This recipe caught my eye when I was researching ciambelle. It is in Bartolomeo Scappi’s The Opera in Book VI which was written for the sick or invalid. I don’t pretend to know the in’s and out’s of humoral theory but apparently sugar was good for the sick.

When I realised what this recipe really was, I knew that I had to try it. It is from The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi 1571 and can be found in Book VI Recipe 139

The Original

“Per fare zuccarini a foggia di ciambelle

Piglisi zuccaro fino falto in polvere, & habbianosi chiare d’uove fresche battute, mettanosi in un catinello, & pongasi in esse chiare tanto zuccaro quanto ne possono portare, cioe che vengano in pasta soda, & d’essa pasta se ne faranno ciambelle, l’equali si pongano in una tortiera a cuocere che sia spoluerizzata di farina, o onta di cera bianca, faccianosi cuocere con poco foco sotto, & al quanto piu di sopra, vogliono poca cuocitura,

percioche per vigor delle chiare d’uova sgonsiano, & rimangono leggiere; con esse si puo mettere un poco di acqua di rosi, o muschio a beneplacito.” (1)


My Translation using John Florio’s Dictionary (2)

“For making ​zuccarini ​in the fashion of ciambelle

Take fine sugar reduced to a powder, & have fresh beaten egg whites, put them in a (shallow pan), & put with the egg whites as much sugar as they are able to bear, that is that it comes to a stiff dough, & with this dough make ciambelle, the same amounts are put in a torte pan and cook that it be dusted with flour, or else with wax white, make it cook with a small fire below, & and some measure of it above, they will require a little baking because by reason of the liveliness of the egg whites to swell & lift up light; with these things you may put a little rosewater, or else musk and good will and pleasure.” 



My Redaction                                                                                    Printable Version

  • 2 egg whites
  • Castor Sugar equal to double the weight of the egg whites
  • 1 tsp. Rosewater

First, here in America we do not have castor sugar. Castor sugar is a finer grind than granulated sugar but not as fine as confectioner’s sugar. You can use store bought confectioner’s sugar but it does have cornstarch. This is fine to use as it will not hurt your meringues in anyway but I was trying to recreate Scappi’s meringue so I chose to gring the sugar in a mortar until it was as fine as I wanted. Feel free to use a spice/coffee grinder for a faster method.

Scappi would have used ounces and the 12oz. pound but I actually used grams because they are more accurate.

After you have ground the sugar a little finer, crack your eggs whites into a bowl on a scale. Remember this amount. Put the egg whites into your mixing bowl and add double the amount of sugar. For example: my egg whites weighed 112 grams so I will need 224 grams of sugar.

Start beating the egg whites until they reach the soft peak stage. Start adding the sugar a tablespoon at a time and allow it to become mixed in before adding more. Keep doing this until all the sugar has been added. Add in the rosewater and continue whipping until they become glossy and form stiff peaks.

Scappi used a syringe for making fanciful shapes with batter into hot oil and for butter. I experimented with using a spoon, shaping them by hand but using a cake decorating bag and tip was by far the easiert to use with the best results. I think it is entirely plausible that Scappi would have used this syringe to shape his zuccarini into ciambelle.

Syringe Scappi


Preheat the oven to 275º. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and form your zuccarini. I made mine about 2-3 inches in diameter. Bake them for 10-15 minutes until the surface is set. Cover them with a second piece of parchment paper and bake for another 20 minutes. If they release from the paper quickly and easily they are done. If they stick give them another 5 minutes or so.

zuccarini cropped


1) Scappi, Bartolomeo. The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi: L’Arte et Prudeza D’un Maestro Cuoco (The Art and Craft of a Master Cook) (1570). Translated with commentary by Terrence Scully. Toronto Canada. University of Toronto Press Inc. 2008. Print.

