hard to squeeze out excess liquid.
In the same saucepan, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds. Remove from heat, stir in Swiss chard, raisins, pine nuts and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Cut a pocket from the side of each chop, inserting knife almost to the bone. Slice parallel to surface, widening pocket as you go. Do not cut through to edge.
Fill pockets with chard stuffing, gently press closed. Pat chops dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
In 12-inch skillet, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat.
Add chops to the skillet and cook until browned on both sides. Add broth and wine to the skillet, heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 1 hour, or until chops are tender.
Transfer chops to platter, keep warm. Increase heat to high and boil pan juices until reduced to 3/4 cup. Pour over chops and serve.
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A favorite fall and winter fruit, pears are enjoyed for their juicy, sweet flavor and tender texture.
Anjou pears come in a variety of fall colors, from light green to yellow-green to red. Anjou pears, with their squat shape, are firm and have a mealy texture. They are juicy with a sweet-spicy flavor. These pears do not change color upon ripening. Eat fresh or use in salads and desserts.
Asian pears have a less traditional pear shape and more of an apple shape. They are firm and juicy with an apple-pear flavor. These pears, also known as Chinese pears and apple pears, have a crunchy texture. Eat fresh or use in salads or for baking.
Bartlett pears are all-purpose pears with the classic pear shape. They are smooth with green skins that turn buttery yellow when ripe. Bartletts can also be red but they do not change color with ripening. When ripe, Bartlett pears have a juicy, sweet flavor and a pleasant aroma. Excellent for eating fresh and using in salads and desserts.
Bosc pears have a slender shape with a longer top and a long, thin stem. They have a mottled tan-gold color with a subtle nutty flavor and buttery texture. Use for baking and poaching, as well as for eating fresh.
Comice pears are short and squat with a greenish yellow color and red blush when ripe. Their sweet, juicy flesh and buttery texture make them best for eating fresh.
Forelle pears are small with a bell shape. Green before ripening, these pears turn a golden yellow with a red blush when ripe. Sweet and juicy, Forelle pears are great eaten fresh or for salads and desserts.
Seckel pears are petite red or red and green pears. Sometimes even small enough to be bite-size, these tiny pears have a sweet flavor that makes them ideal for snacking or using in appetizers and desserts.
All about pears:
Look for firm or hard unripe pears with no bruises or cuts and with stems that are in place. Pears are one of a handful of fruits that are actually better if ripened after picking and it’s better to ripen pears at home rather than purchasing them ripe.
Store hard, unripe pears in a paper bag or in a covered fruit bowl at room temperature. Check daily for ripeness. You can also refrigerate unripe pears until you are ready to ripen them; then keep at room temperature. You cannot test ripeness by color because some varieties will not change color after picking. To check for ripeness of a pear, gently press the stem end of the pear with your thumb, If it yields to pressure, it’s ripe. To keep ripe pears longer, refrigerate them 3 to 5 days after ripening.
To prepare pears for cooking, use a vegetable peeler to remove the thin skin. To halve pears, cut in half lengthwise and remove the core with a small knife or melon baller. If you want to poach pears or stuff whole pears, use a melon baller to remove the core from the bottom of the pear, leaving the pear intact. Brush sliced pears that will not be immediately eaten with a little lemon juice to prevent browning. A medium pear will give you about 1 cup sliced.
Pears are healthy with only 100 calories each and a low glycemic index (meaning the carbohydrates in pears convert slowly to sugar). A medium pear (about the size of an adult fist) is a good source of dietary fiber, providing 16% of the recommended daily allowance. Pears are a good source of Vitamin C. This antioxidant promotes healing and boosts the immune system. Pears are a good source of potassium, an important mineral in heart health, nerve and muscle function.
A crostata is an Italian baked tart. It has been known by various names throughout Italy, including coppi in Naples and sfogliate in Lombardy.
If you don’t have a food processor, you can use the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, a pastry cutter or two forks to cut the cold butter into the cornmeal-flour mixture. Make sure that you choose a fine grade of cornmeal or polenta (not a coarse brand) for best results. And, you can make the pastry ahead, store it in the refrigerator, sealed in a plastic bag, for up to a week. Let it warm up before rolling it out.
