The Italians know how to do food, don’t they?
Born of Italian parents, I grew up surrounded by food. Not just food – good food, great food, tasty food! And lots of it. Yes, food was and still is an important part of my life.
Growing up we never had fish and chips from the takeaway shop, or frozen fish fingers not even chicken nuggets or other frozen meals from the supermarket. It just wasn’t in my parents vocabulary.
But then again I grew up in Australia and these types of frozen or convenience foods were not familiar to my parents. Mums and dads in Italy though, may have been a little different. Because included in their frozen food section of the supermarket are sofficini. Yep, apparently lots of different flavours and they are I’m told quite good, so much so that Italian food bloggers are making a homemade version. I first spotted these on one of my favourite food bloggers site Manu’s Menu and I knew I had to make sofficini. Think about it, pastry filled with ham, cheese and besciamella sauce, crumbed and fried. It’s got to be good. And it is! Manu’s Cheese and Ham Sofficini are to die for!
The amounts of filling required for the sofficini are really variable depending on the size of the rounds that you cut. Also you will notice sesame seeds on my finished sofficini. No, definitely not traditional however I make my own breadcrumbs from stale and unfinished bread – never waste bread, remember! Homemade breadcrumbs are the best. I always flavour my breadcrumbs with a little garlic, herbs or seeds.
Have you tried frozen sofficini? I’m curious, are they that good?
Cheese and Ham Sofficini adapted from Manu’s Menu
2 cups milk
2 cups flour, sifted
2 tablespoons butter
11/2 teaspoons salt
200gms cheese (Manu suggests Gouda or Swiss or sweet provolone, I used Gouda), grated
200 gms – 5 oz. ham, minced
besciamella, recipe below
Breadcrumbs to coat
Bring the milk, butter and salt to the boil. Once it boils take it off the heat and add the flour all at once. Stir well until the dough comes away from the sides of the saucepan. This is like a choux pastry without the eggs.
Once the dough is cool enough to handle knead gently until smooth. It’s a beautiful dough that handles well. Now wrap in plastic and allow to cool to room temperature.
Now, roll out the dough fairly thinly, about 3mm. I used a 10cm cutter but Manu suggests a 13cm. My sofficini were more of an appetiser so the size was just right for that purpose.
In the middle of the round place a small amount of besciamella, cheese and ham. Fold over and press with a fork to close. I found the dough stuck easily and rerolled beautifully.
Beat the egg with a fork. Dip the sofficini first in the egg then in the breadcrumbs. Fry in hot oil. Sofficini can be frozen at the breadcrumb stage and then fried from the frozen.
50 gram butter
50 grams flour
2 cups milk
a grinding of whole nutmeg
salt and white pepper
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir until the butter and flour mixture is bubbling. Change to a whisk and carefully add the milk whisking all the time. Bring to boil stirring or whisking the whole time to avoid lumps. Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Once it boils allow to bubble for a minute to cook out the flour. Remove from the heat