2) Florio, John. Queen Anna’s New World of Words or Dictionarie of the Italian and English Tongues. 1611 http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/florio/

3) https://archive.org/details/operavenetiascap00scap/page/n155. Retrieved August 3, 2019. Plate 13


Ciambelle Project

I want to share with you a year long project. I belong to a Historical Re-enactment Society and was recently chosen to compete in an Arts and Sciences Competition for the Kingdom Arts and Sciences Champion.

I was required to make a video of my project between 15-20 minutes. There were five finalists. We had 30 days to finish the video’s and upload them.

Let me say how daunting this was! I have NEVER ever made a video, edited a video, done a voice over etc. I was trying to use a program from the App store but it was difficult to navigate. One of the competitor’s suggested I use iMovie and that they had tutorials online. So I did.

This is the result. Oh, by the way, I did win but I have a looooong way to go with making videos!



Aunt Jan’s Banana Bread

I love banana bread! Especially warm from the oven with lots of butter. When I was newly married, I tried to find a banana bread recipe that was like the banana bread I had in college. Every recipe I tried was either dry, tastless or both. Then, several years later I was visiting my Aunt Jan and she had banana bread. It was delicious!!!! I have used this recipe ever since. I’m not sure if this is a vintage Betty Crocker recipe or a recipe that she got from my grandmother but I really don’t care. This is the only recipe I have found that is moist and very banana-y.

Ingredients                                                                                                          Print

  • 2c. All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking soda
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2c. Shortening
  • 1c. Sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1c. Mashed Ripe Bananas
  • 1 Tbsp. vinegar
  • 1/2c. Milk

The first thing you need to do, an hour or so before you want to start your bread, is measure 1 tbsp. of white or cider vinegar in a liquid measuring cup and add whole milk to equal 1/2 cup. This is a “quick” way to clabber the milk and get a sort of mild sour/tart flavor. It will look kind of chunky and thick.IMG_0655

Set aside the milk and measure the flour, baking soda and salt into a sifter and sift once. Set this aside and take your bananas and peel and mash them. NOTE: Black bananas give the best flavor. The more ripe the bananas are the more concentrated the sugars so there will a more pronounced banana flavorMy husband likes to say that if you can pour the banana out of the peel then it is about right. Two bananas is about 1 cup of mashed pulp.

Grease one large loaf pan and preheat your oven to 350º.

Put the shortening into a large bowl and add the sugar. Beat with and electric mixer until the sugar is incorporated.


Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until incorporated. IMG_0657

Now, add 1/3 of the flour and mix thoroughly. IMG_0660

Add 1/3 of the milk and mix. IMG_0659

Add 1/3 of the bananas and mix. IMG_0661

Continue by adding half of the remaining flour, milk and bananas, mixing in between each addition. Continue adding the remaining ingredients alternately and mixing thoroughly between each.IMG_0662


Pour into your bread pan and bake for 60-70 minutes. IMG_0663

Test by using a butterknife inserted into the highest part of the bread. If it has only a few crumbs clinging to it, your banana bread is done.



Grammies Rice Pudding

When I was growing up, my parents were divorced and my mother had to work. Everyday my brother and I went to my grandmother’s while my mother was working. My two cousin’s were also at my grammies with us.

Everyday at lunchtime, my grammie had a homemade meal for us. We rarely had sandwiches but sometimes we had grilled hotdogs. Mostly we had homemade vegetable soup, chicken soup, pasta and sauce, potato soup….you get the idea.

My gram made us desserts too. The two I remember clearly are peppermint pears and rice pudding. I LOVED my gram’s rice pudding! It is not very sweet at all but still so good. So for today’s Historical Bite I would like to share my grandmother’s recipe for Rice Pudding.

My Version

  • 2 c. Cooked rice
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 2 1/2 c. milk
  • 2-3 eggs
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 c. raisins
  • cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350º. Butter a one and a half quart casserole.

Add the water to the cooked rice and warm gently. Simmer until all the water is absorbed by the rice. Add the milk and boil gently for 5 minutes or until mixture thickens.

Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla in a bowl large enough to hold the egg mixture and the rice mixture. Add a small amount of the rice mixture to the eggs stirring to distribute the heat and slowly warm the eggs. adding even moreAdd another small amount of rice mixture again and again until about 1/2 of the rice mixture has been added and the temperature of the eggs feels warm. Add the remaining rice mixture and mix thoroughly.

adding more, rice pudding

Pour this into the casserole. Add the raisins and give a gentle fold through. Sprinkle with as much cinnamon as desired. I personally do not think there is such a thing as too much cinnamon but….

I serve this with chilled whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

I hope you enjoy this Historical Bite from my childhood!

Spinach Toast

In preparation for a feast I am doing this fall with my dear friend, Magdalena, I tried this historical bite and wanted to share it with you. The theme of this feast is “A Tudor Christmas” so I will probably be posting alot of 15th & 16th century English recipes in the coming weeks.

This particular recipe comes from Thomas Dawson’s The Good Huswife’s Jewel (1). Dawson first published his cookery book in 1596 and a second printing was made a year later. This work seems to be a liason between the rennaissance and a more modern cooking style of the 17th century. The dishes are simpler but delicious and seemed to be geared towards the growing middle class of the time.

Note: At this time England was still using the 12 ounce pound and a pint was 16 ounces rather than the imperial 20 ounces.

Original Recipe

This is a from Southover Press published in 1996

To Make Fried Toast of Spinach

Take spinach and seethe it in water and salt. When it is tender, wring out the water between two trenchers. Then chop it small and set it on a chafing dish of coals. Put thereto butter, small raisins, cinnamon, ginger, sugar, a little of the juice of an orange, and two yolks of raw eggs. Let it boil till it be somewhat thick. Then toast your toast, soak them in a little butter and sugar and spread thin your spinach upon them. Set them on a dish before the fire a little while. So serve them with a little sugar upon them.”


My Redaction

Printable Recipe

  • 1 10oz. pkg of frozen spinach
  • 4-5 tbsp. of Butter
  • 1/4 c. raisins
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. Ginger, fresh
  • 1/2 tsp. Ginger
  • 2 tbsp. Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp (or to taste) Orange Zest
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 1 Loaf of good Homemade Bread

Thaw the spinach in a strainer over the sink or a bowl. When it is completely thawed, squeeze by hand as much water out of it as you can. Using several papertowels, remove even more moisture from the spinach by pressing it between two layers. When you have removed all the water set it aside until it is needed.

In a small frying pan melt the butter and raisins together. The butter will help to plump up the raisins so put it on a lower setting and allow the raisins about 5-10 minutes in the butter being careful not to let the butter burn.IMG_0634

When the raisins are plumped, add the fresh ginger, ground ginger, and sugar and stir. Cook for a few minutes until well incorporated.











Add the spinach and orange zest and saute for five minutes or so. Add the orange juice to the egg yolks and beat them together. I did this so that the eggs wouldn’t scramble when I added them to the spinach.


Lower the heat and add the egg mixture. Make sure you mix it in well so you do not get patches of cooked egg. Leave this to thicken, stirring every once in a while until it thickens. Let this saute while you prepare the toast.

Take a good homemade bread and slice it in half inch slices. Cut them into squares or triangles as you prefer. Toast or broil them, just until golden. I buttered them with a butter knife and sprinkled a small amount of sugar on them. If you wish, you can “soak” them in melted butter and sugar as Dawson directs. I chose not too because I was worried it would be too saturated and I wanted them as a finger food.

I then put a good helping of the spinach mixture on the toast or “sippets” sprinkled a little more sugar as a garnish on top and served them.

spinach toast close up



  1. Dawson, Thomas. The Good Huswife’s Jewell. Published by Southover Press 1996. Originally published 1596, London for Edward White.


Potato Soup

It’s been chilly here the past few days and when it’s cold I always want a comfort food. This next historical bite is from my childhood. It is a recipe that my great grandmother made for her children and that, in turn, my grandmother made for us.

