St. Joseph's Day
St. Joseph, who is the patron saint of the family, is celebrated at the Spring equinox and his day is a feast of bread. At one time,
the Feast of San Giuseppe, as he is called in Italy, was an Italian national holiday. St. Joseph's feast day is still celebrated with
families gathering together to create enormous buffets for neighbors and friends. The table is said to overflow with an abundance
of food that the Father of the Holy Family provides. The centerpiece of St. Joseph's Day festivities is an alter laid with fine linens
and decorated with flowers and decorative breads. In America, the festival is like a giant potluck dinner, but the dishes served are
similar to those eaten in Italy and are always meatless - from fried croquettes of fish, sardines, calamari, and shrimp to pasta with
anchovies and breadcrumbs, stuffed artichokes, spring vegetable frittatas, fava bean soup or minestrone. But in America, as in
Italy, a highlight of the meal is the special sweets that are prepared. Although the names and shapes of these hot delicate fritters
differ from region to region, they are as much associated with St. Joseph's Day as turkey is to Thanksgiving. They are usually
called zeppole or frittelle; other names are cassatedde, sfinci, or bigne. The pastries may be fried or baked and are sometimes
filled with a sweetened ricotta, pastry cream, or custard. In some areas the zeppole are made of rice while in others they are
based on flour.
Zeppole di San Giuseppe
(Makes about 12 (2-1/2-inch) zeppoles
1 cup water
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Pinch of salt
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup whole milk
2 egg yolks
1/2 tablespoon dark rum
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup heavy cream, whipped
Confectioners' sugar for dusting
To make the pastry:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. With a wooden spoon, beat in flour all at once.
Return to low heat. Continue beating until mixture forms a ball and leaves side of pan. Remove from heat. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating hard after each addition until smooth. Continue beating until dough is satiny and breaks in strands. Allow the mixture to cool.
Transfer the dough to a pastry bag with a large star tip. For each pastry, pipe a 2-1/2 -inch spiral with a raised outer wall on the baking sheet. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Remove and allow to cool before filling.
To make the filling:
Combine sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan. In a bowl, whisk together milk and egg yolks Whisk milk mixture into sugar mixture. Place the saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly. Boil for 1 minute; remove from heat. Stir in rum, orange zest, and vanilla. Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface. Allow to cool for 30 minutes and then refrigerate until cold. Fold in the whipped cream.
To assemble the zeppole:
Cut the pastries in half horizontally. Transfer the filling mixture to a pastry bag with a star tip. Pipe some of the filling onto the cut side of the bottom half of each pastry. Place the top half of the pastry on the filling.
Pipe a small amount of the filling into the hole in the center of each pastry.
Place a maraschino cherry in the middle. Dust the pastries with confectioners' sugar.
ST. JOSEPH'S DAY FLAG
Made of thick shade cloth and double stitched all around to improve durability.
One of the lesser known facts about St. Joseph is his status as the patron saint of pastry cooks. The Saint Joseph table usually abounds with a variety of pastries in shapes such as fruits and flowers and especially anything symbolic of the Holy Family.
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ST. JOSEPH'S DAY TABLE
Find recipes for more than 100 of your favorite Saint Joseph's Day Table dishes in this book, as well as full menus, a planning guide, even a sample invitation.