On nettle pasta & acquiring food skills

Making fresh pasta from scratch is something I’ve only recently acquired. Or to be really honest, it’s something that my husband Marco has acquired. Whenever there is bread making or pasta making involved, he’s my man. There’s just something about him and dough. Maybe it’s those big, slightly rough hands – they may not be delicate enough for, say, cake decorating, but he’s much more a fresh pasta and bread lover... Read More

Springtime foraging & wild garlic frittelle

There is something enormously satisfying about foraging for food, something that makes you feel that even in the city, you can skip the supermarket and go out and search for your own food in the parks around your suburb. More than just being frugal (although that in itself has its own merits), Nigel Slater put it perfectly when he said, “the pleasure is more the idea of exploiting something that is otherwise considered of little use.” For a novice... Read More

The Ideal Energy Meal: Farro Salad

There are just under ten weeks before my due date (yes, folks, that means less than ten weeks till Christmas eve!) and I have just discovered that I have gestational diabetes. It means that for the next ten weeks while I have diabetes, I just have to be a bit more careful with what I eat and when, which can be a challenge for any food blogger, but luckily it’s not an overhaul of my usual diet, it’s just a tad more picky. It means choosing... Read More

Eat your greens: Fagiolini sfiziosi

Classic Tuscan dishes are rather meaty, hearty, starchy dishes, with few vegetables playing the heroes. Yes, tomatoes make a big appearance, especially in the summer when bright, fresh tomatoes are used in the wonderful bread salad, panzanella, and bruschetta. Spinach or its other green leafy relatives, silverbeet and kale, are found in bread soups or mixed with ricotta in pasta fillings. But do you see what I mean by starchy? When you want a contorno,... Read More

Tuscan Easter: Schiacciata di Pasqua

“Variety is the spice of life. Italy has infinite variety and infinite spice.” Professor Mario Pei in 1950 was right on the money when he wrote this in reference to Italy’s strikingly diverse regions and cuisines. Not only are Italian regions so different that language, food, habits, rituals and culture change from border to border, but – in a smaller and no less distinct way – this happens even from town to town within a region. This is... Read More

Ben venga il Minestrone

The Italians are brilliant with words, especially when it comes to food. Take that most humble of dishes, soup. In English, we pretty much have the one word to describe it. Oxford Companion to Italian Food author Gillian Riley makes the point that Italians have many specific words for the dish while English is rather limited, “Soup and stew are easygoing, almost interchangeable words in English, used to describe many recipes, anything from a thick... Read More

Artusi’s June: Sour Cherry and Cinnamon Sorbet

As the weather warms up, almost every Italian begins thinking of ending their dinner with a stroll down to the local gelateria, a sun-soaked ritual which no doubt goes back to their childhoods. My mother in law recalls Sunday afternoon treats when her father would take her to the gelateria to choose from one of the two handmade gelato flavours on offer: plain cream or chocolate. In Artusi’s much-loved cookbook, he has two menus suggested for the... Read More

Stinging Nettle Tortellini

The great thing about being part of a big Italian family is that if you need to find something, someone will always have it or will endeavour to find it for you. In my case, a few weeks ago it was untreated roses to make rose petal jam. Marco’s cousin came to the rescue. She had a wonderful fuchsia-coloured rose bush growing against an old tin shed. Going back to her garden again for my second batch of jam, she had something else waiting for me:... Read More

Artusi’s May: Tuscan Chicken Liver Pate

Artusi’s May: Tuscan chicken liver pate If there was one defining Tuscan recipe for me it might just be the recipe for chicken liver pate served on crostini, generally known in Italian as Crostini di Fegatini, Crostini Neri or Crostini Toscani. This favourite Tuscan antipasto is rustic, tasty, cheap and sensible (why throw away a perfectly good part of the chicken?) and it features on the menu of literally every trattoria in Tuscany, not to mention... Read More

Rose petal Jam from a Venetian monastery

Waking up on the Armenian monastery of the Island of San Lazzaro, floating in the mist of the Venetian lagoon, is like waking into a dream itself. Water softly laps around the edges of the monastery and that is about all you can hear except for the occasional speed boat on its way to the Lido. I spent several weeks here over two years during my days interning as an art restorer. While I worked on the flooded etchings and photographs (one of the downsides... Read More