Yvonne of Hello World has mentioned a Venetian delicacy lately. More than once. They are called fritelle and are little fritters, which the Italians adorn with cream and other delicious things to help a body make it through the winter. They made me think of my paternal grandmother’s fried pies. At the farm market this weekend, I scored some dried apples, which were a component of Grandma’s pies, so this morning, I got going to make them.
The pies require a biscuit recipe and I don’t have Grandma’s. She just grabbed ingredients and tossed them on a board and mixed them up and shaped the biscuits by hand. You would have needed a baker’s mind and uninterrupted watching time to figure it out. My mother tried, but Grandma’s kitchen held a chattering mix of aunts, uncles and cousins most of the time, so she always knew she missed something.
Nonetheless, I have my go to biscuit recipe. It requires 2 cups of flour (1 whole wheat pastry and 1 cake for light and whole grain, or whatever combo you want, including plain old unbleached); 1/2 cup of fat (whether butter cut in with a pastry cutter, a liquid oil of your choice, or Grandma’s favorite: bacon drippings); 2/3 cup buttermilk (okay, you can use milk, but it is not the same. I’ve been known to add plain yogurt to milk in this case as a substitute); 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 tsp Cream of Tartar. Mix dry ingredients, then add the liquid ones if using an oil, or cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly, then add the buttermilk. Do not over work this dough. Mix it until you get a nice ball and no more. Overworked biscuit dough is tough.
Since I was not making biscuits, I halved the recipe and added a tablespoon of sugar to the dry ingredients. Once it was all mixed up, I rolled the dough out. Shoot for 3/8 of an inch. Cut little circles with a glass, coffee pot lid or other instrument that gives a 3 1/2 to 4 inch circle.
If you don’t like eating dried apple pieces, you can throw some in a sauce pan, add a little water and sugar, cinnamon, or other seasoning and heat until the pieces look like cooked apples. You can also use fresh apples, jam, or some other thing your heart or stomach desires. I just put the little chunks of dried apple in because I can eat them right out of the bag.
Once you have your filling added, you turn the circles over to make a half moon and pinch them a bit.
At this point, get your frying pan out, get the bottom of it covered with oil and then some, heat it, and add the little pies.
I can’t tell you how long they need to cook. Just watch them, turn them and watch them some more. They will take less time once turned.
When they’re done, take them out and drain them on paper towels. You can sprinkle them with sugar, drizzle with honey, or add zabaglione if you have it on hand. They are good the next day, if you have any left and they are also good cold, unlike biscuits. If anyone is interested in using the recipe for biscuits, just press the dough to about 1/2 inch, cut with a small glass (2 inches), place on a baking sheet close together and bake at 450 for about 12 minutes.