Back to Martino. It wasn’t a conscious decision to get hung on this book, it just fits the bill for so much of what we eat in winter.

“The Art of Cooking; The First Modern Cookery Book’

“the eminent Maestro Martino of Como”

as translated by Jeremy Parzen.

 

 Tonight it was A Gallimaufry, page 120. And it was delicious.
Take a mutton breast, or veal breast, cooked, or even half-cooked, then take some finely chopped onions that have been fried slowly in rendered lard, then take the meat, and cut it into small pieces the size of walnuts; then add all these things together in the pan and fry with a bit of strong mustard or a good quantity of pepper and verjus.
 Take veal. OK, I had two breasts thereof in the freezer, right in front, begging not to get freezerburnt.
 Roast it til done, or even half done. Fun! I don’t spit roast, I have a modern oven, but high heat and some salt makes for a nice crusty roast with a juicy pink interior.
a knife beginning to separate meat from rib-bones of a well-roasted piece of meat

I did let it cool some.

 Cut the meat into chunks the size of walnuts. I trimmed fat at this point. Veal breast has fat in similar layout to streaky bacon, so it was fairly simple to trim.
 Sautee some onions til brown in lard. well… I used olive oil. Philosophy aside, I simply have preferences.
 Add mustard. Yup, I used commercial. I like Zatarains, you can use what you like or make a great one with minimal effort.
 Cook mustard and onions together, I added salt, then tossed in the meat and let it cook to completion.
cubes of meat sauteeing with onions and mustard in a shallow pan

It's almost there, just needs a little more sear.

 It got earthy and deep, rich and hearty. The crusty surface, the juices cooked in with the mustard and sweet onions, the whole package was top-notch. It got eaten before final photos could be taken.
 I plan to make it again in a night or two with the rest of the meat and the alternate instructions, which call for “pepper”. hmm.. might have to do batches with each of several peppers.
 Recipe:
1 breast of veal
2 TBS olive oil (it calls for lard)
2-4 medium onions
1/4-1/2 cup of prepared mustard
Salt, unless you roasted the veal in salt. Don’t overdo, the mustard has plenty of flavor.
Ratings;
+ It’s hard to mess this up.
-It’s also plain ol’ meat, with no fillers or ways to stretch it.
-Needs a large enough sautee area to get the crust, and a cook with a good sense of “crisp” versus “burning.”
-/+Needs a fair lot of onions, which can be precooked in a crockpot. The onions need a lot of time.
+ Minimal fuss or experience needed to make it come out well.
++Delicious, if you like that sort of thing!
I call it a winner, but quite expensive. Tough meats won’t work, but if you can find a deal on veal, it is worthwhile.
 Pork cushion would also be a good choice

The Art of Cooking

The First Modern Cookery Book

the Eminent Maestro Martino  of Como.

I followed the specific amount instructions even when they didn’t seem proportional to the rest of the ingredients I had to hand, and it bit me.

browned and bubbling, fresh from the oven.

Butter bomb

Squash*. Not Hubbard, not orange, and not dense. Think pattypan in texture. Immature loofa from a South American grocery works, zucchini would work. I had some from an Indian market.

a butternut squash and a similar sized and shaped green gourd lie parallel on a wooden cutting board to show similarities and differences between the two while whole

butternut in front for size comparison, conjectured historical squash from Indian market in back. While similar in size, the butternut weighs about twice what the other does.

There were two types available, I got both.

The bell-shaped one was spongy and soft, light and pleasant in flavor when tasted raw, and very slightly astringent.

The straight one was slimy when peeled, sticky where cut, somewhat more dense, and did not need to be cored to use. It was sweet and astringent as well, though slightly brighter in flavor. The difference was little enough that it might have been growing or transport conditions, not variety.

all ingredients needed for the recipe gathered together.

it looks so neat.

I shredded them as called for, and poached the vegetable in milk, which was an option mentioned in the recipe. The milk immediately curdled and separated, though in a pleasant manner consistent with fresh cheeses.

slender shreds of pale vegetable in milk showing how the squash caused the milk to curdle and form a natural cheese

it curdles, but not in a bad way.