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 3/4 cup fine cornmeal or polenta
- 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 1/2 pounds ripe pears (any kind, or a mixture)
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons Amaretto Liqueur
- 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- Dash of salt
To make the pastry:
Combine the walnuts, cornmeal, flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse until the walnuts are ground into a coarse meal. Pour the olive oil on top of the dry ingredients in the food processor.
Run the machine in a few long pulses, until the oil is evenly distributed and the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the egg and pulse once or twice—just until it is incorporated—then pulse in enough water to bring the dough together. Remove the dough from the food processor, gather it together and knead lightly into one ball.
Break the dough into two pieces, approximately 2/3 and 1/3. Form each piece into a ball and flatten each ball into a thick disk. On a lightly floured surface, roll the larger piece of dough into a 13-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Ease it into a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and trim the edges.
Roll out the smaller disc into a 10 inch circle and cut into strips about 1/2-inch wide. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F.
To make the filling:
Peel the fruit and cut it into thin slices Transfer the slices to a medium-sized bowl and drizzle with the lemon juice and amaretto. Sprinkle with the flour and salt and toss to coat.
Spread the fruit into the crust. Arrange the strips of dough on top in a criss-cross pattern, then push the ends of the strips into the edges of the bottom crust to hold them in place. (You might need to wet them a little to make them stick.)
Place the filled tart on a baking pan and bake in the lower half of the oven for about 45 minutes, or until golden on the top and around the edges.
Cool for at least 15 minutes before removing the rim of the pan and serving the tart. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Italian Pear Cake
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 cup thinly sliced peeled pear
- 8 pecan halves
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/3 cup low-fat sour cream
- 1/2 cup low-fat milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place butter in a 9-inch round cake pan; place the pan in the oven until the butter melts. Remove pan from oven.
Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over the bottom of the pan. Arrange pear slices and pecan halves in a decorative pattern over the sugar. Set aside.
Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Beat sugar, butter, egg and extracts with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add sour cream and half of flour mixture; beat well. Add remaining flour mixture and milk; beat well. Pour batter over pear slices, spreading gently.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack 5 minutes.
Run a sharp knife around edge of pan to loosen cake. Place a serving plate upside-down over pan; invert cake onto serving plate. Serve warm or cool completely.
Coconut-Streusel Pear Pie
Refrigerated Pastry for single-crust pie (9 inches)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 cups sliced peeled fresh pears
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons cold butter
- 1/3 cup flaked coconut
Line a 9-inch pie plate with pastry; trim and flute edges. Heat oven to at 400° F.
In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, flour and salt. Add pears and lemon juice. Cook and stir over medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until thickened. Pour into pastry.
For topping, in a small bowl, combine sugar and flour. Cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in coconut; sprinkle over top.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until filling is bubbly and topping is lightly browned.
Cool on a wire rack. Yield: 8 servings.
Red Wine Oven Poached Pears
- 4-6 peeled, cored pears (recommend Bosc or Anjou)
- 2-3 cups of red wine (recommend Zinfandel or Merlot)
- 3/4 cups of granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice (can also add lemon zest, if desired)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
Combine 2 cups of the wine and all the remaining ingredients, except the pears, in an ovenproof deep pan that will hold the pears snugly and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Peel the pears but leave the stems on and remove the core from the bottom. Place the pears upright in the pan with the wine mixture. The pears should be covered by the liquid, if not add the remaining cup of wine.
Bring the wine mixture to a simmer on the stovetop and, then, place the pan in the oven.
Bake for 1 hour, basting every 15 minutes. The pears should darken to a rich mahogany color as they cook.
When the pears are done (still firm but easily pierced with a fork), remove them from the oven.
The liquid in the baking dish should be syrupy. If you would like the sauce thicker, remove the pears to a serving bowl and cook the wine mixture until it is reduced, slightly thick.
