This section is from the book "Simple Italian Cookery", by Antonia Isola. Also available from Amazon: Simple Italian Cookery.
Golden Bread, Brains, Sweetbreads, Croquettes of Chicken and Veal and Eggs, Calf's Liver and Pumpkin— all these different ingredients should be fried each in its own manner as follows, a small quantity of each, and served all together on one platter with slices of lemon.
Choose bread which is elastic, but has no holes in it. Remove the crust and cut it in slices about one inch thick, and from these slices cut little pieces about three inches long and about one inch wide. Trim them off well, so they will not be ragged or uneven. Put these pieces into a bowl and throw on them some boiling water, then remove them immediately and throw them into a big bowl of cold water. This operation should be done quickly, so as to make the bread feel the impression of heat and cold, one directly after the other. Then take the bread between the hands and gently squeeze out the water without breaking the pieces or deforming them. Place them on a napkin to dry. Then dip them in egg which has been beaten up and seasoned with salt and pepper. Allow the egg to soak well into the bread. Fifteen minutes before serving put a frying-pan on with a quantity of lard, and as soon as the lard is lukewarm put in the pieces of bread, turn them as soon as they harden a little on one side. The bread must fry very slowly, and should remain on the fire at least ten minutes, so that the heat can penetrate gradually into the middle and make it light. This bread to be successful should be hollow inside like a fritter when finished. When the bread has taken a good golden color, remove from the lard, drain it on a napkin, add a little salt, and serve very hot.
Parboil the sweetbreads, then cook them with one tablespoon of butter and one tablespoon of stock. When cooked cut them into smallish pieces, season with pepper, chopped-up parsley, and one tablespoon of lemon, then roll them in flour; dip into egg and fry.
Take one lamb's brain, or one-half of a calf's brain, put it in a saucepan with cold water, change the water from time to time for a couple of hours, until the brains are thoroughly cleansed. Then put them in another saucepan with fresh water, and with several pieces of onion, a little salt, a little vinegar (one tablespoon to each brain), and some parsley stems. As soon as the water boils, take the saucepan off, remove the brains, and put them onto a napkin. Cut them into four pieces, put these pieces onto a plate, and season with a little olive-oil, some lemon juice, and chopped parsley. When you are ready to fry, roll in flour, dip in egg, and fry the brain over a moderate fire for seven or eight minutes in olive-oil, lard, or butter.
Remove the skin, and cut into slices large but thin, roll in flour, dip in egg, and fry in boiling lard, allowing them to remain in the frying-pan only a couple of minutes; then drain on a napkin, sprinkle on a little salt, and serve.
Butter well a frying-pan, and sprinkle over the bottom a piece of lean ham (raw if possible) chopped up fine. Then a layer of mushrooms chopped fine, then a layer of minced parsley. The bottom of the pan should be entirely covered with these three ingredients. Then from a filet of beef cut some little slices, about one-half an inch thick and round in shape. Put these in the frying-pan, one piece near the other, so the bottom shall be covered. Sprinkle on salt and pepper, and put it on the fire. When the filets are cooked, on one side, turn them over on the other, but with care, so the ingredients at the bottom of the pan will stick to the meat. When the filets are cooked on both sides, squeeze on the juice of half a lemon, and add a little meat stock. Put the filets on a platter, and pour over them their sauce, and serve with croutons (fried bread).
Take three-quarters of a pound of beef, two ounces of ham, one tablespoon of butter (or one-half table spoon of lard), some bread, some parsley, and a piece of onion. Chop up the onion fine and put it in a saucepan with the butter (or lard). When it is colored, put in the parsley and the ham cut up into little pieces, at the same time add the bread cut up into three or four small dice, salt, pepper, and a dash of nutmeg. Mix all together well. Cut the meat into six slices, pound them to flatten out; salt slightly, and when the other ingredients are cooked, put a portion on each slice of meat. Then roll up the meat like sausages, put them on skewers, alternating with a piece of fried bread of the same size. Butter well, roll in fresh bread crumbs, and broil on the gridiron over a slow fire. These are nice served with salad.