Translation of Libro di cucina/ Libro per cuoco (14th/15th c.) (Anonimo Veneziano)
Translated 2003 to January 2005 CE by Helewyse de Birkestad, OL (MKA Louise Smithson) from the transcription of Ludovico Frati (ed.): Libro di cucina del secolo XIV. Livorno 1899 prepared and made available online by Thomas Gloning.
Last updated March 28th 2005.
You may use/ distribute this version for non-profit use only (scholarly, private use) provided that this header is included. Contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find the original translation, and I highly recommend that you do, here.
This is the fourth and final in my series of medieval savory pies. It was also probably one of the two most popular, which should tell you two things: that it was really good, and that this group will have no problem at all with vampires. As you already know, I needed to make up the fat content of the pies to cover the omission of lard, and I really succeeded with this pie. When I was putting them into production, the fat melted onto the floor of the oven. This created a lot of acrid, stinky, kind of repulsive smoke. I was kind of at a loss for what to do - I didn't have enough time to completely re-do the pies. However, what I did have was my Big Green Egg. I set it up for indirect heat, let it rip and I will never, ever cook a double-crusted pie indoors again. I do mean ever. The color that the crust took on was only surpassed by the wood-smoke flavor that comes with using hardwood lump charcoal.
As for the filling (likewise tinged by the flavor of the smoke), I found myself faced with a dilemma. The original recipe said to boil the garlic. It did not specify water, and that's good. I was afraid that boiling in water would leech away too much of the garlicky goodness, leaving me with something very much like the cheese and onion pie. While the onion pie was good, we already had four of those. I happened to remember a technique I found in an Italian cooking magazine years ago in which the garlic was boiled in milk. This softened the garlic and mellowed its bite, while retaining the garlic flavor. I actually went out and bought real milk for the occasion; I'm not sure if soy milk would have the right chemical properties for the job, and soy isn't really period for this part of the world anyway. If you do try it with soy, or with goat or sheep milk for that matter, please let me know how it turned out.
Garlic Pie (serves 8; approx. $1.29/serving)
4 heads of garlic, cloves peeled
1 cup full-fat cottage cheese, drained
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup raisins, plumped (optional)
1/4 teaspoon saffron dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 double pie crust of your choice
1/2 cup feta cheese
- 9" pie plate
- Small saucepan
- Mini-prep food processor
- Large mixing bowl.
- Big Green Egg (optional)
- Roll out your pie crusts in the plastic bags and refrigerate.
- Put the peeled cloves of garlic into the saucepan and cover with milk.
- Bring the milk to a boil over medium-low heat. Watch it carefully; you really, really don't want it to scald.
- Boil gently until the garlic is soft. Drain the garlic in the colander.
- Transfer the garlic to the food processor and puree.
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. If you're using the Big Green Egg, set the Egg up for indirect heat. Use a drip pan or a piece of tin foil to catch any fat that drips away. Heat the Egg to between 400 and 425 degrees.
- In the mixing bowl, beat the eggs well.
- Add the spices and mix well.
- Add the cheeses and mix well.
- Add the garlic and mix well.
- Add the raisins, if using, and mix to coat.
- Line the pie plate with one of the crusts. Fill the pie with the filling and top with the second crust. Seal it well and cut a small hole in the top to allow steam to escape.
- Brush the top with either a milk or egg wash, if desired.
- Bake until the crust is set and golden. In the oven for the test run, this took 40 minutes. In the Egg, this took between 25 and 30 minutes.
- Serve, or allow to cool and serve at room temperature.