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

Ciliegie sotto spirito — boozy cherries

Preserving fruit under alcohol and sugar is an age old preparation, and an enjoyable one at that. The liqueur infuses the fruit, the fruit infuses the liqueur and the sugar adds a bit of sweetness that takes the edge off the strength of the alcohol. Marco’s nonna used to make these in the summer during the height of cherry season and then serve them to anyone entering the house as a welcome — the ultimate sign of good old fashioned... Read More

Mascarpone and blackberry cake

Amidst my Australian book launch frenzy and the heat wave of late summer crashing its way through the beginning of autumn, there have been berries. First blueberries, which are quickly heading out of season, then raspberries, which my daughter will gobble before anyone else even has a chance to look at them. And finally blackberries, which she won’t touch, so I get to have them. I even attempted to go foraging for my own blackberries, an idea... Read More

Citron, three ways

On my recent trip to Sicily, I brought with me Helena Attlee’s beautiful ode to citrus in Italy, The Land Where Lemons Grow. It’s a fascinating, beautifully written account of the history and current situation of citrus through Italy’s best known citrus areas, from the Medici’s citrus collection in Florence to the mafia tainted mandarins in Palermo, the lemons of Amalfi and Garda and more. The last chapter is about Calabria’s... Read More

Caramelised figs

I’ve mentioned it before; I can’t say no to free produce. Especially when it comes from Marco’s cousin, Lorella, and her husband, Antonio, who have a vegetable garden large enough that it basically makes them self-sustainable. They have ducks and geese, walnut trees and vines for making their own wine. And, right next to the cubby house that my daughter thinks is paradise, is a wonderfully prolific fig tree. She had thought about... Read More

Making food memories with sweet pizza

I have to admit, I was late in the game with discovering Ruth Reichl’s work. In fact, I hadn’t really known much about her until she came to Australia last year for the Melbourne Writers’ Festival to talk about her novel Delicious! But then I was serendipitously sent a wonderful book, the Italian translation of Reichl’s memoir, Tender at the Bone (La parte piu’ tenera in Italian). It’s the first of a series of... Read More

Simple blood orange and rosemary cake

This time tomorrow I will be skipping seasons, leaving this glorious Australian spring for Tuscan autumn – my favourite time of year in my favourite place, I must admit. It’s only for a couple of weeks but I’ll relish this time and make the most of cool mornings, fresh mushrooms, grapes, new olive oil. But just before I go, is this cake. I first caught a glimpse of this beautiful cake via Julia from Ostro. I was immediately obsessed... Read More

Little lemon polenta cakes

There’s a lot of baking going on around here these days, you may have noticed it if you’ve been following on instagram. Biscotti, breads, pastries and the like. Ever since talking about our family going wheat-free, I’ve had people ask if any of it is gluten-free and unfortunately the answer is not much, as I’m doing some rather specific recipe testing for a project that will be revealed all too soon! So I thought that I better... Read More

Cherry Jam and three months in Tuscany

Where is home? It’s always been a complicated question for me. I never spent very long in one country when I was growing up, living back and forth between Australia and China then going off to study in the US. In fact, the longest I have ever spent living in one place, one country, at one time is Florence. Seven years. Although for the last couple of years I’ve been living in my home country, I still feel most at home still in Florence.... Read More

Mascarpone and blackberry chocolate tart

Two things happened last month just before I was getting ready to head to Tuscany for 3 months. One was a visit to a wonderful farm where we picked fresh hazelnuts and wild blackberries. The other was that I made mascarpone at home for the first time. A lot of it. What to do with a fridge full of freshly made mascarpone after recipe testing a few times? Well, it certainly can’t go to waste. And there are only so many tiramisu one can eat (really).... Read More