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Cutting Cucumbers

-----Original Message----- 
From: Ray
Sent: Saturday, March 21, 2015 3:18 PM
Subject: Cutting Remarks

Uncle P.--

Since you say it's a slow time of the year for requests, I thought to 
forward one that came to mind the other night (I read in the small hours: 
insomnia) from something in Edith Wharton's "The Age of Innocence":

"... Archer saw he [another person] was wondering why no one had told the 
butler never to slice cucumbers with a steel knife..."

I looked into this a bit and came up with no clear explanation.  Staining? 
Corruption of flavor?  Maybe I slacked off because of what Samuel Johnson 
was said to have remarked:

"It has been a common saying of physicians in England, that a cucumber 
should be well sliced, and dressed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown 
out, as good for nothing."

Since I am not fond of cucumbers in any form save pickles, and I slice 
things with stainless steel (not being able to find carbon steel knives to 
replace one I've worn thin), the matter is academic with me.  And just what 
kind of knife would a butler have used in Whartonian "Old New York" to 
properly slice a cucumber, anyway?  Silver?  Does it take an edge?


Hello Ray,

Good to hear from you. I trust that you made it through this rather nasty winter with no serious problems.

That quote about the cucumbers is quite common on the web, and others have raised the same question of "why not?", although no one appears to have given an alternative knife.

The most common reason given is that cucumbers are acidic, and therefore the steel would affect the taste of the cucumbers and the acid would be deleterious to the knife. These people are thinking about tomatoes, in which this can happen. Tomatoes are very acidic, and they are canned in lined cans because they can leach metallic ions from metals that they come in contact with. However, there are is a problem with this reasoning as regards cucumbers. Cucumbers are not acidic. If anything, they are slightly alkaline. That's one reason they are often doused with vinegar for serving.

What kind of knife to use instead of steel? No one appears to have provided an answer to that, and I could not find one. If acidity was the concern, a knife made of any metal would be problematic. This problem does not occur with stainless steel knives, but they would not have been available in the 1870s setting of "The Age of Innocence." Perhaps a ceramic knife like this one: Amateur Gourmet

If not that, then perhaps a wooden knife? A bone knife? Glass? Obsidian? Oyster shell?



From: Ron 
Sent: Saturday, March 21, 2015 6:40 PM
Subject: Cavazunes

Hey Uncle-

Hope this finds you well. You have helped me in the past and did a fine job of it. 
I hope you can do it once again. In fact I  know you can.

My family is from the Trentino- Alto - Adige / Bolzano area of Northern Italy. 
During the Easter holidays all the women, young and old, would gather outside at 
this huge table to make a pastry that was only served once for the whole year. 
I believe it was called 'cavazunes' (?) It was a filled turnover that was deep-fried 
and dusted with cinnamon and cardamom.

The filling was not very sweet and I know the main ingredient was made from Cici beans. 
At least that's what they told me. I know it had honey and lemon in it because I saw 
them using it. And lots of cinnamon. They also put a dash of cardamom and nutmeg. 
When it was done frying in oil they would scatter some more sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom 
over it.

They also made an additional filling called Lodiodoci (?). This looked and tasted like 
mince meat and had apples, raisins and lemon. When the turnover was cooled you would open 
the turnover and spread the insides with the filling. It was really delicious. The taste 
was very unique. I have never tasted anything quite like it. And nobody knows what it is 
when I ask. At least not in this country.

So if you can find this for me I'd greatly appreciate it.


Hello Ron,

Searching for particular Italian cookies and pastries is difficult because the same pastry may have different names in different regions or different towns or even different families. Even pastries with the same name may be made with different ingredients in different areas and different families. I could not find any mention of your pastry in relation to Trentino Alto Adige or Bolzano. I have a cookbook that is solely about the foods served at Italian festivals, such as Easter, but there was nothing in it that matched your description. As for the name of the pastry, I cannot find anything with the name that you give. The closest that I can find to that name is: Caviciunetti(cavicionetti,caviciunitt), aka Caggionetti, Calcionetti. These are filled, fried pastries. The filling may be made many different ways, but one type is made with chick-peas (cici beans). I think that your pastry may be a variation of this pastry. There is a recipe for calcionetti below that has chick-peas, lemon zest, and honey. These are popular in Abruzzo. I could not find anything about the “lodiodoci”, but the Trentino Alto Adige/ Bolzano area is noted for growing apples, so it is likely a local recipe. I think that, to get any closer to your recipe, you are going to have to connect with other people from that area. You might look for message boards targeted to people from that part of Italy. I will post this on my site in case a reader can help.




