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An Italian Renaissance Feast


1.) Fried Cheese (Cascius Fritus)

“Fry pieces of rich cheese, neither obviously aged nor obviously fresh, in a pan suited to it, with either butter or fat. When they are becoming tender, turn them, and take them out immediately.”4 

4 Platina, Book VIII, Chapter 60, p. 385 

The original recipe in Platina describes a dish that is more than likely deep-fried; at least we needed that much oil in the pan to keep it from turning into a gooey mess.  (See, it’s not just for the Minnesota State Fair anymore, although I don’t have any evidence to suggest that they used cheese curds.) Because we really didn’t feel like doing deep fried cheese the day of the feast, we opted to change the recipe to a baked



8 oz Feta, sliced ¼ inch thick

Milk (use 1 % or higher)

Italian seasoned breadcrumbs


Combine the flour and the bread crumbs together. Take the Feta and roll it in the milk and roll it in the flour and breadcrumb mixture and place it on a greased pan. Turn your oven to 325º and place the pan in for 5 minutes. Turn once and continue baking for another 5 minutes. Serve immediately, it’s best hot, but it isn’t too bad cold. We served it with slices of fresh apples; firm nectarines (although out of period) are fabulous and I would recommend grapes too. 


1.) Almond Blancmange

The following recipe is unusual in that it contains no chicken or fish, but only almonds and rice. This recipe is a simplified (read modern) rendition of Tallevent’s Striped Blancmange found in Anne Willan’s “Great Cooks and Their Recipes” p. 20. 

Platina also talks about coloring blancmange with saffron, to make it appeared striped. For ease and convenience I chose to eliminate coloring the layers of the blancmange. Traditionally the blancmange (white food) uses rice starch or gelatin to stiffen the mixture. Platina suggests using the shavings of a breastbone from a capon to gel the mixture. A modern approach is to use cornstarch, which works wonderfully; and a good recipe can be found in Betty Crocker. 

An alternative to blanching the almonds, chopping them up and straining them to make almond milk is to use a small amount of almond extract (which can be documented) added to your liquid. For the rice starch we used Cream of Rice cereal. A wonderful solution! 


1 cup of Cream of Rice® cereal

4 cups of water

¾ t salt 

Mix together according to the directions on the package. Cook until the mixture is stiff.  

Add 1 t almond extract and ¾ cup sugar to the hot mixture. If the mixture is too fluid keep it on the heat until it firms up (you really can’t over cook this).  Take a mold and coat it with butter and spoon the rice mixture into it. (Pam and other sprays leave a funny taste, don’t use them!) Let it set up in the fridge for a few hours. When ready to un-mold, run a knife around the edge and gently turn onto a plate. 

2.) Cemolella Ciciliana   (1465 Naples) ( Polenta (Sicilian semolina w/ grana cheese))  
#28 Falla cocere in brodo grasso, ponendola a pocho nela pignata, menando continuamente cum lo cughiaro; he falla bulliere per spacio de meza hora supre la braxe longe dal focho; poi fa le menestre he meteli sopra caso he specie.  Alla Quaresima la po fare cum latte de amandole he zucaro he aqua rosata.

Sicilian Semolina Dish (#28)  
 Cook the semolina in fat a broth adding it little by little to the pot, stirring constantly with a spoon.  Boil it for half an hour on the coals away from the fire; then dish it up and put cheese and spices on top.   During Lent you can make this with almond milk, sugar and rosewater.

Serves 8-10   preheat stockpot to hold broth

1 c. Semolina  ¼ c. grated parmesan or other hard grating cheese  
3 c. Chicken broth pinch Menagier Fine Spice for garnish  
salt to taste

Bring broth or water to boil with a pinch of salt.  Add semolina gradually, stirring constantly.  Bring back to simmer and reduce heat to simmer until done, stirring regularly, and all liquid is absorbed.  Stir in grated cheese.  Place on serving dish and sprinkle lightly with spice powder and more cheese. Serve warm.  