It was slightly challenging to tell when the flesh was fully cooked, as it changed texture and color quickly, but didn’t really soften for about 10 minutes.

The recipe called for passing the vegetable through a stamine. I had to decide whether I was going to press it well, or try to pulverise it. I went with pressing, as I do not have the strength to force that density through cloth.

shredded, cooked squash in a strainer sitting atop a catch-basin, being squeezed dry

this is how I chose to press the vegetable

While that was going on, I folded the cheeses together, added way too much butter*, and the eggs.

I did use two whites as a sub for one whole egg, as I had two left from making the crust.

eggs, and cheeses in a bowl as sugar and cinnamon are poured in

it’s so pretty! It’s so much butter!

The cinnamon went in as part of the sugar, to prevent clumping. Clumps of cinnamon are the opposite of fun. Salt also went in; it’s not mentioned, but it almost never is.

The recipe specified either animal fat or butter. My own very strong preference when feeding people who are not me is that any dish which resembles a cheese dish ought to be completely ovo-lacto friendly if possible. The fact that this recipe called for a substitute for animal fat made me quite happy, but the amount it called for did not work with the quantities of cheeses and veg that I was working with. I’m not kidding, there’s an oil slick going on in my baking pan =/ Happily I used a baking tray, as I did anticipate this problem.

(The crust is explained below)

raw pie filling in raw pie crust, with parchment lining in an aluminum tin

I used parchment.

Though I have a period style pottery pie pan, I didn’t feel comfortable using it for this recipe. I went with a drop-bottom, straight sided tart pan. Because I don’t know for sure whether bain-maries were in  use at the time of this book*,  I sadly placed the pan directly on a baking sheet and put it in a 350* oven for 30 minutes, then dropped the temp to 300*.

I need to learn more about the history of bain maries, it would have helped a lot.

The crust I used is rather late period, as I wanted a tender “eating” crust for this pie.
It’s the one presented by Master Basilius Phocas at Pennsic XL, which he adapted from the Libro Novo (Banchetti) by Cristoforo Messisbugo. Not my recipe, so I did not include it here.

There’s a CD available of the book and his notes, but it’s in some obsolete format, and it took a while to extract the information.

I’m a fan of this pie crust, though it is quite sweet. I left out the saffron, it’s hard to talk myself into using it for an experiment.

As the crust called for two egg yolks, I saved the whites and subbed them for one of the whole eggs in the pie filling.

eggs, flour, sugar and butter sitting in a processor waiting to be blended into a crust

such a pleasant crust

a pie crust pressed in to a straight sided pan

q

Next time, I will make far less filling, and weigh the ingredients based on proportions for a quiche or other custard pie, the excess of butter is disheartening and unappetising.

The dairy variant instructions called for an extra cup of milk, but I could not use it. The batter was so wet, and so loose, that I would have had a puddle, not a pie.

In hour and 20 minutes, it puffed up and began to brown on top, but a stick test still came out gloppy.

An hour and 30 minutes, it was done. The house smelled great, rich and sweet and a little herbal.

It was very tempting looking before being cut, but after cooling, was grainy with curds, slightly astringent from the vegetable, and a bit greasy.

A higher proportion of vegetable and a creamier cheese are two changes I will work with next time.

Equipment used;

shredder for squash

one cookpot for the squash

strainer

catch basin

bowl for cheese/egg mixture

processor for pie crust

a few knives, a peeler, a bunch of spatulas, bowls for ingredients, and cutting boards.

 Recipe as I did it;*

2 lbs gourd, shredded fine
a quart of milk (to cook the gourd in)
a pound of farmers cheese (not recommended)
2 oz asiago cheese, grated fine
2 sticks of butter (really. Too much.)
6 oz sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp rosewater and
1 tsp sugar overtop at the end.

Ratings;

-Somewhat scarce vegetable

+but it’s inexpensive if you do find it, has minimal waste, and travels pretty well.

-Lots of dishwashing, too many appliances

+minimal pre-cooking

-Long slow cooking time, so oven-thief

-Fickle proportions.

-I would need to do a lot of work to get it to a useful balanced dish, and I don’t like the gourd enough to do so.

