Friday, September 12, 2014

“Italian Wine Dunking Cookies” To Celebrate "The Purple Foot Festival"

Some of my readers maybe too young to remember an iconic TV show called “I Love Lucy.” In 1956 one of Lucille Ball’s episodes was called, “Lucy’s Italian Movie” or better known as “The Grape-Stomping” episode. On the route to Italy, an Italian producer offers Lucy a role in a film called “Bitter Grapes.” So she decides to take a job in a vineyard to absorb a “little color.” This was one of the funniest story lines ever and one that will live on forever.

Did you know that you can re-create this Grape-Stomping episode by attending the Casa Larga Vineyards in Fairport, New York? The Casa Larga Vineyards is New York’s premier wine producer and has won many awards for their highly regarded production of table wines. On Sunday September 14, 2014 the Casa Larga Vineyards will be host to “The Purple Foot Festival.” This is a way to celebrate and kick off harvest time at the Casa Larga plus take into account the owners (Colarutolo) family’s Italian heritage.

Casa Larga  is best known for the authentic old world grape stomping that earned it the name of the “Purple Foot.” Grape stomping is done only at certain times of the year, when the grape harvest is in full swing. This event gives you the opportunity to experience and learn traditional grape stomping methods. Their process is taking grapes and put them in wine barrels that are cut in half which then are pressed by machines. “Back in the day,” in Gaeta, Italy, the grapes were pressed by women because they had gentler feet. The idea for this event was thought up 18 years ago and it is fun to watch people’s expressions when they step in the barrel.

But the “Purple Foot Festival” offers much more than foot-staining grape stomping. Guests can take their purple feet around the vineyard on hayrides or attend and Italian dance class. There are activities for those under 21, including a children’s area with a maze, a magician, crafts, live music, and many vendors with irresistible goodies. Adults will enjoy beer tasting, Casa Larga’s wine tasting, hard cider samples, winery tours, and seminars on food paring with wines which can be purchased at their vineyards. Fairport is located in Monroe County, New York and is 9 miles east of Rochester. It is also known as the “Crown Jewel of the Erie Canal” and was named in Money Magazine’s “Best Place to Live.” So, if you find yourself up in that part of New York State, have some fun, turn your feet purple, and visit Casa Larga Vineyards. If you are not on the East Coast in New York, you should check where you live, I am sure being harvest time, they may have a "Purple Foot Festival" your local vineyards. Have fun...

My recipe this week is called, “Italian Wine Dunking Cookies,” “Biscottini al Vino,” or “Ciambelle.” This recipe is adapted from “Ciao Italia.” When these cookies are baking you can smell the wonderful scents of the wine and I’m sure it brings back memories of long ago. These cookies are made for dunking in wine or with coffee. They are not soft and keep well in an airtight container. My great-grandmother Sofia had a recipe for wine dunking cookies but that recipe was not written down and sadly my great-grandmother is no longer with us to ask. But this delicious, hard cookie is a keeper, and tastes just like my great-grandmother’s years ago. 

Italian Wine Dunking Cookies

1 cup of sugar
1 cup of vegetable oil
1 cup of red wine such as (light) Vin Santo or Corvo Red
4 1/2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg plus 1 tablespoon water, mixed together for egg wash

In an electric mixer on medium speed, blend together the sugar, vegetable oil, and wine. Mix the flour and baking powder together, then add them to the sugar mixture and blend together at medium speed until a soft dough forms. The dough should not be sticky, but soft and smooth. Transfer the dough to a bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Once chilled, the dough is very easy to work with. Preheat the oven to 350°F. To form the cookies, break off small pieces and roll them with the palm of your hand to form a 4-inch rope that is 1/2-inch thick. Bring the ends together and pinch them tightly, forming a circle that looks like a miniature bagel. Place cookies 1/2 inch apart on un-greased baking sheet. Brush the tops of each cookie with the egg wash. 

Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until the tops are firm to the touch and the bottoms are golden brown. Remove the cookies to a cooling rack and cool completely.    Yield: 6 dozen--depending on how big or small you make them.

Till Next Time………

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  1. Buone le ciambelline al vino! I really want to try making them. They looks so good Dottie.
    It is really interesting the Casa Larga event. I have never heard of anything like that. It sounds fun!
    This year it looks like it is not going to be a great year for grapes, at least in the north of Italy. It has rained a lot during the summer and that's really unusual for Italy. It rained every 2 tor 3 days and sometimes every day just like in the UK. The weather can be so odd some years.
    Have a fab weekend!!

