The opera of Bartolomeo Scappie (1570)

You are currently browsing the archive for the The opera of Bartolomeo Scappie (1570) category.

As spring has rolled around, the chickens have started to lay.  Not really a surprise, I just have more eggs on hand than I know what to normally do with them!  So off to the books for a bit of eggy indulgences.  This one is, obviously, new to me.  I’ve had hard fried eggs but never fried hard boiled eggs with sugar.  So I gave it a try!

To Cook Hard-Boiled Eggs in Butter or Oil


Book III. 272. Cooks eggs in their shells in water such that they are not to hard.  Then take them out of the hot water and put them into cold water, shell them and immediately flour them.  Fry them in melted butter or oil.  When they are done, serve them garnished with sugar and orange juice, or else cover them with garlic sauce or some other sauce.  (Scappie, pp. 376)



Hard boiled eggs



Sugar/orange juice or garlic sauce



Pretty simple recipe.  Boil as many eggs as you think you will need.

Try for soft boiled if possible.  I think this is for a more melt in the mouth textural than a firm feel.  (My opinion only though).

Shell the eggs,

then roll them in flour.

Here I used white.  If you want try it in wheat flour or smelt flour and see which texture/taste you prefer!


Next fry them in oil or butter.

I used olive oil as I have LOTS on hand.

I put sugar on the side as a “dipping” sauce.

Pretty damn tasty if I do say.

March 19, 2017 | No comments

Nope, still haven’t finished the pig kicking.  I have one, maybe 4 more recipes to share.  Another awesome one from Scappi.  Definitely not for anyone who doesn’t like liver and isn’t slightly adventurous!

Pig Liver #1

Pork pictures 160818 063


If you want to spit-roast a pork liver in a large pieces, when the membrane that is around it is removed, along with the gall bladder.  Stick the pieces with lardoons of pork fat that have been dredged in pepper, cloves, cinnamon and sweet fennel, dry and ground.  Put them onto a spit and cook them over a low fire. (Scappi, pp. 188)


Pork liver

Strips of pork fat (or uncooked thick cut bacon)

1 tsp each ground pepper, cloves, cinnamon and sweet fennel (seeds)



So here I had to slightly improvise.  I didn’t have enough sliced pork fat to make a nice tight the way I wanted the first time I did this recipe.  I really like to get a nice tight crisscross of bacon going.  So I went with the flow.

Pork pictures 160818 046All the spices first with the sliced bacon in the bacon ground.

The liver chunk was laid out while the bacon/pork fat (either will do nicely but make sure that the bacon is thick cut NOT thin) is dragged in the spice mixture.

Pork pictures 160818 048I usually like to do a nice basket weave on my bacon wrapped anything, but was low on bacon (my bad).  I pinned the strips down trying to go for maximum coverage.

Pork pictures 160818 049

NO, I didn’t have a spit….why do you ask?  Yes, yes it is period and mentioned in the book…so is polio and piss in the water.  MOST people don’t have spits.  They’re a bitch to install in modern day houses.  The liver was then laid on the grill (wood charcoal for the fire), until the liver was cooked all the way through.

Pork pictures 160818 063

There were scraps left after the first bite and nothing let to photograph!!  It’s not the usual way you try liver, but it is period.  Again, sometimes you gotta eat the different to say you ate period!

October 20, 2016 | No comments

So I did a bit of research on pig.  Pig is a tasty tasty animal, with a few very bad traits.  Yeah…but it’s still damn tasty.  Some of the recipes I did were amazing, some…not so much.  This is one of those recipes you just gotta try!!

Rack of ribs of a domestic pig #1

Pork pictures 160818 059



If the pig is young, the ribs can be spit-roasted with or without their skin….You can also set the ribs to steep for a day in a seasoning composed of vinegar, must syrup, cloves of garlic and coriander.  (Scappi, pp. 185)


Pork Ribs

1 C. Vinegar

1 C. Sweet wine (or the dregs from the bottom of a sweet wine barrel)

8 cloves of garlic

2-3 tsp ground coriander



So here  I wanted to do something a little bit different.  I bought pork ribs but couldn’t find any with a good layer of fat or skin, so I wanted to take the trimmings from another dish where the skin wasn’t needed yet still had a good bit of a fat layer and tie it on over the ribs soaking overnight in the brine.  What actually happened?  I ran out of time so had to do the ribs without the fat/skin layer.

Pork pictures 160818 020

I gathered everything up, made the brine and let the ribs soak overnight.

Pork pictures 160818 025

The next day, I laid the ribs on a nice hot grill (no spit being available) using wood charcoal.

