Saturday, March 5, 2011

Celebrate Carnevale !!!!

It’s Carnevale time !!! Being an Italian American, Carnevale is celebrated much like Mardri Gras, but with an Italian flare to it. Carnevale which means in Italian “ goodbye to meat” is celebrated about a week before the beginning of Lent. It is the last chance to party-hardy before six weeks of abstinence. Traditionally during Lent, people refrained from eating, meat, dairy, fats and sugars. So to dispose of these types of foods and drinks they involved the whole community to consume this food many years ago. You could say a giant party -thus became Carnevale.
Carnevale is a festival traditionally held by Christians, but many cities and regions worldwide celebrate with large events leading up to Ash Wednesday. Which is when all the fasting takes place for 40 days till Easter Sunday.
The most famous Carnivale in Italy to name a few are held in Venice, Viareggio, Ivrea, Acireale, Milan, Verona, and Putignano. They have a variety of celebrations which include floats, parades, stilt walkers, throwing confetti, and masquerade balls. Masks are worn to allow people of the lower class to be mixed and undetected with the aristocrats.
The traditional colors of the masks are purple, green and gold. These colors capture the essence of the Holy Trinity. In the Christian faith it is related also to the Three Kings of the Orient. The colors represents purple for justice, green for faith and gold for power.
So, come with me and lets cook up a sweet dessert for Carnevale !!! This recipe is called in Italian “ Cenci ” which means “rags/ribbons”. When I was young I remember my grandmother “Nanni” used to make this type of Italian cookie. Instead of long strips sometimes Nanni would take up the two ends and make a knot in the middle before frying them up which would look like bow ties. As a young girl I remember calling them bows or bow ties, but we knew what they were and how sweet and yummy especially with some powdered sugar or honey on them. Sooo good !


3 eggs
3 Tablespoons of sugar
½ teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract
½ teaspoon of salt
2 cups of all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons of unsalted softened butter
Oil for deep fat-frying
Confectioners sugar or honey

In a bowl, beat eggs, sugar and salt until frothy. Stir in vanilla or almond extract. Sift flour with baking powder and gradually add to batter. Add butter and mix well. Turn out on a floured surface: knead for at least 10 minutes. Divide dough into half; then roll each as thin as possible (noodle thickness) Cut into 5” x 1” strips with a knife or scalloped pastry wheel.
Preheat oil to about 375° ; then fry cookies until golden brown about 1 minute per side. Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with confectioners sugar or drizzle honey on top. Cookies are best served the same day.
Enjoy with tea, coffee or your favorite drink.

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