For the Dough:

2 cups all purpose flour 
1/2 cup powdered sugar 
Pinch salt 
2 tablespoons shortening 
2 large eggs 
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest or use orange zest

For the Filling 

1/2 cup chick peas, cooked 
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 ounces candied citron, finely chopped, optional 
2 tablespoons honey 
2 tablespoons chocolate, grated 
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped 

For the Preparation:

Vegetable oil for frying 
1/4 cup milk to seal dough 
Powdered sugar to dust cookies 


For the Dough: Sift together the flour, sugar and salt. Mix in the shortening 
using hands or pastry cutter until crumbly. Add the eggs and lemon zest; mix 
until just incorporated. 

Use a pasta machine to roll out half the dough to 1/8 inch thickness and forming 
a long rectangular shape, roughly 3 inches by 15 inches, being careful not to overwork 
the dough. Repeat with other half of dough and set aside. 

Preheat the vegetable oil to 360F degrees. 

For the Filling: Use fork to mash chickpeas thoroughly. Stir in brown sugar, honey, 
grated chocolate, and chopped walnuts. Drop heaping teaspoonfuls of filling along 
length of rectangular dough (leaving 1-inch between spoonfuls) keeping to one side. 
This should be enough room for about 10 spoonfuls. 

To Shape and Cook: With pastry brush use milk to moisten area around each filling spoonful. 
Fold dough lengthwise over filling and press down to remove any air and to seal edges. 
With a fluted pastry cutter or pizza cutter, cut into squares to form individual cookies. 
Repeat procedure with remaining filling and dough. 
Fry the cookies in hot vegetable oil until golden brown. Remove and place on paper towels 
to drain excess oil. Dust with powdered sugar. Serve the same day.  
From: "Claire" 
Subject: Cavazunes
Date: Saturday, April 30, 2016 3:45 AM


Hi again Uncle Phaedrus

I was on your site again today and did a google search and came up with these ones, I do have
friends that are Sicilian so on another hunch as each region has different names and recipes 
but same feast days looking for St. Joseph's Pants made it a bit easier.  I think Easter may 
have been very close to St. Joseph Feast Day  (March 19 )when Ron was there.  As for dash of
cardamom and nutmeg that may be Trentino- Alto - Adige / Bolzano area of Northern Italy region 
own stamp on the recipe. 

Some of these sites links that I have put below, in future may be a good reference point in

As for Lodiodoci (?). this is the wrong spelling so no hope there. 

Claire in OZ 

Here is a good recipe that may be the one that will fit by just adding cardamom and nutmeg which 
is mostly likely is regional variation.


Also Called: St. Joseph's Pants (Filled Cookies); San Guiseppe Pants

Chick peas play a large role in the celebration of St. Joseph's Day in Sicily. The Joseph Altar
is made up of many foods, all of them meatless. This recipe is a sweet version of a calzone.


Cookie Dough:

 2     Eggs
 1/4   teaspoon salt
 1/2   cup sugar
 1/2   cup oil
 1     teaspoon vanilla
 3     1/2 cups flour
 1/4   cup cold water 


 1     pound chick peas
 2     cups of walnuts
 8     ozs. seedless raisins
 1/4   cup honey (or molasses)
 1/2   cup sugar
 2     Tablespoons jelly (grape)
 1     teaspoon cinnamon
 Oil   for Frying
 Confectioner's sugar (optional)


Beat eggs, salt sugar, oil, and vanilla together and work in the flour and water alternately 
keeping the mixture smooth until dough is stiff. Work more flour into the dough on a baking 
board, then wrap in waxed paper and put aside to chill while you make the filling.

