Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Making scalille

It's been far too long since my last post. I'll try to get back into the weekly swing and catch up with my Europe trip stories and photos.

About a week after we got back home, mom & dad arrived from their trip to Egypt. They stayed with us for a couple of weeks so they could come to our annual cousins' party. Lucky for me, mom was able to show us how to make scalille (or scaledde, literally, little ladders).

I have fond childhood memories of the epic making of scalille by a kitchen full of nonnas and zias. One of the few things I wanted from my last nonna's house was her board and her scalille stick.

Scalille: coating with honey

It's a very simple recipe but requires great skill to wind the dough around a stick, creating the final design. These are traditional Calabrese cookies that my family makes at Christmas time. They were a hit at the cousins' party. Yum!

Scalille




I'm submitting this cookie to Food Blogga's Eat Christmas Cookies event. Check out the amazing cookies on the round-up page!


31 comments:

Susan from Food Blogga said...

What a beautiful Italian cookie this is, Deb. I'm familiar with lots of Italian cookies, but this one is new to me. Are they more like struffoli or more like a sweet doughboy? I'm intrigued. And I LOVE the name of your blog. :)

deb said...

Thanks Susan! These cookies are deep fried until completely crisp. Once cooled (even the next day) they are dipped in honey. Because they're crisp, they last a long time -- making them perfect for baking well in advance of Christmas (or other celebrations like weddings).

michelle of bleeding espresso said...

Ah the Calabrese love their honey, don't they? These look great!

I've never seen them here in the Catanzaro province of Calabria; what part is your Nonna from? It's always amazing to see how different recipes are from one area to the next!

deb said...

My nonnas were from Cosenza province. I don't know if this cookie is true to its roots or if it has a Canadese touch.

Bellini Valli said...

I learn of something new every day. These cookies are very special. You are lucky to have them as a family tradition.

deb said...

Thanks Bellini Valli. Sometimes it's easiest to stop doing the most labour-intensive traditions. I'll be sure to share your wisdom with our family members.

徵信社 said...

I love it! Very creative!That's actually really cool.
謝謝你的文章分享,請你有空到我

參觀,Thanks

Gabriela said...

Hy Deb,
I dreamt about my nonna last night and wake up and came to look for her recipes. I remember specially turdilles and scalilles. We always had them for Christmas till my nonna died, and I want to preserve that delicious tradition. My nonna was from Cosenza, too, a town named San Giacomo di Cerceto, so I think the recipes must be from Calabria. She made one of the doces with red wine (I´m finding all the recipes with white wine) and the other recipe wansn´t with honey. I don´t know if my nonna made them in Argentina with her personnal touch, but I`ll find out in my family and if someone has the recipes I´ll let you know. Thank you for your recipes.

deb at nonna's house said...

Gabriela, thank you for sharing your food memory of your Nonna! My Nonna also made turdille but I've never made them. I may be able to get the recipe from my mom if you'd like it.

Diane Catalano Rodriguez said...

The scalille look just like my grandmother's! She and my grandfather were also from Cozenza.

What does the stick look like? I might have one--not sure what this thick dowel is for?

I have Granny's Turdili recipe (little turds) but it takes 5 lbs of flour and they are soooo heavy that I have not made them.

deb at nonna's house said...

Hi Diane, one of my Nonnas was a Catalano - we might be related or paesani! What city were your grandparents from?

My scalille stick or dowel is 1/2 inch in diameter and 15 1/2 inches long. It looks like the handle off a wooden spoon.

Diane Catalano Rodriguez said...

Hi Deb,
My grandfather was from Cosenza. Five of the brothers, Carlo, Tony, Nick, Frank, and Rafaele (my grandfather) came to the US around WW1. But Catalano is a common name in Southern Italy. Most of us came from converso families who had to leave Spain (Catalan) in 1500.

My dowel is 24" by 3/4" so a bit bigger. But my grandmother made huge scalile. Her ravioli, also large, were 4" x 3".

Do you have a good recipe for Anginetti? My cugini have been talking about that cookie lately.

deb at nonna's house said...

Hi Diane, thanks for the info on the Catalano family. I haven't traced our roots back very far but that origin certainly makes sense.

I've never heard of "anginetti" so I Googled it for photos. Turns out it's what we called "Nonna's Cookies," which were made by my Catalano Nonna. Leave your email address & I'll send you the recipe that I have.

Anonymous said...

My grandparents came from Cosenza and we have always had turdelli and scalille at Christmas. Now that they are gone, I try to carry on the tradition. My problem is that the honey never seems to stay on the cookies. Any suggestions?
Nancy in Wisconsin

Mike Scarpelli said...

My grandmother and my in-laws all made scalille and turdilli, and both were from Rovito area near Cozensa. The difference is that they rolled the scalille out into 3/4inch ribbons, cut them at about 5 - 6 inches long, then pinch 3 ribbons together, then twist them into a bow. The differences I have seen for all the recipes is the WINE/Whiskey type, (Muscatel, Burgandy, Marsela, Port, Brandy, Candian Whiskey, Jim Beam Whiskey). Its all good! The trick with the Honey is add some water , then heat before dipping.
Mike, Spokane, wa

deb at nonna's house said...

