Beans Cooked in a Tuscan Jar

“First you need good beans.” The good advice of Elizabeth David always goes straight to the heart of the matter. We arrived back in Tuscany a week ago for what should be a few good months of family time, visiting friends and research, all peppered with good doses of eating and drinking. No sooner had we arrived at my mother in law’s house, weary from traveling halfway across the globe, did the pantry and kitchen doors open wide in invitation... Read More

What I’m reading

If I could, I would fill my house with books. Being someone who tends to move around a lot, having a love of collecting books can really work against me. I’ve basically left shelves lined with books in every place I’ve lived – with a plan, of course, to one day come back to them. But there are some books that I can’t leave behind, that I will always carry around with me, wherever I go. It’s no secret that I love historical... Read More

Zia Nerina’s Ragu alla Bolognese

Bologna is only 100 kilometres from Florence yet it is a food-world away. The home of mortadella, tortellini, lasagne, cappelletti and tagliatelle pasta – served of course with the most famous pasta sauce in the world, ragu alla bolognese – Bologna is in many ways the centre of Italian cuisine. It helps that this food-centric city is in Emilia-Romagna, a region also blessed with other staples of good Italian food including the balsamic vinegar... Read More

Italian Table Talk: Risotto in Cantina

September in Italy is largely regarded as the season for la vendemmia, the wine harvest, when most of the peninsula is busy picking the grapes that have been carefully tended to over the year. Some regions have already done it by August – places like Puglia’s far south where the intense heat ripens the local grapes fast, or up north in Lombardy where the delicate sparkling Franciacorta wines require grapes with higher acidity. Naturally, for... Read More

Homemade ricotta, the real deal

There is something magical about the process of cheese making; the same kind of magic that I witnessed when I developed my first photograph in the darkroom and watched an image appear from seemingly nothing. In both cases, it was love at first sight. Ricotta is not technically a cheese but a milk product or a by-product of the cheese making process, like its Lombard cousin, mascarpone (whose name by the way in its local dialect means “ricotta”)... Read More

Back to Basics: Brodo

It’s the very first recipe in Pellegrino Artusi’s 700-recipe cookbook. It’s what the older generation of nonni will tell you will make you feel better, no matter what. It’s also the basis of good Italian cooking and something that Elizabeth David said is “one of the most interesting and satisfactory of all cooking processes.” Brodo (literally meaning ‘broth’) is essentially a beef or vegetable stock that is often used on its own as... Read More

Elizabeth David’s Chocolate Cake

Where does one start with a woman like Elizabeth David? Well, perhaps we can start with something this perfect flourless chocolate cake. A slight crust on top, moist inside, this barely-an-inch-tall cake is decadent, yet light, and disappears when it hits your mouth like a kiss. This cake must have had such an impact on ordinary British kitchens in 1960 when this recipe came out in Elizabeth David’s French Provincial Cooking. She is truly one of... Read More