Sunday, November 3, 2013

My sister Diana and I ventured out to an Apple Festival along with my two daughters and three granddaughters. It said they had apple pie, apple butter, apple turnovers and apple zeppoles. WHAT?  Apple Zeppoles!?!  We all couldn't wait to try them!!   After sitting in the car for 2 1/2 hours in bumper to bumper traffic we got to the festival only to find out there was no parking.  So we turned around, went to the closest town, took the kids to the children's museum and had lunch.  But we were all so bummed that we weren't able to taste the apple zeppoles.  Of course, not to disappoint, the next day I made them.  They are lighter and fluffier than regular zeppoles which makes it easy to pop several in your mouth with worrying that you blew your diet (or so I told myself!).  So, we didn't get to go the apple festival....I brought the apple festival to us!!!


I large apple, peeled and grated
1/4 c sugar
1 stick butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c water
1 c flour
4 eggs
confectioners' sugar and cinnamon

In a medium saucepan  combine the butter, salt, sugar, and water over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Take pan off the heat and stir in the flour. Return the pan to medium heat and stir continuously until mixture forms a ball, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the flour mixture to a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer on low speed, add eggs, one at a time, incorporating each egg completely before adding the next. Beat until smooth. Add the grated apple and stir to combine. 
Combine the  confectioners' sugar, and cinnamon in a
medium bowl. 
Meanwhile, pour enough oil into a medium pot  to reach a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil over medium heat.
Carefully drop about a rounded tablespoon of the dough into the hot  oil. Turn the zeppole once or twice, and cook until golden and puffed up, about 4 minutes. Fry the zeppole in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan. Drain  on paper towels. Transfer the zeppole to a serving dish and roll the zeppole in the sugar mixture.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Piss what?!

I was at the seafood counter in the grocery store recently checking out the clams. They had a good supply of little necks and cherry stones, so I asked the man behind he counter, “Do you have piss clams?”

He looked puzzled, so I repeated. “Piss clams. Do you have piss clams?”

“Piss what?” he asked.

Before I had a chance to repeat myself again, the small, dark-haired Italian woman standing next to me who was patiently reading the sales circular while she waited her turn, blurted out, “Piss clams! Piss clams!” as she waved her hand around as if that would make him understand. She glanced at me and said, “I know what you want. The clams with the tail hanging out.”

I shook my head in affirmation.

“Oh you mean steamers,” the man said proudly, and headed to the back room where, for some unknown reason, the clams in question are kept out of the public eye.

For me, these funky-looking clams conjure up memories of nights at the Jersey shore, sifting through the bucket to find the biggest ones before anyone else grabbed them. Then came the fun part. Oh so carefully peeling the brown, thin skin off the tail, then swirling the clam in the hot broth to clean it, then a dip (or two) in the melted butter, and finally one big gulp down the hatch.

I remember how my father would be totally skeeved when I ate the tail. “You’re not supposed to eat that,” he’d say and wrinkle his face. “It’s just there so you can hold it to dunk.”  (This from a man who dunked bologna sandwiches in his coffee, but that’s a whole other story.)

Luke and my dad crabbing at the Jersey shore. 
My mother, as usual, debated. “Don’t listen to your father. You can eat the tail.”  (This from a woman who made us raw ground beef sandwiches for lunch. Again, a whole other story.)

And this was the conversation that took place every year when we had our first bucket of the summer.

I left the grocery store with my piss clams in hand and set them out with dinner that night.  My son Luke and I dug in. He held the tail tightly between his pointer finger and thumb, dunked the clam first in the broth, then in the butter, and then bit the clam off the tail. I peeled, dunked, dunked and popped it in my mouth like an aspirin.

He stared at me silently for a second and then said with disgust, “That’s just gross. You’re not supposed to eat the tail.”

I just smiled.