Category Archives: 16th Century


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

3) Retrieved August 3, 2019. Plate 13


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




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 retrieved 7/30/2019
  2. 2) Lambert, Timothy. “A Brief History of Measuring”. Retrieved December 3, 2018.
  3. Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi (1570). Trans. Terrence Scully. Toronto, Canada. University of Toronto Press. 2008. Print.






Carrot Torte

This recipe comes from a Spanish/Catalan manuscript written by Diego Granado called Libro del Arte de Cozina (1)I received this text in 2010 and I can not remember who gave it to me. She sent it in an email because I was researching Spanish dishes for a period feast I was planning. I do know that it was translated by Robin Carroll-Mann.

Original Text

Unfortunately I do not have the original text. This manuscript is housed in a museum or library in Spain. I met the lady who had an electronic version that she received from the translator and she was generous enough to send me a email containing several spanish cooking treatises.

Translation (1)

Torta de Zanahoria (Carrot-Cheese Pie)

Wash and scrape the carrots, and remove them from the water and cook them in good meat broth, and being cooked remove them and chop them small with the knife, adding to them mint and marjoram, and for each two pounds of chopped carrots [use] a pound of Tronchon cheese and a pound and a half of buttery Pinto cheese, and six ounces of fresh cheese, and one ounce of ground pepper, one ounce of cinnamon, two ounces of candied orange peel cut small, one pound of sugar, eight eggs, three ounces of cow’s butter, and from this composition make a torta with puff pastry* above and below, and the tortillon [pie pan?] with puff pastry all around, and make it cook in the oven, making the crust of sugar, cinnamon, and rosewater. In this manner you can make tortas of all sorts of roots, such as that of parsley, having taken the core out of them. 

My Redaction

Note: since I live in the middle of southern podunk nowhere and the nearest grocery stores that aren’t Walmart or Kroger are over 30 minutes from my home, I have substituted cheeses that are available where I live for the spanish cheeses named in this recipe.

My husband Ben is the one who developed the following recipe. He has become my go-to guy for anything involving a dough or paste. He has a natural feel for it and loves doing it!

He redacted this recipe while working on a class he was teaching; A Survey of 16th Century Pie Crusts. I must admit that this “rough puff” pastry dough is my favorite so far. It is very delicate and seems to just melt in your mouth!

The translator of this manuscript, Robin Carroll-Mann, tells us that

“The word used here for pastry, “ojaldre” (“hojaladre” in the modern spelling)                means puff pastry according to my modern Spanish dictionary, and the etymology of the word (from hoja, “leaf”) would seem to indicate that it is the period meaning as well.”

Since  the Spanish treatise does not have a puff pastry so we are using, once again, a recipe from Scappi, Book V recipe 48.

Translation of Dough Recipe (2)

“…then have some doughmade of fine flour and the same amount, by weight of butter, and salt, cold water and rosewater….”

The Dough 

  • 115 grams Butter
  • 115 grams of Flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 drops of Rosewater (optional)
  • 2-4 tbsp. water IF needed

Mix salt into the flour. Cut butter into half inch cubes and work into flour with your fingertips. puff pastry adding butterIf butter becomes too soft from the heat of your hands put the dough mixture into the fridge for 20-30 minutes until it firms up.

butter too warm

Continue working the butter in using a pastry cutter or two knives until the dough resembles course meal.

using two knives

Add the rosewater and enough of the cold water to make in come together into a soft pliable dough. Let the dough rest in the fridge for twenty mintues being using.

finished dough

Roll the out into a circle large enough to cover you pie, leaving enough dough to form a decorative edge.

The Filling

  • 1lb Carrots
  • 9oz Ricotta Cheese
  • 6oz Mozzarella
  • 3 oz. Mascarpone
  • 2 tsp Pepper
  • 3 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Grated Orange Peel
  • 2 tbsp Juice of the Orange
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3 tbsp. Butter

Peel and chop the carrots. Place carrots into a pan of boiling salted water and cook until very tender and soft. Place in a food processor and add the remainder of ingredients and mix until smooth and uniform.

