Altomontes Italian Market is our local market for all foods Italian (www.altomontes.com) and has been THE place to go for Italian delights for over 35 years. This wonderful family originates from Calabria and shares their rich heritage with our little corner of Pennsylvania. The lines are long whenever I visit and their specialities are known for miles around. We recently decided to collaborate so I can bring you some of their beloved recipes as they continue the traditions of their homeland. Look for this as a regular feature in the months ahead! I spent the afternoon with Maria and her mother making one of the special cookies they make for celebrations, especially Carnavale. These delicate fried treats are shaped like bow-ties (‘nocche‘ in Italian) and deliciously light! And they are great fun to make! I have powdered sugar from head to toe from eating these wonderful treats all afternoon!
So grab some flour and your pasta machine and celebrate Carnevale in style!
Nocche’ (Calabrian Bowties for Carnevale)
6 extra large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
5-6 cups flour (plus extra for dusting)
Oil for frying
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
Manual pasta machine
Large pan for frying
1. Crack eggs in a large bowl. Add the sugar and a pinch of salt. Whisk until combined.
2. Add 5 cups of flour and work into a dough with your hands. You want the dough soft but not sticky. If the dough is too moist, add additional flour. Place the dough onto a board and continue to knead until the dough is soft and uniform – about 8 – 10 minutes. Cut the dough into sections (about 5) and continue to knead the dough, forming small loaves (see photo at right). Cover or wrap the dough in plastic wrap to keep it moist and allow to rest for 15 – 30 minutes.
3. In the meantime, set up the pasta machine and heat the oil for frying. Be sure the oil is at least 4 inches deep to allow enough room for all the little nocche to fry.
4. When the dough is rested, roll each section through the pasta machine – start with the #1 setting. Roll twice through the #1 setting; then #4 setting and finally through #6 for the final pass. Lay the sections onto the table. Work as quickly as possible so as not to dry out the dough.
5. With a pastry edger, cut each section into 2 inch diagonal strips and then cut a slit in the middle of each section with the pastry edger. This makes the slit through which you can tie the bow! (See the photo at the left.)
6. Then (and this is the fun part!) – take the top corner of each piece and fold through the slit and pull through! Form the little bowties and pile them up until ready to fry. Although this may seem time consuming, this process actually goes very quickly! Great if you have an extra pair of hands to help form the bowties while someone else rolls out the dough.
7. To be sure the oil is ready for frying, test fry a bowtie. If it puffs and floats to the top quickly, you know it is ready.
8. Fry the nocche in batches working quickly so that the dough does not dry out. If the dough is too dry, they won’t be light and airy. As the bowties fry, gently turn them with tongs once or twice to brown on all sides. Place in a colander lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil.
9. Place on a serving tray or in a serving basket, sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and enjoy!! Buon appetito!