This sweet dessert was adapted by James Beard Award-winning chef Alon Shaya, who discovered the recipe in a cookbook that once belonged to the Fenyves family, Hungarian Jews whose home was looted during the Holocaust. The cookbook was saved by the family’s maid, Maris, and was later added to the archives of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Shaya tells “CBS Sunday Morning” that, in his research of recipes that were found recorded in Jewish ghettoes and concentration camps, “I was just blown away by how during one of the most horrible moments in someone’s life that they could turn to food and that food would have that power.”
Don’t miss the story of Alon Shaya and his search for the tastes of childhood on “Sunday Morning” April 2!
Yield: 4-8 servings (16 semolina sticks)
Active time: 45 mins.
Total time: 1 hour 45 mins.
Make ahead: The semolina dough can be made up to 1 day in advance, before slicing and frying.
Storage notes: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat in a 350-degree oven for about 5 minutes.
2 1/2 cups (600 milliliters) whole milk, divided
4 Tablespoons (56 grams) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 cup (180 grams) semolina flour
1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 cup (100 grams) plain breadcrumbs
4 cups (960 milliliters) vegetable oil
Dijon mustard, for serving (optional)
- Line a rimmed eighth-sheet pan with parchment paper (see Notes below). In a medium pot over medium heat, whisk together 2 cups (480 milliliters) of the milk, the butter, sugar and salt until combined. Bring to a simmer and whisk in the semolina.
- Let the mixture simmer, adjusting the heat as needed, until it thickens and the graininess of the wheat dissipates, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour the semolina mixture onto your lined baking sheet and spread evenly using a rubber spatula. Refrigerate until the mixture is firm and cool to the touch, about 1 hour.
- Flip the baking sheet onto a cutting board to remove the semolina cake from the pan and peel off the parchment. Use a long, sharp knife to slice the rectangle, creating 16 pieces (each about 3 inches by 1 inch).
- Set out three shallow bowls. In one, add the flour. In the next, whisk together the eggs and the remaining 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) of milk. In the third, put the breadcrumbs.
- Place a wire rack over a large, rimmed baking sheet or line a tray with layers of paper towels and set it near your work area.
- In a 3-quart saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat the oil until it registers 350 degrees on a deep-frying thermometer. (No thermometer? Test the oil by adding a pinch of breadcrumbs to the oil. The oil should be at the correct temperature when the crumbs vigorously sizzle before turning dark.)
- Reduce the heat to medium and, working in batches of 4 to 5, dip the semolina sticks in the flour to fully coat them; then dip them into the egg mixture, letting any excess drip off. Finally, dip them into the breadcrumbs until fully coated.
- Carefully, slide the breaded sticks into the hot oil, one at a time. They should sizzle immediately. Fry until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes, then transfer to the prepared pan using a spider. Adjust the heat as needed to maintain the oil’s temperature. Repeat with the remaining semolina sticks (see Notes).
- Place the semolina sticks on a serving platter and dot with Dijon mustard, if using. Serve while still warm.
Notes: The pan should be as close as possible to 6-by-9 inches with a one-inch rim. A rimmed one-eighth baking sheet would be just right.
The sticks are best when served warm. To keep them warm, preheat the oven to 200 degrees and place the fried sticks inside until ready to serve.
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