Preheat oven to 350º. Have the pastry made and roll out to fit the pie pan. I flute the edges to make the pie look prettier. Place filling in pie pan. Optional: Mix a little cinnamon and sugar with rosewater and brush on top.

Bake for 40-50 minutes until crust is golden and center is set.

NOTE: Use your best guess at the timing. I usually make small single serving size carrot tortes which take anywhere from 15-20 minutes to cook. Please be watchful.


1) Granado, Diego. Libro del Arte de Cozina. 1599. Translated by Robin Carroll-Mann.  Print.

2) Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi (1570). Trans. Terrence Scully. Toronto, Canada. University of Toronto Press. 2008. Print.




This is the final pasta ripieni (stuffed pasta) from The Pasta Project. I used two recipes: the first is from The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi (1570) and the second is from The Art of Cooking; The First Modern Cookery Book written by The Eminent Maestro Martino of Como in 1465 (1).

I would like to mention that in 15th & 16th century cooking manuscripts, any filling could be used for any pasta. There are several recipes in Scappi that tell you that a filling could be used for any sort of torte or ravioli or even without a “casing”. In Queen Anna’s New World of Words by John Florio, an Italian to English dictionary printed in 1611 (2), he tells us that ravioli is basically a generic term meaning ” a bundle, a cradle, a folding up”. This means that any time we read a historical cooking manuscript, when we see a ravioli, it means that it is any shaped and filled pasta that you want to make.

While ravioli is any generic filled pasta, we also see tortellini and anolini which Scappi differentiates by giving instructions for shaping them and  John Florio tells us that aniline is a diminutive of anello meaning “a small ring”. Scappi describes anolini as “tiny like haricot beans or chickpeas, with their little edges overlapping so they look like cappelletti. So back to john Florio and a cappelletti is “any kind of chaplet or little hat”.


Original Recipe (3)

178. Book II

“Per far tortelletti con pancia di porco, & altre materie dal nullo chiamate annolini

…..e come sara fattatel compositione babbiasi un sfoglio di pasta futto come il sopradeiso, e faccianosi gli anolini piccioli come faggiuolio ceci, e congiunti con li lar pizzetti in modo che siano vennuti a foggia di cappelletti, e quando faranno fatti lascinosi riposare al quanto, e cuocanosi in buon brodo di carne, e servanosi cum cascio, zuccaro, e cannella sopra…..”

Translation (4)

“….When the mixture is made up, get a sheet of dough made as above and with it make tiny anolini like haricot beans or chickpeas, with their little edges overlapping so they look like cappelletti, and cook in good meat broth, and serve with cheese, sugar, and cinnamon on top….”

Original Recipe (3)

179. Book II

“Per far minestra di tortelletti d’herba alla Lombarda

 Piglinosi hiete, o spinacci, taglinosi minute, e lovinosi in piu acque, e strucchisi fuori l’acqua, faccianosi soffriggere con butiro fresco, e con esse ponasi a bollie una brancata d’herbe odorifere, e caninosi, e ponganosi in un vaso di terra o di rame stagnato, e giungauisi cascio parmeggiano grattato, e cascio grasso, dell’uno quanto dell’altro , e pepe, cannella, garofani, zafferano, una passa & uoue crude a bastanza; e se la compositione folle troppo liquida pongauisi pan grattato, ma se sara treppo soda, mettauisi un poco piu di butiro, & babbiasi un sfoglio di pasta fatta mel modo che dice nel e. 176. e faccianosi i tortelletti piccioli, e gradi, sace doli cuocer in buon brodo di carne, e servanosi con cascio, zuccaro, e cannella sopra.”

