La Vera Cucina
Nana Josephine’s Sfinge
For Kansas City restaurateur Jasper Mirabile, the aroma of hot sfinge (sveen-jay) or fried Sicilian doughnuts vividly reminds him of his childhood, sitting on his Nana Josephine’s kitchen counter while she made him this traditional treat. While some versions of sfinge are ricotta-filled, Nana Josephine’s version is enjoyed plain, with a dusting of sugar and honey. Jasper warns that these puffy pastries are addictive!
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- dash of salt
- 1 heaping tablespoon vegetable shortening
- 3 eggs
- 4-5 cups Fall Harvest olive oil
- 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- 3 tablespoons honey
Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. When water is boiling, remove pan from heat and add flour, salt, and shortening. Beat well with a fork. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add olive oil to a deep saucepan (oil depth should be about 2”). Heat oil to 350°F. For each sfinge, spoon 1 tablespoon batter into the hot oil.
To avoid crowding the pan, fry sfinge three to five at a time until golden brown on each side, about 4-5 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Place finished sfinge and confectioners’ sugar in a brown lunch sack. Shake gently until sfinge are coated with sugar. Serve sfinge warm, in a dish, drizzled with honey!
Similar to zeppole, sfinge are fritters or doughnuts made from unleavened dough. According to restaurateur Jasper Mirabile, sfinge first gained popularity in Palermo’s outdoor market called La Vucciria (la vu-cheria). Today, street vendors there still sell them by the dozen in little brown paper sacks!