Tuesday, October 9, 2012
A Little Celebration
We celebrate birthdays, getting an A on a final, graduations, new jobs, and new relationships. We will seek out reasons to celebrate because it makes us feel good. A little acknowledgement, a little validation, a little joy.
There are a couple of accomplishments to celebrate here. No, I can't tell you that I have a new job yet. Hopefully soon. But what I can tell you is that this post is Number 100. That's right. The big One-Oh-Oh. I know, I know...I could have reached the marker a little sooner if I posted more often, but you know what they say...good things come to those who wait. And I've got a lot of patience.
Another accomplishment from the past two weeks was writing the recipes for the weekly newsletter of FarmBoxLA. FarmBoxLA has built relationships with a couple dozen farms in the area and will source seasonal fruits and vegetables from them on a weekly basis, which will then be delivered to you at the beginning of each week. I heard from them about three weeks after I responded to an ad they placed looking for food writers. A few emails and a couple of phone calls later, I met Reisha at the Santa Monica Farmers Market and we did a little shopping. I came home with a bag of goodies and a five recipes goal. Those recipes were featured in the September 30 Newsletter or via the 'Our Kitchen' link on their site. I had a lot of fun writing for them and hope I will again.
So, I waited to write post one hundred because I was busy for a couple of days with the FarmBoxLA assignment, but also because I wanted to make something special. Sure...I could have baked another cake. But why bake a cake when you can make struffoli? Don't know what struffoli are? Let me tell you. Other than being my favourite dessert ever, this Italian treat is little bits of dough that are fried and then coated in a honey syrup. Struffoli is usually made around Christmas and my strongest memory of them is my Aunt Placida bringing over a huge platter of struffoli a couple of days after Christmas in 1979 after I had come home from the hospital after an overnight stay.
Proust had his madeleine, I had my struffoli. Despite having struffoli once or twice since that day in 1979, the first bite I took after making them transported me back to my parents' kitchen, sitting at the table and biting into a crunchy bit of dough and candy sprinkles, my fingers sticky with honey.
It was the perfect way to celebrate being home from the hospital, hanging out with my family, and now...celebrating one hundred.
(From The Italian Cookbook by the Culinary Arts Institute)
2 cups sifted flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup honey
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp candy sprinkles
oil for frying (I used sunflower)
In a skillet over low heat, mix the honey, sugar, and cinnamon. Stir and let the sugar dissolve. Once warm and all ingredients are combined, turn off heat and set aside.
In a large bowl, add the flour and salt. Making a well in the center of the flour, add eggs, one at a time, loosely mixing with a fork after each addition. Add the vanilla with the last egg.
After mixing well to form a soft dough, turn onto a floured board, knead for 5 minutes and divide dough in half. Roll each half until about 1/4 inch thick. Slice into narrow strips, then cut strips into little pieces about 1/2 to 3/4 inch long. You can also roll the strips before cutting them to get little tubes or spheres.
In a saucepan, add the oil and heat. When the oil is hot enough, add only enough dough pieces so you're not crowding the pan. Let fry until lightly golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and place onto a papertowel-lined plate to drain any excess oil.
Once you've fried all the dough, add to the honey mixture and mix thoroughly so each piece is coated with the honey syrup. Spoon onto platter and add sprinkles.