    1. Dear Alida,
      Thank you friend for your comment! These cookies are delightful. Full of flavor and the best dunking cookies ever! The Casa Larga has been having this festival for years. I used to live not far from that area in upstate NY years ago. That is such a shame for the grape harvest in Italy, too much rain I guess is not good. Hope that next year is a better crop for the grapes. Wine is so good...I remember when growing up we always had wine on the table. Plus these cookies, and biscotti for dunking either in wine or black coffee. Glad that you like them, try them they are delizioso! Have a terrific weekend too with your family..
      Dottie :)

  2. Hi Dottie!
    I can remember that episode of I Love Lucy like it was yesterday. I can never decide which is my favorite that one or the one where they are stuffing the chocolates in their mouths, lol...

    I have never heard of this festival Dottie. Sure does sound intriguing. I know I won't get there this year but you just never know. I tried to make the Mushroom Festival last week and got side tracked, lol...

    I haven't had Wine Cookie in ages but, I remember them well too. I am going to save this recipe of yours, I may just give them a go:)

    Thanks so much for sharing, Dottie...Enjoy your weekend:)

    1. Hi Louise,
      Wasn't that episode so funny, but like you I also loved the one with the chocolates, and what about the one with her doing the commercial with the liquid Vitamin! She was the best. The Casa Larga has been having this festival for years now, I used to live not far from that area in upstate NY. If you like grapes, wine, fun, and food that is the place to go. That Mushroom festival would have been great to attend. Maybe next year...
      These cookies bring back so many memories of my family gatherings. They are really good and fun to make. I you make them you will be happy that you did. They are delicious with coffee as well as the wine. Thanks dear friend for commenting and visiting..Have a blessed and enjoyable weekend as well. Say hi to Marion..
      Dottie :)

  3. Good evening Dottie ,
    We get re-runs of the Lucy show here , I saw this episode on the oldie channel . When Lucy was on TV I wasn't born , I do like her shows better than the ones we have now , Lucy was kid friendly .
    Hubby's aunt make wine dunking cookies and as the post says they are delicious and make the house smell so good .
    The Purple Foot Festival sounds like fun .
    Call hubby's daddy and asked him about it , he said it was a tradition in the wine making countries in Italy .
    Dad also said he know the Colarutolo family and he will give them a call . This is a small world HUH ???
    Your post was great and had lots of information as usual .
    Have a great weekend ;-D ~~Nee~~

    1. Good evening dear Nee,
      Thanks for visiting and your comment. Glad you get to see her shows, and they were very kid friendly. I was born in 1954 and her show was on when I was growing up. So I can remember many of them from the beginning. It is wonderful that they have re0runs for others to see.
      Yes, Nee they do make the house smell good and it brings back many memories of my family gatherings. Yes, "The Purple Foot Festival" is a great way to spend the day with your family having fun. As I have mentioned in the other comments, I used to live not far from the Casa Larga in upstate NY. Wow, how wonderful that your father-in-law knows the Casa Larga owners, the Colarutolo family. It is a small world but considering that your family are owners of vineyards as well, it must be like the grape community. So happy that you enjoyed this post Nee, and those cookies are splendid to eat or dunk. Have a blessed weekend with your family...
      Dottie :)

  4. LOVED that Lucy episode!! And how fun does the wine stomping event sound!? Too bad I'm so very far away! Will you be going, Dottie? Have some fun for me if you do! I love your ciambelle for dipping in Italian! Thanks for a lovely post! Have a great weekend!

    1. Hi Christina,
      I agree with you, what an episode of I Love Lucy...I don't think we can ever forget her shenanigans. I know this festival is far away from you, but I would think you living in Ca. that some of the vineyards there may have festivals like this. Sadly I will not be going. I did live near that area a one point and it really is a lovely countryside. I wish I could go, but due to my illness I can't really walk, so I have to put that one off for now. But if I remember they have a wonderful set up and this festival is been going on for 18 years now. I love these little cookies, so good with wine or even with coffee. Delizioso! Thanks for visiting and your comment...hope that you enjoy your weekend too...
      Dottie :)

  5. Dear Dottie, This sounds like fun to experience.
    The fall is such a beautiful time of year with so many nice events to visit.
    I do remember cookies similar to this as a young girl. I know I would like them.
    Catherine xo

    1. Dearest Catherine, I didn't go this year, but I used to live near there years ago, and it is always fun to be at these festivals as you said at this time of the year. Yes, these are so delicious with the wine, you would think that you need coffee or tea, but you'd be surprised how yummy they are. Thanks for your comment and visiting. Blessing to all ...Dottie :)