Father’s Day Cookies: St. Joseph’s Pants (Cavazune)

St. Joseph's Pants, Cavazune
St. Joseph’s Pants, Cavazune with a ceci, walnut, raisin, honey & orange zest filling

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!

Father's Day St. Joseph's Pants (Cavazune)
 
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Author:
Serves: 30 cookies
Ingredients
Pastry Dough
  • 2½ cups flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ⅛ cup water
Pastry Filling
  • 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
Instructions
Dough
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Shape the dough into a ball and wrap it in clear plastic and let the dough rest at room temperature for about an hour.
Filling
  1. Chop the walnuts or process them in a food processor and set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. In a large bowl combine the chickpeas, walnuts, raisins, honey, cinnamon, orange zest and balsamic and set the filling aside.
  5. Cut the rested dough into six pieces.
  6. 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.
  7. Cut the rolled out dough in 3 inch circles.
  8. 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.
  9. Press the sides of each pastry pocket with a fork to seal them. Set them aside on a kitchen towel.
  10. Put the canola oil in a pot to a depth of 3 inches. Heat the oil to 375 degrees.
  11. Fry the cavazune in the hot oil until they are golden on both sides.
  12. Cool.
  13. Sprinkle with confectionery sugar and serve at room temperature.

 

Pasta & Chickpea Soup (Pasta e Ceci)

Pasta e ceci, pasta with chickpeas is a toothy, delicious soup from Rome
Pasta e ceci, pasta with chickpeas is a toothy, delicious soup from Rome

I’ll be in Rome and Naples soon so I’ve been cooking dishes from both cities to get ready for the trip.

Here’s another Roman favorite that would be at home in Naples as well. The Romans prefer long pasta in their chickpea soup and the Neapolitans prefer short pasta.

My Mom made it with ditali, a short pasta tube. I made this one with broken taglierini, a long flat pasta.

Smashed potato thickens the garlic and rosemary infused tomato broth. The chickpeas add meaty texture to the silky pasta. This soup is really satisfying and it’s good for you too.

Sometimes pasta e ceci will be lunch with a hunk of rustic bread and maybe a small salad.

While I’m in Rome, my friend Luca and his crew will shoot my shopping trips to Campo di Fiori and other neighborhood markets and me cooking in my apartment kitchen near the Spanish Steps. It should be an adventure. I’m a little nervous.

To get you in the mood for the shoots from Italia, we’ll soon post 2 episodes we shot a couple of weeks ago at Cookhouse here in North Beach, a Roman treat and a meal in a pouch from the Bay of Naples.

Buon appetito!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Pasta & Chickpea Soup (Pasta e Ceci)
 
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Pasta e ceci is a simple Italian peasant chickpea soup full of flavor and texture.
Author:
Recipe type: soup
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2 cups chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 1 14-ounce can imported San Marzano tomatoes, smashed by hand
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 small potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes or 1 small dried chili
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ pound taglierini or other long, flat pasta broken into 3-inch pieces.
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, minced
  • grated pecorino (optional)
Instructions
  1. If your using dried chickpeas, soak them overnight. Cook them in rapidly simmering water until tender, at least an hour. Save the cooking water. Canned garbanzo beans work well too.
  2. Put a large pot of well-salted water (5 quarts water, 2 tablespoons sea salt) over high and bring to a boil for the pasta. (If you don't want to clean another pot, you can cook the pasta right in the soup.)
  3. Put a soup pot over medium heat and add the olive oil, garlic and rosemary.
  4. Saute until the garlic starts to brown.
  5. Remove the garlic and rosemary.
  6. Pour the tomatoes and their juice, the chickpeas and the potatoes into the pot.
  7. Add the water to the pot. (If you cooked dry beans, use the cooking water.)
  8. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook until the potatoes are knife tender, about 10 minutes.
  9. Remove the potatoes to a plate and roughly smash them with a fork. You want some intact small pieces too. Return the potatoes to the pot.
  10. Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  11. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  12. If the soup is too thick, add some of water and bring the soup back to a simmer.
  13. Cook the pasta in the boiling water until very al dente.
  14. Drain the pasta.
  15. Add the pasta to the soup pot and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  16. Serve the soup in individual bowls immediately with a sprinkle of parsley and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. (In Naples, they would add a sprinkle of grated pecorino too.)

 

This may be my last dish from Rome. After Rome we’re moving to an apartment in Naples and then on to the Amalfi coast and the beach near Gaeta. I have to move south to the food of Campania. So, the recipes I post this weekend will be 2 of my favorite dishes from Naples.