Place the pears in individual serving bowls and cover with syrup. Serve with either sweetened mascarpone cheese, crème fraiche or whipped cream.
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A large and growing number of Italian American authors have had success in getting their works published in America. Some of the authors who have written about the Italian American experience are Pietro Di Donato, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Dana Gioia (Executive Director of the National Endowment for the Arts), John Fusco (author of Paradise Salvage) and Daniela Gioseffi (winner of the John Ciardi Award for Lifetime Achievement in Poetry and The American Book Award).
Poets Sandra (Mortola) Gilbert and Kim Addonizio and Helen Barolini, editor of The Dream Book, a collection of Italian American women’s writings were award winners from Italian Americana (a semi-annual historical and cultural journal devoted to the Italian experience in America). These women have authored many books depicting Italian American women in a new light. Helen Barolini’s work was the first anthology to pay special attention to the interaction of Italian American women with American social activism. Common themes included conflicts between the Italian American and the mainstream American culture and traditional immigrant parents with their American-assimilated children.
Mary Jo Bona (Professor of Italian American Studies & English at Stony Brook University is the author of Claiming A Tradition: Italian American Women Writers, was interested in showing how authors portrayed the many configurations of family relationships: from the early immigrant narratives of the journey to America, through novels that depicted intergenerational conflicts to contemporary works about the struggle of Italian American women to live in nontraditional gender roles.
A growing number of books about the Italian American experience are published each year. Well known authors, such as Don DeLillo, Giannina Braschi, Gilbert Sorrentino, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gay Talese, John Fante, Tina DeRosa, Daniela Gioseffi, Kim Addonizio and Dana Gioia, have broken into mainstream American literature and publishing. Dana Gioia was Poetry Editor of Italian Americana from 1993 to 2003. He initiated an educational series in which featured poets talked about their work. Poet, Michael Palma, continues Dana Gioia’s work, today.
Italian Americans have written not only about the Italian American experience but, also, about the human experience. Mario Puzo’s first novel, The Fortunate Pilgrim, was an inspirational account of the immigrant experience, which was widely reviewed as being well written, moving and poetic. The Right Thing to Do, by Josephine Gattuso Hendin, is an elevating novel about an Italian American family and their experiences in a new culture. Contemporary best-selling fiction writers include David Baldacci, Kate DiCamillo, Adriana Trigiani and Lisa Scottoline.
Helen Barolini’s fiction and nonfiction work has created a bridge between the United States, her home, and Italy, her ancestral land. Awarded a writing grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for her first novel, Umbertina, Barolini is also the author of twelve books and many short stories and essays that have been cited in annual editions of Best American Essays. She has received the American Book Award; has been a Resident Fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Lake Como; a visiting artist at the American Academy in Rome; an invited writer at Yaddo and the MacDowell colony and a writer in residence at the Mark Twain Quarry Center of Elmira College. Three of her books have appeared in translation in Italy, where she has lectured as an invited American author.
Helen’s maternal grandfather, Angelo Cardamone and his wife, Nicoletta, immigrated from Calabria, Italy to Utica, NY in 1880. Helen Barolini was born and raised in Syracuse, NY and attended local schools. She attended Wells College, graduated magna cum laude from Syracuse University and received a Master’s degree from Columbia University. She was an exchange student at the University of London, where she studied contemporary English literature and then traveled in Europe, writing “Letters from Abroad” for the Syracuse Herald Journal.
Given the intercultural themes of her work linking her American birth and education with her ancestral Italy, Helen Barolini’s writings have been the subject of many student theses both here and abroad. Crossing the Alps, a novel, is Barolini’s newest work. It is a coming of age novel set in post World War II Italy. The Italian edition received praise for its authentic background.
John Ciardi, poet and scholar, did the only English translation of Dante’s, Divine Comedy, that reproduced the Italian poet’s complex rhyme scheme. Ciardi was also a poet in his own right, who authored 60 books, taught at Harvard and Rutgers, hosted a weekly radio commentary on National Public Radio in the 1980’s and was the only American poet to have his own television program (“Accent,” CBS, 1961).
