Father’s Day is next Sunday, June 15. I’ve been thinking about my Dad with love and gratitude. Though he passed long ago he is still with me.
Dad immigrated to America early in the last century. He did not have an easy life but he prevailed.
He was a very smart and honest man. He spoke several languages. He taught himself to play a mean mandolin. He wanted to be a lawyer but ended up being a butcher in Newark’s First Ward.
While my Dad’s ambitions were never fully realized he ensured that his children achieved their dreams. His oldest daughter was the first in the family to attend college. Both daughters became teachers. His oldest son earned a mechanical engineering degree and served as an Air Force pilot. I became the lawyer he wanted to be.
My Dad loved and supported us all. He joyfully celebrated our every success. In his later years “Pops,” as his grandkids called him, was most fulfilled when his 11 grandchildren surrounded him. I cherish the memories of our 3-generation family gatherings around his table. Many of the dishes I cook today are from those happy days long ago.
In Italy Father’s Day is celebrated on March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph, who helped raise Jesus. I’m blending the Italian and American holidays together.
Cavazune, or St. Joseph’s Pants, are a traditional filled cookie made for St. Joseph’s Day all over Italy. Ron, a fan, asked that I make cavazune. His family hails from Balzano in northern Italy about 2 1/2 hours northwest of Venice. Ron tells me they made huge batches of these cookies for their St. Joseph’s Day celebration to share with family and friends. Mille grazie for your suggestion Ron.
There are many variations of this cookie throughout Italia. Ron shared a description of his family’s cookie. I used his memories as the basis for this recipe.
The cookie is filled with a mince of ceci (chickpeas or garbanzo), raisins and walnuts sweetened with honey and balsamic then fried. Mosto cotto, a sweet, thick cooked wine is traditionally used. I didn’t have any so I substituted a thick, sweet balsamic vinegar. If you have mosto cotto in your pantry use that instead.
These cookies are light as air. The delicate crispy wrapper holds a sweet ceci paste flecked with crunchy walnut bits and raisins all sweetened with California Wildflower honey. The spices and orange zest linger on my tongue after the last bite reminding me to have another one.
Happy Father’s Day! Buon appetito!
- 2½ cups flour
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ⅛ cup water
- 1 can of chickpeas (19 oz.)
- 3 tablespoons honey
- ½ cup ground walnuts
- ½ cup raisins
- Finely grated zest of 1 orange
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- pinch of nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Canola or your favorite vegetable oil for deep frying
- Put all the ingredients except the water in the bowl of a food processor and process adding the water a little at a time until a dough ball forms.
- Turn the dough out onto a board and knead briefly. The dough will be on the stiff side. If the dough is too wet add more flour.
- Shape the dough into a ball and wrap it in clear plastic and let the dough rest at room temperature for about an hour.
- Chop the walnuts or process them in a food processor and set aside.
- Drain and rinse the chickpeas and put them in a pot covered with water. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes to soften the chickpeas.
- Drain the chickpeas and set them aside to cool. Put them in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until they are to create a smooth mash.
- In a large bowl combine the chickpeas, walnuts, raisins, honey, cinnamon, orange zest and balsamic and set the filling aside.
- Cut the rested dough into six pieces.
- Roll each out to a thin rectangle about 12 inches by 6 inches or pass each piece through pasta machine ending with the smallest setting.
- Cut the rolled out dough in 3 inch circles.
- Put about a teaspoon of filling in the center of each circle, wet the edge with water and fold over the dough to form a half-moon.
- Press the sides of each pastry pocket with a fork to seal them. Set them aside on a kitchen towel.
- Put the canola oil in a pot to a depth of 3 inches. Heat the oil to 375 degrees.
- Fry the cavazune in the hot oil until they are golden on both sides.
- Sprinkle with confectionery sugar and serve at room temperature.