Pork pictures 160818 052

Oh mai!  These are some of the best ribs I’ve eaten in a long time…and Ansteorra has some damn good rib joints, so that’s saying something!


Pork pictures 160818 059

Give this one a try next time you fine the ribs of your dreams calling out to you.

September 29, 2016 | No comments

Sow’s Belly

Pork pictures 160818 085


A sow’s belly is put into a press for six hours with pepper, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ground fennel seed and salt, then wrapped around in a sugared caul and mounted on a spit.  Cook it slowly.  It is optional whether you cut it up into pieces.  If you want to parboil it first, before putting it in the press, that can be done. (Scappie, pp. 185)


1 skinned pork (sow) belly

1 tsp. ea. Ground pepper, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, fennel seed

1 tsp. salt

Caul fat or bacon or lard




So I didn’t have a good option for sow’s belly at the Chinese market.

Pork pictures 160818 026

I had to go with a pork shoulder with a good layer of fat.  I removed the skin and evened the meat out so that when laid flat the meat would roll up.

Pork pictures 160818 027

Next I sprinkled all the spices (including the salt) onto the meat.

Pork pictures 160818 029

The meat was then rolled and pinned for 6 hours.


Pork pictures 160818 032

 I didn’t have caul fat or bacon so used the lard of the shoulder (about an inch thick).  This is then roasted for two hours at 350.

Pork pictures 160818 034

I like this but I’m not sure I’d make it for an everyday meal.  Don’t get me wrong it’s good…but it’s a bit of work!

Pork pictures 160818 085

This comes out succulent and flavorful…it’s a show piece rolled or sliced.  Try it at least once!

September 24, 2016 | No comments

Ok, so this wasn’t my most sought after posting.  I mean really, who other than a serious foodie eats head cheese these days?  However, like many things medieval, head cheese was popular and fairly tasty.  Period head cheese is sweeter than the modern savory but that’s more of a taste thing.


final head cheese pics 002

Head cheese.

To prepare jelly from pigs’ snouts, ears and feet.


Scappi mentions jelly made from pig in two sections. The second sections (#243 from Book II) goes into greater detail than the recipe from (#97 from Book II).

Get twenty pigs’ feet, six pounds of fresh pork rinds with the fat off, four snouts and four ears; was and clean everything. Boil it in a cooking pot with eight liters of white wine, eight of water and one and a third, more or less, at your discretion of vinegar. When you have skimmed it with a wooden spoon, put in a little salt, an ounce of crushed pepper, an ounce of cinnamon, an ounce of ginger and two nutmegs. Boil it all together. When the ears and snouts are a little less than done, take them out and finish cooking them in another pot with wine vinegar, pepper and enough salt, so they’ll be more tasty. When the decoction is cooked, do the test described in the previous recipes. Skim off all the fat with a wooden spoon and strain the decoction. When that is done, put in two and a half pounds of sugar, half a pound of firm honey and eight well beaten egg whites bringing it all to a boil as in the previous recipes and then putting it through a bag. When it has been strained, have the ears and snouts already split in two and arrange them carefully in dishes the bottoms of which are covered with three fingers of set jelly; then fill up the dishes with cold jelly so that the ears and snouts are held between the two jellies In the interval between jellies, with the ears and snouts you can put the feet, which have been cooked separately from the jelly in the same way as the snouts and ears are cooked. It has to be a deep dish or else use an earthenware baking dish or a shallow basin. When the jelly has set and is firm and you want to take it out of the pot, warm the pot in hot water so the jelly warms then quickly flip it over into a dish. Large or small depending on the depth of the jelly, because that way the jelly will rise up above the dish. If the inside, by the ears and snouts, you would like to put cleaned almonds, that is optional. For decoration around the dish put bay leaves. That jelly needs to be somewhat acidic and give it a tang with spices.

(Scappi, pp. 260/Book II. Rcp #242)


1 or 1/2 pig head

1 trotter

2 tsp ground pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger

1/2 gallon wine

8 cups water

1 1/2 C vinegar

1 tsp salt


2nd cooking

4 tbs sugar

4 tbs honey

1 C broth from above



As you can tell I didn’t use 20 pigs feet. Just wasn’t going to happen. Not enough room in any of my pots or at the market. So I improvised. I used half a pigs head and scaled down from there. There is NO way I would ever have enough need for a full head (or 20 feet) of jellied pig meat unless serving a whole bunch of head cheese at a feast.

Roast pig and other 025Here is half of Wilbur’s head, cleaned and ready to go!

Roast pig and other 027

Take the cleaned pig’s head and put in a pot with your wine (I had to use mead because one bottle of wine was just not going to be enough).

Roast pig and other 029Yes you leave the eye, ear and tongue in…It just is.

