Ginger in the Kitchen: Cresciuti and Limonata

Liz Clements | Lifestyles Editor

Last week I wrote about “doing the Abruzzi thing.” I couldn’t help but get nostalgic, and I started thinking about all my wonder food memories and favorite tasty treats.

Cresciuta, or cresciuti as I call them, literally translates to “grown,” and are fried balls of pizza dough that, when drained, get tossed in salt. Cresciuti is originally a Neapolitan dish, the front-runners in pizza. It has since become a widespread treat among Italians, and is known by such names like zeppole, pettole, and many others, depending on the regional adaptations.

While the history of this dish has seemed to disappear, I can only assume that they came about when someone thought to fry leftover scraps of dough. Why are they called “grown?” Well, once you drop them into the oil they puff up, or grow, to twice their size.

While cresciuti has always been reserved as just a savory treat in my household, they can certainly be made sweet with sugar and other sweet toppings, or made into antipasti by serving them with the appropriate pairing.

 

Ingredients:

1 package active dry yeast

1-cup warm water

1 heaping tablespoon honey

3-cups flour

2-teaspoons kosher salt

1-teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

Extra virgin and corn oil for frying

 

Directions:

Use a stainless steel mixing bowl or other of dark color; a dark color bowl is essential for the rising process. Rinse the bowl in warm water to take the chill off. Add your yeast, honey, and cup of warm water, stir to mix, and let stand ten minutes. Then add your flour, salt and olive oil. Mix until it comes together in a ball, either by hand or in a mixer. Turn out onto a well-floured board and knead for about 15 minutes, folding the dough on top of itself and pushing it away from you with the palm of your hand. When the dough is ready it should be smooth and silky. Place your dough into your mixing bowl after coating it with olive oil and cover it with a clean dishtowel. Place the bowl in a warm, dry place and allow it to rise for two hours. After two hours, punch down your dough, recover, and let it rise for another two hours.

Once your dough is ready, take it out and cut into thirds. Role the pieces of dough into logs, about 12 inches long by 2 inches wide. Slice the dough on an angle, creating sort of a parallelogram. Heat about 3 inches of oil, equal parts extra virgin olive and corn oils, in a deep skillet. The oil is ready when it looks very shiny and is sort of swirling. If you splash water at it, it will sizzle. Drop your dough into the pan and fry on both sides to a deep golden brown. Drain onto paper towels and toss with salt.

Limonata

La limonata, or lemonade, is an Italian soft drink that was invented in the 1940s, but wasn’t widely popular in Italy and other European countries until they caught wind of the United States beloved interest in soda. Since then, Italians and Europeans alike, usually young people, will enjoy a Coca-Cola with a meal, though mineral water and wine is the primary beverage of choice. In particular, the sodas of choice are usually that of lemon, orange and sometimes pomegranate or melon.

Italian soda, even the Coca-Cola recipe, is made with a lot less sugar and a different degree of carbonated water. It is much more subtle, and the lemon soda, my favorite, is more of a refresher or palate cleanser. Lemon soda is generally made very simply by combining sparkling mineral water with lemon juice and raw sugar, something that can very easily be done at home if you choose to.

Lemon soda is one of my favorite treats, and is usually reserved for my journeys over seas. Fanta, a German company, is the most popular for their fruit flavored soda, with over 90 different varieties. Unfortunately, certain flavors are reserved for certain countries, and lemon has been discontinued in the United States. Other lemon soda brands include Lemonsoda by the Campari group and Limonata by San Pellegrino. While importation and online ordering is the only way to get the Fanta and Campari brands, San Pellegrino can be easily found in most grocery stores. Recently, I’ve seen many bars using lemon soda or Campari soda to make cocktails with effervescence instead of sparkling wine as a way to cut costs; the results have been surprisingly delicious. It’s a delicious and charming treat that I encourage everyone to give a try.

 

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