(by Sara Strati)
I am a citizen of many nations when it comes to eating.
After winning a university scholarship to Scotland, I spent two years exploring the world and its many cuisines before moving to London, but I grew up in Italy. My interest in cooking goes back to seeing my grandmothers and my friends’ grandmothers in the kitchen, preparing amazing Sunday lunches for big families, each lasagna done differently, very much in relation to the location. In my own mum and dad’s house, eating was more like something we had to do: vegetable soups for every single dinner, brown bread without butter in the morning, occasional treats but not much fuss about it. My mum cooked, but her real creative outlet was knitting—she made beautiful sweaters for the whole family.
The person growing up next to me for the last ten years is my daughter Giuliarose, who has been quite good at cooking ever since she was three or four years old and joined an after-school cooking club. (Her favorite dish to prepare is spinach with strawberries, from a book called Big Meals For Little Hands.) Her dad and I were happy that she had a healthy appetite from the very beginning, and always knew exactly what she wanted. When she was just a day or two old, still in the hospital, the nurse was showing me how to feed her formula from a bottle. She finished it all and made a clear sign with her hand and her eyes that it was not enough.
Together, we recently prepared the apple strudel that has been a part of my family for a long time: My grandmother made it for my dad and his brothers; my mum made it for my dad, my sister, and me. Giuliarose and I went out to buy the Bramley apples and other ingredients. While I was scraping the carrots for dinner, she mixed the apples with sugar, butter, lemon, and breadcrumbs, then filled the buttery pastry and popped it in the oven until the surface became golden and crumbly. I know what Giuliarose is going to eat tomorrow—maybe for breakfast.
1 lb. 10 oz. Bramley apples, peeled, cored, quartered and sliced
1 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 unwaxed lemon, zest only
2 t. lemon juice
3 1/2 oz. golden caster or superfine sugar
2 oz. raisins
6 1/2 T. butter
1 1/2 oz. white bread crumbs
6 large sheets filo pastry
1 T. confectioners’ sugar
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Mix apples with cinnamon, lemon zest and juice, sugar, and raisins.
In a small frying pan, melt 4 t. butter, and fry bread crumbs until golden brown.
Add bread crumbs to apple mixture.
Melt remaining butter.
On a clean, dry tea towel, lay a sheet of the filo, and brush with some of the melted butter.
Lay another sheet on top and repeat until you have used all of the filo.
Pile apple filling along the length of the pastry on one side about 1 inch from the edge.
Using the tea towel to help, roll the pastry up to enclose the filling.
Tuck the ends in, and roll seam side down onto the lined baking sheet.
Brush with remaining melted butter.
Bake for 40 - 45 minutes, until golden brown.
Let cool to room temperature.
Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar for serving.