Recipes from Renaissance Italy

These would make excellent additions to any meal, especially at a living history event.

Cabbage Salad From The Fruit (Herbs and Vegetables of Italy, Giacomo Castelvertro, translator Gillian Riley. Redaction by Gretchen Beck) “I once happened to be in France in the company of a group of ladies and gentlemen, and we came one afternoon to a large village with a good inn, where we proposed to dine. One of the ladies, sitting in the window-seat of the dining room, which overlooked an orchard, said to me ‘Let’s go into the garden and pick a salad!’ to which I replied, ‘Yes, indeed!’ When we got there we found nothing but cabbages, so the young lady picked one of these saying, ‘Well, if there’s nothing else, I’ll make you all a nice salad out of tis.’ — Having never seen or eaten anything like this before, I kept silent and waited for the outcome. First she removed the green outer leaves until she came to the white part, which she proceeded to slice very finely with a razor-sharp knife. She then salted and dressed it in the usual way, and brought it to the table, where it was pronounced excellent, and her ingenuity was much admired by the entire company.” Makes 6 cups.

1 small head cabbage, grated
3/4 cup cider or wine vinegar
1.5 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
2 Tbsp olive oil

(Note “the usual way” in almost all period salad recipes is ‘with oil and vinegar’, and sometimes with oil, vinegar, and sugar). Remove the green outer leaves of the cabbage and grate. Oil and salt the cabbage, mix well. Mix the vinegar and sugar, and stir into salad. Serve.

April2011 Coronation

Golden Morsels (15th Century – Italian, Platina book 8) Toast white bread crumbs, soak them in rosewater with beaten eggs and ground sugar. Take them out, fry them in a pan with butter or liquamen (chicken or pork fat), spread out so they do not touch each other. When fried, put in dishes and sprinkle with sugar, rosewater, and saffron.

3 slices white bread
1/4 t rosewater
2 eggs
1 T sugar
about 4 T butter or lard
1/8 t more rosewater
4 threads saffron
2 T more sugar

Beat eggs. Beat in sugar and rosewater. Tear bread into bite-sized pieces, mix into egg mixture and let soak. Mix remaining sugar, rosewater, and saffron in small container and set aside. Melt lard in frying pan; when hot enough (test with small piece of bread stuff) put chunks of bread stuff into lard and fry until just browned on both sides. Drain briefly on paper towels, put into dish and sprinkle with sugar mixture.

Frictella from Apples (15th Century – Italian, Platina book 9) Take morsels of apple that have been cleaned and cored, you fry in liquamen or a little oil, and spread them on a board so that they dry. Then roll them in a preparation such as we described earlier and fry again. Preparation described earlier: to grated cheese, aged as well as fresh, add a little meal, some egg whites, some milk, a bit more sugar, and grind all this together in the same mortar.

3 green cooking apples
1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese,
1 cup flour
1 T sugar,
2 egg whites,
5 T milk

Saffron Broth (15th C – Italian, Platina book 6) Put thirty egg yolks, verjuice, the juice of veal or capon, saffron, a little cinnamon together into a bowl and blend. Pass them through a strainer into a pot. Cook it down slowly and stir it continuously with a spoon until it begins to thicken. For then it is taken from the hearth and served to ten guests. While in the dishes, sprinkle with spices.

7 egg yolks
2 T verjuice (or 1 T vinegar+1 T water)
21 ounces (2 cans) chicken broth
1/8 t loose saffron
1/2 t cinnamon
“spices”: 1/4 t black pepper, 1/8 t nutmeg

Zanzarella (15th C – Italian, Platina book 6) Take seven eggs, half a pound of grated cheese, and ground bread all blended together. Put this into the pot where the saffron broth is made, when it begins to boil. When you have stirred it two or three times with a spoon, compose your dishes, for it is quickly done.

Ingredients: Saffron broth, 4 eggs, 3 cups ground mozzarella cheese, 3 slices ground bread.

