The occasional bread baker

Just the mere mention of a horoscope and my husband will just switch off. It produces better results than him plugging your ears and singing “la la la la la”. I could be saying the most intelligent thing he’s ever heard me say but if I randomly throw in a star sign, he’s already not listening. So I tend to keep it on the down-low that in my late teens I devoured astrology books, searching for the perfect combination of... Read More

A menu for a new year + wild boar with chocolate sauce

It may not be new — the inspiration from this menu comes from Pellegrino Artusi’s nineteenth century cookbook — but it certainly is a nice way to start a new year. I’ve written about Artusi’s menus before, but in the very early stages of this blog (which has just turned 6 years old!). They have always charmed me and fascinated me, as an insight into what might be on tables in the late 1800s. Unsurprisingly, the menus... Read More

Strawberry tree jam (Marmellata di corbezzoli)

I didn’t notice it at first, the skinny tree with dark leaves in our shared garden at our new home in Settignano, in the hills above Florence. I was too taken by the green vines hanging like a curtain over our entrance, keeping the house cool in the humid Florentine summer. But now that it’s autumn and the the leaves still left on the vines have turned a shade of rose champagne, that skinny green tree is sporting bright vermillion fruit,... Read More

Saffron and ricotta frosting for a birthday cake

It seems like a long way to go about getting some fresh saffron to frost a birthday cake with, but it was worth it. I’ve been plotting for months with my friend, Sarah Fioroni, to let me get involved with the saffron harvest at her family’s farm in San Gimignano. It’s not the first time I’ve celebrated my birthday with a saffron theme on the farm at Fattoria Poggio Alloro — there was this pumpkin and saffron risotto... Read More

Capri’s flourless chocolate and almond cake

There are a lot of claims out there for ‘best’ chocolate cake recipes, which is not only a wild claim to make, but also a tricky one as, when you consider what makes a chocolate cake ‘the best’, we are talking about preferences that are extremely personal. Chocolate cake can be many things, and serve many purposes. There are ones that are fluffy and moist, a good specimen for a birthday or even a layered wedding cake (like... Read More

Preserving Italy and Tropea onion jam

I’ve had this cookbook sitting beside my bed for weeks, trying to decide what to cook. I’d pick it up, let a page fall open — almost like letting fate choose the recipe — and get distracted reading. It continued this way for a while. It’s my favourite way to read a cookbook. But the problem for me is that I’m indecisive. Should I make the boozy cherries? That’s how long ago it was when I first started reading... Read More

Coffee, almonds and ice

Three ingredients, and there you have my favourite type of iced coffee ever, and my ideal pick me up on a slow, hot afternoon. ‘Caffe in ghiaccio’ or Caffe Leccese is a favourite summertime drink in Lecce, the beautiful capital of Puglia‘s southernmost area of Salerno, something I tried — and got hooked on — during my first trip to the baroque town about five years ago. In it’s simplest form, caffe in ghiaccio... 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

Making lady fingers at home

Lady fingers, also known as savoiardi in Italian, are widely used in dessert making, namely, for soaking up rum-splashed coffee and layering into a glass dish with that creamy, rich, sweetened and egg-fortified mascarpone for tiramisu. There are other biscuits you can use but I consider savoiardi indispensable for tiramisu. My Tuscan mother in law prefers to use Pavesini, which are thin, finger-shaped children’s cookies, but being so thin,... Read More

Dolce Firenze & Pride and Pudding Cookbook

A wonderful thing arrived on my doorstep the day before flying back to Italy: an advance copy of Regula Ysewijn’s Pride and Pudding (Murdoch books). A beautifully designed book devoted to the history of British puddings, both savoury and sweet, it’s been a labour of love for Regula aka Miss Foodwise (who not only wrote it but also did all the design, styling and the photography) and her husband Bruno Vergauwen (who did the absolutely... Read More