Artusi’s Torta Margherita: 3 simple ingredients

This classic Italian cake is one of those things that every cook should have up his or her sleeve, especially when it’s Pellegrino Artusi’s recipe, a 120 year old recipe that is yeast-free, gluten-free and dairy-free, even without meaning to be. It’s made with just three ingredients – eggs, sugar and potato starch – for a dead simple, thrifty and light-as-a-feather cake. A genius recipe and one that should be committed... Read More

Nonna Genia’s Torta di Pasta Frolla

With the autumn weather in Melbourne getting cooler and a little drizzly, I’ve been craving something sweet lately. Something innocent to nibble together with a cup of tea or a little espresso. I found the perfect thing while thumbing through one of the most treasured cookbooks I have on my bookshelf, Nonna Genia. The classic cookbook of the rolling hills of the Langhe area of Piemonte is full of the centuries old recipes collected by Luciano De... Read More

Tuscan Easter: Schiacciata di Pasqua

“Variety is the spice of life. Italy has infinite variety and infinite spice.” Professor Mario Pei in 1950 was right on the money when he wrote this in reference to Italy’s strikingly diverse regions and cuisines. Not only are Italian regions so different that language, food, habits, rituals and culture change from border to border, but – in a smaller and no less distinct way – this happens even from town to town within a region. This is... Read More

Pane alle Olive

There’s nothing like the smell of freshly baked bread wafting through the house to create a warm and fuzzy feeling. Perhaps the only thing that beats it is that first bite of a slice of hot, freshly baked bread, crunchy on the outside, soft and steaming still on the inside, drizzled in some extra virgin olive oil. Marco, my husband, is the baker in the house. Tuscans don’t know how to live without bread. If there’s no bread on the table the... Read More

Elizabeth David’s Chocolate Cake

Where does one start with a woman like Elizabeth David? Well, perhaps we can start with something this perfect flourless chocolate cake. A slight crust on top, moist inside, this barely-an-inch-tall cake is decadent, yet light, and disappears when it hits your mouth like a kiss. This cake must have had such an impact on ordinary British kitchens in 1960 when this recipe came out in Elizabeth David’s French Provincial Cooking. She is truly one of... Read More

A Spicy Slice of Panforte

I love finding old cookbooks, hand-me-downs from relatives or books found rummaging through second hand bookshops. Once, I even carted home a box full of old cookbooks waiting for the recycling truck. There are treasures in these books, even little ones, like a dog-ear and stained page from that well-used recipe, or – my favourite – a handwritten recipe tucked away in the pages. An old book on Tuscan cooking borrowed from my husband’s aunt had... 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

Hazelnut and Espresso cake for a Birthday

It’s the first time in twenty years that I get to celebrate my birthday at home. Home is a funny concept for me at the moment. It no longer means the home that I have known for the past seven years in Italy, or the one I’m going to make in a new city on the other side of the world. At the moment in this homeless state, “home” is actually a house I have never lived in, the house that my parents bought when I left the nest for good to... Read More

Fig Frangipane Tart and falling for Florence

I have to admit that my love affair with Florence did not start with the typical “love at first sight:” But it wasn’t far off. I was a twenty-year-old art student when I had my first taste of living in Florence, exactly ten years ago. I arrived at the train station with my luggage and not much else – no where to stay, nothing booked, no contacts. I can’t imagine ever doing that now but I guess I was more of a spontaneous traveller... Read More

Cherry tomato schiacciata

In a couple of week’s time I am going to feed myself exclusively on one thing, schiacciata all’uva. It begins appearing in Florentine bakery windows in September (some even earlier) and only lasts a month at the most, which is why I’m going to make the most of it while I can. Schiacciata is basically a Tuscan focaccia, the word literally means “flattened” and describes its shape. It’s made as an every day bread... Read More