Italian Table Talk: Sweet Tomato Jam

The tradition of preserving food, whether fruit, vegetables, meat or cheese is so fundamental to the cuisine of each Italian region and is one that still lies very close to the hearts of many, who cannot do without their mother’s plum jam, their nonna’s preserved mushrooms in oil or their neighbour’s own prosciutto. Preserves, the topic of this month’s Italian Table Talk, where four food bloggers discuss an aspect or tradition of Italian cuisine,... Read More

The Perfect Bistecca Fiorentina

Whenever someone asks me about the quintessential Florentine dish, two things immediately come to mind, which should also be an indication of the carnivorous Tuscan diet. The first is panini al lampredotto – tripe sandwiches, which are not everyone’s cup of tea (but they should be!). The other is the colossal bistecca fiorentina – Florentine steak. Curiously, the Italian word bistecca is actually borrowed from the English “beef steak.”... Read More

Artusi’s Nocino – a spicy walnut liqueur

Saint days are not only times for rituals, celebrations and traditions but they are also handy seasonal reminders, like a bookmark in the calendar. San Giovanni or St John the Baptist day, June 24, is a perfect example. Being near the summer solstice, it’s a day that signifies midsummer and celebrates the bountiful summer season. St John the Baptist is Florence’s patron saint so on June 24 the Florentines are gearing up for a day off with... Read More

Ben venga il Minestrone

The Italians are brilliant with words, especially when it comes to food. Take that most humble of dishes, soup. In English, we pretty much have the one word to describe it. Oxford Companion to Italian Food author Gillian Riley makes the point that Italians have many specific words for the dish while English is rather limited, “Soup and stew are easygoing, almost interchangeable words in English, used to describe many recipes, anything from a thick... Read More

The language of food

The Italian language is fascinating and beautiful, but even more so for a food lover. Dialects and slang all add to the mix, making it even richer than what the basics cover. The brilliant Italian-American linguist Mario Pei knew a thing or two about this. The Roman-born, American-bred Columbia University Language Professor wrote over 50 books on the subject of language. I experienced nothing short of an epiphany when I was reading something... Read More

Back to Basics: Brodo

It’s the very first recipe in Pellegrino Artusi’s 700-recipe cookbook. It’s what the older generation of nonni will tell you will make you feel better, no matter what. It’s also the basis of good Italian cooking and something that Elizabeth David said is “one of the most interesting and satisfactory of all cooking processes.” Brodo (literally meaning ‘broth’) is essentially a beef or vegetable stock that is often used on its own as... Read More

Bomboloni that will get you out of bed

Morning rituals. Sometimes they’re just things you could literally do in your sleep, helping you get through the morning in a blind haze. And in some cases they are what you get out of bed for. Bomboloni would come under the latter category. The local coffee shop near my mother in law’s house sits in the main piazza of a sleepy town centre in Tuscany. People gather there throughout the day to chat, to take their espresso at the counter (standing... Read More

Zabaione, sweet and easy

Around this time of the year in Australia, it’s only natural to make pavlova for every summer party. It’s the quintessential Australian dessert, with a crispy-on-the-outside-fluffy-on-the-inside meringue, freshly whipped cream and seasonal fruit. But  then you’re left with all those egg yolks, which I hate to waste. So I’ve found the best thing for those orphan egg yolks: zabaione. In fact, this old fashioned Italian dessert –... Read More

Artusi’s December: Ricotta Tortelli

At some point between Christmas and New Year’s, in a haze of inevitable over-indulgence, I find I begin craving a night in, perhaps mostly spent on a cozy couch, with a steaming mug of herbal tea and my ideal comfort food. Tortelli or their littler versions, tortellini, have to be one of the ultimate comfort foods. They hold a place in the hearts of many Italians, especially at this time of year where this pasta often makes an appearance at the... Read More

Artusi’s November: Pumpkin Pie

I’ve said many times how much I love autumn, particularly for the season’s food. It just feels natural to be a little more indulgent at this time of the year, allowing yourself plenty of comfort food or that extra slice of pie. Pumpkin has to be right up there as one of my favourite autumn vegetables. Just before leaving Italy a few weeks ago, we had pumpkins coming at us from all directions, most notably from my husband’s nonna’s... Read More