I came across an old English recipe for pumpkin pie on the Folger Shakespeare Library site. It was adapted from Hanna Woolley’s 17th century recipe by Amanda E. Herbert. I tried it (with a few modifications) and it was delicious. There was a choice of using butternut squash or pumpkin, similar in taste and texture and I used the squash. The result isn’t even close to the pudding-like pie most of us are used to but still, it’s something special and definitely worth trying.
” . . . butternut squash or pumpkin, similar in taste and texture . . .”
Heat the oven to 425o. Peel the squash and slice it into ¼ inch thick slices. You’ll probably only need half of a large squash for 2 cups. Fry it for about 10 minutes in 1 tbsp butter until it gets soft.
Peel the apples and cut into pieces the same as the squash. Place the cooked squash, apples, currants, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and Marsala in a bowl and mix.
Place the first (bottom) pie crust in a pie pan. Pour the squash/apple mixture into the pie. Dot the top with the remaining butter. Cover with the second (top) crust, crimp the edges, and cut a few vents in the crust to allow steam to escape. Beat the egg with a couple of tablespoons of water to make an egg wash. Brush the top of the pie crust.
Bake at 425o for fifteen minutes, then lower the temperature to 375o, turn the pie, and bake for another 50-60 minutes. Total baking time is between 65-75 minutes.
Kipful is a Christmas family recipe from Bridget’s family (German side). I’ll leave it to her –
Open all the packages of butter & cream cheese & let them get to room temperature. Put 1 cup of flour & the salt in the mix master, start dropping in the butter bars one at a time & finish with the cream cheese, then the second cup of flour (I don’t really think the order matters, but that’s the ritual ) I generally triple the recipe – making it one batch at a time & putting each batch when it’s finished into a big bowl. Put in refrigerator until firm – usually over night.
Prep: Preheat a 450 degree oven.
Clear 3 counter spaces – one for flour & rolling out the dough, one for the tray you are loading (do not put on top of stove as this is too hot and the dough melts), and one for powdered sugar when they come out. Leave a space to put the hot tray down & then make a bed of powdered sugar which you will drop the Kipfuls onto when they are still hot. You want one spatula for the dough and a separate one for the powdered sugar.
Get your containers ready by lining them with foil or wax paper or whatever you like and sift a layer of powdered sugar into the bottom of each of them. I generally do all this prep the night before.
Carve out a double handful of dough and put the rest back in the refrigerator. Dust your hands with flour & sprinkle a copious amount on the counter. It’s hard as a rock, so just bear down – try to keep it as close to a rectangle as you can get – then use a table knife to slice 3” squares. Use two teaspoons & put a blob of raspberry preserves in the middle of each square. Use the spatula to slide one square free & then pull the diagonal corners up to the middle & squeeze the sides together.
Into oven & start on next batch of dough. Be sure to check to see if they are turning brown before finishing the 2nd
When they are slightly browned, take tray to powdered sugar station & carefully spatula them right side up on to the bed of sugar. Sift more sugar on top. You can now go back & finish the 2nd When it is in the oven, the finished Kipful should be ready to move to your containers. Put a layer of wax paper between each layer to keep them separated.
This recipes should make about 50 kipfuls. Serve cold.
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9” cake pan with butter and lightly coat with flour.
Beat eggs in a large bowl then add the ricotta. Mix until it’s smooth. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix until it’s smooth, then add the butter and mix some more.
Add the berries last (leaving out about a handful) and carefully mix them in without mashing them too much. Pour the whole mix into the pan and place the remaining berries on top. Bake cake until light golden brown, about 50-60 minutes.
Italian desserts are usually simple. Elaborate cakes and pastries are served at special occasions. Fruit is much more common. Here’s an easy recipe that I got from a friend from Ischia – Grapes and Vinegar. It’s good in summer.
Wash the grapes and put them in a small sauce pan. Cover half way with water and add the vinegar. Bring to a boil, stir, lower heat and simmer until they begin to crack. Turn off the heat and mix in lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar and half of the chopped mint. Let it cool and then mix in the Marsala. Marsala works best but sweet sherry is also OK. Chill and sprinkle with the remaining chopped mint when serving.
“If you get the knack immediately, these are the easiest and prettiest desserts to make; if you don’t – you are doomed.” – Nicki
In order to make the rosettes you must have the “irons”. These can be purchased in any good house ware store. Irons come in different shapes and sizes, but I only use the rosette shape, probably because it is the only one I have had for the past 30 years.
Mix all the ingredients well in a small bowl. Let it stand for five minutes. Place Crisco (not oil or butter, nothing but Crisco. I once tried vegetable oil and had to throw them away. I was not happy, so don’t even try anything but Crisco. I don’t know why it works so well, but if it was good enough for my mother and it works, it’s good enough for me.) in a deep frying pan. The Crisco must be very hot and deep enough to submerge the iron to heat it thoroughly.
When the iron is very hot take it out of the Crisco and put it into the batter. IMPORTANT: Do not cover the top of the iron with the batter, just up to the rim. Then dip the batter-covered iron into the hot Crisco. Hold the handle steady and the batter will fry and the rosette will come off the iron. They may need a little coaxing with a fork. Immediately dip the iron back into the batter. (If the Crisco is hot enough, the iron is hot enough and the gods are with you this will go very smoothly.) Turn the rosettes when they are golden. Remove and drain on paper towels.
Place the drained rosettes in a pretty platter, drizzle them with honey and a good dusting of powdered sugar. They are crisp delights and go well with Asti.
December is coming so here’s Nicki’s recipe for a Christmas standard.
“Struffoli or as my family calls them, Ceci, are made for the Christmas Holidays. Time consuming to make, but well worth it. They are a delicious treat. They are especially good for breakfast on Christmas day; float them in your coffee cup and scoop them up with a spoon. So good!” – Nicki
Mix the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, the 1/4 cup of Crisco and eggs in a mixing bowl. Work the dough with your hands. Then turn the dough onto a floured board. Knead the dough until pliable. Form it into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Flour the board. Cut the dough into ½ inch strips. Roll the strips into rope-like pieces about 8 – 10 inches long. I prefer rolling the dough in my hands but you can roll it on the board. Leave each roll to rest on the floured board as you roll the others. Cut each roll into ½ inch pieces. Roll each of these pieces into balls the size of a ceci (chick pea). I roll them by hand and can do two at a time. (Practice makes perfect). The board should be sufficiently floured so that the Struffoli do not stick together.
Put the Crisco (about four inches deep) in a large heavy-duty pot over medium heat. Drop in one ceci to check the heat of the Crisco. It should brown in a minute or two. Fry the dough in batches until golden. Remove them with a slotted spoon or a spider spoon and drain them on a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
Heat the honey and water in a pan until it blends. Add the ceci and toss and coat. Arrange in a serving bowl and dust with powdered sugar and sprinkles.