Ciardi was born in Boston’s Little Italy to immigrant parents from Naples, Italy. After the death of his father from an automobile accident in 1919, he was raised by his mother and his three older sisters, all of whom scrimped and saved until they had enough money to send him to college. In 1921, two years after his father’s death, the family moved to Medford, Massachusetts, where the Ciardi peddled vegetables to the neighbors and attended public school. Ciardi began his higher educational studies at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, but transferred to Tufts University in Boston, where he studied under the poet John Holmes. He received his degree in 1938 and won a scholarship to the University of Michigan, where he obtained his master’s degree the next year and won the first of many awards for his poetry: the prestigious, Hopwood Award in poetry.
Ciardi published his first book of poems, Homeward to America, in 1940, before the war and his next book, Other Skies, focusing on his wartime experiences, was published in 1947. His third book, Live Another Day, came out in 1949. In 1950, Ciardi edited a poetry collection, Mid-Century American Poets, which identified the best poets of his generation.
In 1953, Ciardi joined the English Department at Rutgers University, in order to begin a writing program, but after eight successful years there, he resigned his professorship in 1961 in favor of several other more lucrative careers and to “devote himself full time to literary pursuits”. (When he left Rutgers, he famously quipped that teaching was “planned poverty.”) He was popular enough and interesting enough to warrant a pair of appearances in the early 1960s on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He was the poetry editor of Saturday Review from 1956 to 1972 and wrote the 1959 poetry textbook, How Does A Poem Mean. Ciardi was a “fellow of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences and was a member and former president of the National Institute of Arts and Letters. He died on Easter Sunday in 1986 of a heart attack.
Don DeLillo, an important contemporary American novelist, wrote Americana, Great Jones Street, White Noise, Libra and Underworld. DeLillo was born on November 20, 1936 and grew up in a working-class Italian Catholic family from Molise, Italy in an Italian-American neighborhood in the Bronx. Reflecting on his childhood, DeLillo described how he was “…always out in the street. As a little boy I whiled away most of my time pretending to be a baseball announcer on the radio. There were eleven of us in a small house, but the close quarters were never a problem. I didn’t know things any other way. We always spoke English and Italian all mixed up together. My grandmother, who lived in America for fifty years, never learned English.”
DeLillo has described his fiction as being concerned with “living in dangerous times”. In a 2005 interview he declared, “Writers must oppose systems. It’s important to write against power, corporations, the state and the whole system of consumption and of debilitating entertainments. I think writers, by nature, must oppose things, oppose whatever power tries to impose on us.” DeLillo is currently at work on a new novel, his sixteenth, where the main character spends a lot of time watching file footage on a widescreen of images of a disaster. He currently lives near New York City in the suburb of Bronxville.
Pietro di Donato
Pietro di Donato, the son of an Italian immigrant and himself a bricklayer, captured the life and death of his father, who was foreman of a construction crew of Italian immigrants, in his first novel, Christ in Concrete (1939). Di Donato was born April 3, 1911 in West Hoboken, New Jersey (now Union City) to Geremio, a bricklayer, and Annunziata Chinquina. Pietro had seven other siblings. His parents had emigrated from the town of Vasto, in the region of Abruzzo in Italy.
On March 30, 1923, Geremio di Donato died when a building collapsed on him, burying him in concrete. Pietro, who was twelve at the time, left school in the seventh grade to become a construction worker in order to help support his family. His father’s death and his life growing up as an immigrant in West Hoboken were the inspiration for his writings. Though he had little formal education, during a strike, he wandered into a library and discovered French and Russian novels, becoming particularly fond of Émile Zola.