A little background: my grandmother used to babysit my brother, my two cousins and me before/after school and during the summer. I do remember those days fondly and I love my grammie to pieces. One of my memories is when she used to make this dish on a cold day for lunch. After, she would make a fire and we would all (4 of us) pile into her lap in her chair in front of the fire and snuggle.

My grandmother was born in 1919 and her mother was born in 1898. My great grandmother is of Irish decent and she made this recipe for her large family. My grammie said that she doesn’t know if her mother created this or if her grandmother taught her mother . Anyway, on to the recipe.

Disclaimer: My husband disagrees that this is a potato soup. He was a little hesitant when I first made it but now he loves it as much as I do. So give it a try.

Printable Recipe


  • 1 pound of ground hamburger
  • 4-5 cups beef broth
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut in bite size pieces
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 bay leave
  • seasonings to taste: salt, pepper, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder
  • 1 stick butter, softened, optional
  • 1/2 c. flour, optional

Start by browning the meat in a pot or if you are using a higher fat hamburger in a frying pan so it is easier to drain off the fat. NOTE: I use onion powder because they bother my husband but if you prefer, use a small onion instead of the powder.

After you have drained the fat, add the diced onion and cook until translucent. If you want to use garlic instead of garlic powder add the minced garlic when the onion is almost done. If you are using the powders, do not add yet.

When the onions and garlic (if using) are done, add in the beef broth. I have used water and bullion in a pinch. Let this simmer for about 30 minutes. Add in the potatoes and carrots. Stir in the salt, pepper, oregano,bay leaf and if using onoin powder and garlic powder.

Bring to a boil, and then lower the heat to maitain a simmer for about an hour. If you prefer your soup a little thicker, like I do, mix equal amounts of butter and flour (this is called buerre manie) and add it to your soup off of the heat. Stir it in and it will thicken.

My grammie always served this on a plate with butter and we mashed everything all together. She had homemade bread, slathered with butter and  my grandfather would put a mouthful of the mashed soup on the bread and eat them together. Don’t knock it till you try it! Pure Bliss on a cold snowy day!


Stuffed Ciambelle

     I am including this recipe even though it is part of an ongoing research project of mine. This is another of Scappi’s inventions and I think it is a fantastic historical bite! It is fairly straightforward but the secret is in the dough.

     Scappi has several recipes that he calls “ciambelle”. John Florio’s 1611 Italian English Dictionary (2) tells us that a ciambelle is “simnels, buns or cake” (p. 100). The Oxford English DIctionary (3) lists simnel as “A kind of bread or bun made of fine flour and prepared by boiling, sometimes with subsequent baking” (p. 492). Gillian Riley states in The Oxford Companion to Italian Food (4) that ciambelle was not the only name for these ring shaped breads and biscuits and not all of them were dunked in boiling water. She goes on to quote Costanzo Felici, who wrote in 1560’s Italy, saying 

“ There is also a twice-cooked bread, circular or ring or other shaped, made with a fairly hard dough, with salt, anise or fennel seeds, first cooked in boiling water and then in the oven”

     He goes on to say

           “….with many varieties that we might call “reinforced” breads, with a wide range of         additions to the flour or dough according to the changing tastes of mankind, among these breads made in various shapes commonly known as bricuocoli,  ciaramilie or bracciatelli or braciatelletti, made with flour mixed with eggs….and sometimes twice cooked, or in copper pans; some of these are light and very spongy, some covered in powdered sugar, called berlingozzi in Rome, others without sugar, some smoother, some harder, some low and flattened, large or small in shape, and among these last one often sees little biscotelli mixed with milk and sugar, or just sugar, or without. Of  the same form, but made with   much thinner strips of dough, are other ones—bacciatellini or zuccarini, as they call them, made with eggs and sugar.” (p. 71-72)

Original Recipe (2)

