"I want to fry them."
"They're good baked," I agreed. "But you used to fry them, and they're supposed to be fried."
"Yeah." (Pause) "Frying's messy." (Pause) "You sure you don't want to use the hot roll mix? It's good."
At this point, the writing was on the wall: We would make them his way.
Our cassatedi workshop went well. I brought my good pans and he didn't lose his temper. (Oops.) They were ridiculously easy to make, though credit the hot roll mix for that. (Yes, I caved on that part too.) But at least we wound up with more than 20, not two.
Dad's insistence on baking — though it produced a softer dough — is indeed a more healthful, less messy approach. Plus: There's chocolate.
The experience made me rethink a few things. What is authenticity, anyway? If recipes change all the time, why be beholden to anybody, whether it's the revered ancestors I've never met, or the father/sports addict whose hot-roll-mix/chocolate chip cassatedi — earned after a lifetime with Old World cooks — is his version of authentic?
The answer, as always: Let the food, and your sanity, decide.
Papa Joe's cassatedi
Prep: 45 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes
Makes: 25-30 turnovers
2 pounds whole-milk ricotta, drained, see note at bottom
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lemon, grated
1 package (16 ounces) hot roll mix, such as Pillsbury
2 tablespoons softened butter