Just read your great piece, "On the cookie tables" [by Gretchen McKay, Food & Flavor, Sept. 6]. I grew up in Etna and many of the family are still in the 'Burgh -- including my 91-year-old dad.
I'm now transplanted many years in Chapel Hill, N.C. When daughter Noelle, who lives in Manhattan, got engaged in 2010, we were overjoyed to learn that she wanted to come home for a Southern wedding. After the initial hugs, and after preliminary plans were tossed about, I approached her with a very serious question: Was she OK with a cookie table? It just wasn't going to be the same without it!
Of course she said "Yes" and even went a step further to see that our cookie table was in loving memory of my Mom, "Grandma Ruthie." My heart was bursting with love and pride for my hometown, too!
Chapel Hill, N.C.
Great story. I'm Polish and can remember making thousands of cookies for my wedding and my parents' 50th anniversary. We didn't freeze cookies, though, because the cookies lose their flavor.
I grew up in Pittsburgh, in a very traditional Italian family. You should have seen the cookies at my cousin's wedding in Punxsutawney -- they filled an entire corner of the fire hall at least 5 feet high! (They don't know about fire-hall weddings down here.)
The daughter of a friend of mine is getting married next month and I am making a few cookies for her bridal shower -- pizzelles and tassies -- because I can make a lot in a fairly short amount of time.
But the Nacatole cookies that were being made on your video: I haven't even SEEN those since my grandmother died in 1966. You couldn't possibly get the recipe for me, could you?
Here's Maria Tolomeo's recipe, which has been handed down over generations.
- 6 eggs
- 1 tablespoon shortening
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 cups flour
- Confectioners' sugar for dusting
Mix ingredients together in a large bowl, then let rest for 1 hour.
Cut dough into small pieces. Roll each piece into a long rope, then wrap around a thin wooden stick or dowel to fashion into the nacatole shape. Gently work dough off the stick, then fry in hot oil until golden brown. Dust warm cookies with confectioners' sugar.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
-- Maria Tolomeo, Shaler
I enjoyed reading your article "Kugel Love" [by Elizabeth Gordon, Food & Flavor, Sept. 13]. What a loving son you have.
My mother-in-law has given me many recipes from her mother, including an Italian noodle kugel dish that they call Pasteria. We make this at Easter.
I am so fortunate to be able to make some of the favorite holiday dishes for my mother-in-law, who just turned 92.
I loved your article -- great memories and thank you for the recipe.
Re: "Periodically she gets a lot of food ideas" by Marlene Parrish, [Food & Flavor, Aug. 23]: When I saw your recipe for chocolate crackle I knew just what it would taste like. As a teenager I worked at Baskin-Robbins (around Philadelphia) for years. We used to have "supreme dipping chocolate" that was far from the waxy "chocolate dip" served at many soft-serve ice cream places. In addition to serving it to customers, we found plenty of uses for it -- drizzling it down the sides of ice cream cakes or freezing 1/4-inch-thick rounds in the lids of ice cream cups to pop out a scallop-edged disc of chocolate that could be used as a decoration on the top of a cake or to just pop out and eat! It's also yummy added to a milkshake, as McDonald's recently started doing, to create tiny little melt-in-your-mouth flakes. That supreme dipping chocolate was so good. Even though I've tried Magic Shell on different occasions, it always tasted waxy and fake, so I couldn't wait to get a taste of my childhood.
I wanted to let you know I just whipped up my first batch of Chocolate Crackle Topping. It was amazing! I envision me keeping a clear condiment-type bottle with the chocolate in it to warm up in a hot water bath for a drizzle whenever necessary.
Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to Food at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. Find the stories referred to above at post-gazette.com/food, where you can watch our recent cookie table video, too. First Published September 20, 2012 4:00 AM