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

Cantuccini & conviviality

What was I thinking when I decided to pre-heat the oven on one of Florence’s hottest summer afternoons? It was all in the name of photography, actually. I suppose I could have decided to photograph something that didn’t involve turning on the oven. I could have done a panzanella, or rearranged some slices of proscuitto e melone on a plate, but I wanted to capture something that was not only quintessentially Tuscan but something that also... Read More

Pastiera Napoletana

I am a self-confessed dessert addict. If anything rich, creamy and sweet comes my way, I have to have it.  Since the Tuscan idea of dessert mostly tends to be healthy fresh fruit or biscotti, and doesn’t fully satisfy the dessert addict within, this Easter I’m turning to Southern Italy for some inspiration and tradition – the Pastiera Napoletana. It’s rather like a cheesecake (of sorts) but with a pastry base and lattice top. When I first... Read More

Celli Ripieni: Jam biscuits and little birds

I love these little biscuits for so many reasons. First because they are basically little dumplings, filled with goodness. I love dumplings and I love cookies, so this is just a match made in heaven for me. Another reason I love these is that they are called “stuffed birds” because in one of the many traditional forms of these cookies from Abruzzo, they are made in the shape of little birds for the Festival of St Antonino in Aquila. Did I mention... Read More

Plum wine Tiramisu masquerading as a Pavlova

My beautiful friend Giulia from Jul’s Kitchen has inspired me to take part in one of those hypothetical questions that everyone should stop and ask themselves one day: se tu fossi una ricetta, if you were a recipe, what would you be? I spent an entire week pondering the question. Some people can come up with answer without even thinking. My husband, without even blinking said, “Fegatelli.” A Tuscan dish of pigs liver wrapped in its caul... Read More

Crostata di Marmellata

The crostata is one of those much-loved homemade baked goods that comes in many forms and varieties that many Italians grew up with. These days you can find them in every single bar or café in Florence and Tuscany, usually a version filled with apricot jam or blackberry jam, to be eaten with a cappuccino for your breakfast or mid-morning snack. The crostata di marmellata is one of those things that every now and then the sweet tooth in me totally... Read More

Persimmon cake: The winter fruit

Persimmons for me have that special nostalgic power that certain foods or smells or tastes imprint onto children’s brains. For me, it takes me back to Japan, to my grandparent’s house just outside Tokyo. I can see these plump, orange fruits lined up along the wide windowsill, ripening, with the heater burning away underneath. They were taken off the tree before the crows got to them and would be eaten only once they had become jammy and you could... Read More