Home Forums Articles Patterns Graphics Extras

decorative bar

Torta from Gourds

Caryl de Trecesson (Carol Hanson)

decorative bar

From Cariadoc's Miscellany quoting Book 8 of Platina's De Honesta Voluptate, Venice, 1475:

Grind up gourds that have been well cleaned as you are accustomed to do with cheese. Then let them boil a little, either in rich juice or in milk. When they are half-cooked and have been passed through a strainer into a bowl, add as much cheese as I said before [a pound and a half]. Take half a pound of belly or fat udder boiled and cut up or, instead of this, if you wish, take the same amount of either butter or liquamen, add half a pound of sugar, a little ginger, some cinnamon, six eggs, two ladles of milk, a little saffron, and blend thoroughly. Put this preparation in a greased pan or in a pastry shell and cook it over a slow fire. There are those who add strips of leaves, which they call lagana, instead of the upper crust. When it is cooked and set on a plate, sprinkle it with sugar and rosewater.

Cariadoc's Miscellany Redaction:
1/2 lb yellow squash (after peeling)
1/2 c. milk to cook in
8 oz. cheddar cheese
2 oz. butter
1/4 c. sugar
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 egg
1/2 c. milk
6 threads saffron
double 9" pastry shell
2 TB. sugar sprinkled on top
1 TB. rosewater

Grind squash finely with a grater and boil in milk for six minutes on low heat while being stirred; drain in strainer and throw away liquid, then force squash through strainer. Grate or cut up cheese; mix with squash, butter, sugar, egg, milk, ginger, and cinnamon. Put in pie shell and cover with top crust. Bake in 350 deg. oven for 65 minutes; at this point it is bubbly and needs to set for a while. Sprinkle top with sugar and rosewater. Makes one 9 inch pie.

My Redaction:
8 oz. canned squash
8 oz. shredded mixed Italian cheeses (mozzarella, provolone, asiago, romano)
5-1/2 TB. butter (= 2-2/3 oz. = 1/6 lb.), softened
3/8 c. sugar (= 1/6 lb.)
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 c. milk
pinch of saffron
1 TB. sugar
1 tsp. rosewater
single 9" pie shell and extra pie crust dough

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Mix squash, shredded cheese, butter, sugar, spices, eggs, milk, and saffron; pour into pie shell. Use cookie cutters or a knife to cut the extra pie dough into shapes or strips and lay gently on top of the squash mixture. Bake for 60 - 65 minutes. As soon as it comes out of the oven, sprinkle with sugar and rosewater. Let it stand for a bit to finish setting before slicing.

Some chutzpah in re-redacting one of Caridoc's recipes, right? :-)
But I looked at the original and saw that although his redaction is generally 1/3 of the original amounts, it isn't always. So I tried the original proportions, and I also made it a little simpler by using canned squash. The result is very tasty and the only noticeable problem is that the result is a little oily on top, so maybe a little less butter would work better. The yellow squash generally available in markets is New World, not Old World. The gourds Platina probably used are more closely related to zucchini and you might try that in this recipe. You can also find seeds to grow something called the "Italian edible gourd" and a related variety is also available in some Asian markets.

decorative bar
To contact Carol Hanson by e-mail click here.

Home | Usage | Forums | Articles | Patterns | Graphics | Extras | Contact Us

created and maintained by Carol Hanson
last modified on Nov. 25, 2002

page counter