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Turdiddri, tordilli, turdilli
Tordilli, Turdiddri,Turdilli or Turtiddi (Christmas fritters, St. Joseph fritters, with cinnamon, honey, orange zest)
Originated from: Calabria, Italy
Occasion: Christmas and La Festa di San Giuseppe
Contributed by: Mary Melfi

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Tordilli, Turdiddri, Turtiddi or Turdilli [makes about 60 fritters]

Flour as much as is need [about 3 cups]
2 eggs
1/4 cup olive oil [or all-purpose vegetable oil]
1/2 cup sweet white wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)

Vegetable oil for deep frying *

For decoration

1 to 2 cups honey for dipping

* Prior to World War II olive oil was used for deep frying in Italy, but nowadays most North Americans of Italian origin use all-purpose vegetable oil; however, most cooks, Italian or otherwise, agree that canola oil or peanut oil is best for frying as these oils don't leave an aftertaste


Mix eggs, oil and wine.

Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, orange zest and nutmeg.

Add the flour to the egg, oil and wine mixture and work into a soft but malleable dough (Should resemble a gnocchi dough). If the dough is too soft, add more flour, if it's too hard add a touch more oil [The trick to getting the "desired" texture of the dough is to add the flour SLOWLY so that one can stop when the dough is just right!].

Shape the dough into a ball.

Wrap the dough in clear plastic wrap and place it in a container. Cover the container with a towel and let the dough rest for about half an hour at room temperature.

Take a small portion (about 2 inches) of the rested dough and on a floured wooden board roll it out into a rope that is about 1/2 inch in diameter and about 12 inches long.

Cut the rope into 1/2 inch pieces (or the width of the prongs of an average fork).

Press the back of a floured fork on the 1/2 pieces of dough so that grooves are formed; this stretches the dough so that the turdiddri cookie ends up being about an inch long and 1/4 inch thick (A gnocchi board can also be used to get grooves on the dough, but this is a little harder to do).

Place the uncooked turdiddri on a floured linen cloth or large wooden board while the rest of the cookies are being made.

Repeat the steps until all the dough is processed.

Deep fry the turdiddri in oil until they are golden brown.

Place the fried turdiddri on kitchen paper towels to usurp excess oil.

After the turdiddri have been fried, heat the honey and coat the cookies in it.


Serve within a day or two, or they will not taste fresh.


Tordilli, Turdiddri, or turdilli (spellings vary) are possibly the best known Calabrese sweet fritters. There are hundreds of recipes on the world-wide web for tordilli cookies, though most of the recipes are in Italian. All the recipes include flour, wine and eggs as well as honey (for dipping) but their seasoning differs. Nonetheless, the majority of the recipes include orange zest and cinnamon. The wines (and/or liquors) suggested for making the dough include: vino bianco moscato, Vin Santo, Muscatel, red vermouth, Marsala, and sweet sherry. For step by step photo instructions on how to make tordilli, turdiddri or turdilli cookies visit www.occhiettineri.it/ricette/calabria/php. The pictures on the site are very useful but I found the recipe on it a bit dull in comparison to others that are available on the net. Part of the fun in cooking is to make modifications to recipes to suit one's own tastes. Obviously, one wants to retain what is traditional, but at the same time one wants to make them edible (so to speak).... Prior to World War II most Southern Italians, including the poor, made fritters for the Christmas holidays. The well-to-do also made them for Epiphany, New Year's day, Carnival and the Feast Day of St. Joseph. However, because sugar was very expensive back then, even the well-to-do limited the amount of sweets they served. Nowadays, many North American Italians will argue for hours whether that this or that fritter was served for this or that festivity, often not taking into account that different towns in the same region had different culinary traditions. In fact, many households within the same town, often differed on what fritters they made to celebrate the festivities (Such was the case in my own family -- what was a St. Joseph fritter at my maternal grandmother's house, was not a St. Joseph fritter at my paternal grandmother's house). So, trying to figure out, what is a "traditional" Southern Italian Christmas fritter and a "traditional" Carnival and/or St. Joseph fritter is next to impossible (Well, it is for me, anyway). Notes & Photo: Mary Melfi.

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