Cotoletta alla Milanese

This is one of those dishes that make a regular appearance on our table at home. It’s simple, it’s crunchy, it’s meaty and always satisfying. But while simple, there is somewhat of an art to getting this golden, breaded veal chop perfectly crisp outside and moist inside. All the credit to cooking and testing countless recipes, I have to say, goes to my husband Marco, who is obsessed with getting the most incredibly crisp breadcrumb... Read More

Italian Table Talk: Ragu di coniglio, a family recipe

It’s perhaps a tad stereotypical but the idea of the family recipe and Italian cuisine really go hand in hand – that idea of the Italian nonna, apron on, standing over bubbling, steaming pots, weaving magic without the use of recipe book, putting her secret touches here and there, getting ready to feed an army, even if there are only four of you eating. It may not be everyone’s nonna, but some still remember her like that. After much... Read More

Italian Table Talk: Lardo di Colonnata

If you’ve ever sat down to an antipasto of Tuscan salumi (the Italian word for cured meats in general; not to be confused please with salami!), you’ll know that Tuscans are serious about their cured meats. It’s the topic of this month’s Italian Table Talk, as January is popularly the month for butchering pigs and making salumi in the natural refrigeration that winter provides (if you’re interested in the how-to side of... Read More

Italian Table Talk: Olives & Hunter’s stew

After living in Tuscany for so many years, November has come to mean many things to me: rainy days, changing colours in the landscape, vino novello (‘new’ wine, that young, grape juice-like wine produced from September’s harvest), white truffles, a cappuccino in the morning to warm up and above all, the olive harvest and that first press of bright green olive oil. There is nothing like this thick, grass-coloured oil, which I have... Read More

The art of being frugal

There aren’t many of us who couldn’t do with saving a bit of cash, especially around this time of year when, leading up to Christmas, money seems to fall between the gaps in your fingers like water. For us this year, the count down to Christmas is also taking on another meaning as we’re about to become parents. It’s an exciting time but the thought of also not being paid for the next six months or so is daunting, to say the... 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

The Perfect Bistecca Fiorentina

Whenever someone asks me about the quintessential Florentine dish, two things immediately come to mind, which should also be an indication of the carnivorous Tuscan diet. The first is panini al lampredotto – tripe sandwiches, which are not everyone’s cup of tea (but they should be!). The other is the colossal bistecca fiorentina – Florentine steak. Curiously, the Italian word bistecca is actually borrowed from the English “beef steak.”... 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

A Florentine farewell: Panini di Lampredotto

If someone were to ask me for the most typical Florentine dish, my answer would be simple: panini di lampredotto. Round bread rolls, opened up and filled with steaming hot lampredotto, topped with salsa verde. It is a dish and a tradition only found in the city of Florence. Lampredotto (the fourth stomach of a cow, technically known as the abomasum in English) is not easily found in other cuisines, but the Florentines have been preparing it for centuries... Read More

La Bombetta: Butchers do it Better

The bombetta. Little, innocent-looking morsels of joy. We came across them for the first time in a butcher shop in the pretty, white-washed town of Cisternino, in Puglia’s Itria Valley.  In these parts, a butcher is not just a butcher. He’ll also grill the meat for you and you can eat right there at tables in the butcher shop or out on the street. They are known as Fornelli Pronti (literally, ‘ready ovens’). We were there for a taste of the... Read More