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 November: Pumpkin Pie

I’ve said many times how much I love autumn, particularly for the season’s food. It just feels natural to be a little more indulgent at this time of the year, allowing yourself plenty of comfort food or that extra slice of pie. Pumpkin has to be right up there as one of my favourite autumn vegetables. Just before leaving Italy a few weeks ago, we had pumpkins coming at us from all directions, most notably from my husband’s nonna’s... Read More

Orecchiette con Broccoli: The way to a man’s heart

The first time I ever cooked something for the man who is now my husband, it was an impromptu event where I managed to throw together a pasta dish with an almost empty fridge. We still didn’t know each other very well, were a long way away from finding out all the things there are to know about each other. We were still very nervous about what the other person thought, still trying to impress each other. And so it happened, during a cold and... Read More

Late summer mushroom pappardelle

By the end of the summer I’m ready for a change. Don’t get me wrong, I love nothing more than being barefoot. I love eating fresh peaches and melons, jammy figs, tomatoes and eggplants, but after a particularly hot summer I’m ready for a change. I’m ready for autumn, for a chill in the air, for a warming cup of tea in the afternoon. I’m looking forward to wearing woolly hats and choosing scarves for outfits. And I’m... Read More

Cherry tomato schiacciata

In a couple of week’s time I am going to feed myself exclusively on one thing, schiacciata all’uva. It begins appearing in Florentine bakery windows in September (some even earlier) and only lasts a month at the most, which is why I’m going to make the most of it while I can. Schiacciata is basically a Tuscan focaccia, the word literally means “flattened” and describes its shape. It’s made as an every day bread... 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

Baccelli: Spring on a Plate

It’s a definite sign of Spring when the first baccelli start making an appearance at market stalls around Florence. Baccelli are otherwise known as fave, or fava beans, and tend to be slightly smaller than normal broad beans. Traditionally presented at the table as they are – long, green, shiny pods which belie the little treasures tucked away inside – the beans are shelled and eaten raw with a nice, salty pecorino cheese or silky,... Read More

Carrot Gnocchi

I once heard that the goodness in carrots helps get over jet lag. I’ve just gone through a 30 hour journey from Italy to Australia, passing through five airports and being thrown 10 hours ahead to get from one home to the other. I’m going to need some carrots. This wonderful gnocchi recipe came to mind. It’s a unique and a beautiful dish that was made for me by an equally unique and beautiful person, Sara, a talented and offbeat Italian... Read More

The Search for Ribollita

While writing the post on leftovers over Christmas weekend, I had an overwhelming craving for Ribollita – the ultimate Tuscan winter vegetable and bean soup – so much so that Monday morning, the day after boxing day, I headed out to my local deli to get some of the fresh ribollita they usually always have at this time of year to take to work for lunch. But no. Not today. Obviously, December 26 is a day where nothing goes on, shops and markets... Read More