Happy St. Joseph’s Day! Now, everyone can partake in the festivities with a gluten-free version of zeppole or sfince/sfinge di San Giuseppe. I used the basic gluten-free cream puff recipe from King Arthur Flour. However, I did not have gf King Arthur flour on hand, so I used a homemade blend. My blend is from the all-purpose flour blend in Gluten Free & More magazine with a little tweak.
Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Blend
1 1/2 cups sweet rice flour
3/4 cup tapioca starch
3/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
OK, so you will still use 3/4 cup of this flour blend to make the cream puffs. Follow the directions for cream puffs. I spooned generous tablespoons of dough onto the parchment paper. For me, it made 8 cream puffs. When they are cooled, you will add the ricotta filling.
about 2 lbs. ricotta (or two containers, some containers are 15 oz.), drained in a colander or cheesecloth to remove excess water
1 cup confectioners’ sugar (or to taste, if you like it more or less sweet)
candied citron or orange peel
Mix the ricotta and sugar. If it is too thick, add a bit of milk (not too much because you don’t want it liquidy). If you want, you can add some chocolate chips or candied citron. You can also decorate them with candied citron, candied orange peel, crushed pistachios, and/or a maraschino cherry.
The sfogliatella (sfogliatelle, plural) is a popular Neapolitan pastry eaten for breakfast or dessert that is also prevalent at Italian bakeries in the United States. There are four varieties of sfogliatelle that exist in Naples–the shell-shaped riccia, which is the classic sfogliatelle, often with a ricotta-based filling;
the circular frolla, which has a pasta frolla crust and the same filling;
the santarosa, which has a custard filling and cherries on top;
and the lobster tail, a longer version of the sfogliatelle riccia. The classic shell-shape of the riccia, santarosa and lobster tail is named for its many sheets of dough. Foglia means “leaf” or “sheet” in Italian. It is very labor intensive and difficult to make, so one usually buys them in a bakery. In contrast, frolla is easily made at home.
The traditional sfogliatella riccia was first made in a Medieval convent in Naples. Pasticceria Pintauro in Napoli’s Quartiere Spagnoli, or Spanish Quarter, a historic area of the city, is about 200 years old, although it has had different owners through the years. It is known for its sfogliatelle.
As is Antico Forno delle Sfogliatelle Calde Fratelli Attanasio, a bakery not far from the main train station, opened in 1930. It comes hot from the oven–just how it was made in the convents of old. Attanasio’s is by far the best I’ve ever had. The thin layers are crisped to perfection for a wonderfully crunchy bite. According to its history, it is not only supposed to appeal to the taste buds, but the ears as well.
The santarosa is named for the convent where it was first made, Monastero di Santa Rosa, which is now the site of a hotel on the Amalfi coast.
In New York City, sfogliatelle riccie and lobster tails are found at most Italian bakeries.
Posted in Bakery, Dessert, History, Italian
Tagged Naples, Napoli, Neapolitan, pasta frolla, pasticceria, pastry, riccie, santarosa, sfogliatella, sfogliatelle
If you are visiting Napoli, these are the 10 must-try foods that I recommend. There are so many wonderful dishes, foods, fruits, vegetables, cheeses, meats, seafood, etc that come from Naples or the Campania region. It’s hard to narrow it down to ten. But the average travelers don’t have an Italian nonna to cook local dishes for them nor do they have access to a refrigerator to buy groceries for themselves. So I compiled this list with the vacationer in mind. I think these foods are the best for visitors to try.
- Pizza–In the birthplace of pizza, there are many places to try the city’s favorite dish. Neapolitan pizza is different from American-style and New York-style pizza. If you prefer the crispy crust of a New York-style pizza, you may not like Neapolitan pizza. However, the ingredients on Neapolitan pies are usually top notch. A trendy place to try is Sorbillo. My favorite was Vesi, although I liked Da Michele too.
Da Michele pizza
- Sfogliatelle–A Neapolitan pastry that can be eaten for breakfast or dessert. It’s a popular one in Italian-American bakeries. The sfogliatelle is a difficult pastry to tackle and master–not one for the home cook. You must try one from Antico Forno delle Sfogliatelle Calde Fratelli Attanasio, a bakery not far from the main train station. It is by far the best I’ve ever had. It comes hot from the oven. The thin layers are crisped to perfection for a wonderfully crunchy bite. The custard and cherry ones are a special treat too.
- Pizza portafoglio–This pizza is the perfect fast food. It is sold from carts outside pizzerias. It’s a personal-sized pizza folded in quarters. Unlike most Neapolitan pizza, this pizza is crispier and doesn’t have the “soggy” center. It also doesn’t have much cheese. But the taste is divine.
