Sunday 8 May 2011

Nonna's fritole

Cara Nonna

This afternoon I went with my sister Birdie and her boyfriend to visit our gorgeous Nonna, Livia, for (Grand)Mother's Day. When we arrived, we discovered to our delight that she was making fritole for us.

Fritole (depending on the dialect, sometimes known as frittelle) are a kind of doughnut from the North-East of Italy (my Nonna had them when she was growing up in a small village near Treviso, in the Veneto). In Venice they're traditionally eaten during Carnevale. Sometimes they're made with rice (yuk) or ricotta and pine nuts, but Nonna makes them with sultanas swollen with grappa.

The fritole I see out and about in Melbourne always look greasy and gluggy (same goes for most of the ones in Italy), but Nonna's are always beautifully light and fluffy. She used to make them for us as a treat when we were children, but before today she hadn't made them in over three years. Along with her crostoli, they're just about my favourite Italian sweet treats, so I grabbed a pen and paper and did my best to take down the recipe (sorry about its imprecise quantities and vague method!).

Nonna with fritoleNonna making fritole

Before you start be sure to grab a jar, fill it with sultanas, cover the sultanas with grappa, and leave them to soak in the fridge. Actually, you should soak some sultanas in grappa even if you're NOT going to make this recipe - you never know when they're going to come in handy. Every household should have a jar of drunken sultanas in the fridge.

Fritole della Nonna Livia
4-6 tablespoons self-raising flour
4 tablespoons white sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
approx half a glass of milk
dash of vanilla extract
finely grated zest of one orange
finely grated zest of half a lemon
1 apple, peeled and roughly grated (granny smith or pink lady)
handful of sultanas pre-soaked in grappa
olive oil for deep frying
icing sugar to serve

Fritole batter

Mix the flour and sugar. Lightly beat together the eggs and the milk. Make a well in the flour and add the egg mixture, stirring to obtain a smooth batter that is not too thick, with a consistency like wet porridge. If it's too dry, add more milk. If it's too runny, add more flour.

Add the vanilla extract, orange zest, lemon zest, grated apple and sultanas. Stir until smooth.

Sultanas in grappaFritole in oil

In a small pan, add about 6-7cm olive oil for deep frying. Heat the oil slowly and gently on a medium-low heat, making sure it doesn't burn. When the oil is hot, use an ice cream scoop or largeish spoon to carefully add dollops of batter into the pan.

Deep fry 'em in batches, turning them occasionally with a spoon (heat the spoon briefly in the oil before touching the dollops of batter, or the batter will adhere to the spoon).

Nonna making fritoleAdding more flour

When the fritole have turned a deep golden brown, fish them out and onto a plate covered in a few sheets of kitchen paper. Press them with kitchen paper to remove any excess oil, then transfer them to a clean plate. Continue cooking the rest of the fritole, adding a bit of extra milk or flour if the batter gets dry/runny.


Before serving, sprinkle with icing sugar. Best served warm. Warning: IMPOSSIBLE to eat just one.

Icing sugar


leaf (the indolent cook) said...

Ah, the old-school stuff always rocks. Bless your Nonna!

Daniel said...

I always love how older generations cook amazing food with such imprecise measurements and equipment that we'd find frustrating to use. I noticed that your nonna uses an electric stovetop.....that would drive me nuts.

Thank you for sharing.

OohLookBel said...

Your nonna is adorable. Could she adopt me?

Johanna GGG said...

I hate deep frying but would love a nonna like yours to make me fritole - wonderful post!

Unknown said...

what a beautiful photo of your Nonna!

this looks like a treat. there are some recipes worth deep frying for, and this is clearly one of them.

Liverella said...

I hv the same name as her :) hope I can be like her at her age, happily cooking and loved by grandkids :))

Jenn Brigole said...

Consider me warmed. Between my niece and I, we could definitely split this whole plate and then some. This looks like it can become one of my comfort food. :)

Melissa said...

How gorgeous your Nonna has shared her special recipe. I've only ever had a Dutch treat called Oliebollen that is deep fried my husbands aunty is the master of and I love them so I'm sure I would love your Nonna's Fritole, they look delicious!

Jem said...

Grandma's are the best cooks! You're Nonna is adorable and those Fritoles looking amazing.

Anonymous said...

OMG - does she make struffoli and zeppole too? Or don't they make that in the north-east of Italy?

I put my nonna's recipe for zeppole up here, I made it last St Joseph's day:

- lauren said...

Delicious! My Nonna and Nonno grew up in that region too, maybe they were long lost friends!

Kat (Spatula, Spoon and Saturday) said...

aww bless. i love this post.

Unknown said...

Just like how my nonna makes them, and she is from just outside Treviso as well :) yum yum

Rosanna Panozzo said...

My Mum, Nonna (Pierina) to my daughters makes these too and there are no fixed amounts. She cooks by feel, how it looks and how it tastes. All signs of a good cook and that's why their food is so Yummy.My Mum comes from a little town in the "Altopiano"
called "Tresche Conca" near Asiago, 2 hours north-west of Venice.