NOTES:  Make a little more than you expect to need. It is a hit.  You can use water or vegetable stock, but the recipe will suffer. Be sure to season adequately water or vegetable stock.  Other animal stock will work as well, but chicken offers lightness.  This will thicken as it cooks. Stop short of the doneness/consistency you desire.  The cheese will bind it more.  Too much cheese will overwhelm this dish.

Scully, T. (2000).  Cuoco Napoletano - The Neapolitan Recipe  
Collection: a critical edition and English translation.  
Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.)

3.) Gnocchi  (14th Italian) (dumpling of cream cheese and flour)  
Se vuoi I gnocchi: Togli lo cascio fresco e pestalo: poscia togli la farina et intridi con tuorla d’uova a modo di magliacci. Poni il paiuolo al fuoco con acqua e quando bolle, poni lo triso in su in uno taglieri, fallo andare colla cazza nel paiuolo, e quando, sono, cotti, poni sopra li taglieri e getta su assai cacio grattugiato. 
If you want some Gnocchi, take some fresh cheese and mash it, then take some flour and mix it with egg yolks as in making magliacci. Put a pot full of water on the fire and, when it begins to boil, put the mixture in a dish and drop into the pot with a ladle. And when they are cooked, place them on dishes and sprinkle with plenty of grated cheese. 

Niccolo's Recipe  
serves 6 to 8

1 pound cream cheese 
2 cups flour as needed 
salt to taste 
6 egg yolks 
6 to 8 tablespoons grated cheese 
pepper to taste 

Beat cream cheese into a creamy paste (a stand mixer does this very well). If it is too stiff, then push it through a ricer, food mill or sieve. Completely mix in the flour using your hands or paddle on your mixer. Salt and pepper to taste and add in the egg yolks one by one. Mix well before adding next yolk. 
For accurate portion control: Gently but firmly knead the dough until it is supple and smooth and no longer overly soft. Chill for at least 2 hours in refrigerator to let rest and hydrate.  Cut into 4 equal pieces and roll with your hands into a “rope” about the diameter of your index thumb. Cut off dumplings every half inch and set aside in a single layer.  
* * * For a more accurate preparation, place the whole glob of dough on a plate and use a teaspoon to drop small dumplings directly into the water * * *  
Bring large pot of water to boil. Salt so that it is almost the taste of sea water. Drop a bunch of the dumplings (do not crowd the pan) into the water and allow the dumplings to simmer until they rise to the surface. Cook for 45 to 60 seconds more.  Remove with a skimmer and drain well.  
Sprinkle liberally with grated cheese and serve immediately. These can hold for 30 to 45 minutes in a warm pan in a single layer, but will decline in quality and get gummy as they sit longer. 
Frammento du un libro di cucina del sec. XIV by Olindo Guerrini as  
found in The Medieval Kitchen: Recipes from France and Italy, by Odile Redon et al.


1.) Armored Turnips (Rape Armate)

“Martino’s custom of making a special dish of an ordinary vegetable like turnips was typically Italian; elsewhere in Europe cooks regarded most root vegetables as food for the poor.”7 

7 Anne Willan’s “Great Cooks and Their Recipes”, p. 32. 

We used Martino’s recipe for Turnip Cakes taken directly out of Anne Willan’s “Great Cooks and Their Recipes”, p. 32. This dish works well with fairly inexpensive cheese and it freezes beautifully! We served the turnips as a side dish to accompany the pork instead of a dessert, which is what Ms. Willan suggests it was originally served as. 

Ingredients: serves 8

2 lbs. large white turnips

½ cup sugar 

2 t ground cinnamon

1 t pepper

½ t ground mace

½ t ground cloves

1 ¼ lb. Soft cheese 

Mix the sugar with the spices and set aside. Peel the turnips and cut them into slices and place in a pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Boil for 15-30 minutes or until tender (cook like you would potatoes). 

Drain the turnips and place a layer on the bottom of a greased 8-inch pan. Place slices of the cheese over the turnips and sprinkle the sugar mixture over that. Continue to layer in this manner until you run out of stuff, ending with a layer of cheese. Place the pan in a 375° F oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, until top is browned. You can un-mold this dish, like a cake, and cut it into wedges when it is chilled. If you are serving it with meats it is best to serve it warm. 