- Taralli–A crunchy ring of dough, taralli is Neapolitan snack food. It comes in sweet and savory varieties.
- Pizza fritta–Pizza fritta is a popular Italian-American snack too. It’s a fried calzone with a cheesy filling in the center. It is also sold from carts outside fry shops.
- Rum baba–This pastry can be seen all over Naples. It is also a popular pastry found at Italian-American bakeries in the United States.
- Neapolitan ragu–aka Sunday gravy in the United States. Ragu is a slow-simmered tomato-based meat sauce for pasta.
- Frolla–The frolla is the easier version of the sfogliatelle that can be baked by home cooks. Or just as easily bought at numerous cafes in the city.
- Gelato–There are many gelateria in Napoli. One of my favorites with multiple locations is Fantasi Gelati. There are many flavors to choose from. I liked the cioccolato–so rich–and fior di panna.
- Mozzarella–Try some mozzarella di bufala made from buffalo milk. Yes, this is available in the United States, but it loses something on its refrigerated trip here. It is absolutely creamy and wonderful fresh. You can order it as antipasto or in a Caprese salad.
Posted in Bakery, Dessert, Gelato, Italian, Mediterranean, Pasta, Pizza, Restaurant, Vegetarian
Tagged baba, calzone, foods, gelato, Naples, Napoli, pasta frolla, pizza, pizza fritta, portafoglio, ragu, sfogliatelle, taralli, travel
The Italian dessert served at Easter, the pastiera, or pizza grano, has its origins in the myths of the ancient world. In fact, it stems from a legend straight from Homer’s Odyssey. According to legend, because the siren Parthenope could not lure Ulysses to crash on her shores, she jumped to her death in the waves, but the god Poseidon saved her by bringing her to the Gulf of Naples where some fishermen rescued her. Every spring, she would revisit the people of Naples. The people gave her seven gifts: flour to symbolize wealth, ricotta to symbolize abundance, eggs to symbolize fertility, grain boiled in milk to symbolize the harmony of animal and vegetable, orange-flower water typical of the area, spices and honey to symbolize the sweet siren’s song. These are the ingredients in the pastiera.
Someone loves me very much and bought me Stick With Me chocolate bon bons for Valentine’s Day! Stick With Me is a Nolita chocolate shop owned by Susanna Yoon, whose resume includes head chocolatier at Per Se as well as pastry cook at Cafe Boulud. Her specialty is hand-shelled chocolate. After sampling this box of beauties, I can say that I have a new favorite chocolate in New York!
It is so hard to find that perfect balance in chocolate–taste and beauty. Some very delicious chocolates are often nothing more than boring brown. On the other hand, some fancy chocolates with colorful designs and intricate shapes can be quite average in taste.
Stick With Me creates that perfect balance of aesthetics and flavor. It was truly a delight to savor each shiny orb. My favorite was the wild strawberry, a sublime blend of creme fraiche, wild strawberry and white chocolate ganache. A close second was yuzu, with such a lovely burst of fresh citrus. Lest you think I only like white chocolate, the dark chocolate raspberry rose came in third. I liked the pronounced rose flavor with a hint of raspberry. There is no doubt that these wonderful flavors are the work of an expert hand. Sea salt caramels run the risk of being too salty or not salty enough. Yoon’s have just the right amount of salt, and the liquid salted caramel is a refreshing and fun variation of salted caramel. The speculoos s’more has a homemade marshmallow atop crushed speculoos cookies. The kalamansi meringue pie is an adorable chocolate. As you can see from the cross section, it has graham cracker pie crust on the bottom topped with a layer of custard pie filling and a dollop of meringue. If that is not the cutest chocolate ever….
If you cannot tell from my enthusiasm, my box of 24 bon bons was gone gone quite quickly.
Posted in Candy, Chef, Chocolate, Dessert, Holiday, Local, New York
Tagged bon bons, Cafe Boulud, caramel, chocolate, chocolates, chocolatier, kalamansi, New York, Nolita, Per Se, sea salt, speculoos, Stick With Me, strawberry, Susanna Yoon, Valentine's Day, white chocolate, yuzu
Last year, I bought some sorghum syrup when I was in Helen, Georgia. I saw this sorghum and bourbon pecan pie from Smoky Mountain Living magazine and thought it was the perfect opportunity to use the sorghum. For the pie, I made my own crust and decorated it with these fall pie crust cutters from Sur La Table.