Large, medium, small, carved or sculptured, Halloween pumpkins have reached the Italian peninsula! “It’s for fun…” say young Italians who like to dress up like witches, vampires, and zombies…
On this I have often wondered how many of those young Italians actually realize that when they dress up as scary characters, ride the local Halloween midnight train, or light a candle inside the scary pumpkin face they celebrate British Celtic Druid history and 17th century North American tradition. For those of you who have embraced the modern consumption wave with the Italian “scherzetto o dolcetto” (trick or treat) in a country which during fall season has also Il giorno dei Santi (All Saints), Il giorno dei Morti (The Day of the Dead) and Carnevale prior to Lent, let’s applaud international globality and the most recent Italian-Anglo Saxon Halloween festivity in anticipation to American Thanksgiving Day in Italy.
For a new type of merry making then, let’s bake “oss de mort” (bones of dead) cookies, bring flowers and wreath to cemeteries, and later buy, eat, and chase candies and go to a modern Italian Halloween party!
ITALIAN HALLOWEEN COOKIE RECIPE:
OSS DE MORT, also called OSSA DEI MORTI [“BONES OF THE DEAD” COOKIES]
8 oz ground blanched almonds
8 oz white sugar
1 1/2 oz softened butter
8 oz white all purpose flour
1/2 tsp powdered cloves
1/2 tsp powdered cinnamon
1 egg white, beaten
Grated peel of 1/2 organic lemon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (about 170 Celsius)
Combine all ingredients and between two pieces of wax paper roll out a thick sheet of dough. With cookie cutters shaped like bones cut out the Oss de Mort and bake them on a parchment paper lined cookies sheet for about 10-15 minutes.
STREGA LIQUEUR OSS DE MORD COOKIES [WITCH’S “BONES TO CHEW” COOKIES]
12 oz ground blanched almonds
8 oz white sugar
8 oz all purpose flour
2 egg whites, beaten
1/2 tsp powdered cinnamon
1 shot of STREGA liqueur*
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (170 Celsius)
Combine all ingredients and between two pieces of wax paper roll out a thick sheet of dough. With cookie cutters shaped like bones cut out the OSS DE MORT cookies and bake them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet for about 10-15 minutes
*Note: I confess – Finding this Italian saffron colored liqueur called “Strega,” which translated means “witch’s liqueur” was not easy…For those who are serious about using this sweet yellow old Italian liqueur…here is where to find it in the small Northern Italian city of Rovereto: at MICHELI DROGHERIA.
MICHELI DROGHERIA is a family run store which exists since 1829 where you find not only the STREGA liqueur but others. The “antica bottega trentina” has fine whiskeys, the best Italian grappas, foreign and domestic wines, sweets, health herbal teas, spices, and unusual gourmet foods. It is located downtown Rovereto in Via Mercerie 16/20; the owners’ telephone number is 0464 421154 – the Micheli store is also reachable at http://www.drogheriamicheli.it and ther email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Parties and celebrations never grow old, but what should an American do in Italy after Halloween, and after her Italian friends have eaten all the cookies and candies, dressed as vampires, witches, and zombies and gone home?
Go to market, find a favorite pumpkin, which Italians call “zucca”, take it home, cut it open, remove the seeds, bake it and make a fine pumpkin pie.
HOW TO BAKE YOUR BUTTERNUT SQUASH
Slice the butternut in half and remove the seeds. Place the pumpkin face down on a rimmed broiler pan with 1 inch of water, preferably positioned on a fitting roasting rack. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 Celsius) for about 60 minutes or until the butternut looks mushy. For later use spoon out the pumpkin flesh and set it aside.
1 1/2 cup of whole wheat unbleached flour
1/2 cup of wheat germ
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
6 to 7 Tbsp of cold water
Mix the dry ingredients. Pour the oil in the dry mixture and combine all ingredients and gradually sprinkle over the water one tablespoon at the time; make a ball of dough slightly sticky. On a flat surface between two sheets of wax paper roll out the dough to a flat disk to fit your pie pan. Brush with oil your pie pan. Place your pie pan upside down on the flat pie crust with one hand under the wax paper and the other on the pie pan; quickly flip the crust into the pie pan. Remove the paper and shape and pierce the crust in a few places. Chill it for 1 hour.
