This morning I awoke feeling nostalgic. I don’t know why, it’s a strange thing that occurs sometimes. I found my little battered book in the office with all of my cherished recipes that I have written in haste, while either taking notes from my Nana over the phone or cooking in the kitchen. It made me feel complete, to hold this in my hand. As I looked through it, I stumbled upon the recipe for Cassateddi di Ricotta which is something that is treasured by my grandmother. It’s a recipe that her mother once made and only on New Year’s Eve. I made them last year and they were simply magical, everything I could have ever hoped for and more. They lived up to her description and were fairly easy to make. I really appreciate tradition, it’s something people wouldn’t always guess about me. But, I hold things like this close to my heart. And I realize that this recipe was given to me for one particular reason: I would honor it and make my relatives proud. This recipe calls for Crisco, yes, Crisco, as my grandmother informed me, years ago, butter was not an option as it was super expensive. People used lard. So, I may not like it, but I’m not about to go against the old Italian folks.
These can be made either sweet or savory, change your fillings to suit.
4 cups of flour
3 tablespoons Crisco
1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar
Wine/Cold water, just enough to form the dough (white wine for people lacking common sense)
1 to 2 cups of ricotta (depending on how filling you like/how many you are making)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste
A handful of parsley
A small cube of *FRESH* mozzarella for each “ravioli” (just buy one ball of mozz and cut it up, eat the rest or whatever)
1 to 2 cups of ricotta
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar (as well as plenty more for dusting when they come out)
A smidge of nutmeg
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
*Optional: A little piece of dark chocolate to place on top of the filling
Oil for frying
Mix the flour, Crisco and sugar together until the mixture looks crumbly. This works best if done in a mixer.
Add the wine & cold water slowly, about a quarter of a cup at a time until the dough comes together and forms a nice, elastic but not too sticky mixture. If you add too much, simply add a little additional flour. Now, some people use all wine, I think that’s a bit too much so I do a half and half mixture. Knead the dough until smooth and easy to work with. Now basically, where you go from here is up to you. If you want to make ravioli shape Cassateddi, go for it. Some prefer half moons. I use my pasta maker, cutting the dough into several pieces and then flattening it out. I start on setting 1 and gradually move up to 4. I then place the filling on the dough, about a tablespoon for each, an inch or so away from each other. I take a cube of the mozz and I smush it right on top of the filling. I then wet my finger and run the water along the filling. Then I place the top portion on, securing around the filling, making sure there are no air bubbles. From there you can cut the squares with a knife, if you have a ravioli cutter, that works even better. During this process you will need plenty of flour to make sure that nothing is sticking. Most important thing is to make sure your little bites of goodness are secure. Use a fork to pinch around the sides if you do not have a ravioli cutter.
Now, dump your oil into a deep pan and turn that shit on. I’m not going to tell you an exact temperature for your oil. The Italians, we’re not that specific. Throw one of these babies in there when you think it’s hot and if it is, it will start frying. There is no better way to know.
Fry all of these little babies up. For the savory, enjoy as is, for the sweet, dust with plenty of confectioner’s sugar.
Oh and if you serve the savory with sauce, please know, that some Italian will come out of a closet and slap you right upside your head.
Enjoy my friends.