I was lucky to grow up in an Italian family where food was often the highlight of conversation and get-togethers. It was a huge influence on my decision to attend culinary school eight years ago, and even decades later those family gatherings are a constant inspiration in the dishes that I create.
When I was a child, my parents used to take my sister and I to visit our relatives in their tiny hometown in Northeastern Pennsylvania. We’d go kicking and screaming because we spent much of our time sitting around our Aunt Marie’s kitchen table listening to adult banter. The saving grace of these trips was my aunt’s ricotta donuts. She’d make them every morning for us and then pile them high on a platter with a dusting of cinnamon sugar. When I first asked my aunt why her donuts didn’t have holes, she replied in her thick Italian accent, “You wanna hola in youra donut? You go to duncan-a-donuts!” Even today, I can never forget her exact words or how delicious those doughnuts tasted.
1 pound ricotta
6 tablespoons sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 teaspoons baking powder
6 cups vegetable oil
3 tablespoons sugar (for topping)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Mix the first six ingredients by hand until blended Form into balls with a tablespoon. Fry until golden brown. Mix together 3 tablespoons of sugar with the cinnamon and dust on donuts.