Carciofi ritti – stuffed stewed artichokes

There are certain dishes that I love eating when in Florence, seated at a bustling and often crowded trattoria at lunchtime, because firstly, there’s the atmosphere that is just as much part of the dish as the bare ingredients and secondly, there is something so nice about having these things made for you by well-versed hands. But I finally decided that this in particular, these plump, melting, whole artichokes, cooked in a simple Tuscan manner... Read More

Pistachio, polenta and olive oil pound cake

I was quite amused the first time I heard Italians talk about, “plum cake”, even more so when I realised that the cake in question was not made with plums at all but was actually a pound cake (as romantic as it sounds, actually, little, mass-produced, packaged “plum cakes” are commonly found in the supermarket as a breakfast item). To me, it always seemed as though this erroneous translation was a matter of someone mishearing “pound cake”. It’s... Read More

Italian Table Talk: Artichoke tart

Italy in the spring. It means blossoms and longer, warmer days. Early on, it usually means rain too but also a gorgeous landscape of luminous, bright green pastures of new growth. It means fritelle. It means Easter and plenty of fresh eggs, especially from my sister in law’s busy hens. But, most of all, to me, it means artichokes. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, like the variety and availability of good artichokes in Italy. The varieties... Read More

On wild vegetables and acquacotta

A surprise find at one of my favourite markets in Florence last week led me to this beautiful and ancient dish, acquacotta (literally, “cooked water” but also meaning “cooked in water”), a tradition of southern Tuscany and Lazio, where the fields are filled with mounds of curly, jagged-edged weeds and other wild vegetables and greens that I had never seen and certainly never cooked with before. There’s something about eating wild vegetables... Read More

Bronzino’s Panzanella

Summer wouldn’t be summer without that perfect salad, a must when it’s simply too hot to cook and all you crave are the season’s fresh offerings. Things like this caprese salad, made with heirloom tomatoes straight out of the garden and torn hunks of buffalo mozzarella. In Tuscany, it’s always and forever, panzanella, a rustic bread salad born as a way of using up day old bread and the abundance of fresh vegetables straight... Read More

Millefoglie – A thousand layers

Usually, things are planned. Books are thumbed through, blogs are scrolled through, the fridge and pantry rummaged through. Menu planned. Ingredients bought. Recipes tested. But, less often, things are unplanned and just happen. Unexpectedly coming together. Something of the sort happened with this dessert, millefoglie – known better by it’s French name, millefeuille, meaning a thousand layers. It may be French but it’s the go-to dessert... Read More

Backyard broad beans & how to eat them

I began dabbling in gardening in the most unlikely of places – a rooftop overlooking the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. It got a good bit of sun and we had a wide terrace, so we decided to experiment with some tomato seeds in little terracotta pots that matched the rooftops. It was a step up from the previous pots of sage, thyme and basil that I’d kept on window ledges of tiny apartments. Like magic, they sprouted and grew. We moved them into... Read More

A column for Food52: Regional Italian Food

It’s been busy over here lately, with lots of researching and recipe testing going on in between nap times and the demands of a nearly eight month old (none of which I am able to do without the help of Marco, my husband and number one pasta maker), but finally I’m very excited to announce the launch of my new weekly column over at Food52, dedicated to regional Italian food traditions and recipes. The Regional Italian Food column will... Read More

The Art of Eating Well – A Tuscan Getaway this Fall

I’m very pleased to announce a new and exciting collaboration coming up in October this year – an incredible, six-day gastronomic getaway in Tuscany and the opportunity to be immersed in age-old traditions of Tuscan cuisine following the lead of the great-grandfather of Italian cuisine, Pellegrino Artusi, whose nineteenth century cookbook Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well is one you’ll still find in practically every... Read More

Florence’s Lovely Bits

When I was still newly, madly in love with Florence, only four months into the relationship, I was taken around Venice for an afternoon by a friend of a friend, an American and a Venice-lover. It turned out to be Eric Denker, art historian from the Smithsonian and the National Gallery, who must have been Venetian in a former life, such is his knowledge and passion for the city. We argued over which was the more spectacular city, Florence or Venice.... Read More