Christmas traditions with Rocco DiSpirito and his mom

Monday, December 15, 2008

Traditionally Christmas is a time for family, food, and friends. But unlike Thanksgiving, Christmas doesn't have a set menu of turkey and all the fixings. Every family has its own unique rituals that span the globe and reflect family history, roots, and experience. Chef Rocco DiSpirito and his mother, Nicolina, joined The Takeaway to share their family's holiday traditions.


My Aunt Margaret gave me her recipe, which we love to eat at the holidays.


  • 9 eggs
  • Approximately 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 5 1/2 cups of flour, or more
  • Vegetable oil for frying

To decorate:

  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups of sugar
  • Confetti sprinkles
  • Sliced almonds


  1. Beat together the eggs and oil.
  2. Add flour into bowl, then knead for 20 minutes or longer, until soft. (it should be like a ball).
  3. Break off a small piece of dough and covering the remaining dough. Roll the piece into a long narrow strip, and then cut the dough into pieces less than a half inch long. Repeat with remaining dough.
  4. Using a heavy-bottomed frying pan, fill halfway up the sides with vegetable oil. Place dough pieces inside pan, without letting them touch. (Do not overcrowd, put in a only a handful in at a time; you may have to work in batches.) If oil starts to foam, the oil is too cool; raise the temperature. Cook until lightly golden brown.
  5. To decorate, combine approximately 1/4 cup honey and 1 to 1 1/2 cups of sugar in a 12 inch frying pan. Cook on high heat until it boils. Add cooked pieces of strufoli, mixing until they are covered with the honey-sugar mixture.
  6. Remove from frying pan and immediately mold strufoli into desired shape, traditionally a wreath. Keep cool water nearby for when hands become too warm.
  7. Decorate with confetti sprinkles and almond slices.
View more recipes by Rocco DiSpirito »


Rocco DiSpirito


Melissa Locker

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