Michael writes, "My father's family came from Calabria and his mother used to make some cookies at Christmas time. We have been able to obtain some of the recipes but he has memories of two that we can't find. One is what he calls Torada (Not sure of the spelling) hard cookies made with like a bread dough with anise or fennel. The other is made, he thinks with honey and flour, deep fried then stored for a period of time until they get hard....
Michael concludes, "I thought you might be able to direct me to these recipes, either on the net or a cookbook."
The Torada sound rather like ginetti
. As for the honey fritters, Ottaviano Cavalcanti's Il Libro d'Oro della Cucina e dei Vini di Calabria e Basilicata
(Mursia Editore) has a recipe for Majatiche ccu Meme 'I Ficu,
Fritters with Fig Honey, which sounds tasty though it's not what Michael's dad recalls. It calls for:
- Olive oil
- Fig honey (made from bees who frequent figs; check an organic foods store or use another distinctively flavored honey)
Combine the flour, salt, and some water to make a batter, and use it to make very thin fritters in a well-oiled skillet; drain the fritters on absorbent paper as you remove them from the pan, keeping them covered lest they cool. Then roll them up, smother them with fig honey, and serve them hot.
Mr. Cavalcanti also gives Mustazzuoli (Mostaccioli in Italian), which may be closer to the mark:
- 2 cups (1/2 liter) fig honey
- 4 eggs
- 4 ounces toasted chopped almonds
- Ground cloves to taste
- The grated zest of an orange
- A scant cup (200 g) sugar
Combine the honey with a quantity of flour sufficient to absorb it all. Work in the eggs, chopped almonds, orange zest and sugar. Roll the resulting dough out to make medium-sized cookies (I'd figure 1/2 inch high and 1 by 3 inches in size). Bake them in a hot (380F, 190C) oven until nicely colored.
Mr. Cavalcanti notes that there are a number of traditional shapes for mustazzuoli, including women, hearts, fish, doves, horses and baskets. In other words, this is a good occasion to get out your cookie cutters.