Torta of Herbs in the Month of May (15th C – Italian, Platina book 8) Cut up and grind the same amount of cheese as I said in the first and second tortae [“a pound and a half of best fresh cheese”]. When you have ground this up, add juice from bleta, a little marjoram, a little more sage, a bit of mint, and a good bit of parsley; when all this has been ground in a mortar, add the beaten whites of 15 or 16 eggs and half a pound of liquamen or fresh butter, and mix. There are those who put in some leaves of parsley and marjoram that have been cut up but not ground, and half a pound [surely a typo for half an ounce, as in the previous recipes] of white ginger and eight ounces of sugar. When all of these have been mixed together, put this in a pot or deep dish that has been well greased on the coals at a distance from the flame so that it does not absorb the smoke; and stir it continually and let it boil until it thickens. When it is nearly done transfer it into another pot with the crust and cover it with your lid until it is all cooked with a gentle flame. When it is done and put on a plate, sprinkle it with best sugar and rose water.

3/4 lb Monterey Jack cheese

herbs ground in mortar:
1/4 t marjoram (dry or fresh)
1/2 t sage (dry or fresh)
1 t fresh mint
1/2 c fresh parsley, stems off

3/8 c spinach + 1 T water
5 egg whites
1 stick melted butter (1/4 lb)
(1/4 c chopped parsley)
(2 t fresh marjoram)
(1/4 oz finely chopped ginger)
(1/2 c sugar)
double 9″ pie crust

sprinkled on crust after baking: about 1/4 t rosewater, about 1 T sugar

Spinach is measured unchopped, then chopped and ground in a mortar with the water to provide spinach juice in place of bleta juice. Mix this with other herbs and grind in mortar or food processor; mix with grated cheese. Beat egg whites lightly, melt butter and add; put in pie crust and cover with top crust. Unground herbs are an option; sugar and ginger, for a dessert pie, are another option (ginger seems to mean fresh ginger root). Bake at 400deg. for 10 minutes, then at 350deg. for about another 40 minutes, then sprinkle with mixed sugar and rosewater.

Torta from Red Chickpeas (15th C – Italian, Platina book 8) Grind up red chickpeas that have been well cooked with their own juice and with a little rosewater. When they have been ground, pass them through a strainer into a bowl. Add a pound of almonds so ground up that it is not a chore to pass them through the strainer, two ounces of raisins, three or four figs ground up at the same time. And besides this, add an ounce of pine kernels coarsely ground, and as much sugar and rosewater as you need, and just so much cinnamon and ginger; and blend. Put the mixture into a well-greased pan with the pastry crust on the bottom. There are those who add starch or pike eggs, so that this torta is more firm; when it is cooked, put it almost above the fire to make it more colored. It should be thin and sprinkled with sugar and rosewater.

1 15 oz can chickpeas, w/ liquid
3/8 c water
1 lb almonds
2 oz raisins
4 figs
1 oz pine nuts
1/2 c sugar
1/8 c rosewater
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ginger
(starch or pike eggs)
2 t more sugar
a few drops more rosewater
pastry for 2 9″ pie crusts

Grind almonds finely, but not to dust. Chop pine nuts coarsely. Grind chickpeas in a food processor with the liquid from the can, then grind raisins and figs. Stir these and the sugar, rosewater, extra water, cinnamon, and ginger together. The pie crust can be rolled out and put on a 10″x15″ cookie sheet or it can be made into two 9″ pie shells. The filling is spread on top; it will be thicker if made as two pies. Mix extra sugar and rosewater together and sprinkle on top. Bake 30 to 40 minutes for the cookie-sheet version, or 50-60 minutes for the pie version, in a 375deg. oven until golden brown.

Roast Chicken (15th C – Italian, Platina book 6) You will roast a chicken after it has been well plucked, cleaned and washed; and after roasting it, put it into a dish before it cools off and pour over it either orange juice or verjuice with rosewater, sugar and well-ground cinnamon, and serve it to your guests.

large chicken
1/3 c orange juice
1 T rosewater
2 T sugar plus 1 t cinnamon

Cariadoc’s Miscellany. (c) by David Friedman and Elizabeth Cook, 1988, 1990, 1992.


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