Book V Recipe 150

        “Per Fare Ciambelle Ripiene

         Piglisi una libra di cascio bazzotto grasso, cioe di vacca, senza sale & una libra di cascio parmigiano grattato, oncie sei d’uva passa ben netta, un oncie di cannella, quattro oncie di zuccaro, tre oncie di butiro fresco, dodici ova freshe, & un poco di zafferano & d’ogni cosa faccisi una compositione. Poi impastinsi libre tre di fior di farina, con dicci oncie di latte di capra tiepido, & quattro oncie di mollica di pane imbeverata in esso latto, sei rofsi d’ova, quattro oncie di butiro, & sale a bastanza, &ben menata che sara la pasta, giungendoli nel menarla altre quattro oncie di butiro in piu volte. Compartiscasi in bocconcini di due oncie l’uno, & con il bastone spianisino di modo che venghino tondi, lasciandoli la grossezza del sfoglio della torte; pongasi da un canto d’esse pasto due oncie di compositione sopra detta per ciasebeduno tondo, dandogli una volta, e mezza in su, vagendoli di butiro squagliato, & poi facciansi ciambellette, spianandole con la palma della mano, mettissino sopra la carta onta di butiro in una tortiera, & diasegli il colore come all’offelle, & faccisino cuocere al forno, & cotte che saranno, servisino calde, a un altro modo si puo fare tirare un sfoglia.”


My Translation

“To Make Stuffed Ciambelle

Take a pound of imperfect (moderate) fat cheese, That is from a cow, without salt & a pound of grated parmesan cheese, six ounces of raisins well cleaned, an ounce of cinnamon, four ounces of sugar, three ounces of fresh butter, twelve fresh eggs, & a pinch of saffron & mix everything together forming a composition (filling). Then make a dough of three pounds of meal of flour with ten ounces of warm goat’s milk, & four ounces of breadcrumbs soaked in this milk, six egg yolks, four ounces of butter & enough salt & mix well by hand (knead) and when it shall be dough add in by hand another four ounces of butter further beyond. Divide in morsels of two ounces for one, & with the stick flatten of the method that you arrive at a round, leave it the bigness (thickness) of thin puff paste of a torte, lay two ounces of filling on a side of them over every/each one said, & whereby a turn and a half upward, spread melted butter, & then form the ciambelle, flatten with the palm of the hand, lay above greased paper with butter in a torte pan & give it color like offelle, & make them cook in the oven, & bake that it is strong, serve hot, or an other method it may be made to draw out a puff paste.” 

My Redaction

Note: Once again, we are using the 12oz pound of Scappi’s renaissance Italy.

  • dough
  • 6 oz. Mascarpone Cheese
  • 6 oz. Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 3 oz. Raisins
  • 1 tbsp Cinnamon
  • 4-5 Eggs, beaten
  • 6 oz. Butter
  • 3 Strands of Saffron

Melt the butter with the saffron. While you are waiting mix the cheeses together with the raisins, cinnamon and eggs. It should be a soupy mess. After the butter is melted cool it off to about 80º. I do this so that I don’t get scrabbled eggs. 

Once the butter is cooled sufficiently, add it to the cheese and egg mixture. This is where the magic happens. The fat molecules in the butter adhere to the fat in the cheese and eggs and it thickens beautifully creating a lovely fluffy spreadable mixture!

cheese filling finished

     Take your dough and divide it into two ounce lumps. Roll the dough very thin. I roll it out until I can see through it. Take two ounces of your filling and place it to one side of your dough round. Brush all the exposed dough with melted butter and roll it up one andimage a half times. This is important, if you roll it tightly, the inside layers of dough will be raw while those on the outside are over brown.

     Once you have a little log of cheese filled dough, press the ends down with the palm of your hand to seal them. Now butter the ends and bring them together to form a ring and press again with your hands. Brush with melted butter and place on parchment paper on a sheet pan. Finish forming your ciambelle. You should have about 8.

