Monday, December 19, 2016

Channeling my Inner Nonna

You ever have one of those days where everything aches for no reason and you walk slow, deliberate and a little like you have a poop in your pants?  Think Fred Sanford, but less elegant.  No? Just me?

OK, whatever.

When I have those kind of days, I think of it as coming down with a case of "The Grandmas".  When you get a case of The Grandmas, everything aches, it takes forever to walk from one side of the house to the other and you forget how to use all your electronic devices.

But sometimes, instead of a case of The Grandmas, you get a case of "The Nonnas".  When you get a case of The Nonnas, you become an elderly superwoman.  You put on your housecoat, cook all day and all night, wash and fold 40 loads of laundry and pick vegetables from your beautiful backyard garden (even if you have neither a back yard or a vegetable garden, when you get The Nonna's they magically appear).

Last weekend, I got a wicked case of The Christmas Nonnas.  I was posessed by the impulse to make Struffoli.  For those of you that don't know what Struffoli are, they are little round balls of fried dough, soaked in a honey syrup and covered with non-pareils.  If you grew up with at least one Italian grandmother, you know what they are and you have warm memories of being shooed away from pots of hot oil, being covered in honey from head to toe and not being able to put anything down after you pick it up because everything sticks to your fingers.

My Nonna did not leave me a recipe for these delightful treats and honestly, I have not ever wanted to make them before because I hate frying.  I hate the smell it leaves in the house, I hate the mess and I hate spatter burns.  But, when the spirit of Christmas mixes with the spirit of Nonna, the compulsion for struffoli can outrun my more neurotic, Felix Unger-type tendencies. Being that I did not have a recipe from my own Nonna, I did what any red blooded Italian Grandmother would do...I used the Internet.

What I found is that there are no shortage of recipes for Struffoli.  Everyone who calls themself an Italian cook has a version - Giada DeLarentiis, Lidia Bastianich, Mario Batali.  They all look pretty good and the recipes are similar...flour, eggs, a splash of alcohol, honey, etc.  But since I was overcome with the spirit of Nonna, I went to the source, Cooking with Nonna.

If you have not seen this adorable series, a young Italian American woman, Rossella Rago, cooks traditional Italian and Italian American recipes with grandmothers.  Yours, hers, any Italian nonna that will sit still long enough to teach her a recipe.  It's quite charming and sweet and it spreads the joy of having an Italian grandmother to everyone.  The recipe that I used, along with a "how to" video can be found here.  Enjoy and Buon Natale!

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