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Fritelle di Zucca (Squash Fritters from the Veneto)

In Italy, pumpkin fritters are considered a good Hanukkah dessert. This recipe is adapted from Joyce Goldstein's Cucina Ebraica: Flavors of the Italian Jewish Kitchen (Chronicle Books 1998). She cautions that it's hard to find a squash or pumpkin that weighs exactly 1 1/4 pounds. Just be sure the milk covers the cubed squash, and add enough flour so the mixture has the consistency of sour cream. Adjust the sugar to taste, since squashes vary in sweetness. Butternut squash is usually sweeter than pumpkin.

Makes 6 servings

1 butternut squash or pumpkin, about 1 1/4 pounds

2 cups milk, or as needed

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed

2 teaspoons baking soda dissolved in 2 teaspoons water

2 eggs

Pinch of salt

2/3 cup granulated sugar, or to taste

Grated zest of 2 oranges

1/3 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted

Peanut oil for deep-frying

Confectioners' sugar for topping

Halve squash or pumpkin, scoop out and discard seeds and fiber, peel and cut into 1/2-inch dice. You should have 3 to 3 1/2 cups. Place in a saucepan, add milk to cover and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until the squash breaks down into a smooth puree, about 30 minutes. Don't worry if the mixture looks curdled; it will smooth out.

Stir in the flour and continue to stir until the mixture is thick, about 5 minutes, adding more flour as needed to bind. Beat in the dissolved baking soda, and then the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the salt, granulated sugar, orange zest, raisins and pine nuts. Remove from heat. Let stand for about 15 minutes until most of the moisture has been absorbed.

Pour oil to a depth of 3 inches in a deep-frying pan or wok and heat to 375 degrees. In batches, drop the batter by small (1-inch diameter) teaspoonfuls into the hot oil. (These should not be large or the center will not cook.) Fry until golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain briefly. Keep warm until all the fritters are cooked.

Arrange the fritters on a platter and sift a heavy dusting of confectioners' sugar over the top. Eat while hot or very warm.

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