2.) De li Sparaci   (15th c. Italian) (asparagus braised and fried with saffron and leek)

#20  De li sparaci: Togli li sparaci, e fálli bollire; quando sieno bolliti, ponili a cocere con oglio, cipolle, sale e zaffarano, e spezie trite, o senza.

Asparagus with Saffron  Of Asparagus.  Take the asparagus and boil it; when it is cooked, put it to cook with oil, onions, salt, and saffron, and with ground spices, or without.  (Za 8)

Niccolo's Recipe  
Serves 6 to 8

2 1/2 pounds asparagus  
2 TBL olive oil  
2 green onions or 1 small leek  
8 to 10 strands saffron steeped 2 TBL in warm water  
1/4 tsp ground black pepper or long pepper  
1 pinch ground mace  
1 pinch ground fennel seed  
salt to taste

Clean and trim the asparagus of woody ends.  Peel stalks.  Bring several quarts salted water to boil.  Blanch asparagus until cooked but still slightly crisp.  While asparagus is cooking, heat olive oil in large pan and gently cook onion/leek so that it doesn' t brown.  Add blanched asparagus and saffron amd cook over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes.  Add spices and toss to mix and coat, then cook another 5 minutes covered, or until just done.

Zambrini, Francesco, ed. (1968).  Libro della cucina del secolo XIV. Bologna: Forni (originally printed  
    Bologna: Gaetano Romagnoli, 1863).  as found in . . .  Redon, O, et al. (1998) The Medieval Kitchen: Recipes from France and Italy.  Chicago: University of    Chicago Press.

3.) Fungi di Monte   (15th c. Italian) (mushrooms blanched and fried with onion and spices)  
#21 Fingi di monte: Toglie fungi di monte, e lassali: e gittatene via l’acqua, mettili poi a friggere con cipolla tritata minuto, o con bianco di porro, spezie e sale e dà a mangiare

Sauteed Mushrooms with Spices (#21) Mountain Mushrooms.  Take mountain mushroom and boil them; and discard the water; the fry them with finely sliced onion, or with white of leek, spices, and salt, and serve.  (ZA 24)

Niccolo's Recipe  
Serves 6 to 8

2 pounds mushrooms  
olive oil  
1 small onion or leek (white only)  
1/8 tsp coarse ground black pepper  
1/8 tsp freshly grated ginger  
1/8 tsp nutmeg  
1/4 tsp ground coriander seed  
4 to 6 strands saffron steeped 1 TBL in warm water.  
salt to taste

Clean and trim mushrooms then cut larger mushroom into half or quarter, depending on size.  Blanch mushrooms briefly in rapidly boiling salted water.  Chop finely and soften in oil over medium heat the onion or leek whites.  Raise heat to high, and add dry spices to toast briefly, then saffron water and mushrooms.  Fry on high heat until cooked and browned, about 15 minutes, stirring/tossing occasionally..  
Zambrini, Francesco, ed. (1968).  Libro della cucina del secolo XIV.  
            Bologna: Forni.  (originally printed Bologna: Gaetano Romagnoli, 1863)  as found in

Redon, F., Sabban, F. and Serventi, S. (1998) (translated by Schneider, Edward).  
            The Medieval Kitchen: Recipes from France and Italy.  Chicago & London:  
            The University of Chicago Press.

4.) Fasoli  (1465 Naples) (Kidney beans baked with onions and spices)

#41 Fasoli  
Coce li fasoli in aqua pura ho in bono brood; he quando serano cotti, tole cipolle tagliate suttile he frigele in patella [f° 15r} cum bono olio he mette de sopra queste cipolle fritte cum pipero he canella he zaffrano; poi lassali reposare sopra las cinere calda uno peza; et poi fa le menestre cum specie bone de sopra.

Kidney Beans (#41) 
Cook the kidney beans in pure water or good broth; when they are cooked, get finely sliced onions and fry them in a pan with good oil and put these fried onions on top [of the beans] along with pepper, cinnamon and saffron; then let this sit a while on the hot coals; dish it up with good spices on top.  