Cook chick peas and its liquid 20 minutes. Chop the nuts finely; mix with remaining ingredients. 
Drain peas, work through a grinder (or use a processor or blender) until smooth. Then mix with 

Divide the dough into quarters and roll out one quarter at a time, until very, very thin. 
Cut dough in 3" squares.

Place a teaspoonful of filling on squares, brush edges with beaten egg and water. Fold into 
rectangles, pressing edges with fork to seal.

Heat oil to 350° F, fry cavezunes 2 to 2 1/2 minutes or until golden. Drain. Sprinkle with 
confectioners sugar.

Recipe Source: Non-Stop New York's Italianissimo:La Festa di San Giuseppe NYC-Style by Unknown

Cooking St. Joseph's Day Pants or Cavazunes

Cassatedde are a popular treat served during Carnevale, for St. Joseph's Day, Easter, or any
special occasion.

Claire in OZ

Lobster Pie with Lobster Bisque

From: Anne 
Sent: Monday, March 23, 2015 3:23 PM
Subject: Can't find anywhere -- hope you have better luck!

I’m looking for a recipe – it is lobster wrapped in pastry // kinda like Lobster wellington but 
only lobster and from what I remember lobster bisque 

Can you help???

Warmest Regards,


Hi Anne,

Dishes of this sort, if they aren’t called “Wellington”, are usually called “en croute”, meaning “in crust” or “in pastry”. Look at the recipes on the sites below. If it’s none of these, then I need more helpful information such as: Where did you have this dish? A restaurant? Name and location of the restaurant? If you only saw a recipe, where did you see the recipe? Can you find out exactly what the dish was called? You say only lobster was in it, but all of the recipes that I can find at least have onions. Some have bell pepper, and some have other vegetables. If it’s none of the below dishes, then what’s not right about them?

Lobster Wellington

Lobster Pot Pie

Lobster Bisque en Croute

Creamed Lobster in Puff Pastry Pillows


From: Anne
Sent: Tuesday, March 24, 2015 8:57 AM
To: Phaedrus 
Subject: RE: lobster in pastry


Thank you for responding so quickly.  None of these are correct.  I always had it at a restaurant called 
Captains Galley in West Haven, CT is was called lobster pie.  There was nothing in it but lobster and 
lobster bisque, very rich, a heart attack waiting to happen.  It was served on a plate by itself drizzled 
with lobster bisque – the restaurant went out of business about 5 years ago and I have been searching for 
this recipe ever since, came across your web site yesterday and figured why not give it a try.

Hello Anne,

I’m afraid that the results of my search for this are rather disappointing:

I found a Captain’s Galley menu that mentions the lobster pie.

I found a description of the lobster pie here, in the book "Drive I-95" By Stan Posner, Sandra Phillips-Posner: Drive I-95

I found a WTSH video featuring Chef Rich Lambert from Captain’s Galley making a lobster pasta dish here: YouTube

However, I had no success at all in finding a recipe for the lobster pie from Captain’s Galley in West Haven CT.

I also looked for any lobster pie or lobster pot pie that involved pouring lobster bisque or lobster bisque sauce over the pie after cooking. I had no success with this.

I tried to locate Chef Rich Lambert from Captain’s Galley, but I had no success.

You might be able to make something similar by using separate lobster pie and lobster bisque recipes, then pouring the bisque over the pie.

All I can do is post this request on my site in the hopes that a reader can assist.


From: Arnold 
Sent: Monday, January 08, 2018 2:33 PM
Subject: Lobster Pie

My name is Arnold. Trying to find the recipe for a popular dish from the now closed restaurant Captains Galley. 
The chef was Rich Lambert. I found a Rich Lambert on Facebook. It looks like the chef. I would really love the 
recipe so I can make this amazing dish. 

Hello Arnold,

I think you mean the West Haven, CT restaurant. There is, or was, also a restaurant by that name in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, and they also served a lobster pie.

I searched for this a couple of years ago with no success. See: 4-17-2015

I had no success with a second search today.

If you feel sure that the Rich Lambert that you found on Facebook is the correct one, then you should send him a message via Facebook, asking for the recipe.


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