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50 Women Game-Changers (in Food): #12 Lidia Bastianich - Struffoli

In May '11, Gourmet posted a list of 50 Women Game-Changers (in Food) that runs the gamut from food writers to cookbook authors to television personalities to restauranteurs to chefs to food bloggers.  Some are a given.  Some are controversial.  Speaking the names of some brings fond childhood memories.  Speaking the names of others will make some readers cringe.  And of course, some of our favorites were not even included.  We food-lovers are a passionate bunch of people and whether we agree or disagree, every woman on this list has earned her place for a reason.  Being a woman who is passionate about food (cooking, eating, talking about, writing about, photographing), when I caught wind of Mary from One Perfect Bite's idea of cooking/blogging her way through each of these 50 per week...I knew I wanted to join her.  Many of these women paved the way for us in culinary school, in the kitchen, in cookbooks, in food writing, and on television and I think it is a fabulous way to pay tribute to their efforts.  Some of the women on the list have been tops with me for years.  Some I have heard of (perhaps even seen, read, or cooked from) before.  And there are even a handful that I am not familiar with at all.  I excited to educate myself on each of these women game-changers and hope you look forward to reading along.  We are going in order from 1 to 50.
the "Gourmet" prompt...
12. Lidia Bastianich (and her brood)- Everybody’s nonna, Lidia founded an empire, and she does it all: cookbooks, TV shows, restaurants, and wines galore. Then last summer—with son Joe, Mario Batali, and Oscar Farinetti—she opened Eataly, the cucina italiana Manhattan multiverse and, basically, took over the world.
I feel all twisted inside this week.  I really enjoyed Lidia.  For years.  Her show was in the line-up I watched years ago on PBS before I got cable.  I have a few of her books.  But I'm a very emotional, compassionate being, and just hearing the accusations* swirling around her right now, I feel sick.  Character is a pretty big deal to me.  I have always tried very hard to stick to what my mama taught me: If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all.  So.  I wonder if people can lose their spots?  Anyway.  While it saddens me, I'm not going to say anything further since I can't conjure up the will to give her accolades right now.  I will still share a recipe.  Because cooking eases my mind.

Please don't get all huffy if you love Lidia.  Of course I believe in innocent until proven guilty...and I hope that it is simply tabloid fodder.
Honey Balls
slightly adapted from Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen
serves 10

4 c. all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. sugar
grated zest of ½ lemon
grated zest of ½ orange
pinch of salt
4 large eggs
2 Tbs. melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla

2 c. honey
½ c. sugar
⅓ c. water

oil, for frying
candy sprinkles
dough:  Combine flour, sugar, lemon and orange zest, and salt in a bowl.  Make a well in the center and add eggs, butter, and vanilla.  Stir them around with your fingertips, then work the wet ingredients into the dry until smooth and evenly blended.  Gather dough into a ball, lightly flour a work surface, and knead until smooth, 3-4 minutes.  Form into a disk, wrap in plastic, and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

Divide into eight pieces.  Roll each piece out into a ⅓" thick rope.  Cut each rope into ⅓" sections.  Lightly form each section into a ball the size of a marble.  Or don' can leave them as-is.

Heat ~3" of oil in a deep pot to 350° F.  I just guesstimate.  It'll be all shimmery.  Drop in a ball to test it.  Once the oil is ready, fry balls about a quarter at a time (or as many as will fit in comfortably without crowding) for ~3 minutes, or until golden.  Lift out with a strainer and place on a sheet tray lined with paper towels.

syrup:  Put honey, sugar, and water in a pot wide enough to hold all of the struffoli.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Syrup will foam up a LOT.  Continue to cook until foam dies down and mixture becomes a shade darker, ~5-7 minutes.  Remove from heat and immediately add all of the fried dough balls to the syrup.  Remove them with a slotted spoon or skimmer and mound them on a serving plate, letting excess drip off first.  Scatter as many sprinkles as you like over the top and eat!  Will keep for several days loosely covered with plastic wrap.
Lidia Bastianich ( February 21, 1947 - present)

Tutti a tavola a mangiare.  (Let's all go to the table and eat.)  ~Lidia's signature sign-off

Who is cooking along with these 50 Women Game-Changers?
I am sharing this post with:
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