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Intorchiate And I Trulli

Intorchiate and I Trulli

 I first saw these cookies – called “intorchiate” – in Rosetta Costantino’s wonderful book “Southern Italian Desserts.” They’re from the region of Puglia and I ate them for the first time while I was there this summer and stayed in the town of Alberobello.

Alberobello is a Unesco World Heritage Site and is known for its unique limestone buildings called “trulli.” They’re made in a conical shape using no mortar, a type of construction that dates to prehistoric times. You see them in various places in Puglia, but nowhere near as prevalent as you see in Alberobello, where they’re occupied as homes and shops.
Some of the owners have converted their trulli for visitors and rent them to paying guests. The one we stayed in this past June is the charming end unit in the photo below.
They’re larger than they seem. This one had a bedroom downstairs and a second bedroom in a loft, as well as a kitchen and dining area and bathroom. Everything was brand new and beautifully renovated.
Our landlady could not have been kinder, delivering home baked breakfast treats and fresh fruit in the morning. As we departed, she presented us with a tin of the family’s olive oil, beautiful linens from her shop, and these intorchiate. They were so delicious, I had to keep myself from eating the whole bag in one fell swoop.
 Fortunately, (or maybe not for my waistline), Rosetta includes a recipe for the cookies in her cookbook, and with permission from her publisher, the recipe is provided below. In her book, Rosetta explains that the word “intorchiate” is a local dialect for “intertwined” and that the cookies are meant to represent arms in an embrace. They’re traditionally made for baptisms and weddings but can be found in bakeries all over Puglia.
The dough is very similar to the red wine cookies my friend Milena makes, in that there’s wine and oil in the dough, and they’re dredged in sugar. But these intorchiate use white wine, while Milena’s call for red wine.
Once you get the right consistency, the dough is very easy to roll into these twisted shapes. Initially however, the mixture was a bit too dry, so I needed to add a bit more oil and water. The ones from Rosetta’s book call for twisting the dough to make three separate spaces, although the ones I ate in Italy had four twists. I also found Rosetta’s dough to be a little less sweet than the ones I ate in Alberobello, and I might add a little more sugar next time I make them.
After twisting them, roll them in granulated sugar, then nestle an almond in each space. I used Marcona almonds, my favorite.
Since I was in a Puglia state of mind after making these intorchiate, I made a reservation for dinner at the restaurant “I Trulli” and wanted to share photos of the delicious food I ate there Saturday night. If you’re close enough to New York City, make a reservation and get set for a real treat.
As soon as you walk past the bar, you’ll spot a wood-fired oven that’s reminiscent of a trullo, with grey stones, similar to those on trullo roofs, clinging to the exterior of the oven.
 
The menu is loaded with offerings in every category, but we never got past the first page, which featured a multi-course dinner of Puglian specialties. Decision made easy – no further thinking required. The first thing to arrive at the table were these two panzerotti – fried dough – one filled with tomato and mozzarella cheese, the other with a savory and unforgettably delicious mixture of olives, anchovies and scallions.
Next came burrata cheese flown in from Italy and served on crostini with a bed of radicchio, every bit as creamy and flavorful as the burrata we ate in Puglia.
For the primo piatto you could choose between two hand-rolled pasta dishes – orecchiette in a rich rabbit ragù that had me lopping up the plate with bread “scarpetta” style.
Or opt for these cavatelli with broccoli rape and toasted almonds, bringing to mind fresh spring fields of wild greens.
The main course was either succulent roasted lamb chops with a potato tiella and sautéed Swiss chard…
Or you might prefer a zuppa di pesce laden with lobster, shrimp, calamari, and another white fish. Long pieces of cooked fennel punctuated the aromatic and flavorful broth.
Lastly came these two sweet offerings that capped the perfect ending to a perfect meal – one was a warm fried dough pillow oozing with nutella, and the other was a cartellate, a fried cookie drizzled with honey.
On the way out the door, I spotted this octopus dish sitting on the counter, waiting to go to some patron’s table.  It was all I could do to keep from digging into it with my fingers. How did I miss this on the menu? Oh that’s right, I got seduced by the Puglian specialties on the first page and never looked further. Well, if I didn’t already have plenty of other reasons, now I know I have to go back to I Trulli to try their octopus.
The restaurant is also open for Christmas eve, featuring a “feast of the seven fishes” dinner.
 My family would consider it blasphemous if I didn’t cook our traditional fish dinner on Christmas eve, but some year, if I ever do abandon my kitchen duties, I know where I’d like to be – at I Trulli in New York City.
Even if you can’t get to I Trulli for their Southern Italian specialties, you can still make Rosetta’s addictive intorchiate cookies in your own kitchen – and just in time for Christmas baking.

