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

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

Artusi’s January: Biancomangiare

Artusi’s cookbook is probably the first book I pick up to check a recipe, which is not always convenient seeing as it was written in 1891 and some of the methods, ingredients and techniques described just can’t be produced the same way over a century later. But it is somehow still current. I mean, his recipes are still the best traditional recipes. And with his witty anecdotes and practical recipes, it is actually a very good read. It’s an... Read More

Chestnut crepes: Preserving the taste of autumn

Chestnut flour is a great reminder of autumn that easily stretches out my favourite season to last throughout winter. Readily available throughout Tuscany, chestnut flour is produced locally all over the region from Prato to Amiata to be made into pasta, bread and pastries. It is also the essential ingredient in one of my favourite cold weather snacks, Necci. Chestnut flour has a naturally low moisture content, which means in centuries past it was... 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

Christmas Leftovers: Nutella and Panettone pudding

The Florentines are great at doing leftovers. Whether it’s getting creative with the unwanted parts of animals or reusing last night’s dinner, many of Florence’s most famous dishes are based on the concept of recooking leftovers and not wasting any food. Soups such as Ribollita and Pappa al Pomodoro or the summery bread salad, Panzanella, have yesterday’s stale bread at the heart of their recipes. There are also countless dishes that use leftover... Read More