Crostata di Susine Selvatiche (Wild Plum Tart)

This is not a very practical recipe unless you chance upon a basket of wild plums at your local farmgate, like I did, while picking out some enormous, gnarled tomatoes, sunny zucchini flowers and purple and white eggplants the size of my fist. Or, even better, find yourself a wild plum tree that no one else (birds and bugs included) has noticed. In years of scouring farmers markets, I have never once come across wild plums, even though they are well-used... Read More

Rose petal and ricotta tartlets

When a friend tells you she has wild roses blooming everywhere, it’s not hard to imagine where the conversation headed to next… to turning them into rose petal jam, of course. My friend Simona Quirini and her family run the beautiful Canto del Maggio, a B&B, restaurant and garden, about one hour’s drive from Florence. We arrived to catch Simona with a wooden crate in her hands, already half full of blush pink flower heads,... Read More

A menu for a new year + wild boar with chocolate sauce

It may not be new — the inspiration from this menu comes from Pellegrino Artusi’s nineteenth century cookbook — but it certainly is a nice way to start a new year. I’ve written about Artusi’s menus before, but in the very early stages of this blog (which has just turned 6 years old!). They have always charmed me and fascinated me, as an insight into what might be on tables in the late 1800s. Unsurprisingly, the menus... Read More

Ciliegie sotto spirito — boozy cherries

Preserving fruit under alcohol and sugar is an age old preparation, and an enjoyable one at that. The liqueur infuses the fruit, the fruit infuses the liqueur and the sugar adds a bit of sweetness that takes the edge off the strength of the alcohol. Marco’s nonna used to make these in the summer during the height of cherry season and then serve them to anyone entering the house as a welcome — the ultimate sign of good old fashioned... Read More

Dolce Firenze & Pride and Pudding Cookbook

A wonderful thing arrived on my doorstep the day before flying back to Italy: an advance copy of Regula Ysewijn’s Pride and Pudding (Murdoch books). A beautifully designed book devoted to the history of British puddings, both savoury and sweet, it’s been a labour of love for Regula aka Miss Foodwise (who not only wrote it but also did all the design, styling and the photography) and her husband Bruno Vergauwen (who did the absolutely... Read More

Crema Inglese

I found myself recently with an overload of eggs. We use eggs a lot in our household. Between my two-year-old’s favourite breakfast (soft boiled egg with toast fingers) and the amount of cake baking I tend to do, we go through a lot. That was one of the many reasons I wanted to get a couple of chickens for the backyard, but around the time our two black, fluffy Cochins both became broody and suddenly stopped laying, I serendipitously met the... Read More

Four ingredient (gluten & dairy-free) birthday cake

When I say that this cake only needs four ingredients I mean the frosting too. And what’s more, it’s completely gluten free and dairy free. It’s easy to make and light as a feather. In short, it’s a pretty magical cake that makes you realise you can do so much with just eggs, sugar and corn starch (the fourth ingredient is a 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar, which you could even leave out if you were very, very confident about... Read More

Semolina and loquat pudding and an anniversary

It’s hard to believe that two years ago, a few bloggers interested in promoting real Italian culture though food, began a little series called Italian Table Talk. Two years! Once a month, and now, more recently, bimonthly, we “get together”, throw around ideas and come out with a theme, a topic or an ingredient that showcases an aspect of Italian food culture. I’m honoured to be the only non-Italian in this group, together with such... Read More

An egg for a child

One of her first food words was “uova”, eggs, which also happen to be her favourite breakfast, usually soft boiled and eaten with a spoon (a bit messy as she insists on feeding herself) or fried, sunny side down. It’s one of the few foods I can easily get my little girl eat. Partly I think it’s the fascination with the egg itself – that hard shell outside, smooth and weighty in her little dimpled hands, then so fragile when cracked. It’s... Read More

Pistachio, polenta and olive oil pound cake

I was quite amused the first time I heard Italians talk about, “plum cake”, even more so when I realised that the cake in question was not made with plums at all but was actually a pound cake (as romantic as it sounds, actually, little, mass-produced, packaged “plum cakes” are commonly found in the supermarket as a breakfast item). To me, it always seemed as though this erroneous translation was a matter of someone mishearing “pound cake”. It’s... Read More