 

One last thing – the winner to my recent giveaway was Heather Zysk. Heather, please contact me for information on how to claim your slate cheeseboard.
Intorchiate
recipe by Rosetta Costantino from Southern Italian Desserts
reprinted with permission of publisher
makes 36 cookies (I got 64)
3 3/4 cups (500 g) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar, (I would use 1 cup next time since I’d like them a bit sweeter) plus more for coating cookies
1 T. baking powder
1/4 t. kosher salt
1/4 cup (56 g) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup (180 ml) white wine
about 3/4 cup (115 grams) blanched almonds for decorating
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter, oil and wine and process until the mixture forms a sticky dough that balls up around the blade. (I added a little more oil and some water to the dough to get the right consistency.) Alternatively, you can mix the dough by hand, but it will require longer kneading to bring the dough together. Transfer to a flat surface and knead briefly to form a smooth dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 4 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. (177 degrees C) with racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Divide the dough into thirty-six approximately equal pieces; they will weigh about 3/4 ounce each (actually I got 64 cookies each weighing 3/4 ounce each). Roll a piece of dough with the palms of your hands against a flat surface to make a 10-inch rope that is about 1/2 inch thick. Fold the rope in half, then twist the two ends around one another to form a twist, with the dough strands crossing twice and meeting at the bottom to form three spaces. Press the ends together at the bottom to seal them. Space the cookies 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Continue forming the twists until you have filled one sheet with eighteen cookies. (You will make the second half while the first ones bake.)
Put about 1/4 cup sugar in a shallow bowl. Take one cookie at a time and press the top side into the sugar. (I pressed both top and bottom in the sugar. If you can find a larger granulated sugar, it looks prettier.) Return the cookie to the baking sheet sugar side up. After coating all of the cookies, press three blanched almonds into each cookie – one in each space – facing the pointed ends of the nuts running down from the top to the bottom of the cookie.
Bake the cookies on the bottom rack for 15 minutes, then rotate the pan and transfer it to the top rack until the cookies are light golden all over, about 15 minutes longer. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool.
While the first sheet bakes, form the remaining cookies on the second sheet. Bake the second sheet in the same manner after pulling the first from the oven.
Store the cooled cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
Cooking Cavatelli With Fabio In Rome