Translation (4)

“To make soup of herbed tortelletti in the style of Lombard

Take chard or spinach, chop it up small and wash it in several changes of water. Press the water out of it, saute it in fresh butter and set it to boil with a handful of aromatic herbs. Take that out and put it in an earthenware or tinned copper pot, adding in grated Parmesan cheese and a creamy cheese in the same amount, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, saffron, raisins and enough raw eggs. If that mixture is too moist, put in grated bread; if too dry, a little more butter. Have a sheet of dough made up the way that is directed in recipe 176 and make tortellini of various sizes, cooking them in a good meat broth. Serve them garnished with cheese, sugar and cinnamon.”


My Redaction

Printable recipe

Click here for the dough recipe


Please note: The below amounts have already been reduced.

  • 4oz Spinach
  • 4oz Parmesan Cheese
  • 4oz Ricotta Cheese
  • Butter
  • 1/2 tsp. Pepper
  • 1-2 threads of Saffron
  • 1 tsp. Mint, chopped fine
  • 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. Cloves
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of Raisins, depending on your preference, ground in a mortar.
  • 2 or more eggs
  • 1 tsp. fresh Marjoram, chopped fine

Wash the spinach and dry it completely. Chop the spinach, mint and marjoram finely. Add them to a small amount of butter and the saffron and sautè them until soft and cooked. Cool completely.

Put spinach mixture into a bowl or food processor and add remaining ingredients using only one egg to start and adding a second if mixture needs it. If using a food processor you can add the raisins whole.

     Keep in mind that the total amount of filling used for one anolini is a scant 1/8 teaspoon so the mixture must be homogenous. While a food processor makes life considerably easier, you will get better results grinding things in a mortar.

Roll the pasta dough (by hand or with a machine) until pretty thin. Cut out small rounds, we used the cap from a rosewater bottle. It was somewhere between a nickel and a quarter in size.

Take a scant 1/8 teaspoon of the filling and place in the center of each round. Barely wet half of the edges and then close it up, pressing the edges firmly to seal. You should have something that looks like a small half circle. Gently wrap this tiny half circle around  the tip of your finger and press the ends together.

Anolini wrap

You should wind up with something resembling the picture below.

Final anolini



  1. Florio, John. Queen Anna’s New World of Words (1611). Scholar Press. 1973. Print.
  2. Como, The Emminent Maestro Martino of.  The Art of Cooking: The First Modern Cookery Book. 1465. 14 ed. by Luigi Ballerini, translated and annotated by Jeromy Parzen., Regents of the University of California, 2005. Print.
  3. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  4. Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi, The. (1570) Trans. Terrence Scully. Toronto Canada. University of Toronto Press. 2008. Print.

Chicken Tortellini

This tortellini recipe is from “The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi 1570” and was part of the “Pasta Project”. It was written by Bartolomeo Scappi for his apprentice. Scappi was head chef for two popes; Pius IV (1559 –  1565) and Pius V (1566 – 1572) and the funeral for Pope Paul III (1534-1549) and the conclave that elected his successor.

At first glance, this recipe seems unusual to the modern palette. It pairs chicken with cinnamon and other sweet spices. My personal opinion is that Scappi was a culinary genius. He pairs sweet with sour, or agrodulce, with savory creating some of the most delicious historical bites. Let me know what you think of this dish.

The Original Text (1)

