Tag Archives: zeppole

Top 10 Foods to Get at NYC’s San Gennaro Festival

This list of top 10 foods to get at NYC’s San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy is the definitive guide to the traditional foods eaten by Italian Americans.

1. If you try nothing else at the San Gennaro festival, you have to try cannoli.

La Bella Ferrara cannoli

Where to get cannoli:  the legendary Ferrara on Grand Street and Mulberry, La Bella Ferrara on Mulberry, Caffe Palermo on Mulberry, Caffe Roma corner of Mulberry and Broome.

2. Sausage and peppers sandwiches–When Italians go to festivals, this is what they get.

Where to get sausage and peppers–at a stand.

3.  Zeppole are fried dough balls in powdered sugar–a staple of Italian festivals.

Where to get zeppole–at a stand.

4.  Clams

Where to get clams–at a stand, Umberto’s Clam House on Mulberry.

5.  Pizza/calzones

Where to get pizza/calzones–Sal’s on Broome Street (the fried calzone is to die for!), the first pizzeria in America–Lombardi’s on Spring Street.

6.  Torrone–Italian nutty nougat confection

Where to get torrone–at a stand or at Ferrara on Grand.

7.  Italian cookies

Where to get Italian cookies–the legendary Ferrara on Grand, La Bella Ferrara on Mulberry, at a stand.

8.  Gelato

Where to get gelato–Ferrara on Grand, Caffe Roma on Broome, Mo on Mulberry.

9.  Pasta

Where to get pasta–Puglia on Hester, Vincent’s on Hester/Mott, Angelo’s of Mulberry Street, Benito One on Mulberry.

10. Italian pastries

Where to get Italian pastries–the legendary Ferrara on Grand Street and Mulberry, La Bella Ferrara on Mulberry, Caffe Palermo on Mulberry, Caffe Roma corner of Mulberry and Broome.

–Dina Di Maio

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Calandra’s Bakery

I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I stepped inside Calandra’s Bakery in Fairfield, New Jersey.  Well, this is my idea of heaven.  Tall cases of colorful revolving cakes, a wall of crusty breads, and cases and cases of pastries glistening with sugary glazes.  This bakery is the epitome of an Italian bakery.

The bakery was started over 50 years ago by Italian immigrants Luciano and Ortenza Calandra.  Today, they are a mini empire with three bakeries that supply over 500 establishments in four states as well as restaurants and hotels.

Gorgeous lobster tails with custard or cannoli cream.

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St. Joseph’s Day zeppoles in custard or cannoli cream

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I got a box for the road with lobster tails, cannoli and a sfogliatella.  Really great sfogliatella, crispy and flaky with a delicious filling.

My favorite was the pepperoni bread.  This brings me back to childhood. Absolutely delicious!

 

Gluten Free St. Joseph’s Day Zeppole

zeppole, sfince, sfinge

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.

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)

milk, optional

chocolate chips

candied citron or orange peel

crushed pistachios

maraschino cherries

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.

–Dina Di Maio

St. Joseph’s Day Sfinge

St Joseph

Happy St. Joseph’s Day!  Many cultures celebrate March 19 in honor of St. Joseph (San Giuseppe), the husband of the Blessed Mother and the patron saint of workers and pastry chefs. In New Orleans, Italian Americans have parades and a St. Joseph’s Day table. There are two pastries that are popular on this day. One is zeppole–not the fried dough balls from street fairs. Known as zeppole di San Giuseppe, this Neapolitan pastry is a choux that sandwiches a custard cream, often with a cherry on top. The other pastry, known as sfinge from Sicily, are also made from a choux pastry of a more rounded shape and filled with a ricotta filling.

This year, I got sfinge, my favorite, from two NYC-area bakeries, La Guli in Astoria, Queens,

sfinge, St. Joseph's Day, La Guli

and Rose &  Joe’s Italian Bakery, also in Astoria, Queens.

sfinge

The bakeries are around the corner from each other, so you can easily sample both.

St. Joseph’s Day Sfinge and Zeppole

Happy St. Joseph’s Day!  I got some sfinge and zeppole to celebrate the day.

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To read more about them, check out my other blog posts on St. Joseph’s Day.

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Zeppole di San Giuseppe

Happy St. Joseph’s Day!

St Joseph

I had wanted to attempt homemade St. Joseph’s Day pastries in honor of St. Joseph’s Day, but I’ve been having a crazy week.  I halved the pastry recipe from Maria Lo Pinto’s cookbook.  They were yummy but not quite the bakery version.  I’d like to try them again when I have more time.  These are the Sicilian sfinge with ricotta filling.  The Neapolitan version is the zeppole with a custard filling.

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Also, it is a tradition to make macaroni with sardines today.  I’m on a sardines kick, so I may make this too if I am able to.

San Gennaro Festival 2013

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This past Thursday, the San Gennaro Festival kicked off in Little Italy for the 87th year.  The feast is held in honor of the patron saint of Naples, San Gennaro.  Although it is a religious holiday, it is enjoyed by all for its food, fun and celebration of Italian American culture.

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San Gennaro is the patron saint of Naples, and each year on three dates, including September 19, his blood miraculously liquefies.  On September 19, the Most Precious Blood Church on Baxter Street holds Mass and the religious procession begins at the church and goes down Mulberry Street with traditional music played by a marching band.

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If you are Roman Catholic or interested in the meaning behind the festival, you may want to check out the shrine to San Gennaro at the church.

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The church also has other lovely statues and a beautiful grotto as well.

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Outside the church on Mulberry Street, you can pin a dollar bill to the statue of San Gennaro as well as purchase religious articles.

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The San Gennaro Festival has much for the family to enjoy, including games, kiddie rides, food, musical entertainment, celebrities and a guy in a cannoli suit.

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Caffe Palermo advertises the best cannoli, and it’s good.

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This year’s grand marshals were former New York governor Mario Cuomo and his wife, Matilda, and

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a special appearance by honored guest, wrestler Bruno Sammartino.

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The festival crowds the streets of Little Italy, and of course, everyone goes for the food.  There’s traditional fair food, as well as traditional Italian food like sausage and peppers,

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zeppole, clams, cannoli, gelato and ices, cookies, torrone, calzones, pizza and more.

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This year, knockoff “cronuts,” or croissant doughnuts made an appearance.  I got a cannoli-flavored one.

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It was good–the cannoli cream was really good.  It tasted like a cannoli cream-filled cinnamon doughnut.

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At street fairs, I always get zeppole.  They were yummy.

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This year, I also got Irish cream gelato at Caffe Roma.  This was particularly yummy.  The bits of chocolate were soft.  I hate when chocolate chunks in ice cream are hard, so I loved this.

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And if you’re looking for a fried calzone, try Gina’s, the stand that claims to be the only fried calzone at the festival.  Trust me, you’ve never had a calzone until you’ve had a fried one.  That’s how my grandma always made them.

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Or try the fried calzones at Little Italy’s restaurant Sal’s on Broome Street.

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And the pizza there is perfect New York-style.

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I also got pizza at the Italian Food Center booth and it was delicious–creamy mozzarella, nice crust and tasty sauce.

delicious pizza with creamy mozzarella from Italian Food Center on Mulberry Street