“Olive leaf” pasta with tomato and mozzarella

I’m so in love with this pasta — just two ingredients (three if you count a splash of water), spinach and durum wheat flour, rolled and coaxed into the shape of olive leaves. No eggs. It’s basically a green dough for orecchiette, the classic Pugliese ‘little ear’ pasta shapes. Because they are hand-rolled, orecchiette are generally a little thick and when cooked have a good bite to them, they hold their shape well and... Read More

Why our favourite pizza dough is Roman

My husband Marco has been on the search for his perfect pizza dough. He has long been the one in our family who loves making and experimenting with dough (like with this recipe for Bonci’s focaccia pugliese). You see, he loves pizza and bread and it’s no exaggeration to say he could happily live off them alone if it weren’t for the slightly negative reaction he gets when he eats it, thanks to a wheat intolerance. He has been managing... Read More

Budino di Riso (Baked rice pudding) from Tortellini at Midnight

This isn’t a pretty dessert, let’s face it. But then so many treats that you could label comforting aren’t usually, are they? And I would put this in the same category as bread and butter pudding, rice or semolina pudding, even french toast or pancakes. It’s simply good, rather wholesome, definitely rustic and absolutely homely. An oldie (literally; it comes from Pellegrino Artusi’s classic cookbook from 1891) but a... Read More

Raspberry Pandoro Tiramisu with Homemade Mascarpone

I’m back home in Australia for a couple of months, a blissfully extended holiday with the family before a busy and exciting book tour! It’s been a long time since I’ve spent Christmas and New Year’s here, let alone my mother’s January birthday, so I wanted to create a very special birthday cake for her. Around this time, the raspberry bush – taking over a large corner of the garden — flourishes and every... Read More

Ad occhio, cooking by eye

Ad occhio, Italian for “by eye”. It’s a very natural way to cook, measuring by eye and cooking not by the clock but by the way something looks (or smells or feels). It’s the way I first learned to cook – standing on a stool so I could look over my grandmother’s electric stove top, learning to scramble eggs. Or making pancakes dotted with banana slices or fried rice with eggs (still my go-to comfort food) with my mother. These... Read More

Peach and amaretti tart

Most of the time I buy fresh produce based on what looks good — and then I decide what to prepare with it at home. I really do feel like it’s the best way to shop and eat because more often than not the things you come home with are the freshest, the most in season, the most delicious ingredients to start out with. Right now the tomatoes look good, the firm, small, ribbed zucchini with bright yellow blooms still attached do too, and... Read More

Fagioli del Purgatorio: a summery bean salad

Summer in Italy means one main thing for me — trying to keep cool, which includes staying away from the stove. Luckily, it’s also the time of year when fresh produce is so ripe and sweet, you barely need to do anything to it anyway — I practically live off tomatoes in the summer, dousing them in olive oil and eating with thickly torn pieces of buffalo mozzarella, usually. Or chopping or squeezing juicy ones raw into a sauce to... Read More

Easter Adventures in Tuscany and tackling Carol Field’s Colomba

Surely the best thing about colomba, the Easter equivalent to panettone, is the sugared, toasted almond topping that covers the whole thing and crumbles when you cut it, so you sort of have no choice but just to pick up the crusty sugary bits and eat those on their own. I’d always thought that colomba would make a very good baking project but was somewhat intimated by getting the right shape  — it’s vaguely in the shape of a dove,... Read More

A crateful of clementines

What would you do – you’re driving past hundreds of citrus trees. With a better look, they’re mandarins, or, more precisely clementines. On the roadside is a truck selling crates of them for 1 euro a kilo. You stop, right? And buy a crate of 10 kilos. Even though you have to get on a plane the next day. I couldn’t help myself. Marco, who I had already made turn 180 degrees to drive back to the truck, gave me that look of disapproval... Read More

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