Late summer eggplants – Melanzane Sott’olio

It’s nearly April, when autumn in Melbourne should well and truly be taking over the season but summer is dragging on and after a long, slow heatwave that felt like a giant hair dryer pointed at the city, a bit of autumn weather would be highly appreciated. I’m beginning to crave a refreshing, crisp morning, for example, when you need a nice hot cup of tea or coffee to warm you up and perhaps a floaty scarf to layer over the summer clothes... Read More

A 19th century lunch for Good Friday

One of my favourite things about Artusi’s cookbook, the 1891 bible of Italian cooking, is his suggested menu at the back for seasonal and traditional dishes, listing recipe suggestions by the month (see some of them here), with additional menus for special holidays. It’s not only is a quick way to glance over some of the nearly 800 recipes in his book, but it is also an incredibly interesting indication of what a meal consisted of in... Read More

Frittelle di Riso

They have a saying that I love in Tuscany, “Fritta è bona anche una ciabatta,” which means even a slipper is good deep fried (in other words, anything is good if it’s deep fried). Fried foods are a beloved part of Tuscan cuisine, whether it’s the fritto misto of the seaside (a “mix” of calamari, baby octopus, prawns and little fish, usually), the fritto of the countryside (rabbit and seasonal vegetables like artichokes... Read More

Sarde in Saor

By far one of my favourite Venetian cicchetti is sarde in saor – fried fresh sardine fillets marinated in softly cooked white onions, usually with vinegar, raisins and pine nuts, all preferably prepared the day before serving. Found in the bacari nestled along Venice’s narrow laneways, where one stops for an ombra (a tiny rounded glass of local wine) and a bite to eat, this cicchetto is just as suitable as an antipasto at the table. The sharpness... Read More

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