Christmas in Italy, step two: “I struffoli”

Christmas in Italy, step two:

“I struffoli” – little fried balls of deliciousness covered in honey, just like my Nonna used to make every year.  My turn now…  She’d be proud.

Here’s my recipe (sorry, it’s in the metric system – I’m used to it by now).

Ingredients:

400 grams of flour

40 grams of sugar

5 eggs

1 shot of limoncello

Lemon zest

Sunflower oil

Honey (ideally citrus-infused)

Candy decor

Mix flour, sugar, eggs, limoncello, and lemon zest in mixer until dough is formed (should be thick enough to be able to form balls).  Work dough with a dusting of flour and section off into large clumps. Pull fingertip-sized bits of dough from the clumps one at a time and roll into mini balls (this is the most time-consuming part, depending on how big you choose to make them – they are typically very tiny).  Give them a light dusting of flour so they’re all separated, then toss them into hot sunflower oil until they turn a golden brown color.  Oil should be at least half-pan deep and very hot.  Strain them and lay to rest on some paper towel in a serving bowl.  Once all have been fried, remove the paper towel and pour honey abundantly over struffoli, turning with a large spoon to be sure all are covered.  Sprinkle colored candies over them, and enjoy!

Foodgasm of the Moment: Il Tagliere

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Il tagliere is a cutting board of local and regional carnivorous delights, usually served at the beginning of a meal as an antipasto.  As part of the classic Italian menu, it’s obviously classified as an antipasto di terra (land), as opposed to those di mare (sea).

Similar to the aperitivo, there is no one distinct way to prepare it; the selection is dictated by the region where you happen to be, as well as which products are in season.

Packed with a variety of sliced meats, cheeses, olives, and more – it’s always fresh, always flavorful, and always fantastic.

Facciamo l’aperitivo?

What’s so great about the Italian aperitivo?  Um, everything.  It makes the American happy hour look like a sad, starved, alcoholic mess.

Aperitivo time is my favorite time of day in Italy.  Served from around 6-9pm, it’s the pre-dinner practice that’s the trendiest part of the typical daily Italian food ritual.

Cool, chic, and ever-evolving, you never know what you’ll get from one place to the next.  Originally intended to merely entice the appetite with a refreshment (either alcoholic or non) and light snack before dinner, establishments are now doing their best to out-do the competition.

So, when a friend asks,  ”Facciamo l’aperitivo?”, it can mean anything from grabbing a quick drink, like the infamous “Spritz” cocktail (prosecco and Aperol):

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To a drink plus snack, like this:

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Or, an all-out buffet:

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The craziest part about the aperitivo is that the food is actually included in the price of the drink.  So, essentially for €10 or €15, you have the chance to (once again) eat like a king on a pauper’s budget.  Plus, many locales have live entertainment or a DJ in the later hours, so you can literally hang out all evening and make a night of it with friends.

What’s not to love?