[Sca-cooks] pumpkins and squashes

Louise Smithson helewyse at yahoo.com
Sun Jul 20 08:08:22 PDT 2008

Bear said:
<<< Purely as a guess, pumpkin pie began as an Elizabethean "thang"  in
the New
World as a replacement for some of the pie stuffs the colonists had left
behind.  >>>>
Stefan said: 
Okay, such as what? I can't see it replacing a berry pie. It's too
different. And I can't think of anything in a custard pie which  
have been available in the New World, at least after the  colonies were
Bear Said: 
Again, as a guess, this was a replacement for sweet potato pie which  
is an
Elizabethan treat and probably not generally available in Virginia at  
time.  >>>
<additional discussion snipped>
Well how about this one: 

Per fare torta di cocuzze nostril (Cap CVI) 
Raschisi la cocuzza nostrale che sia tenera, & dolce,
& se sará grossa se gli cavin l’anime, & essendo piccolo non occorre,
facciasi cuocere in buon brood grasso, & cotta che sarà, cavisi, &
spremisi fuora il brodo, poi battasi con li coltelli su la tavola che non sia
di noce, e per ogni libra di cocuzza battuta, pongansi oncie sei di cascio
grasso grattato, oncie quattro di ricotta fresca, oncie tre di cascio grasso,
tenero, otto ova, sei oncie di zuccaro, un’oncia tra pepe, & canella, &
mescolisi ogni cosa insieme, & d’essa compositione facciasene torta, con un
sfoglio di pasta alquanto grossetto sotte, e sopra un’altro fatto a gelosia;
cuocasi nel forno o sotto il testo, & come è presso a cotta, facciasi la
crostata di zuccaro, & acqua rosa, e quando è cotta, servasi calda.  In questo modo si potrebbe acconciare ogni
sorte di cocuzze, & si puo mettere in la compositione un poco di latte. 
To make a tart of “our” squash (1)
Peel the squash that is tender and sweet, and if it is large
take the seeds from it, and if it is small this will not be necessary.  Put it to boil in good fat broth, when it is
cooked take it out and squeeze out all the water.  Then beat it with knives on the table that isn’t
of walnut, and for every pound of beaten squash add six ounces of grated fat
cheese, four ounces of fresh ricotta, three ounces of tender fat cheese (2),
eight eggs, six ounces of sugar, one ounce between pepper and cinnamon and mix
everything together, and of this mixture make the tart. With a somewhat thick
sheet of pasta below and above one made much thinner, and cook it in the oven
or under a testo (3).  When it is close
to being cooked make a crust of sugar and rose water and when it is cooked
serve it hot.  In this way one can
prepare any type of squash, and one can put into the mixture a little water.
(1)   –
refers to the fact that Scappi is also using new world squash at this time, the
two are distinguished the by the appellation “our squash” – which refers to old
world gourds or “Turkish squash” – which refers to new world squash. For more
see my class notes here: http://www.geocities.com/helewyse/newworld.pdf
(2)   There
are two types of fat cheese frequently mentioned in his recipes, one which is
grated, so is a hard, fat cheese, I usually use Parmegiano or Pecorino Romano
for this, and another which is tender or soft and is usually not grated.  I think something soft, like mozzarella, or
perhaps even mascarpone.  I have not been
able to pin these down yet. 
(3)   The
testo is the special lid that looks something like a Dutch oven lid with a
raised lip that allows pies to be baked in the coals of a fire
(4)   Here
he tells you that it can be used for any squash, in the section where he first
describes new world squash we are told that we can use them as we would native

(5)Remember that the Italian libra (or pound) is 12 oz not 16oz, but the ounce is roughly equivalent. 

(6)   I’ve
made this recipe and it turns out something like a cross between a cheesecake
and the pumpkin pie we currently know.  Very interesting texture and taste.  admittedly it is from an Italian not an English source, but it goes to present a type of pie/tart from which it could be descended.  


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