In 1958 di Donato wrote his second novel, a sequel to Christ in Concrete called, This Woman. It continued the story of di Donato’s life following his father’s death. In 1960 a third book in the same tradition called, Three Circles of Light, focused on di Donato’s childhood in the years prior to his father’s death. That same year, di Donato published, The Immigrant Saint: The Life of Mother Cabrini, a fictionalized account of Frances Xavier Cabrini, the first United States citizen canonized. The following year di Donato published, The Penitent, an account of contrition and spiritual rebirth of the man who killed the twelve-year-old Maria Goretti. In 1978 his article on the kidnapping and murder of Aldo Moro (president of the Christian Democratic Party of Italy), titled “Christ in Plastic”, appeared in Penthouse Magazine and won the Overseas Press Club award. Di Donato later adapted the article into a play, entitled Moro. Di Donato died of bone cancer on January 19, 1992 in Stony Brook, Long Island, with his last unfinished novel, Gospels, unpublished.
Barbara Grizzuti-Harrison, one of the most well-known contemporary writers, is the author of Italian Days, considered a masterpiece of travel writing, thanks to her acute powers of observation and broad cultural knowledge. She has also written The Islands of Italy, A History and a Memory of Jehovah’s Witnesses and The Astonishing World. Barbara Grizzuti was born in Queens, New York City, on September 14, 1934. Her parents were first-generation Americans and her grandparents were immigrants from Calabria in southern Italy. She later described her childhood as deeply troubled and the turmoil of her childhood would have a strong influence on her writing.
When Harrison was 9, she and her mother became Jehovah’s Witnesses. Harrison’s father and brother did not convert and this caused a rift in the household. As a teenager at New Utrecht High School in Brooklyn, Harrison fell in love with Arnold Horowitz, an English teacher who was among the first to encourage her writing talent. He apparently returned her feelings and although their relationship remained platonic, they continued to see each other and to correspond until Horowitz’s death in the late 1960s. After graduating from high school, Harrison, who had been forbidden to attend a university, went to live and work at the Watchtower headquarters. However, her friendship with Horowitz scandalised her colleagues and she was asked to leave. The relationship was but one symptom of a growing conflict between Harrison’s faith and her artistic sensibilities, which eventually led to a nervous breakdown.
Harrison became involved with the women’s movement and wrote about feminist themes for various publications. Her first book, Unlearning the Lie: Sexism in School, was published in 1969. Harrison was one of the first contributors to Ms. Magazine. Harrison wrote for many of the leading periodicals of her time, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, Harper’s, The Atlantic Monthly, The Village Voice, The Nation, Ladies’ Home Journal and Mother Jones Magazine. Among the people she interviewed were Red Barber, Mario Cuomo, Jane Fonda, Gore Vidal, Joan Didion, Francis Ford Coppola, Nadia Comăneci, Alessandra Mussolini and Barbara Bush. Because of her background, Harrison was often asked to write about movements that were perceived to be cults; she described families affected by the Unification Church and the Northeast Kingdom Community Church and reported on the U.S. government’s deadly standoff with the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas.
In 1994 Harrison, who had been a heavy smoker for most of her adult life, was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. She died on April 24, 2002 in a hospice in Manhattan.
Jerre Mangione (1909-1998) was one of the most celebrated early Italian American writers. His first book, Mount Allegro, (1943) and, later, An Ethnic At Large (1978), explored the evolution of Mangione’s identity from a child of Sicilian immigrants to an American. His last book, La Storia, which he co-authored with Ben Morreale, is a monumental five-century social history of the Italians in America.
Mount Allegro was Mr. Mangione’s first book and its sympathetic portrait of his family and neighbors have made it a classic of ethnic American literature and a must read for anyone interested in the experience of Sicilian immigrants. Mr. Mangione, professor emeritus of American literature at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote 10 more books after Mount Allegro was published in 1943. Most of them dealt in some way with Sicily, Sicilians or the Italian American experience – the experience he lived as a child.
Jerre (Gerlando) Mangione was born in Rochester in 1909, the first of six children born to parents, who emigrated from Sicily at the turn of the century. He grew up in the section of the city now known as Mount Allegro, the fictionalized name he gave the place in his book. His mother, Josephine, had dreams for her children, but they were musical rather than literary. Those dreams were realized through jazz musicians, Chuck and Gap Mangione, the sons of Mr. Mangione’s brother, Frank. But the dreams were nightmares for the young Jerre, who failed at the piano, violin and guitar before his mother finally understood that music was not his forte.
