Monday, April 18, 2011

Rosie Joins Zelda And Zoe For Another Cooking Lesson.

A while back, in late February, Rosie was invited by Good Neighbor Zoe to go with her to her friend Zelda's home for a biscotti lesson. Here's Biscotti 101. Cranberry walnut biscotti. And here's Biscotti 102. Lemon almond biscotti.
Last week, Zelda called to ask if Zoe and I wanted to come over the next Sunday, yesterday, for Struffoli. Naturally, I jumped at the offer. I knew strufolli was Italian, but I didn't know anything else. So I researched strufolli a bit.
Strufolli is an Italian dessert, considered a Christmas classic. It is a dish from the Southern region - Naples. Naples is renowned for its sweet treats - Pastiera, Rum Baba, Sfogliatelle and, of course, Strufolli. The name, strufolli comes from the Greek "strongulos" which means "round in shape." Basically, this confection is a sweet citrusy dough which is rolled into small balls and deep-fried. I read that strufolli used to be made in convents. The nuns would deliver these pastries to noble families as thanks for their acts of charity. I'm quoting here: One thing is certain, to make good Struffoli, you need good honey—and just the right amount of it too! But, the true secret to success is keeping the Struffoli small. The reason is quite simple—the smaller the Struffoli, the more honey taste you get! Well, that was the kicker for me. When I read that part about the honey, I knew what I was bringing to the table Sunday afternoon. If you've been paying attention all these years, then you know that Mr. Hawthorne is able to obtain the most wonderful honey produced. He knows a beekeeper from his home town (Mr. H. and his father used to keep bees.) and that's where he obtains his sourwood honey. Sourwood honey is like nothing else. The honey Mr. Hawthorne gets is from sourwood trees in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Mr. Hawthorne says they have white blossoms and the whiter the blossom, the purer, and lighter, the honey. Honeys have vintages. Here's a story: All the Hawthornelets grew up eating sourwood honey. They never knew any other honey. When Daughter Hawthorne went off to college and started to live on her own, she called home one night, very upset. Daughter H.: Mama, let me speak to Daddy. Quick! Rosie: OK honey. I love you too. Daughter H: Daddy! I just bought some honey at the grocery store and it's gone BAAAAAAAADDDDD!!!!!! Mr. Hawthorne: Honey doesn't go bad. It's been found in the pyramids.
Daughter H: It's HORRRRRRIBBBBLLLLLE!! Mr. Hawthorne: It's store bought honey, honey. Heh. Sorry, I digress. The point is - I stole a quart of Mr. Hawthorne's cherished honey, smuggled it, undetected, out of the house (Don't ask me how.), and managed, above all odds, to bring it to Zelda for her Struffoli. Oh, the things I do for culinary knowledge.
Let me try to describe these healthy, nutritious, golden nuggets of frydom. While I watched Zelda make these, I was sorta thinking of doughnut holes. But they're nothing like that ... except if you put the doughnut holes on steroids. They're airy on the inside. Crispy on the outside. You've got all that citrus action going on in there. Then you have the most marvelous mixture of sugar, honey and lemon juice that the little balls are tossed and coated in. And they get all sticky. And they're divine.
Zoe and I arrived at Zelda's at 1:30 Sunday afternoon. Zooter stays by Mama Z's side. Always.
2 cups King Arthur flour (I'm a KA convert.) 
zest of 1 lemon 
zest of 1 orange
 3 TB sugar 
1/2 tsp sea salt
 1/4 tsp baking powder 
 Notice the above is in a food processor. The food processor broke. I don't think that piece of metal is supposed to be in there.
Zelda switched to her Kitchen Aid. And added 1/2 stick butter.
Zelda added 1 tsp each vanilla extract and lemon juice.
KitchenAidIt! Zelda needed to add a few more tablespoons of flour to the dough. It was very sticky.
While Zelda was slaving over her Kitchen Aid and Zoe and I were chatting and having fun, Rosie went over and took pictures of rainbows.
Zelda has rainbows everywhere. OK. Back to Struffoli.
Here's Zelda's dough.
On wax paper. I love Z's prisms.
Zelda wrapped the dough and patted it down. She made it thin since it's going into the fridge for 30 minutes to chill. The flatter it is, the quicker it will chill. Prisms!
Here's the QT of sourwood honey I was able to score this afternoon.
Zelda has 1/2 cup sugar and 2-3 TB of lemon juice just hanging here on very low heat.
Zelda measures out 1 cup of honey.
Honey into the sugar and lemon.
Leave it on way low and do what ever else you need to do.
After about 30 minutes of chillin' in the fridge, the dough came out. Scrape it out onto a lightly floured, preferably cold, surface.
Zelda cut the dough into quarters and rolled each into a flat piece of dough.
She cut small pieces off ...... and rolled them into medium-sized marbles. If necessary, dust your hands with flour.
Zelda has a terrific fryer. She set it at 375 degrees. No laser thermometers or wooden dip-sticks for her!
Zelda fried these for about three minutes. Then she drained them on brown paper bags. I've heard of that before and Mr. Hawthorne and I have done that. I believe I read that there was not so much sogginess in frying when it's drained on paper bags as opposed to paper towels.
Here's the sugar, lemon juice, honey mixture. Leave it on low and let the sugar melt on its own.
When the honey mixture was melted Zelda cascaded the Struffoli in.
Toss to coat.
Zelda plates the Struffoli.
Zoe opted for sprinkles.
No sprinkles for me. I want hard core Struffoli.
This is the plate Zelda made for me.
I got the Struffoli home and fought for it with Mr. Hawthorne.
I took a bite so you can see the light, cakey center.
The honey sauce is heavenly. Thank you so much, Zelda and Zoe. I only have one question: What's cooking next?


Marilyn said...

Oh my. I do believe the Foodie Girls will have to try our hand at making those.

Thanks for inviting us along with you on your cooking lesson.

Rosie Hawthorne said...