Niccolo's Recipe  
Serves 6 to 8

1 pound fields peas, crowder peas, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, or similar 
1 medium onion, sliced thin 
1 tsp black pepper  
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon  
10 strands saffron crushed steeped in 1/4 cup very warm broth

Cook Kidney beans in water or broth until just tender (or use high quality canned).  Fry sliced onions in a pan with oil; add saffron and remove from heat immediately. Put the beans in single layer in a shallow casserole; on top of the beans sprinkle with black pepper, cinnamon and then onions/saffron spread evenly on top.  For larger quantities, layer beans and onions alternately.   Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes.

Scully, T. (2000).  Cuoco Napoletano - The Neapolitan Recipe  
Collection: a critical edition and English translation.  
Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.)  


1.) Pork in Wine Sauce

Original recipe:

Cormary: Roast Loin of Pork with Red Wine

Take finely ground coriander and caraway, pepper powder, and ground garlic, in red wine; mix all this together and salt it. Take raw pork loins, skin them, and prick it well with a knife, and lay it in the sauce. Roast it when you wish, and save what falls from the meat as it roasts, and boil it in a pot with good broth, and then serve it with the roast. 

My Redaction:

Take a 5 pound roast and make slits in the skin and insert 10 cloves of garlic.


2 t ground coriander

½ t caraway seeds (be careful with the caraway as it tends to overpower easily)

½ t celery seed

½ t ground pepper

2 t salt 

Rub this mixture on the surface of the roast. Place the roast in a Reynolds™ Roasting bag with 1 cup of red wine. Cook in 350º oven for 2-3 hours, or until roast reaches 185º. Remove roast from bag and dump juices into a saucepot. Slice up the roast and put back in the bag and keep it warm. Add enough stock to the wine and juices to make 2 cups and enough breadcrumbs to make the sauce thick (2 T). (You could also use cornstarch dissolved in some water to thicken the sauce, if you are not concerned about using modern ingredients.) Check the sauce and season to taste. Place the slices of pork on top of cooked grains (a pottage, rice, barley, risotto) and serve with the sauce on the side. In period the roast would have been presented to the table whole and then spirited to a side table where a carver would be waiting to slice the meat. Italians are very fond of sauces accompanying their courses, and frequently serve several with one dish. Pasta connoisseurs know that the noodle is only a vehicle for the sauce that accompanies it and not the other way around. Although I would prefer to serve the meat with the sauce already on top, it’s always a good idea to serve it on the side so people can help themselves to as much, or as little as they want; and

besides it was done this way in period.

2.) Galine ho Caponi    (1465 Naples)  Roast chicken with honey/lemon glaze

#55  In spito cum suo sapore Piglia, quando le harai cotte bene arosto, cinque amandole mondate he pistale bene cum zucaro fino—ho non havendo zucaro, pone mel—he stempera cum sugo de limoni che sia un pocho spisso; he ponerai sopra le galine, ho vero fa in scutellino el sapore et le galine in piatelli; he manda caldi a tavola.

Roast Chickens in their Sauce (#55)  
 When you have roasted them well, take five peeled almonds and grind them up with fine sugar—if you do not have sugar, use honey—and temper with lemon juice to make it slightly thick; put this over the chickens, or else put the sauce in small bowls and the chicken on plates; serve warm.

Serves 5-6    preheat oven: 375F

Whole chicken, cleaned 

For each chicken:  5 peeled almonds, finely ground  
                               3 Tbl honey  
                               lemon juice to desired consistency

Roast chickens, whole with skins on, at 375F until done and juices run clear, about 45 to 50 minutes.  Combine the sauce ingredients and either pour over the bird (remove skin first, or carve first then glaze the meat) or serve on the side in bowls as a dipping/glazing sauce.  

NOTES:  The skin will be crisp if roasted well, and will shield sauce off chicken.  Carve the bird and serve sauce on sliced/carved chicken.  I would have brined the chickens given time, and maybe stuffed with sliced lemons and almonds during roasting.

