Greetings from Carmela's Cucina,
I am looking ahead to next week and to the feast of St. Joseph on March 19th. For Italian's this is a very important feast day, honoring the foster father of Jesus. One of my Italian reference books describes St. Joseph as a "good and just man."
Many Italians celebrate the feast with a St. Joseph Table. Inviting the poor into their home and feeding them as St. Joseph would have. In my own Italian family, the feast was always celebrated by my grandmothers by making St. Joseph Bread. Small rolls, of crusty chewy bread, hot out of the oven and with a thick layer of butter, these small breads were delicious.
My grandfather, father, brother, two nephews and many male cousins are all named Joseph. My own son is Patrick Joseph, so we celebrate St. Pat's Day with him and then 2 days later St. Joseph's Day. At a recent Tursi family reunion one of the cousins asked if all of the Joe Tursi's would step forward for a photo, there were 23 that came to get their picture taken. Not all go by the name of Joe as it is confusing, but go by their middle names, Tony, or Louie for example.
My great aunt, Eliza Tursi, always had many guests to her home on this special day, she would make the bread and several other Italian specialties, but the one I remember the most were her Zepolle. She always deep fried her puffs which is the traditional way to do it and when they came out of the oil and still hot, she would dust them with powdered sugar. Over the years though, I have found that my clients don't care for deep fried food, so I have come up with a lighter version. Below is my recipe for Zeppole which are baked and then filled with a velvety Almond Cream. If you have any extra cream serve it with fresh berries for a nice spring time dessert. For more recipes for Zeppole go to http://www.foodnetwork.com/
ZEPPOLE DI SAN GIUSEPPE
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sifted butter
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Bring water and butter to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in all of the flour. Put the pan back on the burner and beat vigorously with a spoon until flour and liquid mixture are blended or until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan and forms a ball. Remove the pan again from the heat and add the eggs one at a time. After each egg is added, beat the batter until it is well blended and smooth.
Drop dough by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased baking sheets and bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool puff, cut in half, and fill with desired filling. ( I like to cool the puffs in the oven, with it turned off and door propped open, I also try to poke the puffs with a fork or the tip of a knife to release the steam built up in the puff, so they will be nice and crisp.
ALMOND CREAM FILLING
1 package instant French Vanilla Pudding 3 ounce size
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 pint whipping cream
1 pint strawberries
powdered sugar for dusting
Follow directions on package of vanilla pudding, substituting 1 teaspoon of almond extract for some of the milk. Let pudding set for 1 hour. Whip cream until stiff peaks form. Fold whipped cream into the pudding. Slice cooled puffs in half and fill with almond cream. Top with some raspberries. Put the top back on the puff and dust with powdered sugar. Garnish with more raspberries. Makes 12 servings.
Buona Festa e Buon Appetito,
Carmela Tursi Hobbins