Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Offella: medieval Italian cheesecake pastries

Cooking from original medieval and renaissance recipes can be challenging but fun. Most recipes don't come with any real guidance on quantities of the ingredients, leaving it up to the maker to decide on the balance of flavours they desire. This suits me well, as when I am inventing original recipes that is how I cook, and it takes me quite some concentration to remember to note the measurements I make!

These tasty treats are reminiscent in flavour to a strudel or cheesecake. Because the recipe contains no added sugar, I recommend leaving the mixture in the fridge overnight to allow the sultanas to sweeten it. You do have to be a bit brave to try this recipe, as it contains parmesan cheese which seems an odd ingredient for a dessert, but just place your trust in me, and go for it!

From "The Art of Cookery: the first modern cookbook", translated and annotated by Jeremy Parzen. University of California press.

Take some good Parmesan cheese that has not been overly aged, and a bit of another type of fresh cheese, and grate, adding some egg whites, whole raisins, some cinnamon, ginger and a bit of saffron. Mix all these things, incorporating well, and make sure that this filling is slightly thick. Then take a thin dough, like that used for making lasagne, and wrap the offelle in this dough, making them large, medium sized or small, as you wish, giving them some yellow colouring on top with saffron, or whatever other colour you wish, and cook them in the oven, and be careful that the oven is not too hot, because they should not be overcooked.

250g cottage cheese
3 egg whites
50g grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
10 threads saffron
100g sultanas

1 batch pasta dough.

Mix the ingredients. Cover and keep cool overnight. Cut out rounds of pastry, brush the edges with water. Place a generous teaspoon of the mix in the centre, fold in half and press the edges to seal.

Bake in an oven at 200 degrees until golden. Better served warm, but tasty either way!

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