3 Recipes for Celebrating Mardi Gras Italian-Style


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Chiacchiere Fritters


  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lemon’s zest, grated
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter at room temperature 20 gr - 0.7 oz
  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 2 quarts of oil for frying
  • 2-3 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2-3 tablespoons confectionary sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of almond, citrus, chocolate liquor or your favorite brandy/liqueur (if you’re adventuresome, you could use grappa — but tread carefully)

  1. Sift the flour through a flour strainer into a bowl. Add the egg, the butter, sugar, lemon zest, salt and liquor and mix well.
  2. You could use an electric mixing bowl until a ball forms around the hook, but what would Nona think?
  3. Cover the bowl with a wet cloth, allowing the dough rest for an hour.
  4. Roll out the dough as thin as you can over a floured working surface. A pasta roller would be nice but try this recipe by hand first before you start dropping hints for a Christmas present.
  5. Use a pasta cutter to cut out 4-6 inch strips of dough (about 4-6 inches by 1.5 inches)
  6. Heat 2 cups of cooking oil in an ample saucepan on a low-to-medium heat.
  7. Deep-fry only two at a time so that they don’t get stuck to each other. After they get golden brown after a few seconds, turn the strips over and continue cooking for a few more seconds.
  8. Remove the chiacchiere and set them over a plate with paper towels. Or you can use newspaper like grandma did. (Don’t mind me — I’m a traditionalist when it comes to cooking.)
  9. And now, the most difficult part of this recipe. You could wimp out and sprinkle the cookies with a lot of confectionary sugar or set out a jar of Nutella and have the kids go at it or — you could make an authentic Sanguinaccio sauce (below). Or even better, make two batches and sprinkle only one of them with confectionary sugar.

Break out that pasta roller you received for that Mother’s Day 10 years ago and you will not be disappointed. You don’t need to use it. You can use a rolling pin instead. But think of the optics — which one makes you look like the cool mom? (Personal Tip: Consider using a rolling pin. It makes a lasting impression on all those at whom you point it when making a point about cooking.)

Alternative Recipes:

If you want to have a little fun, consider making salty chiacchiere and serve them with prosciutto and other Italian cold cuts, cheeses and olives and pickled red peppers. When frying the chiacchiere, add chopped garlic and fresh rosemary to the pan.

A simpler chocolate sauce can be made by melting dark chocolate chips in a bain-marie. Never melt chocolate over direct heat.

Consider drizzling both white and regular chocolate over the freshly made chiacchiere for a beautiful effect.

Sanguinaccio Chocolate Dipping Sauce


  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 lemon’s zest
  • 1.5 cup of cocoa
  • 1.5 cups of sugar
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 2 oz. of corn starch
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter

  1. Mix starch, cocoa and sugar in a bowl.
  2. Have a little kitchen helper slowly pour water into the above mixture as you stir the ingredients.
  3. Pour into a deep pan and cook over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring constantly stirring.
  4. Remove from heat and fold in the cinnamon, chocolate chips and butter.
  5. Fold the mixture. You may use an electric hand mixer, but what would your grandmother say?
  6. Transfer to a serving bowl and let it cool.
  7. Serve with chiacchiere or toast points

Bucatini Omelet (Pasta Omelet)

Bucatini is a thick spaghetti-like pasta with a hole lengthwise through the center. Buco means “hole” in Italian. If you can’t find bucatini at your local grocery shop, you can substitute cavatappi, penne, mostaccioli or rigatoni.


  • 1 box of bucatini or another type of pasta
  • 1 cup of diced salami
  • 1 cup of grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 2 cups diced provolone or mozzarella
  • 4 eggs
  • 8 oz. of prosciutto slices
  • 12 oz. ricotta cheese
  • EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)

  1. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until it is al dente.
  2. In a bowl, mix the ricotta, the eggs, cheese, salami, prosciutto.
  3. Drain the pasta well.
  4. Add the pasta and salt to taste.
  5. Pour the pasta into the mixing bowl with the eggs, cheese and meat mix.
  6. Heat some oil in a frying pan, pour the mixture in it, and cover. Cook on a low flame.
  7. When the frittata achieves a good consistence, turn it upside down using the lid or a plate and cook for a little bit longer.
Traditionally, the frittata is eaten at room temperature, but heating it up won’t get you in trouble with the kitchen police.

Alternative Recipe:

Instead of frying the frittata like your grandmother wants you to, you can bake the frittata in the oven for 12 minutes in a preheated oven at 370°F.