“Per fare tortelletti con la polpa di cappone

 Pestinosi nel mortaio due polpa di due petti capponi, che prima erano flatialessati una libre di midolle di bova senza ossa, tre onice di grasso di pollo, e tre di zinna di vitella lessata, e quando ogni cosa sarà pesta, ginnganisi una libre di calcio grasso, otto onice di zuccaro, una onice di cannella, mezza oncia di pepe, zafferano a bastanza, mezza oncia tra garofani e noci moscate, quattro onice d’una pasta di Corinto ben netta, una brancata tra menta, maiorana, & altre herbette odorifere, quattro rossi d’uove fresche, e due con il chiaro, fatta che sarà la detta compositione di modo che non sia troppo salata, sabbiasi una sfoglio di pasta alquanto sottile, fatto di fior di farina, acqua di rosi, sale, butiro, zuccaro, & acqua sepida e con esso sfoglio faccianosi i tortelletti piccioli, e grandi tagliati con lo sperone, o buffolo, e faccianosi cuocere in buon brado di pollo, o d’altra carne grasso, e cervanosi con cascio, zuccaro, e cannella sopra. In questo modosimo modo si potribbe fare di polpe di galline d’India, e pavoni arrostitinello spedo, e di faggiani, e starni, e di altri volatili & sati, e anche di loin boletti di vitella arrostiti nello spedo con grasso di rognone.”

Translation (2)

To Make Tortelletti with Chicken Breast

In a mortar grind the flesh of two capon breasts that have first been boiled with a pound of boneless beef marrow, three ounces of chicken fat, and three ounces of boiled veal udder; when everything is ground up, add in a pound of creamy cheese, eight ounces of sugar, one ounce of cinnamon, half an ounce of pepper, enough saffron, half an ounce of cloves and nutmeg together, four ounces of very clean currant raisins, a handful of mint, sweet marjoram and other common aromatic herbs together, four fresh egg yolks and two with their whites. When the mixture is so made up that it is not too salty, get a rather thin sheet of dough made of flour, rosewater, salt, butter, sugar, and warm water and out of that dough, with a cutting wheel or dough cutter, cut out large or small tortellini. Cook them in a good fat broth of chicken or some other meat. Serve them with cheese, sugar and cinnamon on top. In the same way you can do it with the flesh of spit-roasted turkey hens and peacocks, and of pheasants and partridges and other commonly eaten fowl, and also of veal loin roasted on a spit with kidney-fat. (Scappi 230)


Dough for Tortellini, Anolini and Other Formed Pasta

So again, to make this dish we must first make the dough. Scappi uses this dough for a couple of recipes, specifically tortellini and anolini. I find it intriguing that he has so many different doughs for pasta. The dough we used for the Lobster Ravioli was softer, more pliable and contained white wine and olive oil. Most importantly, it was delicious when fried as Scappi directed.

Dough Redaction

  • 100 grams of Semolina Flour
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. rosewater
  • 1/4 cup warm water

Combine the flour, salt and sugar. Cut the butter into cubes and work it into the flour mix, rubbing it between your fingers. Add the rosewater and half of the warm water. Mix this until it comes together into a shaggy dough. Knead the dough adjusting the amount of liquid until it forms a smooth supple dough, approximately the consistency of play-dough.

Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes and then roll it thin and cut whatever shapes you will need. In this recipe we cut two inch squares and used these to make tortellini.

Note: This recipe makes enough for hundreds of tortellini. I would recommend halving the below amounts. 

Filling Redaction

Printable recipe

  • 2 Chicken Breasts
  • 12 oz. Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 oz. cinnamon
  • 1/2 oz. Pepper
  • 1/2 oz. Nutmeg and Cloves together
  • 1 tbsp. Minced Fresh Mint
  • 1 tbsp. minced fresh Marjoram
  • 8 oz. Sugar
  • 1 or 2 threads saffron
  • 4 oz. dried Currants
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 batch of pasta dough

Boil the chicken breasts in water. While the chicken cools pound the currants in a mortar and set aside. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, minced it very fine and place it in the mortar to grind to a fine paste.

chicken filling 1

Mincing Chicken breast


Chicken filling2

Grinding minced chicken

chicken filling 3

Final consistency

When the chicken is a paste like consistency add the ricotta, spices, herbs, currants and eggs. It is important that the filling be ground as finely as possible. Each tortellini contains only one teaspoon, AT THE MOST, probably more like one half to three quarters of a teaspoon.