Cooking Cavatelli with Fabio in Rome

Rome has at least 50 museums where you can see everything from paintings to pasta, and I’ve spent a fair amount of time in a majority of them over the years. But I’ve learned that when you’re traveling, it’s nice to step away from museums sometimes and do something a little different. Something different… something fun… something delicious. That’s what I did in between museum-hopping, boutique shopping and hunting down new gelato shops. There are many cooking classes to choose from in the Eternal City, but this one is conducted by a chef — Fabio Bongianni — not in a restaurant, but in his own home nearby the Spanish Steps. Come on now, how often do you get a chance to peek inside an apartment owned by a noble family that dates back to the Renaissance and Middle Ages? That family would be the Colonna family, who supplied a pope and many political leaders over the centuries and who are the owners of one of the largest private art collections in Rome at the magnificent Galleria Colonna.
So I signed up and even though I’ve shopped in many of Rome’s less touristy-markets, I had fun tagging along as Fabio began the day by choosing vegetables in the Campo dei Fiori market.
Next stop was the old Jewish ghetto for some meat.
And some fish too. Can you tell Fabio has a good sense of humor?
We walked to his apartment on via Gregoriana, passing by the monumental Trevi Fountain.
Fabio stripped off his good shirt, we all put on aprons and got to work…. cutting fish….
pounding chicken…
making two kinds of pasta – one with eggs and flour for the ravioli, and one with just flour and water for the cavatelli.
Some people worked on squishing cooked potatoes through a ricer for the gnocchi:
Rolling out the cavatelli took a bit of practice but people caught on fast:
We ended up with a tray like this:
The ravioli were stuffed with ricotta cheese, zucchini that were cooked and mashed, parmesan cheese and an egg to bind everything together:
Fabio was an expert at tossing everything in the pan.
The best part was the eating. Three primi: ravioli dressed with butter, sage and parmesan cheese:
Cavatelli with cherry tomatoes, sea bass, olives and capers and a sprinkling of bread crumbs:
potato gnocchi with eggplant, tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella cheese.
Meat and vegetables too – chicken cooked two ways — sauteed with a coating of breadcrumbs and olives, and braised in balsamic vinegar; baked eggplant, fried zucchini and ricotta “balls.”
For dessert, we headed to one of Fabio’s restaurants — “That’s Amore” and celebrated the birthday of one of the young and lovely participants with cake and coffee.
If you’re headed to Rome and are interested in taking a class from Fabio, click here for more information. He plans to move his cooking classes from this apartment however, so I can’t guarantee you’ll be eating in this lovely dining room — or gazing at the view of St. Peter’s from his bedroom. (Yes, we were all invited in. His wife is very tolerant… to a point.) But you’ll have a great time no matter where it’s held — and a delectable meal at the end.
 Grazie mille Fabio per una giornata divertente.

Fabio’s cavatelli with sea bass, cherry tomatoes and olives
printable recipe here

 

Ingredients

For the pasta:
10.5 ounces of water (about 1 1/4 cups)
21 ounces of flour (about 2 1/2 cups)
2 pinches of salt
Fish stock:
1 medium white onion
1 stalk of celery
1 medium carrot
1 clove of garlic
1 pinch salt.
2 sea bass
For the Sauce:
1 package of cherry tomatoes
1 c white wine
1 clove of garlic
Parsley
Capers

























Black olives
Pour flour on working surface and make a fountain with a hole in the middle of the flour. Pour the water into the middle of the fountain then add a little flour at a time with the tip of the fork. Keep beating and when all the flour is mixed and you have a dough consistency, knead the dough by pressing and folding gently with your hands. Now, work the dough with palm of your hands – holding with the left hand and pressing with the right, then fold the dough over and turn. Repeat this process for 5 minutes. Let the ball of dough sit for 30 minutes in the fridge.

Take your ball of dough and divide it into quarters. Working with one quarter at a time, lay the dough out on a lightly floured surface and divide it into quarters again. Take a piece of the divided dough (now and 1/8 of the original amount) and roll it into a long tube 1/4 inch in diameter. Divide the tube into pieces 1 inch long with either a pastry cutter or a knife. Now this is the fun part. Using the edge of a butter knife or pastry cutter, with the device at a 45 degree angle, press on each piece of dough and pull across the length of it. You find that the motion causes the dough to curl up the edge of the impliment. If you don’t get it at first, don’t be discouraged. Just keep working with it using different amounts of pressure on the dough and eventually you’ll get into the grove.

Debone the sea bass and use the bones for your stock. Place the bones in a pan with 1/8 c of olive oil and one clove of garlic. Then add the onion, celery and garlic to the pan to Sautee for a few minutes. Next add 2 cups of cold water and 2 pinches of salt. You need enough cold water to completely cover the ingredients so add more cold water if needed. Simmer for 20 minutes. Then drain the stock and save for the later step.
Saute cherry tomatoes cut in halves in a pan with one clove of garlic. Cook until the cherry tomatoes start caramelizing then glaze with white wine. Cook the cavatelli in boiling water until it floats. Add the pasta to the pan with the cherry tomato and white wine. Add the chopped sea bass and fish stock then cook until the sauce reduces. Reduce until you reach a nice creamy sauce.
Remove from the heat and serve with black olives, capers and fresh parsley sprinkled on top.