December 2, 2004
Fritter Away Your Time for Chanukah
We just returned from a trip to Italy, concentrating on the provinces of Puglia and Campania close to Naples. It is a region that we enjoy because of the diversity of the foods and wines available.
We visited several new places but returned to one of our favorites, La Caveja, a country restaurant with eight rooms, in the village of Pietravairano. It is owned by Antonietta Rotondo and Berardino Lombardo. They hosted us two years ago, when we had a remarkable experience that lasted past midnight, observing just-picked olives being crushed into olive oil.
However, since our last visit, they have remodeled their farmhouse into a wonderful villa. It is a bed and breakfast, and includes six additional rooms. In Italy, it is called an agri-turismo.
We enjoyed a delicious dinner that they cooked in their newly restored kitchen, and for dessert, Antonietta served us honey-glazed fritters fried in olive oil. She called them Scavatelle and said they were made from a traditional recipe that was handed down from her grandmother.
I couldn't help but think how perfect these fritters fried in olive oil and dipped in a honey syrup would be to serve for our Chanukah celebration. She was happy to share the recipe with me, when I told her that I would like to serve them to our family.
This pastry is easy to make, and it is a project that you can share with your children or grandchildren. Baking helps teach children to follow directions, how to measure and weigh ingredients, tell time and other useful skills. So, let them help in the shaping and dipping of these delicacies.
The dough can be rolled out several hours in advance and covered with a dry towel. Fry and dip in the honey syrup just before serving, so they will be warm and crisp.
Remember, Chanukah begins at sundown on Tuesday, Dec. 7. Happy Chanukah!
Scavatelle (Fried Pastries)
Adapted by Judy Zeidler from Antonietta Rotondo at La Caveja.
Antonietta said that these pastries are traditionally served on a large lemon leaf.
1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons water
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon olive oil
Peel from 1/2 of a lemon
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of salt
1 cup flour
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon sugar
Peel of 1/2 a lemon
1 tablespoon water
Olive oil for frying
In a saucepan, place water, cinnamon stick, olive oil, lemon zest, sugar and salt. Boil for two or three minutes. Remove zest and cinnamon stick. Add flour all at once, and using a wooden spoon, mix until dough comes together. It will be lumpy.
Spoon dough onto a floured board, punch down and knead into a flat disk to remove lumps. Pull off pieces of dough and roll out into thin ropes.
Cut into 6-inch ropes and working with one rope, bring one end of rope around to form a loop, crossing over the other end (leaving 1/2-inch ends) and pinching to resemble a bow tie. Place on paper towels and cover with a dry dish towel.
In a saucepan, place honey, sugar, lemon peel and water. Mix well and simmer over low heat.
In a deep fryer or heavy saucepan, heat oil and fry pastries until browned. Dip in honey syrup and serve at once.
Makes about four dozen.
Antonietta Rotondo and Berardino Lombardo can be contacted at:
Judy Zeidler is the author of "The Gourmet Jewish Cook" (Cookbooks, 1988) and "The 30-Minute Kosher Cook" (Morrow, 1999). Her Web site is members.aol.com/jzkitchen.