About Beth

Beth
Beth, along with her husband, Mike, is co-owner of two Italian Deli/Markets in St. Louis - Viviano’s Festa Italiano. When not creating yummy new menu items for the deli, she’s the pediatric research lab supervisor at Washington University School of Medicine. Read more out about Viviano’s Festa Italiano.

About Irene

Irene
Irene loves to think, read and dream about food. She enjoys cooking & eating in general. Although she demures about her talents, Irene has a finely-tuned palate that her friends envy. She bakes on occasion. The rest of the time she's creating memories with her family and friends. . . or she's learning a new needlecraft technique.

About Deborah

Deborah
Deborah is a wife, mother, grandmother, traveler, bootlegger, and a very poor speller! As Victor Hazan so eloquently puts it, Deborah has chosen Umbria to be the home of her soul. When she can’t be there in body, she spends her free time cooking & reading about Italy. She blogs mostly about food and about trips – past and future – here: Old Shoes New Trip.

About Doug

Doug
Doug lives in Eastern Ontario in a farmhouse built in 1903. He is a retired teacher with four adult children, a wife, a son-in-law, two Irish step-grandchildren and one grandson who he is lucky to hang with a lot. He has way too many books. Doug also blogs at To Slow Time Down.

About Cindy

Cindy
Cindy lives in Eagle River, Alaska where her freezer is always full of salmon, halibut & shrimp. Cindy participates in several regular cooking challenges. You can read more about her cooking and life in the last frontier on her blog, Baked Alaska.

About Sandi

Sandi
Sandi is a true Southerner, but a traveler & Italian cook at heart. She lives in Alabama and knows more about fried green tomatoes than fricassees. Her family owned the WhistleStop Café for many years. Sandi also blogs at Whistlestop Cafe Cooking.

About Jan

Jan
Jan, a serious home cook, has owned “Essentials” since 1992. She is passionate about all things Italian, especially the cuisine & the language. Jan blogs about her travels (next trip Italy May/June of 2010) at: Keep your Feet in the Street.

About Jerry

Jerry
Jerry is a food obsessed Canadian. He learned to love Italian food as a child while eating the meals prepared by his Napolitano uncle. He learned to cook Italian foods by watching his uncle cook these feasts for the family. This love of Italian food has been honed through serious personal experimentation in eating and cooking. Willing to try most anything once, Jerry isn't so sure about tripe! Jerry also blogs at Jerry's Thoughts, Musings, and Rants!

About Palma

Palma
Palma is a Marriage & Family Therapist in Palm Desert, CA. She’s an Italian-American with a passion for cooking, entertaining, & travel to Italy. She’s always planning her next culinary adventure to Italia on her blog, Palmabella's Passions

About Kim

Kim
Kim is our permanent sub and the image above gives you a good idea of the look on her face when she realized she was drafted. Kim loves to eat, drink, travel and cook - probably in that order. When she's not here, you can find her organizing and leading food, wine and beer tours in Europe as co-owner and operator of GrapeHops or blogging at What I Really Think.

« Ricotta and Coffee Cream | Main | Ricotta Fritters »

Crema Fritta - Fried Custard Cream

I barely snatched victory from the jaws of defeat this week. Crema Fritta isn't as easy as it sounds. After you see the happy conclusion in this photo, read on and find out how close I came to failure.

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I was enjoying a zen-like trance while stirring the custard slowly in the double boiler. I swept the spatula left for several turns, then reversed to right. After a few minutes, I began counting the strokes and humming an Enya tune. It was dissappointing to come to the end of the thirty-five minutes of constant stirring - akin to the feeling I get when I wish I'd booked an hour long massage instead of a half-hour.

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Following instruction, I poured the custard out onto a moistened platter to cool. When it was cold, It was time to cut it into diamond-shaped pieces. Here is where my nightmare began. It appears I am geometrically challenged. For the life of me, I couldn't get those diamonds to look like diamonds. They looked like squares resting on one of their corners. I gave up and decided the shape, as long as it was the same general size, couldn't affect the taste. So I moved on to the dredging stage. This turned out to be easier than I expected.

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Next was the frying. I made sure the oil was very hot before slipping in the first piece. The first three pieces cracked open completely. My remedy was to add another coat of bread crumbs to the remaining pieces. While I was doing that, the leftover crumbs of breading from the first batch were burning away in the bottom of the pan of oil. As a result the second batch turned an ugly black almost the moment I put them in the oil. This picture is disturbing. Like passing an accident on the highway. You want to look away, but you just can't.

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I still had four more pieces left, but I was worried they were getting too soft. So I stuck them, already breaded, into the freezer while I dumped the burnt oil and heated up fresh. I don't know if that little bit of time in the freezer is what did the trick. Or maybe the cooking gods just lost interest in toying with me. For whatever reason, the last four pieces cooked perfectly. (Well, except for their un-diamondlike shape.)

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Comments (3)

Doug:

The adventure continues, Deborah. I can certainly identify with the nightmare phase of your experience. Nice recovery, though.

They sound delicious!

Marcella Hazan:

I love crema fritta on its own, of course, but it is the fitting conclusion to the Grande Fritto Misto, whether it's one with seafood or with meats.

Victor maintains that it is a rare woman who has a command of abstract shapes and volumes. There are few great women architects, he says, nor are they particularly successful in organizing a refrigerator, or loading a dishwasher, or packing a suitcase. He says.

Deborah responds:
Victor, I'm really good at organizing, packing, etc. But, I couldn't design a building for sure.

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