Said to have been a sickly and lonely child, Mr. Mangione spent much of his youth reading – generally on the sly because his mother believed too much reading caused insanity. “The boy would rather read than eat,” she said of him. His favorite book in those years was the dictionary, he once said. He depended on it because his parents, doing their best to preserve their Sicilian heritage, insisted that he and his siblings speak only Italian at home.
Though he was prolific, Mr. Mangione found that getting words down on paper was painful. He said he often found himself doing other chores to avoid his daily 9:30 a.m to 1 p.m. date with the typewriter. “In an effort to avoid writing, one can accomplish almost anything,” he said in an interview. Mr. Mangione, who once said he considered himself an observer of life, rather than a participant, enjoyed consistent success as a novelist and social historian. He won several national fellowships to pursue his writing. The New York Times and other national publications regularly gave his books glowing reviews and his book about the Federal Writers Project was nominated for a National Book Award. Mangione died on August 16, 1998 in Haverford, PA.
Gay Talese (b.1932) is known for his daring pursuit of “unreportable” stories, for his exhaustive research, and for his formally elegant style. He is a prolific writer and one of the founders of the 1960’s style of writing called, “New Journalism,” which incorporates fictional elements (dialogue, scene description and shifting points of view) into news writing. Talese was a reporter for The New York Times between 1956 and 1965, writing about sports and politics. Among his many best-sellers is The Kingdom and the Power, the story of crime boss Joe Bonanno and his son, Bill; Thy Neighbor’s Wife, which examines America’s changing sexual mores and Unto the Sons, an autobiographical book about his Italian heritage.
Gay Talese was born into an Italian-American family in Ocean City, New Jersey, located just south of Atlantic City. His father, Joseph Talese, was a tailor who had immigrated to the United States in 1922 from Maida, a town in the province of Catanzaro in southern Italy. His mother, the former Catherine DePaolo, was a buyer for a Brooklyn department store.
Talese was rejected by dozens of colleges in New Jersey and nearby states but, eventually, he was accepted at the University of Alabama. His selection of a major was, as he described it, “I chose journalism as my college major because that is what I knew,” he recalls, “but I really became a student of history”. It was here that he would begin to employ literary devices more well known in fiction, like establishing the “scene” with minute details in his writing. In his junior year he became the sports editor for the campus newspaper, Crimson-White, and started a column, he dubbed “Sports Gay-zing”.
He later wrote,”Sports is about people who lose and lose and lose. They lose games and then they lose their jobs. It can be very intriguing.” Of the various sports, boxing held the most appeal for Talese, largely because it was about individuals engaged in contests and those individuals were predominately non-whites. He wrote 38 articles about Floyd Patterson alone. Talese’s celebrated Esquire piece about Joe DiMaggio, “The Silent Season of a Hero” – in part a meditation on the transient nature of fame – appeared in 1966. The Library of America selected Talese’s 1970 account of the Charles Manson murders, “Charlie Manson’s Home on the Range”, for inclusion in its two-century retrospective of American True Crime. In 2011 he received the Norman Mailer Prize for Distinguished Journalism.
Frances Winwar (1900-1985) a novelist, biographer and translator, was born Francesca Vinciguerra in Taormina, Sicily, the daughter of Domenico Vinciguerra, a singer, and Giovanna Sciglio. Her family arrived in the United States in 1907 and she grew up in New York City. She attended local public schools and studied at Hunter College and Columbia University but never earned a degree. Quickly mastering English and French while retaining complete fluency in Italian, she showed an early taste for literature and began to publish poetry. A literary essay on Giovanni Verga that she published in Freeman in 1923, brought her a job with the New York World as a staff book reviewer. She stayed with the World for two years and was a frequent contributor to such periodicals as the New York Times, the New Republic and the Saturday Review of Literature for years afterward.
Winwar married four times. Sometime shortly after 1920 she was briefly married to the writer, Victor J. Jerome. In 1925 she married Bernard D. N. Grebanier, a professor of English literature at Brooklyn College, with whom she had one son. That marriage ended in divorce and in 1943 Winwar married mystery writer, Richard Wilson Webb. After a third divorce, she married Dr. Francis Lazenby, a classics scholar and librarian of the University of Notre Dame.