Hi Nancy, I went right to the scalille queen (my mom) with your question. Like Mike, mom adds a drop of water to the honey while melting it and bringing it to a foamy boil. This keeps the honey from burning.

About the honey not sticking to the scalille, she says if you keep them in a closed (sealed) container, the honey will drip out.

Mike, so interesting to hear about your method. I've never made the turdilli because my mom never made them. Both my nonnas made them and the recipe I have calls for both whisky and wine.

Thanks to everyone for sharing your scalille stories. I'm fascinated by the variations and your memories. Keep them coming!

Anonymous said...

My Nana used to make these shaped like braids. They are very good! She has passed away and with her went the recipe. It is so nice to be able to make them again for the family. Thank you!

nuccia said...

We made both the scalille and turille on Sunday with my mom and they look just like yours. Mom does use the end of a wooden spoon to form them - and the last few years has omitted the liquor all together. She is also from Cosenza (Malito actually).

deb at nonna's house said...

Nuncia, we're practically neighbours! My mom is from Grimaldi.

Michael Nicotera said...

My maternal side is consentino my paternal is catanzerese. Scalidi are definitely a consentino thing! We're from lappano and Mariano principato. Every Christmas we'd go house to house and everyone wanted you to taste their Scalidi.

Anonymous said...

Hi Deb: I was reading the article on Grimaldi. My parents are fromas well. I wonder if your nonna Elvira was from Trail and her last name was Mauro. If so, my dad was her nephew. I also remember her very well if I have the right person. I remember making the scallille in Trail with my mom and her friends. People say that the best scallille were made by the ladies of Trail BC. I used to make them with my mom but she has passed away and I now make them with my girls. Mom used a little whiskey instead of water with the honey. It really enhances the flavour.

deb at nonna's house said...

We are definitely related! Are you living in Trail? I would love to connect.

Anonymous said...

Hi Deb: I wrote to you that my dad was Zia Elvira's nephew and we are definitely related. Is your mom's name, Marisa and your dad Melvin, because I know them very well and I remember you as a little girl. My name is Teresa and we used to live there. I now live in Kamloops but we are coming down on the 28th of July to my cousin Maria's wedding. Would love to see you, we are going to be staying at the Terra Nova Friday and Saturday. Married name is Bartucci. Hope to hear from you again, I will check your website again.

Anonymous said...

Hi Deb: I forgot to mention in my earlier post that if you live in Vancouver we can connect there. I have my two children who live there and we come down very often.
My daughter is also planning her wedding for next year in vancouver.Would love to get together with you. Your nonna Elvira was very close to my heart, an amazing woman and an amazing baker, a sweet, kind and very elegant lady. Zio was a sweetie as well. I just made some scallille last week and thought of zia and mom.

deb at nonna's house said...

Hi Teresa, I'd love to meet. Email me at:
mynonnashouse [at] gmail [dot] com.
(I've spelled it out so it's harder for spammers to grab.)

Anonymous said...

Thank you Deb for the recipe even though your blog is now a couple of years old (I hope you are well) it's still very relevant.
My family came from Spezzano Piccolo and settled in Field BC: DeCicco's and Autieri's. Dad was b in Italy but came over as a young man so my roots are not far removed. Zia's family was much bigger so we always had Christmas at their home in Vancouver. I am in the US now and am determined to make these plus Strufoli and maybe Mostazzoli this year and I wanted to add my comments of gratitude for posting this on your thread. Reading the comments is fun too.

~ Lucy ~ said...

Omg I would help my grandmom make these, but we pinched them together like little bracelets. She added wine in the dough...anyone know the name and recipes?

Anonymous said...

The Scalille is actually a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes. Beautiful Christmas tradition.

deb at nonna's house said...

Thank you for the newest comments. I love how so many of us are connected by this simple food tradition.

@Anonymous, with the family from Field, I haven't been brave enough to make mustazzoli -- thanks for the reminder. I'll move it up my list of things to try in the new year.

@Lucy, we also made a deep fried ball, dipped in honey, that included white (and sometimes whiskey) in the dough. We call them tordilli. I don't think anyone in my family makes them any more but I do have a recipe.

I've been reading Rosetta Costantino's latest cookbook, "Southern Italian Desserts," and enjoyed learning that scalille date back to Roman times. We're eating really old cookies! Auguri.

booklearner said...

I know that regional dialects are all different, but the correct spelling and word of this cookie is Scalidi. My family is from Cosenza, and we go back there from time to time. Everyone knows them by the word I have put here, not Scalille. Just an fyi....

Anonymous said...

I have family in Trail, BC and grew up with Nana's Scalilli. She was from the Abruzzo region, her husband from the Naples area. Some people say these are Calabrese, some say Sicilian, now you say Roman... It's interesting to wonder if the Italian women in Trail learned from each other in the new country? Anyway - Scalilli! My Nana would make them every year, stack them in big coffee cans lined with wax paper. They were substantial and chewy, sticky and delicious. No candy sprinkles like some people do, and I think most of hers were 6" long single twists. Family names in Trail, BC = De Vito and D'Arcangelo (aka "Smith" - lol). The other big deal treat was Pizzelles made on a fire. Daddy Jim would hold the long, heavy handle of the old pizzelle iron while Nana poured the batter and lifted out the flat cookie.