Mascarpone cream and strawberry sauce

A week ago when we left Tuscany, the fridge was full of strawberries. Ripe, perfumed spring strawberries, so red, pretty and tempting that we couldn’t help it – we kept buying punnets whenever we saw them. Needless to say, there were quite a few strawberries to consume before heading back to Melbourne’s autumn. I’ve always appreciated how simple Tuscan desserts really are. Rustic, not necessarily pretty, and full of tradition,... Read More

Ricotta & Dark Chocolate Cake for Zita

There are times when I’m struck by the urge for a piece of cake. Nothing fancy, or too rich or indulgent, just a simple cake that can turn a lonely cup of tea into the perfect morning or afternoon treat, a pick me up and a good excuse to invite a friend over to share it with. This is just that cake. Despite the rich-sounding ingredients in its title, this is a rather humble, plain cake, with a soft crumb, a slight denseness to it thanks to... Read More

A love for polenta cake

The first thing that attracted me to this cake recipe before I had ever even tasted it was its rather romantic name, Amor Polenta. It’s an unusual name whose origins have long been forgotten but it is perfectly fitting for someone partial to polenta, or should I say, with a love for polenta. There’s something about polenta that I adore in a cake – the way it soaks up the other flavours around it, that golden colour, and most of all,... Read More

Frittelle di Riso

They have a saying that I love in Tuscany, “Fritta è bona anche una ciabatta,” which means even a slipper is good deep fried (in other words, anything is good if it’s deep fried). Fried foods are a beloved part of Tuscan cuisine, whether it’s the fritto misto of the seaside (a “mix” of calamari, baby octopus, prawns and little fish, usually), the fritto of the countryside (rabbit and seasonal vegetables like artichokes... Read More

An idea for a wedding cake

I have a confession to make. I rarely cook the recipes out of food magazines, even though I’ve been collecting and reading them (devouring is probably a good word here too) since I was about sixteen.  I have always just like looking at the pretty pictures and getting inspiration to make my own things. This is true even more so now, I tend to buy mainstream magazines less and less and turn to historical cookbooks for real recipes. What do I... Read More

Italian Table Talk: Carnival & Berlingozzo cake

For a celebration known as Fat Tuesday, you might think that the traditional recipes would be a chance for gluttons to gleefully stuff their faces with, well, fatty things. Mid-week, no less. Well it’s sort of true. Martedì Grasso (also known as Mardi Gras in French), or Fat Tuesday, which just happens to be tomorrow, February 12, is probably the most well known day of Carnevale, Carnival. It represents the end of that lavish, drunken, festive... Read More

Artusi’s Almond Milk Gelato

After last week’s Amaretti Ice Cream Sandwiches, I’ve still got this thing for almonds. And ice cream. Or more precisely, gelato. In this case, it’s almond milk gelato, scented with a splash of orange blossom water – a 120 year old recipe from my favourite, Pellegrino Artusi‘s cookbook. I’ve used his gelato and sorbet recipes before and, whether using a modern ice cream maker or the good ol’ freeze and stir method,... Read More

Amaretti Ice Cream Sandwiches

The very first recipe I ever made out of Ada Boni‘s classic recipe book, The Talisman, was probably also one of the easiest: amaretti biscuits, or what my 1950 English translation of The Talisman calls ‘Italian macaroons’ (not to be mistaken for French macarons, those overly fashionable discs of colourful meringue sandwiching sweet, fudgy ganache filling). ‘Italian macaroons’, much more like a good old fashioned coconut... Read More

Artusi’s Semolina Cake

There are times when something sweet, comforting, even old fashioned, is exactly what the doctor ordered. For me, it could be a sponge cake with fresh whipped cream and strawberries, an apple and rhubarb crumble or a short, crumbly crostata with homemade jam. But some Italians might find that a torta di semolino, semolina cake, brings a smile of nostalgia as they recall their grandmothers making this delectable yet simple, humble cake. This cake’s... Read More

Pesche Ripiene – Stuffed Peaches

Simplicity. It’s such a reassuring concept. Everyone knows that the simple things in life are often the best, and honestly, who doesn’t need to simplify their lives every now and then? No one needs to overcomplicate their lives. And at this time of year, when the holiday rush and madness seems to be over and – well here in the Southern Hemisphere anyway – the long summer days call out for time to be spent enjoying them, you can relish... Read More