To form the tortellini, take the two inch squares of dough and place a scant 1/2 teaspoon of filling in the center. Barely wet the edges of half the square and fold it in half from point to point so you have a triangle shape. Now for the tricky part: Take the triangle and wrap it around your finger so that the points on the longest side go around your finger and meet. The final tortellini should look like the one below.

Version 2

Cook the tortellini in a fatted broth. If I do not have homemade stock I have used a store bought stock and added butter or oil for the “fat”. When the tortellini rise to the surface of the water cook them an additional 1-2 minutes. Serve them with a little of the broth and parmesan cheese. Garnish them with a sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon on top.

This recipe is delicious even though the modern palette finds the combination of chicken and cinnamon odd. During the pasta project these tortellini were the second favorite behind the Lobster Ravioli. Please let me know what you think!

Note: since there is a lot of cinnamon in the filling you can skip this if you would like. I recommend trying it in it’s original form before making alterations. The added cinnamon on top was basically showing off your wealth. Spices were extremely expensive and to sprinkle it on top was a way to let others know your wealth.

Note: This recipe was redacted to enter into a competition so I did exactly what the original text described. You can substitute the spices you prefer. You can also throw everything into a food processor, you do not have to grind it by hand. I will say that you get a smoother final product if you use a mortar and do everything manually.




  1. Scappi, Bartolomeo. 1570 Digital copies of the original text, Italian retrieved 7/30/2019
  2. Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi (1570). Trans. Terrence Scully. Toronto, Canada. University of Toronto Press. 2008. Print.

Pasta Dough

Dough for Tortellini, Anolini and Other Formed Pasta

Scappi uses this dough for a couple of recipes, specifically tortellini and anolini. I find it intriguing that he has so many different doughs for pasta. The dough we used for the Lobster Ravioli was softer, more pliable and contained white wine and olive oil. Most importantly, it was delicious when fried as Scappi directed.

NOTE: The credit for this redaction goes to my husband, Ben.


  • 100 grams of Semolina Flour
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. rosewater
  • 1/4 cup warm water

Combine the flour, salt and sugar. Cut the butter into cubes and work it into the flour mix, rubbing it between your fingers. Add the rosewater and half of the warm water. Mix this until it comes together into a shaggy dough. Knead the dough adjusting the amount of liquid until it forms a smooth supple dough, approximately the consistency of play-dough.

Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes and then roll it thin and cut whatever shapes you will.





Lobster Ravioli

I was not sure how to organize this blog. Should I arrange the recipes cronologically or by original manuscript etc. I decided to jump in and do whatever recipes were intriguing me at the moment. So here is the first recipe.

This recipe is part of a greater project, “The Pasta Project”. A dear friend of mine was making pasta at home trying to use the ingredients and methods of Maestro Martino of Como, a 15th century chef and Bartolomeo Scappi, a 16th century text. The project started out with the formed pastas of vermicelli, gnocchi and maccheroni (16th century spelling). As we rolled along the project morphed to included two sauces for the gnocchi, lasagna, and three pasta ripieni or stuffed pasta.

Background Info

Ravioli are a very old food. The first documentable reference to ravioli is in 14th century. The earliest mention of ravioli appears in the writings of a 14th century merchant, Francesco di Marco, a merchant of Venice in the 14th century. Ravioli are also mentioned in the 14th century manuscript Libro per cuoco (1) and describes ravioli of green herbs blanched and minced, mixed with beaten egg and fresh cheese and simmered in a fatty broth.

Most scholars agree that these little bundles were originally Arab in origin and came to southern Italy at an early date. By the 14th century ravioli were well known throughout Europe and they are included in several cooking manuscripts during this time. (2)

According to John Florio (3), a ravioli is a “bundle or a fardle”. In Martino (4) and Scappi (5), several ravioli recipes have no casing or dough. It was just the filling that was boiled in fatted meat broth. In modern times a ravioli has come to mean a dough wrapped filling while just the filling has become a dumpling, of sorts.

