5 October 2006 -
7 January 2007

At Home in Renaissance Italy

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Cucina

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Medieval Ravioli
sent by Chris Truelove

First, you need your basic pasta dough recipe; I got this one off cooks.com:
4 eggs
3 1/2 c. flour (unbleached white flour)
Salt
Beat eggs. Add flour and salt and knead for 15 minutes. Shape into a bowl and let rest, covered by a wet cloth (you don't want this to dry out!)

For the filling, take two pounds of well-cleaned spinach or chard. Sautee this in olive oil with salt and black pepper to taste, a cup of fresh mint, 2 tablespoons of cinnamon, and a couple of threads of saffron (add the saffron in at the last). I substituted olive oil for the pernicious and persistent lard that haunts most Renaissance recipes. When the vegetable matter has cooked down, put into a bowl and mix with two cups of grated parmesan, pecorino, or cacciocavallo cheese, or do a mix of cheeses.

When well-mixed, set aside. Take your pasta dough, separate into two balls, and roll each ball into a flat, thin, roughly square sheet. Keep a bowl of cold clean water at hand and sprinkle the dough liberally as you work with it, because it dries out very quickly. Take one sheet of pasta, and mark into a grid of rough one and a half inch by one and a half inch squares by dipping a finger in the water and tracing onto the sheet. Take your filling and put about a teaspoon full in the center of each square. Wet down the grid again, and carefully lay the other sheet of pasta over it. With a sharp knife, cut the squares, sealing the edges of each with water-moistened fingers. If you have scraps of pasta left, rework them into another sheet for a couple of more ravioli. The goal is to use all of the filling and all of the pasta.

Cook the pasta in chicken broth until tender, at a slow simmer to allow for maximum absorption of the broth. Put the hot ravioli on a platter already coated in grated parmesan cheese, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and cloves, dot with butter, and heap on more cheese. Warm the platter in the oven to allow the butter to melt and toss to mix the ingredients thoroughly before serving.

No, it's not heart-healthy, but it is very tasty!


Purple Sprouting Pasta
sent by Suzana Skrbic

3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 pack of purple sprouting broccoli, cut to small-ish pieces
1 can of anchovies, chopped
Pasta (enough for two people)
grated Parmesan cheese
olive oil, salt, pepper

Boil the water for broccoli and cook it for about 8 min. When cooked, drain it but reserve this water to cook the pasta in - this gives it a nice colour and more intense flavour.

Fry the garlic and sprouting broccoli in plenty of olive oil then add chopped anchovies, pepper and salt to taste.

Once ready, add to the pasta, mix well and sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese.


Small dumplings
sent by Rita Cortese

Take the breast of a boiled capon, one and a half pounds of grated hard cheese, one pound of fat cheese, and one pound of good, fat boiled bacon (pancetta).

Grind everything well together and put in a bowl, adding ten eggs and a handful of oily herbs, very finely chopped, and half an ounce of cinnamon, one ounce and a half of clove, ginger and pepper in equal measure. Mix and grind everything well together.

Make a pasta dough, roll it out thinly and make the small dumplings. Cook them in a good fat stock, adding a bit of saffron to make them yellow. And boil them for the length of a short prayer ('the Miserere'). Lay them on the table, grating on top hard cheese, cinnamon and sugar.


How to send us your own Renaissance style pasta recipe

Email your recipe, and a photo of the finished dish, if you have one, to webmaster@vam.ac.uk.

Read more about food in the Renaissance home and discover some 15th and 16th century recipes here.