The winter days are long and the memories of warm summer afternoons seem so distant. Crostata di Marmellata is the ultimate dolce to prepare during the winter months to recall summers past. Freshly picked berries, cherries, peaches, and apricots are no longer available at the market, but flavorful jams reminiscent of the delights of summer certainly are. Some of my wonderfully talented friends shared their special jams of the season this year: olallieberry, strawberry and apricot. What better way to feature these jams than to make them the centerpiece of a lattice topped crostata. Don’t despair if you are not as fortunate as I in the friends who make jam department, there are many high quality jams on the market to choose from. Pick one to treat family, friends, and yourself to the sweet memories of summer….
Nothing should put a smile on your face more than mounds of minature fried dough balls bathed in honey, that makes complete sense doesn’t it? Struffoli are the quintessential holiday treat during the month of December. Their mere appearance can pull you out of the deepest holiday funk. Generally, I loathe any stereotypical associations between Italian Americans and organized crime, however I feel compelled to mention a scene from iconic series The Sopranos where in Carmella, noting that Tony was in one of his depressive states (moosha moosh) presented him with a heaping platter of these honey glazed confections, a loving gesture to cheer the dysfunctional mob boss….
If you are from an Italian American family with roots in southern Italy and lived in the greater New York area, you know what these are. Anginetti were a part of every family celebration – Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Engagements, Weddings, Baptisms, First Communions, Graduations – you name it they were there. These were usually made by the family matriarch, more often than not the grandmother, who began the production line days before the event monopolizing the kitchen table along with every other surface at home. The finished Angenetti were arranged on dollie lined aluminum pie tins, wrapped in cellophane and transported to the party destination to be proudly placed on each table….
Keeping with the Thanksgiving theme, here is another of our family favorites adapted from Gina DePalma of Babbo in Greenwich Village. If you are not familiar with this recipe, you are missing something extraordinary. In it’s simplicity, Torta di Zucca delivers the essence of a fall evening in the Italian countryside – comforting, straightforward, and satisfying. The ingredients couldn’t be more Italian – olive oil, rosemary, raisins, Grappa, pine nuts; pleasantly evoking something typically prepared by a loving Nonna using only what she had on hand….