Preserving Italy and Tropea onion jam

I’ve had this cookbook sitting beside my bed for weeks, trying to decide what to cook. I’d pick it up, let a page fall open — almost like letting fate choose the recipe — and get distracted reading. It continued this way for a while. It’s my favourite way to read a cookbook. But the problem for me is that I’m indecisive. Should I make the boozy cherries? That’s how long ago it was when I first started reading... Read More

Raw tomato sauce for hot summer days

Quite possibly the best way to enjoy really good, ripe summer tomatoes – as well as making the most of spending as little time in front of a hot stove as possible – is raw tomato sauce for coating pasta. It’s something Marco makes for lunch on a warm day when he’s craving pasta al pomodoro (his ideal comfort food), but either doesn’t have the patience to cook the sauce or the desire to turn on the stove (except to boil the... Read More

Zucchini and zucchini flower soup

I would describe the past month (or two or three or five) as one huge juggling act. I’ve been traveling a lot, or working from home, writing, while trying to tend to a three year old’s needs (who, as you can see, if always at my heels), often barely having time to stop and rest, let alone cook (you know what this is like, anyone who freelances and doesn’t set “office hours” for their work). Soup has saved me. It’s... Read More

Autumn salad of fennel, walnuts & pomegranate

My recent visit to the Val d’Orcia is still heavily imprinted on my mind. The textures of the hills that look like pencil drawings, that first chill in the air and the first roaring fireplace of the season. Everything looked and tasted like autumn. Just before we left we stopped for a visit to see the sisters of Puscina, a family-run flower farm between Pienza and Montepulciano. They took us on a stroll through their garden beds overflowing... Read More

Nonna Lina’s Pomarola

I never met Nonna Lina, my husband’s grandmother. She passed away six weeks before I met him, coincidentally on the exact same day my maternal grandfather died. But from the way my husband and my mother-in-law talk about her, the constant references to her, especially when we are in the kitchen, I feel like I know her. And I feel connected to her when I cook her recipes. Lina was tiny, little Tuscan lady, and a good cook. A pedantic one. But... Read More

A book deal & pappardelle with fresh porcini

As long as I can remember I have wanted to write a book. But in more recent years, the book of my dreams has been a cookbook. Like many with a similar dream, it’s really the whole reason I began this blog. And then one day, just like in a dream, I received an email, out of the blue. Are you doing a book? Asked the subject line. I read it and re-read it. And then, Would you be interested in the idea? It was from one of my favourite publishers,... Read More

Beet ravioli with poppyseed sauce

I began researching this recipe a while ago when I decided to put it into my Regional Italian Food column schedule. I was sort of obsessed with the intense magenta of the beetroot filling and the incredibly simple pairing of butter and poppyseeds as a sauce. I thought, if anything, people would love looking at it but that hopefully the beauty of the dish would be enough to inspire them to try out the recipe too – that’s how I got hooked. It’s... Read More

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

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