Winwar was best known for a series of romanticized biographies of nineteenth-century English literary figures and their followers, beginning with Poor Splendid Wings: The Rossettis and Their Circle (1933), an account that included Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Charles Algernon Swinburne and William Morris. Two years later she published The Romantic Rebels, another composite biography, in which she sensitively, though not always accurately, portrayed John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron. Farewell the Banner (1938) relates the complex relationships of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth and Wordsworth’s sister, Dorothy. The fourth of her group biographies was Oscar Wilde and the Yellow ‘Nineties, describing the scandal surrounding its leader.
In The Life of the Heart (1945) she focused on a single writer rather than a group or a movement, but her novelized biography of George Sand included vivid portraits of Frédéric Chopin, Gustave Flaubert and Louis Napoléon, as well. Other fictionalized biographies, such as American Giant: Walt Whitman and His Times (1941) and Haunted Palace (1959), a life of Edgar Allan Poe, met with popular success, even when the critics were less than enthusiastic, as did her juvenile histories, Napoleon and the Battle of Waterloo (1953) and Queen Elizabeth and the Spanish Armada (1954). Listed as “romantic novels,” these novel-biographies were sometimes criticized as falling short of rigid historical completeness, but all were thoroughly researched and offered vivid portraits of their subjects.
She was an outspoken opponent of Italian Fascism, the only Italian American besides Pietro di Donato to speak at the Second American Writers Congress in 1937, where her paper “Literature under Fascism” vehemently condemned Fascist repression and its effects on literature in the country of her birth. She died on July 24, 1985, at her home in New York City.
All the authors in this post have Italian roots from southern Italy. Here are a few traditional Italian American recipes in their honor.
Seafood Marinara With Linguine
- 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
- 12 oz tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 14.5 oz can low sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 1 tablespoons fresh basil chopped or 2 teaspoons dried basil leaves, crushed
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano chopped or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crushed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 8 oz shrimp fresh or frozen, peeled and deveined
- 8 oz scallops fresh or frozen
- 1 lb linguine cooked, drained and kept warm
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; cook for 2 minutes.
Add tomatoes, chicken broth, tomato paste, wine, basil, oregano and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer for 10 minutes.
Heat remaining oil in small skillet over high heat. Add shrimp and scallops; cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until shrimp turn pink and scallops are opaque.
Add to sauce. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
Serve over pasta.
Sausage and Mushroom Calzone
- 2 cups homemade of store bought pizza sauce
- 12 oz sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
- 1 cup mushrooms sliced
- 1 lb pizza dough
- 1 -1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese grated
Cook sausage and mushrooms in a large skillet until no longer pink; drain off fat in the pan. Stir in one cup of pizza sauce.
Roll dough on lightly floured surface to a 12-inch circle. Place on greased cookie sheet or pizza pan. Spoon sausage mixture over half the dough to within 1/2 inch of edge.
Sprinkle with mozzarella.
Moisten edges of dough with water. Fold dough in half over filling. Seal by pressing with the tines of a fork. Cut slits in the top of the dough.
Brush with water and sprinkle with Parmesan.
Bake at 375°F. for 25 minutes or until golden. Heat remaining pizza sauce and serve with the calzone.
- 4 cups vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1 cup whole-milk ricotta
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
- Special equipment: a deep-fat thermometer
Heat 1 1/2 inches oil in a large wide heavy saucepan until it registers 370°F.
Meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking powder, zest and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl.
Whisk together ricotta, eggs, granulated sugar and vanilla in another bowl, then whisk in flour mixture.
Working in batches, gently drop level tablespoons of batter into the hot oil and fry, turning occasionally, until golden, about 3 minutes per batch.
Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.
Dust generously with confectioners sugar.
- The Changing Face of Italian-American Food and Wine (acevola.blogspot.com)
- Dive Into Dante (bonesparkblog.wordpress.com)