Ricotta and baby pear tart from Acquacotta

There’s always something strange about crossing the equator and being propelled into the opposite hemisphere, season and time zone. I tried to explain it to my four year old while we were on the long plane ride from Italy to Australia a couple weeks ago: it’s like the land of opposites – when it’s night here, it’s day there, when it’s winter here, it’s summertime there. She seemed to think that sounded fine,... Read More

The occasional bread baker

Just the mere mention of a horoscope and my husband will just switch off. It produces better results than him plugging your ears and singing “la la la la la”. I could be saying the most intelligent thing he’s ever heard me say but if I randomly throw in a star sign, he’s already not listening. So I tend to keep it on the down-low that in my late teens I devoured astrology books, searching for the perfect combination of... 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

Capri’s flourless chocolate and almond cake

There are a lot of claims out there for ‘best’ chocolate cake recipes, which is not only a wild claim to make, but also a tricky one as, when you consider what makes a chocolate cake ‘the best’, we are talking about preferences that are extremely personal. Chocolate cake can be many things, and serve many purposes. There are ones that are fluffy and moist, a good specimen for a birthday or even a layered wedding cake (like... Read More

Four ways to fall in love with Florence

It was 2001. Two weeks shy of my 21st birthday, exactly 15 years ago. I arrived at the Santa Maria Novella station in Florence after flying halfway around the globe to Rome to start a semester-long etching course as part of my Fine Art degree. I had a suitcase and a few Italian lessons behind me — not enough to understand a conversation but maybe to figure out a menu, for the most part. I had no idea where I would even stay the night, let... Read More

Autumn in Florence and baked apples

Autumn is quite probably my favourite time of the year for cooking. It’s that moment that I wait all year for. That immense relief, like a long sigh after a particularly hard day, when the stifling, stuffy, humid summer air cools and changes. I find relief not just in the temperature, but in being able to cook, and therefore eat, differently, too. For the long summer months, I live mostly off fresh produce, chopped into salads, and simple... Read More

Preserving Italy and Tropea onion jam

I’ve had this cookbook sitting beside my bed for weeks, trying to decide what to cook. I’d pick it up, let a page fall open — almost like letting fate choose the recipe — and get distracted reading. It continued this way for a while. It’s my favourite way to read a cookbook. But the problem for me is that I’m indecisive. Should I make the boozy cherries? That’s how long ago it was when I first started reading... Read More

Raw tomato sauce for hot summer days

Quite possibly the best way to enjoy really good, ripe summer tomatoes – as well as making the most of spending as little time in front of a hot stove as possible – is raw tomato sauce for coating pasta. It’s something Marco makes for lunch on a warm day when he’s craving pasta al pomodoro (his ideal comfort food), but either doesn’t have the patience to cook the sauce or the desire to turn on the stove (except to boil the... Read More

White peach and basil jam

I’m really trying to stop lamenting about the heat — the relentless, humid, Tuscan heat — but it’s hard when it engulfs you 24 hours a day and there’s barely any relief from it aside from taking cold showers throughout the day. But I know I’ll want it all back as soon as winter comes and I’m chilled to the bone with that damp Florentine cold that is so hard to shake off and I’m yearning for long days... Read More

My favourite kitchen items

I like a good list, and particularly ones about kitchen items. There are some good lists out there on what essentials you should keep in the kitchen. Like this one from Food52 and especially this one by Rachel Roddy in The Guardian.  I think partly I like them so I can fantasise about what I will have in my kitchen, one day, when I actually own one. And partly I like to “peek” into other people’s kitchens and find out their habits... Read More