Italian Table Talk: Carnival & Berlingozzo cake

For a celebration known as Fat Tuesday, you might think that the traditional recipes would be a chance for gluttons to gleefully stuff their faces with, well, fatty things. Mid-week, no less. Well it’s sort of true. Martedì Grasso (also known as Mardi Gras in French), or Fat Tuesday, which just happens to be tomorrow, February 12, is probably the most well known day of Carnevale, Carnival. It represents the end of that lavish, drunken, festive... Read More

Artusi’s Almond Milk Gelato

After last week’s Amaretti Ice Cream Sandwiches, I’ve still got this thing for almonds. And ice cream. Or more precisely, gelato. In this case, it’s almond milk gelato, scented with a splash of orange blossom water – a 120 year old recipe from my favourite, Pellegrino Artusi‘s cookbook. I’ve used his gelato and sorbet recipes before and, whether using a modern ice cream maker or the good ol’ freeze and stir method,... Read More

Artusi’s Semolina Cake

There are times when something sweet, comforting, even old fashioned, is exactly what the doctor ordered. For me, it could be a sponge cake with fresh whipped cream and strawberries, an apple and rhubarb crumble or a short, crumbly crostata with homemade jam. But some Italians might find that a torta di semolino, semolina cake, brings a smile of nostalgia as they recall their grandmothers making this delectable yet simple, humble cake. This cake’s... 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

Pesche Ripiene – Stuffed Peaches

Simplicity. It’s such a reassuring concept. Everyone knows that the simple things in life are often the best, and honestly, who doesn’t need to simplify their lives every now and then? No one needs to overcomplicate their lives. And at this time of year, when the holiday rush and madness seems to be over and – well here in the Southern Hemisphere anyway – the long summer days call out for time to be spent enjoying them, you can relish... Read More

Bellini, for a celebration or two

It’s a time for celebration or two, not only for the festive season and for the well-wishing the imminent year 2013, but we’re also celebrating the arrival of our first baby, a little girl, born just before Christmas. And – for those of us in the Southern Hemisphere right now – it’s also early summer and the beginning of stone-fruit season. It seemed only appropriate to celebrate with something like a shimmering, sparkling, blushing... Read More

A Tuscan Christmas

Christmas is a personal event that changes from household to household almost anywhere you go, but an Italian Christmas is always about being with family and keeping up age-old traditions, especially when they have to do with the food. This Christmas more than other is one where we’re thinking about being with our families, near and far, as we’re about to become new parents. Although this Christmas for us is likely going to be an extremely... Read More

Italian Table Talk: Holiday traditions & Cavallucci

I’m not the first one to say this but it must be pointed out that Tuscan cookies are not pretty. In fact, you could say the same for traditional Tuscan desserts in general. Preferring salty to sweet, Tuscans don’t have a huge repertoire when it comes to desserts, but the sweets that exist usually play an important part during holidays, from the biscotti for All Saints Day, to this traditional bread made at Easter. Another thing you’ll... Read More

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

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