Scully, T. (2000).  Cuoco Napoletano - The Neapolitan Recipe Collection: a critical edition and English translation. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.)

3a.) Porco e sapore bono di granate dolce  (1465 Naples) (Roasted pork with Pomegranate sauce)  
Niccolo's Recipe  
Makes 1 quart (about 16 to 20 servings)

3 cups Pomegranate syrup/molasses  (found at middle Eastern Stores)  
1 to 2 cups water  
1/2 cup wine  
1/2 pound sugar  
1/2 ounce Cinnamon, ground  

Combine Pomegranate syrup, water and wine in large saucepan.  Dissolve sugar and cinnamon over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Let simmer over medium heat for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid scorching.

Serve with roasted meats.

NOTE:  If you can find pomegranate juice, you may substitute this for the pomegranate syrup and water.  You will need to boil longer to reduce and bring to serving consistency.

Scully, T. (2000).  Cuoco Napoletano - The Neapolitan Recipe  
Collection: a critical edition and English translation.  
Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.)

Or this variation of Pomegranate Sauce with out the Wine

3b.) Starne al mod Cathalano  (1465 Naples) (Roasted partridge or fowl with pomegranate glaze) 
#61 Starne al mod Cathalano 
Piglia la sterna he cocela arosto; he quando he cotta, cazala dal spito he parte le ale dal petto,he pone in quelle fixure questo sapore: piglia sugo de [f° 22r] granate ho agresyo, sale he garofoli pisti he specie dolce, he ponelo dentro de le dite fixure quandro•l’e bene calda; he not ache la sterna non vole esser troppo cotta.
Catalan-Style Partridge 
Get the partridge and roast it; when it is cooked, take it down from the spit and slice the wings off at the breast, and into the cuts put the following sauce: get pomegranate juice or verjuice, salt, ground cloves and mild spices, and put this into the cuts while the partridge is hot; and note that the partridge should not be overcooked.  

Makes about 1 quart (16 to 24 servings)

2 cups Pomegranate syrup/molasses (found at middle Eastern Stores)  
4 cups water (I used apple juice to tone down pomegranate bitter)) 
1 TBL ground ginger 
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 
1/4 tsp ground mace 
2 tsp ground cloves  
Combine Pomegranate syrup, water and wine (or pomegranate juice, if available) in large saucepan. Dissolve sugar and cinnamon over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Let simmer over medium heat for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid scorching.  
Roast or grill squabs, whole game hens or chicken pieces until just done. Score through the skin and flesh and place in one layer in deep pan. Pour sauce over all. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes and serve hot.

NOTE: If you can find pomegranate juice, you may substitute this for the pomegranate syrup and water. You will need to boil longer to reduce and bring to serving consistency.  

Scully, T. (2000).  Cuoco Napoletano - The Neapolitan Recipe Collection: a critical edition and English translation.         Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.)

4.) Torta manfredo bona e vantagiata  (14th c. Italian) (torta of phyllo, chicken, pork & onions w/ saffron)

#88 Torta manfredo bona e vantagiata 
Toy ventre e figatelii de polli e toy panza de porcho e pesta insiema con coltello, poy mitige pever; habii uno lavezo e fail frizer, poy tray fuora, faili arefredare, poy mitige ova e fay la crosta, poy mitila in las padella e faila coxere adassio. (Fr 57)
Hungarian Torta for twelve persons. Take a nice, fat capon and take a large loin of pork, and two big onions, and a half a libra of sweet fine spices, and take three libre of fresh fat that has not been salted, and take some flour, enough to make three loaves of bread, the best you can get; and take the capons and the pork loin, and cut them into small pieces; and fry these things in plenty of fresh lard, and those sweet spices and plenty of saffron and a little salt; and when it is well fried, add a glass of water so that it will cook gently. Take flour and mix it with fresh water, salted with a little salt, and knead it vigorously; when it is well kneaded, take a well-tinned copper testo and grease it with the fat. Take the dough, knead it, and flatton it with a large spoon and make it thin; two of you should stretch it thin, by the sheet, with the fat, and make as many as eighteen sheets; and then take the stuffing of capon and other ingredients and make a layer of it on half [of the sheets], then put the other sheets atop this layer, each one well greased with the fat; and make a top crust for protection. This torta requires a small fire below and a strong fire above, and you can make it for many or for few by using ingredients in these proportions. (Fr 59)