The Original Text

Per fare torta di banche di locuste “Piglinosi le banche lessate in acqua, mondino, & pesticcino nel mortaio con pignoli che siano stati in molle, & datteri freschi, & pasta di marzapane, & ogni cosa si farà una composizione con zucccero, uove fresche, menta maioriana & pimpinella battute minute, & un poco di mostacciolo fatto in polvere, cannella fina pesta, e buttino fresco, mescolata ogni cosa insieme, & d’essa composizione si fara torta co un poco di sfoglia di pasta sotto fatto come di sopra, & il giorno di viglia in luogo di buttino ogle di mandole dolci & in luogo dell’uva mollica di pane cotta in latte di mandole, & se ne potranno anche fare ravioli senza spoglie, & con le spoglie, servendoli con zuccaro, & cannella sopra dapovi che faranno lessate, & se ne porrebbeno ancho fare ravioli fritti co olio, cioè incolti in una pasta fatta di fior di farina, ogle, vino bianco, sale, & acqua.”


“To Prepare a tort of Lobster claws Get claws that have been boiled in water, shell them and grind them in a mortar with steeped pine nuts, fresh dates and marzipan paste; make a mixture of all that combined with sugar, fresh eggs, finely beaten mint, marjoram and burnet, as well as a little powdered mosticciolo, finely ground cinnamon and fresh butter, everything mixed together. With that mixture make up a torte with a small sheet of pastry both beneath and above. On fast days instead of butter use sweet almond oil, and instead of eggs, breadcrumb cooked in almond milk. You can also make ravioli of it with or without a casing, serving it dressed with sugar and cinnamon after it has been boiled. You could also make ravioli fried in oil – that is, encased in a dough made of fine flour, oil, white wine, salt & water” Translated by Terrence Scully: The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi 1573 (pg. 580)

My Redaction

The following research on the wheats and dough is credited to my husband, Ben.

Any pasta recipe starts with the dough and any discussion of period pasta dough starts with a discussion of wheat. The nutshell version: the ancestor of modern wheat is einkorn wheat which is not a good bread wheat being that it is bitter and needs to be leached. Einkorn mated with a wild grass to produce emmer wheat. Emmer has developed into what we know as bread wheats and durum. Emmer is better for bread but is very hard to mill. The modern bread wheats Vulgare, Compactum and spelt are much easier to mill.

Durum, in latin, means hard. Durum wheat is a very high protein, high gluten wheat but it has a very low moisture content. This means that it is not very good for bread (but you can make bread with it) but it is perfectly suited for making pasta. Pasta made from durum wheat, once dried, can be stored for years. (6) (Storck 31-33) Semolina is a grind of durum wheat whose coarseness is equivalent to fine cornmeal. Scappi notes that plain, non stuffed pasta could be dried and stored for an extended period of time which was the purpose that dried pasta was originally designed (Scappi 48)

We have tried to make several period pasta using bread flour, spelt and cake flour (because Scappi uses the term “fine” flour) but the soft flours mildewed quickly. Pasta made with all purpose flour (a combination of soft and hard wheat flour) and semolina did not mildew. Our conclusion is that Scappi would have used semolina for all pasta including pasta asciutta, or dried pasta and all-purpose only for pasta to be used immediately or stuffed pasta.

Dough Redaction

  • †200 g. semolina
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3tbsp. water
  • 3tbsp. white wine
  • 1 tsp. salt

Make a well in the center and add the egg, olive oil, wine and water


Use your hand as a whisk to incorporate the liquids.
















Keep slowly incorporating the flour until it comes together as a shaggy dough


Keep kneading until the dough forms a smooth subtle ball similar to play-dough in consistency. Let the dough rest for thirty minutes, wrapped in saran.Knead the dough for approximately 20 minutes. You may have to adjust the amount of liquid or flour.


