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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Frittelle: sweet treats for Carnevale

One of the most traditional and famous annual festivals of Venice is for sure ‘Il Carnevale”. Carnival starts around two weeks before Ash Wednesday and ends on Shrove Tuesday Fat Tuesday or Martedi’ Grasso) the day before Ash Wednesday. This year the Carnival will start February 6th and it will end on February 16th. I want to share with you today one if the most typical Fat Tuesday sweet treats we made in Venice: The Frittelle Veneziane, also knows as Frittole or in dialect from Venice “Fritoe Venessiane”. During Carnevale everybody eats them at least once.

Venice is famous for its pastries and among all of them the “Frittelle”, fried dough with powdered sugar and raisins, are one of the most delicious sweet treats. It’s a very interesting texture – very moist inside, airy, even though it looks like a round puff, very yummy and easy to make. Here how:

Frittelle Veneziane a.k.a. Frittole

Ingredienti/ Ingredient:

  • 20 gr. di lievito di birra/0.7 oz yeast 

  • 300 ml di latte/10.15 oz milk

  • 150 gr. di farina/5.29 oz flour 

  • 3 uova/ 3 eggs  

  • 35 gr. di zucchero/1.25 oz sugar

  • 180 gr. di margarina o burro 
/6.35 oz margarine or butter
  • 30 gr. di uva sultanina
/ 1.06 oz sultanas
  • 30 gr. di pinoli
/ 1.06 oz pine nuts
  • Buccia di limone/ lemon zest
  • 1/2 tazzina di grappa veneta / ½ cup Grappa veneta or Rum

  • Olio di semi / Oil for frying
  • Zucchero a velo 
/Castor sugar
  • Sale  un pizzico/ Salt
1. Soak the raisins in lukewarm water.
2. Dissolved in a touch of tepid milk the yeast and add little by little two spoons of bloom, and whip it nicely so not to have lumps. Cover and allow this pasta to rise in a warm corner until such time as the mixture has doubled its size.
3. In another bowl mix the rest of the flour, the risen pasta, together with one whole egg and three eggs yolk, sugar, butter or margarine (ambient temperature). Salt the mixture to taste and zest of a lemon. Pour in the flour and mix the rest of the ingredient: sultanas (drain and squeeze the liquid off the raisins) and pine nuts and the grappa or the rum. Cover the dough with a cloth for the time necessary to heat the oil.

4.When ready, take small quantities of the dough with a dessertspoon, and form small balls with the mixture. Cook these shapes by frying in hot olive oil inside a deep pan. The 'frittelle' are ready when they turn a deep golden color.
Allow the excess olive oil to drain away by placing each on absorbent kitchen paper.
5. Finally, sprinkle the 'frittole' with caster sugar and serve hot.
P.S. It’s also possible to substitute in the dough the pine nuts with small pieces of apple.

Buon appetito and stay tuned for my next week blog that will tell you all about the Masks, the traditions and the fun of the “Carnevale di Venezia”!

 “When in Italy do as the Italians do”
This week: Pasticceria

If you are in Italy and you are craving sweets, then you have to go “una Pasticceria”  which is the Italian pastry shop. You can go early in the morning for a nice pastry or in the afternoon for a sweet and a tea with friends.
Most of them serve coffee, cappuccino and tea as well and they are often called a Bar/Pasticceria.
If you need to buy someone in Italy a gift to repay a small kindness, often a small tray of assorted pastries or biscotti (cookies) from a good Pasticceria may be appropriate.
Pastries are sold by the kilogram if they are small. Ask for un etto, or a tenth of a kilogram, to get about a quarter pound of delicious treats.
You will sometimes find good Italian ice cream, gelato in a pasticceria, especially in a smaller town that might not have a gelateria.
Love always,

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