     Bake at 350º for about 20 minutes or until the outside is a golden brown.

cheese filled ciambelle



1) Scappi, Bartolomeo. The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi: L’Arte et Prudeza D’un Maestro Cuoco (The Art and Craft of a Master Cook) (1570). Translated with commentary by Terrence Scully. Toronto Canada. University of Toronto Press Inc. 2008. Print.

2) Florio, John. Queen Anna’s New World of Words (1611). Scolar Press. 1973. Print.

3) The Oxford English Dictionary. 1888. archives.org, accessed 1/1/2020

4) Riley, Gillian. The Oxford Companion to Italian Food. 2007. Oxford University Press.
New York, NY. Print.

5)  The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi. archives.org, accessed 1/1/2020.

Dough for Stuffed Ciambelle

This is once again from my favorite historical chef, Scappi. The dough is unusual in that it uses warm goat’s milk and butter. The goat’s milk gives it a little tang but warming the milk gives the dough a phyllo-like finished texture. Using a warm liquid will denature the protein in the flour making the gluten molecules form in rounds rather than oblong. This in turn creates a tender, pliable dough. Adding fat like butter keeps the flour from absorbing too much liquid and creates a flaky like product when baked.

Original Recipe (1)

“Poi impastinsi libre tre di fiora di farina, con dicci oncie di latte di capra tiepido, & quattro oncie di mollica di pane imbeverata in esso latto, sei rofsi d’ova, quattro oncie di butiro, & sale a bastanza, ben menata che sara la pasta, giungendoli nel menarla altre quattro onciedi butiro in piu volte….”


Then make a paste of three pounds of meal of flour, with ten ounces of warm goat’s milk, & four ounces of breadcrumbs soaked in this milk, 6 egg yolks, four ounces of butter & enough salt, & mix well by hand (knead) and when it shall be dough, add in the mix another further four ounces of butter…

My Redaction

  • 18oz Semolina Flour
  • 5oz Warm Goat’s Milk
  • 2oz. Breadcrumbs soaked in Milk
  • 3 Egg Yolks
  • 4oz. Butter
  • Salt
stuffed ciambelle, rolling the dough

Rolling out two ounce lump

Warm the milk gently and butter until about 120º and add breadcrumbs. Measure out the semolina and salt, mixing to combine. Place semolina on the work surface and make a well in the center. Add milk and egg yolks to semolina and mix until the dough comes together. Keep kneading until it becomes a smooth pliable ball, about 15 minutes. Wrap in plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.

While the dough is resting mix whatever filling you are using. Divide your dough into two ounces lumps and roll them, one at a time, until very very thin. You will not be able to get them as thin as phyllo but I roll mine until I can read through it. Try to keep it a round or oval, it makes a prettier finished ciambelle.

apple ciambelle, rolling dough





I debated whether to make this post or not but decided that I should. I have not forgotten about my blog HistoricalBites but life has been ravaging us in the last few months, emotionally and financially.

In a nutshell, and hopefully without over sharing, since my last post we have had a series of unfortunate events. My daughter started the ball rolling when she was in two car accidents in two days. She totalled her car but mine was repairable. Then my husband, the RN, came down with the flu on Friday the 13th (no omens there) and the next day was taken to the ER with celulitis. He was emitted to the hospital within a few hours with severe sepsis and acute renal failure. He spent 10 days in PCU and was out of work for 6 weeks.

Of course, as soon as he came home then it was my turn. I had a trip to the emergency room, food poisoning that had me running for a week, then emergent surgery (not life threatening but needed to be done NOW) and a night in the hospital.

Then, exactly five weeks after the first round, my husband got the flu again and in order to outdo the last time, he also had bronchitis. Did you know that according to BCBS you can only get the flu once every three months because they do not cover tamiflu more often than that. Which. Is. Crazy.

All during this six week time period, we had to replace the stove, washer, dryer and the microwave plus a down payment on a new car for my daughter.

Please forgive me for my absence. I will be back to posting recipes soon.

