[Sca-cooks] Recent cooking workshop

David Friedman ddfr at daviddfriedman.com
Mon Jan 25 14:23:28 PST 2010

We did one of our workshops this Saturday. I ended up doing two 
relatively simple dishes from the Nimatnama, which I hadn't cooked 
from before. One was quite good, one not bad. We did four or five 
(ambiguity to be explained) from Rebecca's translation of an Italian 
cookbook. Several issues came up:

1. We interpret tarts as having a shell of paste--flour/water 
dough--when not otherwise explained. One person objected to the 
softness of the finished crust, and I wondered if it would have been 
prebaked and then filled. Anyone know?

2. The Italian cookbook contains both a recipe for lasagna and a 
recipe using the lasagna; it isn't entirely clear to me how either is 

He who wants to make lesanga, take good white flour and boil it in 
capon broth. If it is not so much, put in some other water, and put 
in some salt to boil with it, and dump it in a broad, flat bowl, and 
put in enough cheese, and throw over it the cuttings of the fat of 
the capon.

Note that there are no instructions for cooking the lasagna after 
adding the cheese and the capon fat. Several possibilities occur to 

1. That's it. Rendered chicken fat is used as a spread like mayonaise 
or butter in traditional Jewish cooking, so I suppose it could be 
used here with no further cooking. That isn't what "the cuttings of 
the fat" suggest to me, but that might be a translation problem.

2. The recipe assumes that you know that you go on to bake, or (less 
plausibly) boil or steam, the dish.

3. The "lasagna" here is more nearly equivalent to lasagna 
noodles--not a dish but an ingredient. Another recipe in the same 
cookbook has:

If you want to make torteli of meat of fresh mixed pork, boil it so 
that it is cooked, and beat it with a knife so that it is very good, 
and take the pot and boil it and grind it in a mortar and put in up 
to six eggs that are boiled and mix with the meat and put in good 
spices and put in some good dry, grated cheese, and you want to make 
this pie in a pie-shell of lasagna and one should not boil it in meat 
broth and it should be given for dish with a long meat pottage of 
pepper, and it is good.

Again we are not told how to cook the dish. Again there are several 

a. The pie shell is the final product of the lasagna recipe. "Should 
not boil it in meat broth" is referring to the lasagna not the 
torteli--perhaps meaning that you use capon broth rather than meat 
broth. The dish is assembled but not cooked any more.

b. The "not boil it in meat broth" means that you boil the torteli in 
something else, perhaps water. I have my doubts about how well the 
whole thing would hold together during boiling--but perhaps there is 
a second layer of lasagna as a lid over the pork, or perhaps we are 
supposed to know that torteli are closed pasta and the lasagna is 
wrapped around the filling. Or perhaps it does hold together--we 
haven't tried it.

c. You are supposed to know that torteli are baked in the oven. 
That's how it was actually done, and it wasn't bad.

And the ambiguity about four or five recipes above is because you 
might count the lasagna+torteli as one recipe or two.

One thing not entirely clear is the scale of either recipe. "broad, 
flat bowl" suggests something a good deal bigger than, say, a 
ravioli. So does "up to six eggs." I could imagine ignoring that, 
assuming the up to six eggs are providing the filling for multiple 
torteli, and making it as a small filled pasta--but it would be a 
stretch. I'm more intrigued by the idea of a sort of giant filled 
pasta, boiled, either open or closed.

And thanks to everyone who offered suggestions in response to my 
translation query--I've passed them on to Rebecca.

More information about the Sca-cooks mailing list