Today, I started to clean my home office and came across a box and inside I stumbled unto my old recipe notebook that I started when I was twelve years old during one of my visits to my paternal grandparent’s home. When we moved to the states, my sister and I would travel during the summer months to visit them in Venezuela. And during one of those visits, I decided that I would start writing my Nonna’s recipes, so I could bring them back and make them.
As I opened the old falling apart yellow notebook, memories rushed back at me of the numerous times that I would sit by her red kitchen table, and she will be at the stove, calling out the ingredients as I would write them down, making sure I was keeping meticulous notes (and apparently doodles of flowers and boxes on the margins) about the tips and tricks that she would remark as she would cook along. My grandmother was the ultimate Italian cook, but all her instructions were a “pitch of this”, a spoonful of that - no measurements, no fancy tablespoons sets - just a little bit of that, and this.
Even after she lived in Venezuela for over 40 years, she stayed true to her Piemontese roots. Every time we would visit, she made sure to make our favorite desserts, dishes and snacks.
One of those beloved snacks was the Semolino Dolce. I would eat my weight with this sweet snack every single time she would make it. The creamy sweet semolina center, with the lightly hot breaded outside was, for me, the ultimate comfort food.
My heard fluster a bit, when I came across the recipe and I could not help running to the kitchen and making it.
Like anything Italian, this is quick, easy and delicious. The only down part of it is the wait time in between to let the cooked semolina get cold. While you can certainly cool it down for a couple of hours before you fried it, my nonna would always make it a day ahead and store it in the refrigerator for 24 hours before frying them. I recommend that you take this extra step.
FRITTELLE DI SEMOLINO DOLCE
For the cooked semolina
- 4 cups of whole milk
- 200 gr semolina flour
- 4 to 5 tablespoon of Sugar
- pinch of Salt
- 1 to 2 lime peel
For the breading
- 2 well-beaten eggs
- Breadcrumbs – unseason
- Oil for frying
- 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter for frying
- Prepare a sheet pan or jellyroll pan about 9 x 12 inches, lined with plastic wrap that has been lightly rubbed with vegetable oil.
- In a deep saucepan, over medium-high heat, bring the milk to a light boil with the salt, sugar and the lime peels. Stir constantly, remove the lime peels, bring the heat to medium and add the semolina flour, stirring all the while lest lumps form. Cook over a moderate flame, stirring constantly, for about 6 to 10 minutes or until the semolina goes from liquid form to a creamy, firm texture. Remove from the heat and let keep stirring in order to cool it down a bit.
- Pour the mixture onto a prepare pan and let it cool for about 10 minutes, then place in the refrigerator for at least 2 to 3 hours to get very cold– overnight is best.
- Turn the pan over onto a cutting board to disgorge the hardened semolina, remove the wrap. Cut it into any shape you like, but I make diamonds, because they are pretty and you have no waste and my nonna use to do them that way - what can I say, I’m a sticker for keeping tradition.
- Heat ½ inch of oil and butter in a heavy 8-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a low, flat dish. When the oil is ready, dip the cut semolina shapes in the flour, then drag them through the beaten egg, and then in the bread crumbs, pushing gently to be sure they adhere. Gently slip a few pieces at a time into the oil and fry them until they are hot and golden. Drain the fritters on a kitchen towel and serve them hot or warm.
Now prepare to get hook with this simple snack, while I take another bite and go back to my nonna’s red kitchen table and my childhood memories.