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

How to make honey from figs

One of the things that I love about traditional Italian home cooking is how essential it is. There is a reason for everything, nothing is by accident. Food just makes sense here, and the more you see the changing landscapes and traditions of each individual region, the more you see why food and its traditions are so different from one part of the peninsula to the next. I recently travelled to Puglia, which is pure heaven for a food enthusiast. A beautiful... 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

Artusi’s July: Raspberry Acetosa

July in Tuscany. The heat is the sort that you cannot get away from. If you live in the city, it’s especially unbearable. Hot African wind blows its way into cities, heating them up like a giant hairdryer. The ancient stones of the palazzi and squares bake in the sun and the heat lingers on for hours after midnight. Anyone smart and organised enough has escaped to the sea or the mountains. Those who haven’t, can’t or are waiting until the traditional... 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

Artusi’s June: Sour Cherry and Cinnamon Sorbet

As the weather warms up, almost every Italian begins thinking of ending their dinner with a stroll down to the local gelateria, a sun-soaked ritual which no doubt goes back to their childhoods. My mother in law recalls Sunday afternoon treats when her father would take her to the gelateria to choose from one of the two handmade gelato flavours on offer: plain cream or chocolate. In Artusi’s much-loved cookbook, he has two menus suggested for the... 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

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