Black Grape Must

The following recipe is, again, from Scappi (1). This sauce has several steps but it is a delicious sauce and worth it. I developed this recipe quite a few years ago while planning a feast. I was intrigued by the similarities of this sauce and modern day barbeque sauce. Scappi uses it to roast meat over a fire, specifically beef or pork ribs!

To start you need to make grape must or mosto cotto. Fortunately Scappi describes this process. The following recipe makes the grape must and then goes on to make theblack grape sauce sauce. Typically a “must” is a reduction of grape juice by one half volume.

NOTE: As stated in earlier recipes, a pound in Scappi’s Italy is 12 ounces and not the Imperial pound of 16 ounces that we use today. (2)

Original (1)

“Per far sapore d’uva negra

Piglisi l’uva negra, che habbia del sodo, & sia quella che si chiama gropello, cioè cesenese, che ha le cosie rosse, suaghinosi i raspi, & mettanosi a bollire nella cazzuola con foco lento per un’hora, & dapoi piglisi il sugo che tal’una haverà fatto, & colisi per una stamigna,… & per ogni libra di sugo, piglinosi otto oncie di zuccharo fino, & facciasi ribolure in una cazzuola, schiumandolo, & con esso si aggiungerà all’ultimo un poco di sale, & di cannella intera, & facciasi bollire a soco lento, tanto che pigli la cottura, & come sara cotto, conservisi in vasi di netro, ò alberelli invetriat”

Translation (3)

“To Prepare a Black-Grape Sauce

Take black grapes that are rather firm, and they should be of the variety called gropello – that is, a Cesena grape – that are reddish brown on the outside. SOak the bunches and set them to boil for an hour in a casserole pot over a low fire. Then take the juice that those grapes will themselves have made and strain it……For every pound of juice, put in eight ounces of fine sugar and boil it again in a casserole pot, skimming it. Toward the end add a little salt and whole cinnamon into it and boil it slowly until it is cooked. When it is done, put it into glass vessels or glazed jars for keeping.

My Redaction

  • 4 lbs of Black Grapes
  • 2 cups of water

Put the grapes and water in a pot and cook, gently bubbling, for an hour or so. You can gently smash the grapes with a potato masher if you like. Strain the grapes with their juice. I put the grapes through a food mill so that the pulp would be pushed through as well as the juice. This process also removed the skins and the seeds. This yielded 4 1/2 cups of juice. I then put this mixture back in the pot and simmered it for another hour or so until it was reduced by one third. I added a tsp of salt and a stick or two of cinnamon and continued reducing it until it was one half of the original volume.

Scappi would have used a cloth or metal sieve like the one below, for this process

Scappi, Strainer

This drawing is from a series of 27 plates from the back of his Opera, illustrating all the equipment used in his kitchen. (3)

A Bit on Grapes: The grapes that Scappi specifies are

the famoso di Cesena grape, long grown in the Emilia-Romagna section of Italy, was considered extinct when, in 2000, two rows of old vines were discovered. A small number of producers have since worked to revive it, including Villa Venti, whose Serena Bianco is the only famoso I’ve encountered. It’s intensely aromatic and exotic, with flavors of apricots and herbs.” (4)

Scappi uses this basic grape must in several different recipes throughout his Opera. I have used this grape must to make a sauce using the leftover grape pulp, vinegar, cinnamon, pepper, salt, nutmeg and cloves. Scappi says to serve this sauce with roasted pork ribs. Hmmmmm!?


  1. Scappi, Bartolomeo. 1570 Digital copies of the original text, Italian https://archive.org/details/operavenetiascap00scap/page/n4 retrieved 7/30/2019
  2. 2) Lambert, Timothy. “A Brief History of Measuring”. Retrieved December 3, 2018. http://www.localhistories.org/measurement.html
  3. Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi (1570). Trans. Terrence Scully. Toronto, Canada. University of Toronto Press. 2008. Print.
  4. http://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/24/dining/wine-grapes-rare-varieties.html