Cenci and Frittelle
This two recipes also are coming straight out of our family book.
Since I can remember in fact, every Carnival season my grandmother Lola used to deliver to our house a basket lined with a beautiful linen hand-embroidered cloth, full of Cenci she had been frying all day.
Today, to celebrate the last week of Carnival, we are posting a double feature episode; since we wanted to share the Cenci recipe we thought well to throw in the frying oil also some Frittelle di San Giuseppe (St. Joseph’s Rice Fritters).
This is deep frying Tuscan style, and it is not light… at all! This is not late night munchies material!!!
But, if this year you are celebrating Carnival, no other treats are better to share some love with friends and family.
Preparation and cooking for Cenci and Frittelle are fairly easy, and I would highly recommend to attempt both recipes at the same time; at the end, since you will most likely do it again in a year from now (or at least that’s the way it is supposed to work), you just might give it a good shot and just have fun with it.
Hence, this episode is not the easiest to follow, and it is slightly longer than usual (13 min)… But, it’s all in there!
I decided not to split the two recipes, but edited this episode to show you some multi-tasking; I want you to realize that giving yourself a pace and a good rhythm in the kitchen is a very important step towards complete relaxation and enjoyment while cooking new recipes.
Serves: 8 / Prep Time: 50 min / Cook Time: 20 min
Serves: 8 / Prep Time: 90 min / Cook Time: 20 min
Mix well all the ingredients, and when the dough is formed, work it for about ten minutes. Make sure to keep an eye on it, and if you think it's necessary, use a spatula to scrap the flour from the edges of the bowl. Rest the dough in a bowl, seal with saran-wrap and refrigerate for a half hour.
Lightly dust a working surface with flour and roll the dough very thin, almost as if you were making fresh pasta... in fact, in case you have a pasta machine, that would do the trick too; I personally like to work with my old wood rolling pin.
Use a pastry wheel or a pizza cutter to slice the dough lenght-wise, and then cut again to form strips of about 5 inches.
In a large pan heat well the frying oil, make sure to use enough to evenly cover the pieces of dough while they cook.
Start frying! The Cenci will start forming right away, they will bubble up, curl a bit, and acquire a nice golden brown color.
Here comes the only challenging part or this recipe: you need to learn to control the temperature (around 360Fº ) of the oil you are working with, in order to achieve a proper crunch of your cookie without actually burning it. I know, if you had a deep fryer you would be working with a thermostat, but with a pan you have to run a quick trial by error; start with one piece of dough, keep an eye on it, make sure it does not brown too fast, otherwise the inside will remain uncooked and soft. Once you boosted your confidence with a couple of good tests, go ahead and cook them all. Never over crowd the Cenci in the pan, they will swell and climb on top of each other.
When ready, cool the cookies in a large platter, on top of some paper towel to absorb some of the oil.
Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve with a glass of Vinsanto.
FRITTELLE DI RISO o di "SAN GIUSEPPE"
Place the raisins in a cereal bowl covered with one shot of liquor, to soften them up before adding them to the other ingredients (you can add some water to cover the raisins evenly). In a pot bring Milk, Water, Sugar, Butter and Salt to a boil.
Add the Rice and cook it on a medium-low flame for about 20 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat to cool off.
Separate the Egg Yolks and the Whites, and drain the raisins.
In a large bowl mix the Cooked Rice with Flour, Egg Yolks, Lemon Zest, the second shot of Liquor, Yeast and the Raisins.
Mix very well, then let rest in a cool place or in the fridge for about 1 hour. Some people in Italy like to let the mix rest overnight in the fridge, so the rice fully absorbs all liquid... I personally prefer to feel the texture of the grain in the Frittella, so for me one hour does it!
Right before frying whisk the Egg Whites with a mixer until stiff and fold them into to the mix. In a large pan, bring the Oil to temperature (about 360F), and fry in batches the Frittelle: use a tablespoon to scoop the mix into the oil (watch the splashes), move the frittelle around to ensure a proper cooking, and when they will be a nice golden brown remove from the oil and rest in a plate on top of some paper towel.
Roll in abundant granulated sugar before serving... again, a shot of Vinsanto or Brandy are basically mandatory!
Frittelle are to be enjoyed warm, but even at room temperature they maintain their texture and are a sinful pleasure.
Remember to dispose the the fried oil properly, never pour it down your sink or it eventually will clog it... Funnel the oil into an old plastic container and either recycle it at a collection place or thrash it.
Buon Appetito and,
Debi and Gabriele