Thursday, December 13, 2007

i biscotti

That's "the cookies" to you and me.

When I was a kid, my Grandma Matassa used to make these amazing Sicilian treats around the holidays and sometimes send us some from New York. They were sort of S-shaped cookies -- baked dough with a little sprinkle of powdered sugar on the outside, with a dark, fig and nut filling that wasn't quite sweet but was totally delectable. Well, I thought so anyway, and my dad, and I think my sister Lisa. I'm not sure anyone else really liked them.

Around our house these cookies were called something that sounded like "goojidahda." You never quite knew on the Italian pronunciation, as nothing was every written down, everything just spoken in what at best was a broken, second-generation Sicilian dialect that probably wouldn't have passed muster on Long Island, let alone Italy.

Anyway, I hadn't had the cookies for years, decades probably, until last Christmas when I was still recovering from surgery and Mom sprung a surprise package on us. Delicious. We tore through the entire box and it was one of the highlights of the season. I even looked up the spelling -- il cuccidato, for one cookie, or i cuccidati for the plural. So Dad's pronunciation was pretty close: cooch-ee-daht-ee.

Last week, I received a box in the mail from Eugene, marked "fragile" on the brown postal paper. I mentioned it to Mom and she said I was supposed to open it right away, not wait until Christmas. Even so, I let it sit for a week, thinking I'd wait until we got a Christmas tree.

Then last night I was flipping through a catalog and saw a picture of some fig cookies and a light bulb went off. I opened the box and sure enough: cuccidati!

Man, these are some yum holiday treats, especially with a glass of red wine or a good, strong cup of coffee. They'll never last until Christmas.

Thanks Mom! You should tell M&M-ville how to make them.


Ronelle said...

Aunt Rita, Mark had a great idea. Please share the recipe.

kateco said...

so great

Rita said...

Mark, you crack me up! Like I said..if you can enjoy a few of these 'less than perfect attempts' I'll be happy and it will be well worth the effort.

As for passing this on, all I can do is list ingredients and say, 'good luck'. Grandma Matassa's recipes were all in her head and hands. Some I've half-mastered - not this one.

l bag raisens
1 bag figs
1 bag whole almonds
1 bag walnuts
skin of orange
skin of tangerine
2 tsp. cinnamon
Grind together

Add approx 5 c. strong, cold coffee with sugar added to desired sweetness.
Saturate overnight in refrigerator.

2 lbs flour
2 - 3 tsp. baking powder
1 cup sugar
Sm. can crisco (Melted)
Make well in flour, slowly pour crisco. Form ball - let rest in frige l-l 1/2 hrs.
Roll dough, cut into squares (approx. 3"). Fill middle, roll and shape into cresents (not S's)

Bake, seam down, 350 oven 30-35 min. (small slit in tops)

Top with powdered sugar.

Aren't you glad you asked?

In my case, it's all trial and error. Sometimes they turn out better than others.

Yes, Mark, I like them - Lisa and Mich don't.

Mark said...

Cool, thanks Mom.

I'm going to try making these sometime, although there's no need now with most of this boxful still left. They'll probably last another couple of days.

kateco said...

ooo can't to try these -- they look FANTASTIC!