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Friday, August 26, 2011

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:
fridaypotluck FCFButton fresh food friday at la bella vita Foodie Friday Logo 2 friday food at mom trends Friday Food Fight Sweet Treats Party SweetToothFriday sweets for a saturday

Would you like to comment?

  1. Regardless of the accusations, these honey balls look delicious!

  2. I have never heard of stuffoli, but these little things look so good - perfect size for popping! I have not heard too much about Lidia lately, so that is probably a good thing.

  3. What fun (and I love the sprinkles).

  4. Woww incredible, seriously yummyilicious..

  5. What a wonderful recipe. Your struffoli look wonderful. As to the accusations - they are just that. I think it will be interesting to see how this plays out in court. The story doesn't compute and the entire mess sounds very tabloid to me. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  6. This is new to me but it looks delicious!

  7. @Mary...yes, I understand. I definitely believe in innocent until proven guilty. That said, just the thought of it saddens me and I was unable to get excited about somebody I looked up to in the kitchen for a long time. I hope it is all just a tabloid tale.

  8. These little doughnuts remind me of the impending fall fairs.

  9. I love these....I would be nibbling away like a madwoman. ;)

  10. I have wonderful memories of preparing mounds of Struffoli with my grandmother. We use to make them for Easter every year.

    Yours look just as good as the ones I remember, Heather.

    Thank you so much for sharing...

  11. I have made these before and they are delishious!! As for Lidia, I love her, I am sure this is all for money, it causes people to do crazy things!!

  12. wow I didn't even know about these accusations. I do love struffoli and glad you chose this to represent her, loved her pbs show!

  13. These look SINFUL! =P

    Thank you for linking up on the Flash-Back-Friday hop! A new hop is up today and I hope you can join in again!

  14. I love this idea of cooking through recipes of all these 50 women!! These honey balls look delicious- sorta like donuts, but even better!!

  15. These little balls are so cute and looks yumm

  16. A pretty recipe and a PRETTY plate of cakes! Lovely!

  17. Now I really know I live in a black hole because I'd never even heard of the accusations! Oy. Hmm.

    Well, regardless, I do love struffoli and we eat them every year at the holidays! Yours look just perfect!

  18. I didn't hear about the allegations either, but I'm a firm believer that where there's smoke there's usually fire. I don't think someone would make that up, you know? Money, money, just makes people dirty.

    On the other hand the struffoli look delicious and just the right size to pop in your mouth. I bet the kids really liked them!

  19. What a fun recipe! What a great thing to make for a party so people can just snack on them! Love it!

  20. Honey balls looks awesome perfect love the way you decorated with sprinkles.

  21. Struffoli? Not only is the name delightful, but these look delicious topped with those sprinkles. I'm just sorry I wasn't over when you made them!

  22. Hopefully the accusations are false as I have enjoyed Lidia's recipes for years. I've seen struffoli in the store, but would never think to make them. Yours look terrific!

  23. Oh how I love struffoli! My aunt used to make them every Christmas...and they were wonderful! Yours look so gorgeous! Love your photos! Great post!

  24. these are a holiday staple in our have to pile them sky high! also..if you roll the dough out like can make it into bow ties or knots...deep fry and sprinkle with powdered sugar..the are delicious too! that is some story about lidia...i hadn't heard.

  25. Oh struffoli, how I love it! Your recipe looks like it will kick the butt of the one I used last time I made these. I can't wait to try yours. I have 2 hungry little boys and a struffoli obsessed husband that will also thank you! :) Visiting from Friday Potluck! I would love it if you stopped by my blog to say hi!

    Mandi at

  26. I've something similar to these struffoli at a Mediterranean restaurant and I loved them; they were like little crispy doughnuts tossed in honey. Your struffoli look deliciously golden brown and crisp!

  27. They look delicious ... great recipe, hugs.

  28. Struffoli sounds yummy, honey balls - not as much (lol) I hope the rumors aren't true either.

  29. What yummy fun ... like little donut holes! Love the sprinkles!

    As for Lidia, she's up there on my list. I'm wondering about this lawsuit, but feel she has to have her day in court before I'll get upset about her alleged behavior.

  30. The Italian version of TimBits! Love it.
    I hadn't heard the allegations either, but I agree with Kim - these things come from somewhere. And although both sides generally get blown up out of proportion - where there is smoke there is usually fire.

  31. never heard of Lidia before today so of course I looked at the article. I agree with Mary, it sounds very tabloid(ish) also curious how it'll play out. In the meantime...I'll make these to nosh on... ;)
    visiting from friday potluck.

  32. Ok, first my family is super obsessed with struffoli! This is very similar to our recipe! I love your photos and as for Lidia, she's one of my favs! I've met her at a book signing before. Hope all this turns out to be lies, but you never know..

  33. Beautiful job on these. I'll have to make them from my little brother.

  34. Bummer about the allegations--I had not heard anything about them until now.

    These struffoli look like little bites of heaven. ;-)

  35. Well don't these just look delicious? And not like anything I've ever tried before... I think I'll have to change that soon.

  36. Wow those look so good! Why have I never had these before?? I'll be changing that this weekend lol thanks for the recipe!