Bonci’s Focaccia Pugliese

Few things are as good as really well-made, fresh bread. That initial crunch, then the springy softness of the inside, perhaps still warm. Even better when it’s homemade and the smell of bread baking fills your kitchen and lingers throughout the house. I’m lucky to have a passionate home baker as a husband. I love having homemade bread around but if it weren’t for him, I probably wouldn’t be able to get all the way through... Read More

A column for Food52: Regional Italian Food

It’s been busy over here lately, with lots of researching and recipe testing going on in between nap times and the demands of a nearly eight month old (none of which I am able to do without the help of Marco, my husband and number one pasta maker), but finally I’m very excited to announce the launch of my new weekly column over at Food52, dedicated to regional Italian food traditions and recipes. The Regional Italian Food column will... Read More

Juls’ Pappa al Pomodoro

It’s hard to imagine the days before I met Giulia (you may know her better as Juls from Juls’ Kitchen) and we weren’t yet friends, messaging each other constantly and plotting our next meal together. Between Florence and her countryside home in the Sienese hills, we weren’t exactly neighbours but somehow we found time – and plenty of it – to get together to cook or eat, and usually both, together. Our first meeting itself... Read More

Schiacciata all’uva – Florentine grape bread

This is one of those things that you crave for many months of the year but can only find for a fleeting moment. Then you have to wait patiently for the rest of the year before they will appear again in bakery shop windows. You can of course make it at home (that’s what the recipe is for!), but grapes – and the best ones to use for this delicious treat, local Tuscan wine grapes such as canaiolo or American concord grapes, called uva fragola... Read More

Pan di Ramerino – Rosemary & raisin buns

These lovely little buns with a delightfully sticky top, fragrant with fresh rosemary and studded with sweet, zibibbo raisins, have always been a little indulgence of mine. Often written also as pandiramerino (which looks like you’re saying it so fast that you don’t even need to take a breath), pan di Ramerino, means literally “rosemary bread”: pan (pane or bread), di (of), ramerino (rosemary, which is actually rosmarino in Italian... Read More

Italian Table Talk: The Longevity of Tuscan bread

If there were one defining ingredient in a Tuscan kitchen, one absolutely essential part of every single meal, it would have to be bread; not just any bread, but pane toscano, Tuscan bread. It’s a large, rustic, usually oval-shaped loaf baked in a woodfired oven with a hard and crunchy outer shell and an inside of bland (yes, bland), springy white bread. It has the physical characteristic of only staying soft for one day, but once stale it lasts... Read More

A Sustainable Calabrian Lunch: la Pittea Tropeana

I’ve recently discovered Calabrian cooking. It’s just the tip of the iceberg, but it’s a glorious one, revealing very quickly that although it’s essential and simple, there is nothing simplistic about its flavours, the ancient traditions or the heart and soul that goes into it. Brought together by a mutual love of food and a series of coincidences, my Calabrian friend Anna, whose bucatini alla reggina had me at hello, has done it again with... 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

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

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