04 January 2006

Recipe: Italian Turdilli

I have typically generalized on this blog, spoken not too specifically, mainly I have danced around the subject of my personal life. Well for those of you readers who know a little more about me then the words that glare at you from my blog pages, those that have emailed me or had fleeting cyber conversations...You are in for a treat.

Today I will share a small glimpse into that vault of memories from my childhood. A place I keep wrapped up --- to be reviewed when sorrows over shadow my life. I breathe in the smells of wheat farmed country sides, I eye the kitchen tools and ingredients that are all too familiar --- they create the foundation of food appreciation that I have today.

Of the many cultural influences in my life, there is one tributary branching off the meandering river I call my family heritage.

This tributary is peppered with Mediterranean accents. The migration of strong, willing inhabitants across a harsh sea. There is calling from the hills, to savor seasons! Making a life, if not harvests --- there is no discrimination from vine or fowl.

My maternal great-grandparents each made their own journey to America, they shuffled through Ellis Island. Into the dirty streets of New York. In search of a place that embodied the green rolling hills they had left behind.

They eventually settled, and indeed found their rolling hills. From the descriptions I have been given their farm was something of a foodies dream --- they made their own Italian cheeses,Prosciutto,salami & Italian meats and their own wines. There were great feasts to be had.

I grew up to appreciate little jewels of Italian heritage. One of my favorite sweets are Turdillis [pronounced TOR-DEE-LL-EEs]. We would get these at the annual Italian dance and festival. They are simple , but very suitable for any palate. The wine gives them a very pleasing contrast to the honey which they are rolled in. Enjoy!

  1. 1 cup oil
  2. 1 1/4 cup white wine
  3. 2 cups flour, or more depending on consistency..
  4. Pinch of salt
  5. dash of nutmeg & cinnamon
  6. 3 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
  7. Plate of honey, heated for dipping
Bring oil and wine to boil, let stand for 5 minutes. Pour into a mixing bowl, add flour mixed with spices. Knead well, divide dough into thirds. Pin out (roll) to 1 1/2 inch thickness, you want long strips. Cut each strip into 2 inch pieces. Fry in deep hot oil. Cool and dip in hot honey.



8:34 AM, December 10, 2007 Reply  

My Nana's maiden name is the same as your great grandparents. I wonder if there is any relation?


8:23 AM, December 15, 2007 Reply  

i just found your recipe while doing a search for what my family calls dordilli. i just made them for the first time this year to carry on the tradition. I have fond memories of them sticking together in the tins they were stored in. for my family it is a xmas time tradition. i enjoyed reading about your heritage and family recipe for tordilli. our recipe calls for a robust red wine (because of the homemade concord wine they used), so for authenticity, i made a batch of concord wine this fall, and used that. well, merry xmas, and again, i enjoyed your blog...

9:12 PM, January 22, 2008 Reply  

Thank you mike for the holiday wishes, and I appreciate you taking the time to add a personal note to your comment.

I too remember these cookies being called "dordilli", they were served at the big Italian festival we had in my town growing up, it was a great thing for a child to experience.

I will have to try the recipe using red wine, thanks for the suggestion.

Glad you enjoyed your visit!


- Amber

9:37 PM, June 18, 2008 Reply  

I'll be trying this one at home for sure, though I am not sure I will be as hardcore as mike and make my own batch of concord wine!! ;)

1:57 PM, August 14, 2008 Reply  

@Max Ha Ha, that is pretty hardcore :)
Glad you enjoyed the recipe!

6:06 PM, November 16, 2009 Reply  

My family comes from Bolzano Trentino-Alto Adige region of Italy. Like you, we were exposed to many different foodie loved "Jewels" from the area in our cooking. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

4:13 PM, December 01, 2009 Reply  

We have many family recipes for this cookie (from an southern italian family that settled in pennsylvania and utah). One relative called them tardila skilili in her recipe, but we all them crustalis (with varied spellings). We make it with dark red wine and sugar (rather than the white wine orange juice combo you use), though one recipe calls for muscatel wine and just a touch of sugar - and some canadian whiskey of all things. Some call for yeast, some don't. We also draw them over a cheese grater to get some good texture before frying. One thing our family does that I have seen no other do is we take this same beautiful silky dough, roll it out, sprinkle raisins nuts and cinnamon-sugar, and roll it up and slice about a half-inch thick like a cinnamon roll bake it, then dip it in the hot honey, we call them "pizas" no idea where the name comes from. My older relatives used to make them in October and just leave it honey for a month, and then bring them out closer to christmas, they just get better the longer they sit. I just made a fresh batch this year - they turned out ok - not our best effort. The smallest recipe we have calls for 5 pounds of flour - got to feed the big italian family. Thanks for sharing your recipe,


mandorelli at gmail.com

9:00 AM, December 20, 2009 Reply  

It's cool to see so many stories and variations. My family calls them Turdil. We use Brandy instead of wine. We also ball the dough up and roll it against an old washboard, giving the cookies an oblong rounded shape. We fry the little dough balls until hard, and put them in tins with honey for at least a week so the honey soaks in and softens them a bit.

We also do it around Christmas time, and we store them in tins. I like mine aged in the honey for a few months. If we do a Christmas batch, they are perfect by the time my birtday rolls around in late feb!

My family ended up in New Mexico. I've never seen these anywhere else, but decided to search anyway. Who knew that they are commonly called "Turdilli"?

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