JUST DOWN THE ROAD FROM THE RUINS OF THE CARTHUSIAN PRIORY AT SCALA DEI IS A LITTLE SHOP RUN BY AN IRREPRESSIBLY HAPPY LADY CALLED NEUS. SHE SELLS HER EXCELLENT OIL AND HER HUSBAND’S VI RANCI (SHERRY-LIKE WINE) AND VINS DOLÇOS (MUSCAT-LIKE WINE). TRADITIONALLY YOU ALWAYS HAD A BOTTLE OF THIS NEAR THE FRONT DOOR OF THE HOME,’ SHE SAID. YOU’D POUR A GLASS FOR THE VISITING PRIEST OR DOCTOR AND OFFER THEM SOME NUTS OR SOME PASTRY.’ SHE OFFERED ME SOME OF HER PASTRIES — ORELLETES, WHICH MEANS BIG EARS’ IN CATALAN. THEY WERE HALF THE SIZE OF AN A4 SHEET OF PAPER, COVERED IN DELICATE BUBBLES WHERE THE PASTRY HAD BLISTERED AS IT DEEP-FRIED, AND DUSTED WITH ICING (CONFECTIONERS’) SUGAR. ORELLETES ARE REALLY SIMPLE, BUT WITH THE ADDITION OF A FEW SPLASHES OF ANIS LIQUEUR, VERY VERY MOREISH, AS IS THE VIDOLÇ!
Whisk the eggs and icing sugar using electric beaters for 10–15 minutes, or until light and creamy.
Gradually sift in the flour and fold in gently, then add the anis and butter and stir until a sticky dough forms. Shape the dough into a ball and dust with a little extra flour. Place in a bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave to stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
Cut the dough into eight equal portions. Using a pasta machine, roll out each portion of dough into thin sheets, starting at the highest setting until you reach setting number 3, or until the sheets are 1 mm thick. Cut the sheets into
Fill a deep-fryer or large heavy-based saucepan one-third full of oil and heat to 190°C (375°F), or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil browns in 10 seconds. Deep-fry the strips in small batches for 1–1½ minutes, or until golden and puffed. Drain on paper towel and dust with icing sugar. The pastries will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
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