Friday, February 28, 2014

It’s Time For “Carnevale!” Let's Celebrate With “Cenci” Ribbon Cookies!

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. This is when all the fasting takes place for 40 days till Easter Sunday.

The most famous Carnivals in Italy, to name a few are held in Venice, Viareggio, Ivrea, Acireale, Milan, Verona, and Putignano. This year 2014, the most popular Carnevale is in Venice, Italy. They are calling it "Wonder and Fantasy Nature."It runs February 15- March 4, 2014. 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 represent purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power. 

So, come with me and let’s 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. This recipe is a traditional for Carnevale, but we love them so much that they are made many times through the year such as, Christmas, New Years, and family parties. 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
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract
1/2 teaspoon of salt   
2 cups of all purpose flour   
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons of unsalted softened butter
Oil for deep fat-frying
Confectioner’s 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°F. Now fry cookies until golden brown about 1 minute per side. Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar or drizzle honey on top. Cookies are best served the same day. Enjoy!!

*********Before I close this post, I have a favor to ask of my readers, but this is important to me, so I want to share this with you my friends.

I'm a super fan and close personal friend of Micheal Castaldo. Micheal is an Award-winning songwriter/producer, recording artist, Composer, Italian Cultural Ambassador, and Entrepreneur. Born in Reggio Calabria, Italy (the toe of Italy) and raised there until he was three, Micheal and his family immigrated to Toronto, Canada, and now resides in New York. Micheal’s music is heavenly. His passion for his music as an accomplished pop crossover singer of his native songs, wraps his joy, and experience in a fresh, and powerful sound. “Extravergine“, “Aceto,” “Olive You,” and “Bergamot,” are a few of his CD’s. (which you can purchase on Among his many beautiful songs are “Allelulia” (Hallelujah), “Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle,” “Il Mondo,” “Pray'r,” and my favorite, “Nella Fantasia.”

I'm reaching out to you because we need your help to vote for Micheal in Artistsignal.  (ArtistSignal is a free social music platform allowing listeners to vote for a Top Artist each month. They give the Top Artist at the end of the month $10,000. This allows listeners to propel talented artists to the top of our platform and gives artists an entirely new avenue to grow their fan base. Voters can earn rewards directly from artists just by voting!) We're looking to help him get to #1 next month (March). If you have not yet voted on Artistsignal, you will see that it's very easy to do. You can login using your Facebook account. If you have any questions please reach out to me and I will be happy to help you, or better yet, let Micheal know by posting in the comment section on Artistsignal that you are on board with us! Thank you in advance for your help. Ciao!  Dottie :)

Till Next Time……………………………….....................

Copyright © 2014 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved


  1. I love your explanations of all things Italian, Dottie! Way to keep the traditions alive! Cenci or Frappe, or whatever name anyone wants to use (there are SO many!) are my FB cover page at the moment! Love them and always have. My aunt used to make an icing with powdered sugar and milk, then sprinkle nonpareil type candies on them, but my mother only used powdered sugar, so I used to like my aunt's much more as a child (sweeter!) Great post! xx

    1. Hi Christina, Thank you so much for your kind words and for stopping by for a visit. We have to keep the traditional alive for our children and the future generations. I feel it is so important. That is who we are, and where we came from... Yes, Cenci is called so many names, I think it is the region that your family came from which is how I think we have so many names for them. But like you said whatever you call them, the are amazing. We just made them at Christmas, but (I can eat them any day of the week), they are addicting for sure. My favorite way to eat them is with honey on top and then the nonpareil candies. I never had them with the icing like you made. That I have to try, which is great because now I have an excuse to make them again!... Enjoy your weekend, Dottie )

  2. Hi Dottie , we love Cenci at my home , I make it often and it's so deliciously good , and yet so easy to prepare . My hubby's aunt did make it , now she sits at the counter and tell me how , She (Mae) read your post and she said you was spot on with your information ... she said it's so nice and wonderful to see young Italians carrying on the tradition .
    We also eat them with honey and I think the honey taste better .
    Dottie , give yourself some love and make some 'Cenci' set back relax and Listen at your favoriate Michael song . Blessing dear dottie , thanks so much for sharing :).

    1. Dear Nee,
      Thank you for stopping glad that you enjoyed this post, as well as (Mae). These are fabulous, and you just can't eat one....It is so important that we share our family heritage with the younger generation, because after we are gone, hope that they can teach the next generation. I always say it is who we are and where we came from..My favorite is with the honey. When you take one of the strips, you can just see the honey dripping off onto the dish, Oh My, love them. Yes, that sounds like a great idea, thanks Nee, sit back and relax as I am eating them listening to Micheal's music. You got it right, have a blessed weekend and enjoy with your family. Dottie :)

  3. Me gustarìa estar en este hermoso Carnaval y comer los ricos Cenci,tomo nota los prepararè,abrazos.

    1. Bienvenidos, y te agradecemos por visitarnos. Sí, el Cenci son buenas, espero que haga la receta .. Enjoy :)

  4. Dear Dottie, These are a holiday tradition. They are very delicious. I have had them dipped in honey and the powdered sugar and love them both.
    Blessings dear. Catherine xo

    1. Dearest Catherine,
      Thank you for stopping by for a visit... Traditions are what it is all about, especially for the young ones in the family. It is so important that they learn about the "old" ways. So glad that you enjoyed these strips of sweetness. Either way they are delicious You are so right! Blessings to you as well..Stay warm and safe, with another storm on the way...Dottie :)

  5. Oh I do love carnevale. I used to live less than 2 hours from Venice and as a teenager I used to get on the train in the morning and spend a day in venice to see carnival. So colourful, so lively and the masks were amazing.
    Last year I made cenci and this year I made the same but in the shape of carnival masks. I like to make frittelle as well as they are much quicker and very tasty too! Ciao!

    1. Dear Alida,
      Thanks for your visit...That must have been a wonderful experience to spend the day in Venice and be at the carnival. As you mentioned I would think the colors and the people were a sight to see..I love the masks especially the ones with the feathers. I have never been to New Orleans in the states for Mari Gras, they say it is fabulous. But I would think that in Venice they are much more colorful and for the Italian people it is a tradition.
      I remember seeing your post of the Cenci in the shape of the masks. You are so very creative and talented to have thought of that. But as they say, no matter what you call them, or what shape they are in, these cookies are awesome! Thanks for commenting,,,Have a blessed day...Dottie :)

  6. Hi Dottie!
    I see you are getting into the spirit of Shrovetide with one of my favorite traditional cookies. I adore Cenci but haven't had them in years. My sister and I use to bake them with my grandmother when we tots. Such memories:)

    Thank you so much for sharing, Dottie. I sure wish I had a cookie now:)

    1. Dear Louise, I have missed you, welcome back! Oh yes, you can't forget these little goodies. They are not only traditional, but too good to have them only one time a year. My favorite is with honey dripping from them. Glad that I was able to bring you back to your childhood. I agree with you one of these cookies would be perfect now! Thanks for visiting..Blessings Dottie :)