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Sicilian Canoli for St. Joseph’s Feast Day

 

 

Sicilian Cannoli

Sicilian Cannoli

 

Each week I talk with Anna Mitchell or  Matt Swaim on the Sonrise Morning Show, Sacred Heart Radio about Bible foods and herbs. Today we talked about St. Joseph.

There’s a legend surrounding the feast day of St Joseph on March 19.  Hundreds of years ago There was a famine in Sicily.. The people prayed to St. Joseph to help, and he ended the famine, so, in thanksgiving, they not only held a special feast  they built  a special altar honoring him.  Today they still celebrate in that same way, and the table is overflowing with an abundance of food.

I love this tradition: In villages, different people portray the holy family and the 12 apostles, as well as  the angels. Talking about the table –  design is unusual. There are steps leading up to the table that represent the ascent from earth to heaven. On the top step you’ll see a statue of St. Joseph or a picture of the Holy Family. Palms, lilies and white carnations are added to give an aroma suggesting the fragrance of heaven and the sweetness of salvation.

The table is covered with white linens and vigil lights are placed upon it.

The lights are green, brown and deep yellow, and they represent St. Joseph’s clothes.

What foods are included?

The foods that are eaten represent  not only the harvest but also Joseph the worker.  Breads are baked in special shapes like a staff, a hand, the cross and animals. Pastas are served with bread crumbs on top representing sawdust.  Now usually no meat or cheese is served, but there’s a lot of fish, including sardines, which are abundant in Sicily.  Lots of thick soups, like lentils soup with escarole also   veggies like celery and herbs like fennel. And an effort is made to feed everyone after the priest blesses the feast.

Almonds are included in many of the desserts served.

The almond tree was and is considered a sacred symbol, and in honor of this, my recipe today is Sicilian cannoli with almonds. (or pistachios!),  It’s appropriate, too, since St. Joseph is also the patron saint of pastry cooks.  so The cannoli recipe can have either pistachios or almonds in it.

 

 SICILIAN CANNOLI

I like to use both Ricotta and Mascarpone (Italian cream cheese). You can use all Ricotta if you like.

12 oz whole milk Ricotta cheese, strained

8 oz Mascarpone cheese

1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup powdered sugar or more to taste – I like more

1/3 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)

Optional toppings:

Melted chocolate, chopped pistachios, almonds, etc.

 

16-18 cannoli shells

 

Put ricotta in sieve or colander lined with cheesecloth or basket type coffee filters. Set over bowl, cover with plastic wrap and put in refrigerator anywhere from at least 12-24 hours. This is important so that it drains well and is not too loose to fill shells.

 

Beat drained ricotta with mascarpone, vanilla and powdered sugar. Fold in chocolate chips, Store in refrigerator until ready to fill cannolis.

 

Place filling in pastry bag without a tip. Pipe into one end about halfway through then fill the other end the same way – that way it’s easier to fill. Dip into nuts, etc. and serve sprinkled with a dusting of powdered sugar.

 

Feast of St Joseph

In Italy, the feast of St. Joseph is in March and is celebrated with a huge feast of food set upon a special altar. (Matt you can give your thoughts here.)

There’s a legend surrounding this feast day. There was a famine in Sicily hundreds of years ago. The people prayed to St. Joseph to help, and he ended the famine, and, in thanksgiving, they held a special feast with a special altar honoring him.  Today they still celebrate, and the table is overflowing with an abundance of food. 

In villages, different people portray the holy family and the 12 apostles, as well as angels. The table design is unusual. There are steps leading up to the table that represent the ascent from earth to heaven. On the top step you’ll see a statue of St. Joseph or a picture of the Holy Family. Palms, lilies and white carnations are added to give an aroma suggesting the fragrance of heaven and the sweetness of salvation.

The table is covered with white linens and vigil lights are placed upon it.

The lights are green, brown and deep yellow, and they represent St. Joseph’s clothes.

What foods are included?

The foods that are eaten represent the harvest. Breads are baked in special shapes like a staff, a hand, the cross and animals. They represent both St. Joseph and the life of Christ. No meat or cheese is served, but a lot of fish, including sardines, are. Lots of thick soups, like lentils soup with escarole are served along with veggies like celery and fennel. And an effort is made to feed everyone after the priest blesses the feast.

Almonds are included in many of the desserts served.

The almond tree was and is considered a sacred symbol, and in honor of this, my recipe today is Cannoli with almonds, or pistachios. It’s appropriate, too, since St. Joseph is the patron saint of Sicily and is also the patron saint of pastry cooks. 

SICILIAN CANNOLI WITH ALMONDS OR PISTACHIOS AND BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE

12 oz whole milk Ricotta cheese, strained

8 oz Mascarpone cheese

1/2 cup powdered sugar**

1/3 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)

Optional toppings:

Melted chocolate, chopped pistachios, almonds, etc.

 

16-18 cannoli shells

 

Put ricotta in sieve or colander lined with cheesecloth or basket type coffee filters. Set over bowl, cover with plastic wrap and put in refrigerator anywhere from at least 12-24 hours. This is important so that it drains well and is not too loose to fill shells.

 

Beat drained ricotta with mascarpone, vanilla and powdered sugar. Fold in chocolate chips, Store in refrigerator until ready to fill cannolis. 

 

Place filling in pastry bag without a tip. Pipe into one end about halfway through then fill the other end the same way. Dip into nuts, etc. and serve sprinkled with a dusting of powdered sugar.

 

 

 

  

 

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