Cannoli, Sausage and Peppers Hero, Zeppolas…Mangia Tutti!
HOLY CANNOLI, If you are fortunate enough to be in NYC any time between September 16th and the 24th, you must make a special pilgrimage to Little Italy, which has become sadly extremely little over the years as I have fond memories of going to Little Italy with my Dad to buy Italian specialty items around the holidays. During those days you will be able to enjoy the renowned Feast of San Gennaro along much decorated Mulberry Street between Canal and Houston Streets and some streets in-between. There will also be a festival stage located on the corner of Grand and Motts Streets where you can enjoy live entertainment each night beginning around 6:30pm. However, the feast activities run from morning to late into the night. Feasts in celebration of San Gennaro take place in many parts of the USA but the largest and widely known takes place in Little Italy in NYC. It has taken place since 1926.
San Gennaro, known by some as St. Januarius, is the patron saint and protector of the city of Naples. He was the Bishop of Benevento, Italy and died a martyr in 305 AD. His feast day is celebrated every year on September 19th the day he was beheaded. Blood was collected by a pious woman and enclosed inside two ampoules. These became a typical iconographic symbol of San Gennaro. His blood is believed to be part of many miracles. On September 19th, the two vials that are kept safely locked behind the altar at the Reale Capella de Tesoro di San Gennaro (Chapel of the Treasures of San Gennaro) located in the Cathedral of Naples are removed for adoration and mass and then safely returned.
People will flock to the Feast of San Gennaro in NYC from far and wide, especially those who once considered this area home and have moved away. Many make the pilgrimage each year. As you walk and saunter through the stalls, with the many aromas wafting through the air you will be hard pressed to figure out at which stall you will begin your eating marathon. Sausage and peppers, meatballs, eggplant and chicken parm sandwiches – not to mention zeppoles and cannoli. You can’t go wrong with any of the above. Just come hungry.
My biggest suggestion and one I would certainly not miss doing, is taking a little sidestep as you leave the feast, and venture over to Veniero’s Pastry at 342 East 11th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues. (This pastry shop was well known to us as during our growing up years as each of our families bought many holiday sweets from them. Veniero’s supplied our wedding cake and plates of cookies for each table at the reception. We recently celebrated our 60th Wedding Anniversary and had a 5 lb cookie platter delivered for our celebration dinner.) Once you enter Veniero’s you will be overwhelmed by the glorious selections of pastries. You can’t go wrong there. You can sit and rest your weary bones from walking the streets of the Feast and enjoy a dolci. Veniero’s has been in business since 1894 when founded by Antonio Veniero who fled Vico Equense at the age of 15, determined to make his mark in America. Without any doubt, he did. It is still run by family today. What a way to end a feast.
NOTE: If you can’t get to the Feast just get in the spirit by whipping up a pizza of your own for the family or how about a sizzling Sausage, Pepper and Onion Hero ending with a cannoli or two! Goditelo tutto!
We are a pizza loving family! I have even witnessed some of our children and grandchildren eating pizza for breakfast.
There are all sorts of recipes for pizza dough. There’s New York style, Chicago style and Sicilian style to name a few. Over the years after many recipe trials in our family, this is the one everybody agreed on and it can be made with a myriad of toppings.
1 ½ CUPS WATER
2 TBS OLIVE OIL – helps in stretching dough
2-3 TSP INSTANT DRY YEAST
1-2 TSP SUGAR – gives dough rich brown color
2 TSP SEA SALT
1 ¾ CUPS BREAD FLOUR – see note, or
1 ¾ CUPS ALL PURPOSE FLOUR – see note
In your mixing bowl, place water, olive oil, flour, sugar and yeast to blend. Add salt and continue to mix until the dough pulls away from the bowl. If the dough is wet (sticky), add flour, one TB at a time until the dough pulls away from the bowl. If the dough seems too dry, add water one TB at a time until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.
Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface and knead into a ball. Cut the ball in half and place each half in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a linen towel until doubled in size. This usually takes 40-60 minutes.
Optionally, age the dough by placing the divided dough balls covered with plastic film in the refrigerator for 12-18 hours. Remove from the refrigerator and let rest on the counter for 30-45 minutes before stretching. (This is good when you want to prepare the dough in advance)
For very thin crispy pizza, use a pastry roller on a well-floured surface to stretch the dough to your preferred size.
Note: Bread flour will make a crisp dough while all-purpose flour will make a softer chewy dough.
This recipe will yield 2 12 or 14-inch pizzas.