Serves 8-10      preheat oven: 375F

18 Sheets (1 box) ready-made strudel or phyllo-dough 
1 small capon or a free-range chicken, about 4 pounds 
1 pound boneless loin of pork  
1 generous pound good lard, home- or butcher-rendered 
2 medium onions 
sweet spice mixture 
12 threads saffron 
(use veal and olive oil if pork not acceptable) 
 Cut meats and onions into medium dice.  Heat lard (or olive oil) in large skillet and brown meat until just done. Sautee onions next, and add saffron when just done; remove from heat and combine meats with onion mixture.  Allow to cool a little. 

In 8” round pan, lay in one piece of phyllo to cover bottom, with excess hanging over sides, and brush with lard, butter or oil.  Repeat until you have 8 or 9 layers.  Add meat mixture in even layer.  Repeat the phyllo/fat process for the remaining 8 or 9 layers atop the torta. 

Fold together the overlapping edges to make decorative edging around the torta.

Frammento du un libro di cucina del sec. XIV by Olindo Guerrini  
as found in The Medieval Kitchen:  Recipes from   France and Italy,  by Odile Redon et al.

5.) A Spelt Tort   (1465 Naples)  (a spelt and custard torte in crust)  
Redaction by: Caitlin of Enniskillen (Catherine Hartley)  
Serving Size: 10

  3 ounces spelt                          2 fluid ounces pork fat  
  10 eggs                                   2 tablespoons powder douce  
  1 pound Farmer’s cheese          2 teaspoons sugar  
  1/2 pound Parmesan cheese      5 saffron threads  
  1 cup chicken stock  

~~ Garnish  
  1 teaspoon sugar                    1 pie crust  
  1 teaspoon rosewater              2 lasagna noodles  
  1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon (grnd)

Clean the spelt and cook in broth with pork fat. Drain broth. Mix spices, cheese, sugar, saffron and eggs and add to spelt.

Place in pastry crust.  Cover with cooked lasagna noodles. Garnish. Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes to 45 minutes until set.

Yield: 1 pie

  The Neapolitan Recipe Collection, by Terence Scully

Primary Source:  
Spelt Torte (#130): Clean the spelt very well and cook it in fat broth, then drain it; get a pound of new cheese and half a pound of old, grinding or grating both; get a veal belly that is well cooked by boiling and almost disintegrating, beat it with a knife, add fine spices, sugar, and saffron with fifteen eggs, and mix everything together; make a pastry crust on the bottom of a pan, put the mixture in it with enough butter; when half cooked, put lasagna closely together on top, then let it cook a little more; take it out and garnish it with sugar, cinnamon and rosewater.

Notes: Used a recipe from a book called "The Splendid Table" by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as a reference.  


1.) Zabaglone   (1465 Naples) (Zabaglione - warm, sweet, soft custard)

#220 Per fare quatro taze de Zabaglone, piglia .xii. rossi de ova fresca, tre onze de zucaro he meza onza de canella bona he uno bucale de vino bono dolce, he fallo cocere tanto cha sia preso como uno brodeto.  Et poi levalo for a he ponello in uno grando piatello davante alli Compagnone.

Zabaglaone (#220)  
 For four cups of Zabaglone get twelve fresh egg yolks, three ounces of sugar, half an ounce of good cinnamon and a beaker of good sweet wine; cook this until it is as thick as a broth; then take it out and set it on a plate in front of the boys.  And if you like you can add a bit of fresh butter,  

Serves 10-12    

1 cup water to boil in double boiler

12 large egg yolks              1½ cups Madeira wine             2 Tbl cold butter  
3 ounces sugar, to taste      1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon

In metal or glass mixing bowl (suitable for double boiler), whisk yolks and half of sugar together until pale and completely combined.  Place over hot water (double boiler) and heat, stirring or whisking constantly.  Add the wine all at once and heat until thickened and will hold ribbons on its surface for a short time.  Add cinnamon and stir in butter quickly so that it incorporates before it melts.  If too strong, add a little water or grape juice Serve warm with fruit or candied peel.  

