Tuesday, March 15, 2011

St. Patrick's Day and St. Joseph's Day

Thursday, March 17th is St. Patrick’s Day. Throughout the world the Irish family is celebrating and welcomes all those who become Irish on this day. Every year across the globe to commemorate the death of Ireland’s Patron Saint and to celebrate Ireland's proud Irish history are many parades and events.
St. Patrick’s Day customs came to America in 1737. That was the first year St. Patrick’s Day was publicly celebrated in Boston, Massachusetts. There are many legends associated with St. Patrick. One legend among many others is said that St. Patrick used the three leafed Shamrocks to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity. Though originally a Catholic Holy Day, it now has become a holiday to celebrate Irish culture by wearing green, eating Irish food, imbibing Irish drink, and enjoying many other things Irish. Shamrocks, Blarney Stones, Pots of Gold, Celtic Fairies, and even dyeing rivers with green food coloring to name a few are all Irish traditions and legends.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all !!!!

As much as I love St. Patrick’s Day, I also love St. Joseph’s Day, which is on Saturday, March 19th. As an Italian American St. Joseph’s Day was also celebrated in my family. (“San Giuseppe” in Italian) is regarded in Sicily, Italy as their Patron Saint. St. Joseph was the biblical father of Jesus or foster father.
According to legend, there was a severe drought at the time and many people prayed to their patron saint to bring them rain. They promised that if he answered their prayers, they would prepare a large feast to honor him. Their prayers were answered and the rain did come. So the people of Sicily prepared a large banquet for their patron saint. The Fava bean was the crop that saved them from starvation and is part of St. Joseph’s Day traditions. St. Joseph, is the patron saint of the family, and also the patron saint of pastry chefs.
Some traditions and customs of St. Joseph’s Day are to give food to the needy, wear red clothing, make and decorate altars with flowers, wine, fava beans and many breads and sweet cakes. Foods are traditionally served containing bread crumbs to represent saw dust since St. Joseph was a carpenter thus that is why many sweet breads are made. In Italy, the Feast of San Giuseppe is a national holiday. It is Father’s Day in Italy. The sweets that are prepared are pastries that may be fried or baked and are sometimes filled with sweetened ricotta, pastry cream or custard. The most famous of these delicious pastries that are very traditional are called Zeppole, (fried dough). Other treats are called frittelle, sfinci, and cream puffs filled with whipped cream or custard.
Auguri !!! ( to wish you well or luck) to all that were named after St. Joseph.
So to honor St. Joseph and my Father’s mother (my Nanni) who came from a town in Sicily called Castelvetrano, here is a recipe for Zeppole. Hope that you enjoy it.

Zeppole Dough
Makes up to 2 dozen

Enough vegetable or canola oil to fry with
1 ½ cups water ( warm -115° )
1 packet (2 ¼ tsp) active dry yeast
2 cups of all purpose unbleached flour
1 tsp. of salt
Choice of topping, like powdered sugar or honey

Dissolve yeast in warm water. In a medium bowl combine flour and salt. Add water and yeast mixture to dry ingredients and stir until blended.
Dough will be sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set in warm place to rise for one hour.
Heat oil to 375° . Use non-sticking spray on your spoon or ladle. Use your spoon or ladle to put batter in oil. (You get different shapes when you fry them. In Italy they would use their hands to drop the batter in the oil.)
Fry Zeppole for about 2-3 minutes (depending on the size) until golden on the outside and cooked through.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar or drizzle some honey on them. Serve Warm.


No comments:

Post a Comment