Add your water and vinegar than add the spices. Let the head cook for a few hours till the meat is ready to start falling off the head. This takes about 2 to 2.5 hours. The head was still frozen when I put it in the pot and the meat was pealing from the bone at 2.5 hours. Skim the fat off the broth every hour or so.


Roast pig and other 051

Once the meat is ready to fall off the head, pull the head out and pull off the meat. Put the head bone back into the original broth and cook down. Here I used a slow cooker overnight set on low. Put the meat in a pot with the sugar and honey for the second part.

When the meat has cooled slice it into bit sized chunks, slicing the ears into strips.

Roast pig and other 056

I had to improvise at this point. The ears were indistinguishable from the other bits of meat and skin. I didn’t have the foresight to keep track of the ear before peeling off the meat.

I took the fat from the cheek and blended it smooooooooth like butter in the Cuisinart. For a more period feel, use a mortar and pestle…it’ll take about an hour.

Roast pig and other 059


The cheek meat went into the bowl with the other bits and pieces.

Roast pig and other 057

The sugar and honey were added.

Roast pig and other 058

I didn’t use the table sugar (I’m out) so used brown sugar. Don’t worry you can play around a little with the taste and what you prefer so don’t fear making small alterations! The meat was originally supposed to cook a little more; however I ran out of time and had to put the meat into the fridge overnight. Mix everything together.

Roast pig and other 061

It looks horrible but tastes great.

So this is where things get interesting.  The trotter is used not only for the meat and fat but for the gelatin it produces when boiled.  That clear gel seen when you’ve cooked chicken or pork on the under side where the juice sat…that’s what we want.  The pig trotter adds enough to make a jello of the meat. (hence the original recipe calling for 20 trotters…here we just need one).  If you have absolutely no chance of getting a trotter, you can use clear gelatin.

Roast pig and other 054The pan was oiled with walnut oil first before I added the broth.


Roast pig and other 062

Place cool jelly on the bottom of the pan,

Roast pig and other 064

then the bits of meat with another layer of cooling jelly.

Roast pig and other 065


Let the jellies cool until solid.


final head cheese pics 001If you’ll notice my head cheese has a much darker color than the more modern head cheese available in the deli’s these days.  I used a red wine vinegar and brown sugar which gave the entire dish a deep caramel color.  The taste is still excellent however the coloring in tune with the ingredients used.

Serve with bread or crackers.

final head cheese pics 002I had pita bread on hand…and it was pretty damn good.  A bit sweet but as the cook I was expecting that.  Most people thing a meat gelatin to be savory so make sure that anyone who tastes realize they aren’t getting savory but a sweet meat dish.  Will help in the strange category.

February 28, 2016 | No comments

So the other day I roasted a pig’s head, because that’s what you do when you need something new and exciting to cook.  The original recipe thought a garlic sauce would go very well.  I wasn’t so sure on this but when “Eh…let’s see what happens.”  Oh wow!  This sauce is pretty damn good with roast pig.

To prepare a Garlic Sauce

Roast pig and other 044


Get six ounces of fresh, shelled walnuts, four ounces of fresh Milanese almonds and 6 parboiled garlic cloves or one and one half raw ones. Grind that in a mortar with four ounces of crustless bread soaked in a meat or fish broth that is not to salty. When that is done, put a quarter-ounce of ground ginger into it. The sauce being well ground, there is no need to strain it but only to moisten it with one of those broths. If the nuts are dry, set them to soak in cold water until they have softened and can be shelled. Into that sauce you can grind a little turnip or kohlrabi that has been well cooked – in a meat broth if it is a meat day.

(Scappi, pp. 267/Book II rcp: 257)


1 C ground bread crumbs

1 C chopped walnuts

1 C sliced almonds

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 C broth

1 1/2 cloves of garlic (or 4…doesn’t take too to much)



Take all the ingredients (yes there are more than 1 1/2 cloves of garlic…I like it a bit spicy).

Roast pig and other 033

Mix them together.


Roast pig and other 034

Add a touch of broth to moisten things up a bit.  Nobody wants it dry.

Roast pig and other 038

Add in the ginger.


Roast pig and other 035

The almost final product looks like this.

Roast pig and other 039This is rough and messy and waaay to big.  So give this a grind and a bit more broth if needed.

Roast pig and other 044This is wet and sloppy and soooo damn good on roasted pork.  Really try it.

January 24, 2016 | No comments

I had a yen for pork and a desire to try out something new.  Knowing this I decided to go to my neglected book of Scappi and look for something…different.  I found out what they did with the head of a pig (or at least one of the things) instead of just using it for target practice.  So I present a rather yummy and interestingly unusual recipe (by modern standards at least).