Filling Redaction


  • 2 Lobster Tails
  • 1/4 cup Marzipan (recipe here)
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, ground
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh marjoram
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 3-4 dried chopped dates
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp. ground mostaccioli (recipe here)

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil and turn off heat. Place pine nuts in water to steep. Bring another pot of water to a boil and cook lobster. I know the recipe calls for lobster claws but where I live they are not available. Matter of fact, we can’t even get whole lobster in the local grocery so I used what is available to me, the tails.

When the lobster is cool enough to handle put them in a food processor with the steeped nuts, marzipan, sugar, eggs, mint, marjoram, mosticcioli, cinnamon and butter. If you want to stay strictly with period methods, take the lobster and cut it very finely with a sharp knife. Almost like you did when mincing the fresh herbs. Add everything into a medium bowl and stir until it is a homogenous mixture. If you want it even finer, after you chop the lobster put it into a mortar and grind it to a paste. I usually skip this step because I like a bit of tooth to this ravioli.

Cutting with a fluted wheel into 2 inch ravioli



Rolling Dough into a rectangleEnter a caption



After your filling is made, roll the dough into a rectangle about 1/8 of an inch thick. Place filling in one tablespoon lumps about two inches apart on your dough. Quickly baste the dough in between the lumps with water including the outside edges. Place another sheet of dough over the top and cup your hands around each lump and press all the air out. If you skip this step, your ravioli will burst while cooking and the filling will boil out. Cut the lumps apart into two inch squares using a pasta wheel, knife or even a pizza cutter.


Boiling the ravioliEnter a caption

Boiling the ravioli


Ravioli ready to go!


Cook ravioli in rapidly boiling, generously salted water. You can also use a meat broth to boil the ravioli. They will take about five minutes or so to cook. A general rule is when they float to the surface, cook them for a minute longer and then take the ravioli out.

These are delicious!

So after we cooked almost all of these ravioli we realized that Scappi mentioned frying them in oil. We fried the last 8 ravioli and they were EVEN MORE DELICIOUS, if you can believe that!

During our presentation to the populace and judging for the pasta project, these were always the first to disappear!


Fried on the left and boiled on the right. Dressed with cinnamon and sugar.




Boiled ravioli dressed with cinnamon, sugar and parmesan cheese.



1) “Translation of Libro per Cuoco (14th/15th c.) (Anonimo Veneziano)”. Trans. Helewyse de Birkestad, OL (MKA Louise Smithson). 2005. Retrieved November 2018.

2)Riley, Gillian. “The History of Pasta” The Oxford Companion to Italian Food. Retrieved September 2018

3) Florio, John. Queen Anna’s New World of Words or Dictionarie of the Italian and English Tongues. 1611

4) Como, The Emminent Maestro Martino of. The Art of Cooking: The First Modern Cookery Book. 1465. 14th Edition by Luigi Ballerini, translated and annotated by Jeremy Parzen, Regents of The University of California, 2005. Print.

5) 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.

6) Storck, John. Walter Darwin Teague. The History of Milling: Flour for Man’s Bread. University of Michigan. 1952. Print


My Crazy

I love reading historical cooking manuscripts (or transcriptions or translations). I find it fascinating that I can still see the familiar recipes from 400, 500 or 1000 years ago. As we journey through time reading and redacting recipes, you will be able to see the humble beginnings of some of your favorite foods, some just barely recognizable and others with almost no changes.

I am not sure where, or should I say when to start our journey. I have been redacting historical recipes for almost 20 years now. Some are really good, so good that every time I serve them I’m asked for the recipes. Some definitely need tweaking to make them palatable for a modern diner. The oldest manuscript I have used is Apicius who died in 40AD; the most recent is “The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi 1573”.

I have sucked my husband into my crazy! I have shown him some things I know about baking and he has surpassed my knowledge. I am happy to have him as my “doughboy” (he has named himself this).