Scully, T. (2000).  Cuoco Napoletano - The Neapolitan Recipe  
        Collection: a critical edition and English translation.  
        Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.)

2.) Torta de Cerase   (1465 Naples) (Cherry torte (cherries and sweet cheese torte))

#137 Tolle cesrase rosse ho piu negre che si possa trovare, he poi cavarai for a quello suo osso he pista e cerase in uno mortaro; poi piglia rose rrosse he batile – dico, solo le foglie – cum uno cultello molto bene tute; poi habi uno poco de caso fresco he veghio cum specie a discretione, he canella he bono zenzaro cum poco pipero he zucaro, he miscolari tute queste cose insieme, agiongendoli .vi. ova; et farai una crosta de pasta sopre la padella he cum meza libre de butiro, he ponella ha a cocere, dandoli el foco temperato; he quando he cotta, pone del zucaro he aqua rosata.

Cherry Torte (#137)  
 Get red cherries or the darkest available, remove the pit and grin in a mortar; then get red roses and crush them well --  I mean the petals alone – with a knife get a little new and old cheese with a reasonable amount of spices, cinnamon and good ginger with a little pepper and sugar, and mix everything together, adding in six eggs; make a pastry crust for the pan with half a pound of butter and set it to cook giving it moderate fire; when it is cooked, put on sugar and rosewater.  

Serves 8-12   pre-bake pastry crust preheat oven to 350F

1 lb. Sour cherries                    6 eggs                                        Pastry crust (made with ½ # butter)  
8 ounces fresh/soft cheese        dash of rose water (to taste)         2 Tbl sugar  
¼ c. grated semi soft cheese     ¼ tsp cinnamon                           ¼ tsp. Powdered ginger  
pinch black pepper

Coarsely grind cherries in mortar or food processor, or chop coarsely with knife.  Mix together cheeses, sugar, spices and eggs.  Add cherries and rosewater.  Pour into prepared, pre-baked pastry shell as one pie or as several tarts.  Bake at 350F until just set and it moves as one mass when jiggled, about 40 minutes; do not overcook!  Remove from over and sprinkle immediately with sugar and a dash of rosewater.  

Scully, T. (2000).  Cuoco Napoletano - The Neapolitan Recipe Collection: a critical edition and English translation.         Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.)

3.) Ricciarelli (Almond Cookies)

Sienna has claimed these chewy treats as its own since the 14th century. Today, they're enjoyed throughout Tuscany as a popular Christmas cookie.

2 cups peeled whole almonds 
1 cup sugar 
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar and extra for dusting 
1/4 cup orange peel, finely chopped 
1 egg white, beaten stiff 
rice paper

Spread the almonds out on a cookie sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 3-5 minutes. Grind them in a mortar and pestle and put into a mixing bowl. Stir in the sugars, orange peel and fold in the egg white. Shape into small ovals. Place on cookie sheets line with rice paper and let rest for about 10 hours. Bake in a preheated oven at 300 degrees for about 1 hour or until golden. DO NOT BROWN and they should remain soft for several days. Cool and dust with extra powdered sugar. Serves 6-8. 

4.) Sugared Almonds (Mandorle)

This is Mistress Aramanthra’s tried and true sugared almond recipe, which is fabulous! 


1 pound of almonds (not salted)

1 cup of sugar

½ cup water

1 t almond extract

1 t cinnamon

Combine the sugar and water and bring it to a boil, boil for 5 minutes. Add the almonds to the syrup, keeping it on high heat, and stirring frequently. After 10 minutes or so you will see the syrup begin to crystallize and suddenly the whole mixture will seize up. This will happen instantly! Remove from the heat and add the cinnamon and extract. Let sit covered for 10 minutes. Bring the pot back to the burner on low and heat it enough to separate the nuts. Spread it out on waxed paper over cooling racks and let it sit until cool.