Precipizi, an Italian Hanukkah Treat
Seems like it’s been a long time since we’ve had an assignment for the Secret Recipe Club. Guess that might be because we all took December off. But we’re back! How were your holidays? Getting right back into the swing of things and here we go with another secret revealed. With the blog I was given for this month, I simply could not decide what to make, so I decided on three recipe to choose from. After making each over the last couple weeks, I still couldn’t decide which to share, so today you’re getting three, three for the price of one!
The blog I had this month is Katherine’s blog, appropriately named Katherine Martinelli. Read Katherine’s About Me Page to learn about her wonderful life of travel and food writing as well as photography. I love that she says she’s a wanderer. I’d say so, a native New Yorker, she currently lives in Israel! (I’m jealous. Just kidding. I love my life.) ;) Her writing is published all over the world! Like I said, I had quite the time deciding what recipe to make from her blog. You may have noticed, I tend to gravitate toward treats and goodies. After looking through so many of Katherine’s posts, I found a cookie I wanted to make, a delicious braised chicken with pasta and these precipizi. It was fun to make all three. Originally, I thought I’d try each and pick one, but they were all three so good I decided to share them all here.
What is precipizi? It’s an Italian Hanukkah dessert, perfect for the holiday as a centerpiece or addition to a table full of desserts. I think they are delicious. My family wasn’t too thrilled about how chewy they become after the honey hardens a little on them. They are perfectly bite-sized and the flavor is great. Of course, I needed to change the recipe a bit, since it called for rum or other clear spirits and we don’t have any alcohol in our house and don’t use it. So this is my “virgin” version. I used vanilla extract and some orange extract.
Precipizi, an Italian Hanukkah Treat, adapted by Katrina, Baking and Boys! from Katherine Martinelli
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 3/4 cup (210 grams) all purpose flour
2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of salt
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure orange extract
a splash or two of water if the dough is too dry (I didn’t use any, but probably could have)*
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup honey
powdered sugar (optional)
Mix together the flour, sugar, a salt in a medium-sized bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil and flavorings. Combine the two and mix together until combined, then lightly knead it on a flat surface until it is a smooth, soft dough. Shape the dough in to small balls, about the size of olives (making about 24 balls). Heat the canola oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the balls of dough (in batches with the pan not too crowded) and fry until golden on all sides. Transfer to a paper towel lined wire rack.
Remove any excess oil from the pan and wipe it clean. Add the honey. Once it is hot and bubbling, add the fried dough balls back into the pan and stir to coat. Pour them onto a baking sheet lined with non-stick foil and allow to cool. As they cool the honey will harden slightly. Serve by arranging them into a tower, stacking them on top of each other in a pyramid shape. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
*The original recipe called for 2 tablespoons of rum, and I didn’t use a total of two tablesoons of liquid/flavoring, so a little water could be added to form the dough.
Next—I love braising meat, which just means browning it off, then cooking it in liquid until it’s very tender. I love pasta, too and then was excited that this chicken pasta recipe had saffron in it and I had just the right amount left that a friend gave me a few years ago for my birthday. Not sure when I’ll ever be able to afford saffron again. It was fun to use in different things. This pasta was delicious. The boys all actually liked it. Kevin really liked it and I did, too. Once again, this recipe called for dry white wine, so I substituted some non-alcoholic sparkling cider that we had for the wine. May be a lame substitution to some, but I have used fruit juices instead of wine before and it tastes good to us! This didn’t make the dish taste apple-y, but I would like to try a white grape juice next time. I’ll for sure make this again sometime….when I can get my hands on some saffron. Besides the wine substitution, since I don’t like onions and this was supposed to have two cups of chopped onions, I was bold enough to put in one large shallot—and that was plenty for me. ;) Also I think it would be delicious with fresh basil, I don’t have any right now during wintertime, but I did have some basil that I froze in olive oil this summer, so I used that and this was still a great dish. Can’t wait to try it with fresh basil, which I love. Please check out Katherine’s recipe here.
Rigatoni with Braised Chicken in Saffron Cream, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!
2 pounds boneless chicken breast (bone-in with skin or thighs with skin and bones would also be great and add lots more flavor, I just had and used boneless)
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups sparkling cider (or grape juice, or apple juice)
1 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
2 cups chicken broth (I used low-sodium)
1 pound rigatoni pasta (penne would be fine, too)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons (or more to taste) fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup frozen basil, packed in olive oil, thawed (or 2/3 cup fresh basil, chopped)
Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until golden, about 7 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate. Add shallot and cook until softened. Add garlic and cook just another minute or so. Add sparkling cider and saffron to the skillet and bring to a boil. Continue to boil until liquid is slightly thickened and reduced by almost half, about 8 minutes. Add the chicken broth. Return the chicken to the skillet, bring it all to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover it and simmer it gently until chicken is very tender, 30 minutes or so, depending on if you’re using bone-in chicken with skin, may require a little bit longer cooking time. Transfer the chicken to a plate and let cool enough to handle.
Shred chicken and set aside. Reserve skillet juices. Cook the rigatoni in a pot of boiling salted water to al dente, according to package directions. Drain pasta. While it is cooking, add cream to the skillet and boil until sauce is reduced to about 2 1/2 cups and is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 10 minutes. Once it is boiling, turn heat to medium. Stir in 2 tablespoons lemon juice, then the chicken pieces. Stir over medium heat until heated through. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the pasta and toss to coat. Stir in the basil. Serve.
Frozen/thawed basil is definitely not as pretty as fresh, but it’s just as tasty!
And finally—cookies! I always like trying new cookies, especially if they are chocolate chip cookies and even more so if they have whole wheat flour. Yes, because then I can use the excuse that they are healthier and I don’t feel as guilty eating them.
Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
I made half the recipe for these cookies. Katherine adapted the recipe from Kim Boyce, author of Good to the Grain. My cookies aren’t quite as thick as Katherine’s, but it is probably because I did not adjust the recipe for my high altitude, as I often do. These were still great, especially if you like a crunchier type of chocolate chip cookie. These were perfectly chewy with a crisp outside when they came out of the oven and cooled just enough to eat. They were pretty crispy the next day, but certainly still great tasting. When I make them again, I will probably bake them a few minutes less, though the recipes says 16-20 minutes and I only baked them for 15 minutes.
Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies, adapted by Katrina, Baking and Boys!
1 1/2 cups (180 grams) whole white flour (I used white whole wheat)
1 teaspoon baking powder (I did adjust this slightly for high altitude baking)*
1/4 teaspoon baking soda (I also adjusted this slightly for high altitude baking)*
3/4 teaspoon coarse Kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup (110 grams) light brown sugar (recipe called for dark)
1/4 teaspoon molasses (because I didn’t use dark brown sugar)
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli 60%)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt to a medium sized bowl and whisk together. Cream the butter in an electric mixer and add the sugars, beating until well combined and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs and mix in the vanilla. Beat until combined. Scrape sides of bowl. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until fully incorporated. Scoop the dough to about 2 tablespoons of dough per cookie onto the baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until light golden brown.
*The regular recipe uses 3/4 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, in case you want to use that amount instead of my small adjustment for high altitude.
Mmmm, now I’m hungry and it’s bedtime! Thanks, Katherine, love your blog!