Ricotta gnocchi, a recipe from Ostro

I have known, and admired, Julia Busuttil Nishimura, for many years now and always felt connected through our love of Italian food, Tuscany (Julia lived in Florence and in Orbetello, just 10 minutes away from where we lived in Porto Ercole while I was writing Acquacotta) and Japan. So I have been eagerly awaiting her debut cookbook, Ostro: The Pleasure that Comes From Slowing Down and Cooking with Simple Ingredients, and it is a beauty — it... Read More

Ricotta and spinach ‘gnudi’ video recipe

When I was writing the manuscript for Florentine, I enlisted the help of an army of recipe testers — about 80 people from all over the world — to test every recipe thoroughly. Only one came back to me consistently with problems. From Minnesota to Melbourne, three testers wrote to me that their very first attempt at making Tuscan gnudi (ricotta and spinach balls that, rather than be encased in pasta like for ravioli, are simply dusted... Read More

Borage and ricotta crepes

I had seen it before, those fuzzy, furry leaves and stalks, with the pretty, star-pointed purple flowers, but up until that moment that I saw them sitting in a basket at the market stalls, I admit I had never taken notice of it as a food. It grow along cracks in stone walls and along the roadside near my home in Settignano, which is blooming with spring goodness right now: robinia (black locust) trees, wild garlic (three-cornered leek) and even... Read More

Spaghetti with monk’s beard

The sudden burst of spring produce in the market after a long, monotonous winter of cavolo nero and bright oranges is one of the things that constantly reminds me why I love living and eating in Italy. A wander through the market like any other becomes, in spring time, a new experience. I feel like a fresh arrival, like it’s my first time walking through my local market. There are long, twisty fava bean pods, waiting to be podded and munched... Read More

Raw tomato sauce for hot summer days

Quite possibly the best way to enjoy really good, ripe summer tomatoes – as well as making the most of spending as little time in front of a hot stove as possible – is raw tomato sauce for coating pasta. It’s something Marco makes for lunch on a warm day when he’s craving pasta al pomodoro (his ideal comfort food), but either doesn’t have the patience to cook the sauce or the desire to turn on the stove (except to boil the... Read More

Pumpkin and chestnut gnocchi

“Cookbooks aren’t read in a linear fashion,” my editor explained when we decided to cut up my lengthy introduction to Florentine and place bits and pieces strategically throughout the book instead. I knew it was true. I, too, with very few exceptions (Alice B. Toklas’ cookbook and Rachel Roddy’s Five Quarters for example), love flipping randomly through cookbooks rather than reading them cover to cover. Especially when... Read More

Pasta mista con patate e cozze – Pasta with potatoes and mussels

Living in a port town (and an island-like port town at that) means I am spoilt for choice when it comes to seafood. And when the supermarket isn’t that handy for me to get to but the local pescivendolo (the fishmonger – though I should point out, here too I am spoilt because it’s not just a fishmonger but the outlet direct from the fishermen themselves) is, it means fish is often on the menu for dinner. I particularly love shellfish.... Read More

A Friday list and rosemary maltagliati pasta

Time has been slipping away from me lately. The manuscript is in but somehow I feel busier than ever and suddenly, somehow, it’s almost December. I happened to see this wonderful advice today by Lisa Clifford (while scrolling through social media with one hand and feeding/wiping up after/making play dough figurines for a nearly two year old with the other) and it could not have been more timely. It reminded me to find a little time to myself,... Read More

A book deal & pappardelle with fresh porcini

As long as I can remember I have wanted to write a book. But in more recent years, the book of my dreams has been a cookbook. Like many with a similar dream, it’s really the whole reason I began this blog. And then one day, just like in a dream, I received an email, out of the blue. Are you doing a book? Asked the subject line. I read it and re-read it. And then, Would you be interested in the idea? It was from one of my favourite publishers,... Read More

Beet ravioli with poppyseed sauce

I began researching this recipe a while ago when I decided to put it into my Regional Italian Food column schedule. I was sort of obsessed with the intense magenta of the beetroot filling and the incredibly simple pairing of butter and poppyseeds as a sauce. I thought, if anything, people would love looking at it but that hopefully the beauty of the dish would be enough to inspire them to try out the recipe too – that’s how I got hooked. It’s... Read More