Recipes

My Family Recipes: Curabiè

08/01/2014

Every family has a set of recipes that are used regularly and passed on from one generation to another. My family culinary traditions come from the Italian region of Friuli Venezia-Giulia and the city of Trieste, where my mum was born. My grandmother was born in Pula, when Istria was part of Italy, but she has lived in Trieste nearly all her life.

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I don’t often use my family recipes, perhaps because they are rarely written down or if they are, the doses aren’t always precise. My mum and grandma don’t need recipes, they know how to prepare the dishes by heart or they simply improvise. A bit of this, a bit of that…So I have resorted to learn my family recipes by baking with my mum and grandma and learning first-hand from them. Living in different countries makes this a bit difficult, but I try to do it whenever we get the opportunity.

During my last visit to Trieste for Christmas, my mum and I made Curabiè, half-moon biscuits made with short crust pastry. My grandma’s curabiè are famous among our relatives and friends, but I must say that the ones my mum make are just as good!

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While researching the history of these biscuits, I discovered that similar recipes are traditional in Austria (Vanille Kipferl) and Greece (Kourabiedes). This is perhaps not surprising considering that Trieste was the fourth largest city of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and also a Greek-Orthodox community used to live there.

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Saint Spyridon, the Serbian Orthodox Church in Trieste

Trieste is a beautiful city in the north-eastern part of Italy, lying between the Adriatic Sea and the Slovenian border. I love the city architecture, the port, the literary cafès and the pace of life. A city in which to loiter and slowly let the time pass, sitting in a cafe in Piazza Unità with a newspaper and an espresso or having aperitivo with friends.

Its iconic central square, the Piazza dell’Unità d’Italia, bounded on three sides by comically pompous 18th- and 19th-century buildings, most of them decorated like big, boxy wedding cakes, is wide open to the Adriatic, as though the ever-changing seascape were an entertainment staged for the city’s benefit. [NY Times]

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A few steps away from Piazza Unità d’Italia is Trieste’s harbour and the Molo Audace, a 246-metres long pier from which you can observe the city and its gorgeous square.

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I didn’t take many photos of Trieste during this trip, but I hope I will get the chance to share more with you in the future. Hopefully they are enough to intrigue you about this wonderful city with a rich culture and a long history.

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Coming back to the Curabiè, they are simple biscuits to make but the key is preparing the perfect short crust pastry. For that you will need to apply the “a bit of this and that” method. Some days you will need to add more flour, other days it will need more butter. Practice making this pastry until you are confident to make it without following the recipe. As mums do! :)

The special ingredient in my family recipe of Curabiè is hazelnuts, which is interesting since all the recipes I found online use almonds instead. Maybe one day my grandma didn’t have almonds, so she used hazelnuts and that’s how the recipe has been ever since?! Who knows but anyway, we love the Curabiè this way!

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Ingredients

For the short crust pastry I use the same recipe as my Custard Cream & Fruit Tart.

  • 400g plain flour
  • 250g butter, cold
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 egg and 1 egg yolk
  • 15g baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 120g hazelnuts, finely chopped, not ground
  • icing sugar, to dust

Preparation

In a bowl, shape the flour into a well, place the pieces of cold butter in the centre, with the sugar on top. Knead the butter and sugar first, then slowly add the flour into the mix.

Keep kneading, then add the eggs, baking powder and pinch of salt. Slowly add the hazelnuts and keep kneading. Once you have a ball of smooth pastry, place it in the fridge to cool for one hour or until it is cold and hard.

Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC. Cut out a small piece of pastry from the fridge (keep the rest inside) roll it into a cylinder and cut it into small pieces. With your hands take out small balls and create crescent shapes.

Place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake for about 8-10 minutes. The biscuits should not be brown, so be careful not to over-cook them. Leave in the tray to cool down for a few minutes before transferring onto a plate (they will crumble if you move them when hot). Repeat until you have used all the pastry.

Dust the biscuits with icing sugar.

 

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14 Comments

  • Reply whilehewasout 08/01/2014 at 12:58

    Seeing the pictures I just thought hey these look totally similar to the Hungarian "Hókifli" and then reading through the post I even found the reply to my concern :) Trieste must be beautiful!

    • Reply Giulia Mulè 04/01/2016 at 19:05

      I never heard of Hókifli! It’s interesting how these different countries have similar recipes! :)

  • Reply Giulia Mulè 08/01/2014 at 13:03

    I never heard of Hókifli! It’s interesting how these different countries have similar recipes! :)

  • Reply Sini | my blue&white kitchen 08/01/2014 at 15:44

    This is indeed interesting as my bavarian grandmother used to make really similar ones called Vanillekipferl. I still make them every Christmas. But, as you also noticed, we use almond flour only. I think hazelnut flour would be great as well! Will try to remember this version next Christmas!

    • Reply Giulia Mulè 04/01/2016 at 19:04

      Hi, I recommend using whole hazelnuts chopped finely, rather than using hazelnut flour.

  • Reply Giulia Mulè 08/01/2014 at 15:53

    I recommend using whole hazelnuts chopped finely, rather than using hazelnut flour.

  • Reply My Family’s Recipes: Strucolo de Pomi | mondomulia 01/12/2014 at 10:18

    […] grandma is a talented baker (I shared a recipe of her Curabiè biscuits last year). Her most popular cake is the strudel, or strucolo de pomi as it is called in […]

  • Reply Vanilla Sponge with Chocolate Icing Cake | mondomulia 23/12/2014 at 23:42

    […] this post short, because I have a flight to catch in a few hours: like last year, I am going to Trieste in Italy to celebrate Christmas with my family! I can’t wait to see my grandma and eat the Christmas […]

  • Reply Giuseppe Saatchi 25/12/2015 at 16:32

    In Greece we also add orange-blossom water in the mixture. This gives a very distinct and pleasant aroma to the kourabie. Merry Christmas

    • Reply Giulia Mulè 04/01/2016 at 19:05

      That’s interesting. It reminds me of the Moroccan Ghoriba biscuits…the recipe is also on my blog, they are made with orange blossom water!

      • Reply Giuseppe Saatchi 04/01/2016 at 23:24

        Orange blossom water is used in Greece in a variety of sweets such as “amygdalota” cookies, a variety of sponge cakes, ergolavoi (the “greek macaroon”), caramel gels, koulouria, galaktoboureko etc. You can also find orange blossom water in a few Lebanese/Levantine sweets too (such as Ma’amoul and Ghraybeh). I really love the smell of it! I will definitely have a look at the Ghoriba recipe on your blog!

        .

  • Reply Bigné al Caffè / Choux Pastry with Coffee Cream - Mondomulia 29/10/2017 at 16:28

    […] with Spritz Aperol. I have been on holiday for the whole week, going to the beach and visiting Trieste and Venice, but most of all spending quality time with my 92-year old grandma and my aunt! I love […]

  • Reply Christmas Chocolate Crackle Cookies - Mondomulia 20/12/2017 at 09:03

    […] year we are going to be in the beautiful city of Trieste to celebrate Christmas with them! My husband hasn’t been in Italy since our wedding in Rome […]

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