+ wants rather more vegetable than custard.

If you need a dairy veggie dish, this could work out. Don’t use farmer’s cheese, it gets gloppy and gritty.

All in all, not worth fighting for in our home, though I can see the value for larger scale service. A processor shredder, a large boil-pot, and a better choice of dairy products could well make this a high-value dairy dish to be served as part of lunch or dinner service. It does take a lot of oven space. Maybe if you have convections?

 

*I identified the type of squash to use by looking at paintings of the time, and matching varietal names.

*many recipes call for varying amounts of most ingredients, and only give one measurable quantity to key from. Unfortunately, this can lead to unbalanced dishes, as the proportions for success can be a mystery.

*I think they are, but I can’t find the documentation. Do you have a thought on where I need to look?

*(things left out; I cannot cook with ginger, so it’s gone.
I do not have sesame oil, and the dish was so wet I could not find a way to add the last cup of milk)

 

a single complete cabbage rollup, cut in half to display a delicate filling of nut loaf

the final product

“The Art of Cooking; The First Modern Cookery Book’

“the eminent Maestro Martino of Como”

as translated by Jeremy Parzen.

Not being a numbered book, this is the last recipe in the Riva del Garda section, on page 126. Unfortunately, there is no original in this book to refer back to, only an English translation.

I have a nice little head of cabbage, and thought it would be nice to make some stuffed leaves.

Cabbage, garlic

hazelnuts, walnuts

parsley, marjoram, mint, pepper, saffron*

fat*, eggs, cheese*

 

the raw ingredients for the dish, assembled

preparations commence

I used whole hazelnuts and did not blanche them. I strongly suggest blanching them. The skins were bitter in the dish, which was less of a good thing than anticipated.

First, I grated the cheese* into the bowl with  the herbs and seasonings. I had no parsley, but used fresh mint, dried marjoram, walnuts (also not blanched, though less of an issue, much less less manageable), eggs, fat, pepper, and garlic, but no saffron*.

a bowl containing only the dry seasonings and grated cheese

all measured and ready

After blanching the cabbage leaves in salted water and processing the nut based stuffing in the machine, I stuffed the cabbage like galumpkes rather than making a loaf.

a blanched cabbage leaf cradling a quarter cup of stuffing, waiting to be rolled up and steamed.

step one of rolling

(hmm, maybe I can do this as a slide show?)

Using the same pot I had blanched the leaves in, I steamed the stuffed cabbage rolls in about a half inch of the  salted water remaining from blanching the leaves.

Not having a lid for this particular pot, I used some foil to help hold steam.

a small pan with alumimum foil wrapped over it, in place of a proper lid

make-do lid

They took just under 10 minutes to cook, and only took a whole 10 minutes to assemble because I was taking pictures.

The flavor was pleasant, with the earthy nuts, bright seasoning, and sweet cabbage  leaves.

2 oz hazelnuts
2 oz walnuts
2 oz asiago cheese
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp marjoram (dry)
1 tsp parsley (dry)
a handful of fresh mint
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, whole, beaten
3 oz melted veal fat (book calls for minced)
3 cabbage leaves.

 

Ratings;

–         heavy on the costs from nuts

–         labor intensive; small batches in a food processor, someone has to blanch a   lot of leaves

–       Not clearly meat, but not vegetarian (can sub the fat, it just needs a little something to avoid tasting mealy and dry)

–        Needs wet cooking, so oven or large steamers

+        Fast

+        Minimal assembly fuss

All in all, this recipe is not worth making for more than 12 people. The main reason to invest in nuts is to provide an alternate protein, this is neither cost effective nor vegetarian enough to bother with.

I would make it for a picnic basket in a heartbeat though, it’s portable food, not gloppy, interesting flavors, and doesn’t require much in the way of effort to transport.

*I start with asiago then move sharper, saltier, or milder depending.

*My general rule with saffron is not to add it until I am using a dish regularly and have the recipe right where I want it, it’s much too dear.

*the recipe called for veal fat, which we actually had from a prior recipe. I used it rendered, what I had could not be minced as called for. Olive oil would work well, I do not think butter would be pleasant if this were intended as  a dish served cold.