HOW TO MAKE AN AMERICAN PUMPKIN PIE
2 cups baked pumpkin flesh (preferably butternut squash)
3 egg whites, beaten (bianchi d’uova)
3/4 cup maple syrup [sciroppo di acero]
1/4 tsp salt (sale)
1 tsp powdered cinnamon (cannella)
1/2 tsp powdered ginger (zenzero)
1/4 tsp powdered cloves (chiodi di garofano)
1 1/2 cups skim milk (latte scremato)
2 1/2 Tbsp arrow root or corn starch or Maizena
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (210 Celsius) and blend all ingredients until they are smooth. Pour into chilled pie crust and bake 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (170 Celsius) and bake 45 more minutes or until a knife inserted into the pumpkin custard comes out clean. Let the pumpkin cool on a cake rack.
ITALIAN PUMPKIN CAKE OPTION: PAOLA’S TORTA ALLA ZUCCA (Paola’s Italian Pumpkin Cake)
For the cake dough:
200 g (about 7-8 oz) Confectioner’s sugar [zucchero a velo]
250 g (about 8.2 oz) butter
500 g (18 oz or about + or – 3 cups) cake flour [farina 00]
Pure Vanilla Extract – to taste [essenza di vaniglia]
4 egg yolks
For the filling:
70 g (2.4 oz) pure cane sugar [zucchero di canna]
1 large egg
1 shot of Marsala (sweet wine)
180 ml (about 3/4 cup) whipping cream [panna fresca liquida]
Powdered cinnamon (a pinch or to taste) [cannella]
Powdered nutmeg (a pinch or to taste) [noce moscata]
Fresh ginger (grated to taste) [zenzero]
800 g (about 28 oz or about 4 cups) seeded, roasted, peeled pumpkin [zucca]
To make the cake start with the dough. Combine flour, cold butter, and salt and mix until all ingredients are incorporated in a dough that floury and sandy. Pour these ingredients on a surface and add: sugar, vanilla, the egg yolks; make a ball of dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
For the pumpkin filling: First follow the directions given previously in the recipe for Pumpkin Pie (see above)
Second: Take the seeded, roasted, peeled pumpkin and proceed from here. Work the pumpkin filling with a fork or stirring spoon. Add to the pumpkin the sugar, the egg, the whipping cream, the cinnamon, the nutmeg, the Marsala wine, the ginger and combine well. In a sauce pan heat the mixture and let it simmer for 5 minutes making sure to stir to prevent burning at the bottom. Set the filling aside for later use. In the mean time, with a rolling pin, between two sheets of parchment paper roll out the cake dough 5 mm high (about 1 inch) to fit into a greased and floured 26 cm (about 10-12 inches) wide cake pan. Make sure to keep some dough for a lattice made of thin strips of dough to use to cover the cake. With a fork pierce the cake bottom and position it into the cake pan. Pour the filling over the dough bottom, add the striped dough grid and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius (400 F); when the buzzer rings reduce the temperature to 350 degrees Celsius and bake for additional 30 minutes, making sure not to over bake the cake. Test the donness of Paola’s Italian pumpkin cake with a toothpick or a cake tester.
For those American friends and readers who are sightseeing throughout the Trentino region and who are away from home, allow me to suggest visiting my friends Mariangela and Ivan who run a small pizzeria restaurant downtown Rovereto where they celebrate Italian American Thanksgiving... A four course meal at a fixed price of 30 Euros (wines included) or in Bitcoins.
MARIANGELA AND IVAN’S THANKSGIVING MENU FOR NOVEMBER 23rd, 2017
Appetizer – Antipasto
Turkey Ham Carpaccio with Lemon Pumpkin – Carpaccio di Prosciutto di Tacchino Aromatico con Zucca Cotta al Limone
First Course – Primo Piatto
Pasta Pockets filled with Wild Berry Chutney with Diced Pumpkin and Rosemary Pumpkin Cream – Tortelli Ripieni di Mostarda ai Frutti di Bosco con Dadolata di Zucca e Crema di Zucca al Rosmarino
Second Course – Secondo Piatto
Roasted Breast of Turkey with Cranberry Stuffing with Pan-Fried Pumpkin and Mashed Potatoes – Arrosto di Fesa di Tacchino Ripieno di Marmellata di Mirtilli affiancato a Zucca Fritta e Pure’ di Patate
Culinary Roots and Recipe’s Pumpkin Pie
Merlot Borgo Dei Rosseri
DA PAPI Pizzeria Ristorante – Via Garibaldi, 67, Rovereto (Galleria Ex Chesani)- For reservations: Cell + 39 373 7616969 – accessibile also at: http://pizzeriaristorantedapapi.it/
… HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO YOU ALL WHO KNOW WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT!!!!! or watch this