It’s St. Joseph’s Day, which is kind of like St. Patrick’s Day for Italians. Well, maybe that’s stretching it, but still, it’s a big deal for Sicilians and it’s a great excuse for a celebration involving lots of delicious food. We are fortunate to have not one but two Josephs in our family (and a dearly departed third) so we’re proud to call this feast day one of our favorites. One food associated with St. Joseph’s day is zeppole, little fried pastries that are similar to beignets or possibly sopapillas, depending on your frame of reference. They are usually dusted with sugar and sometimes filled with cream or jelly. Jolly Tomato’s dad (named Joseph) has fond memories of his grandmother cooking up these little morsels, which she called “goodie-ayties.” (A possible corruption of some Italian slang? The meaning is lost to history.)
Sadly, we don’t have her recipe, but we’ve found many other inviting possibilities (including a recipe for savory zeppole that calls for anchovies – yowza!). We’ve heard good things about this zeppole recipe from Giada De Laurentiis on the Food Network, but something about this recipe from Food.com called “Bethany’s Jerseygirl Zeppoles” called out to us. Maybe it’s the authentic Jersey-esque flavor that had such a draw.
These “Jerseygirl” zeppole are truly tasty, but be aware that the style of zeppole is more like fried balls of pizza dough – they are chewy and yeasty. When you make them, the dough will be extremely sticky, but don’t worry. Just make sure to portion the dough carefully because they puff up dramatically. The fun part for the kids, of course, is the shakin’ – You put the freshly cooked zeppole in a paper bag filled with powdered sugar, and shake them like crazy.
Filled with confidence of our success in round #1, we decided to make more use of all of that cooking oil and try a recipe that was a little different. Again, there are countless variations, but the sheer simplicity of this Zeppole Made Easy recipe appealed to us. We didn’t have Presto (self-rising flour), so we just used a cup of regular flour and added 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. We made sure to make them smaller than the ones in the first round, but even still, the bigger ones took much longer to cook through in the middle. Then of course you shake, shake, shake until they are fully covered with the powdered sugar. The result? These were amazing – light, fluffy, and pastry-like. In fact, it’s not even 9:00 in the morning and we’re afraid we’ve already overindulged on this feast day.
Oh, well. Buona festa di San Giuseppe! Happy St. Joseph’s Day!
Fun Food Saturday: Because food should be fun.