Roasted Domestic Pig Head

Roast pig and other 047


If the head is from a small pig, when its hair is removed in hot water and it is cleaned of all filth, you can spit-roast it without taking out it’s tongue…Serve it with garlic sauce or some other sauce…You can serve it with strong mustard.  (Scappi, pp. 184/Book II, rcp #97)


Pig head (or half of one)

Olive oil

Sea salt


I could have roasted a whole head but that’s a bit more meat than we’d have eaten in a few days so I went with half a head.

Roast pig and other 040You can see the hard wood coal fire underneath.  Here Scappi was happy to just roast it assuming that the cook would know how to use a spit and what to rub onto the pig head. I added olive oil and sea salt as I have very fond memories from pig roasts in my dad’s back yard where a pig was spit roasted and mopped with salt and olive oil for 8 hours.

Roast pig and other 041Oil and salt, with the oil causing a few flames.

Roast pig and other 045The roasting is going according to plan.  Here is the head after about 1.5 hours.

Roast pig and other 047I cooked the head on a wood charcoal grill for four hours at 350 (roughly) until the juices ran clear in the fattest part of the meat (the cheek portion).  Once the meat was done the best of the meat and skin were sliced off and platted.

Roast pig and other 049I made a garlic sauce and had a side of stone ground mustard.  The garlic sauce is a period sauce (to be posted soon) and was amazing with the roasted pork.  I highly recommend it.  The stone ground mustard was good…but the garlic sauce was better.  The skin (not shown) was awesome as well.  It didn’t make the table.

January 20, 2016 | No comments

Normally I would try to actually use the main ingredient listed.  This time, not so much.  Peacock is, unless you raise the birds your self, EXPENSIVE!!  So a good substitute needs to be found.  You could use pheasant…but they to are a bit expensive.  I went with skinned duck.  A good dark meat fowl that is in the affordable range and once the skin is stripped fairly lean.

Peacock done in the Italian Style


“If you want to roast the small ones on a spit, as soon as they are caught pluck them dry and draw them; leave their head and feet on.  Stuff them with a little beaten pork fat, fresh fennel, beaten common herbs, raw egg yolks and common spices – which is done to keep them from drying out.  Sew up the hole and arrange their wings and thighs so they are snug.  Sear them on coals.  Wrap them, sprinkled with salt and cloves, in a calf or wether caul, or else in slices of pork fat with paper around them…When they are done serve them hot. (Scappi, pp. 206)


Peacock (or edible bird substitute)

4 egg yolks

1 fennel

1 ½ lbs of bacon (6-8 Bacon strips and ½ lb bacon pieces)

1/2 tbs salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cloves

2 tbs flour


Italian Peacock #1

For the fennel stuffed duck the majority of prep work is getting the stuffing made.  First I gathered all the spices together.

The bacon and fennel were cut into small pieces, with the egg yolk and spices added next.


Everything was mixed together as evenly as possible coating the fennel and bacon with the finer spices and egg yolk.

The young duck, with out neck or head attachment,


was skinned ready for stuffing.  Yes this gets very messy!

The mixture was then stuffed into the duck.


The duck after being stuffed was wrapped in bacon slices.  I had to affix the bacon with skewers.  Toothpicks would have worked; however I was out of those.

This duck is not being suggestive, merely showing all the yummy stuff just waiting to happen.

The duck was then placed on a rack in the oven for an hour and a half.

This is a very tasty way to eat duck.  The bacon and fennel contemplate each other with the egg yolks.  The skewers were determined to stay in, more then I was willing to yank the cooked duck apart.

I have done this recipe using ducks with their heads.

The duck can be “formed” to have an upright look using skewers down the throat and pinning the neck to the chest.

This method is messy and irritating.  I preferred cooking with out the neck and head attached.  However I know realize why and how the metal skewers were used for maximum effect when cooking peacocks.  Bamboo or even wooden skewers do not curve or bend in natural ways to get the best effect

However cooked duck with a head attached just looks very unhappy and not nearly as appealing as the non-headed duck dish.  In period, as previously described, the eyes would have been replaced with some thing nicer like rubies.



I don’t do a lot of period Italian cooking.  That will change soon!  I adore this book.  The Opera of Barolomeo Scappi (1570) Translated by T. Scully, is the compilation of recipes by Bartolomeo Scappie (the cook to the popes).


The translations are awesome.  The breadth of recipes is incredible!  From breem to turkey to peacock.  Each main ingredient is treated with respect and clear directions on how to cook and serve.  This is THE Italian period cookbook to get if you have to get just one.  This book is an A+ all the way through.