Torta Pasqualina

Torta Pasqualina – or Easter Cake – dates back to the 1500s and originates from Liguria which lies just to the South of us here in Piemonte. It’s not actually a cake but a savoury pie made with layers of thinly rolled pasta brisee, a shortcrust pastry made with olive oil instead of butter, and…

Baccalà, chickpea and tomato stew

Since living in Italy I’ve often see piles of dry salted cod (known here as baccalà) piled high in wooden crates but until now I had never actually eaten it and rarely seen it on the menu in our local restaurants. The history of baccalà goes back a long way, most likely to the Vikings,…

Lentil and mushroom cannelloni

So this weekend I held my first ese ne tekrema cooking experience via Zoom. Despite a few technical hitches it was great to cook with two friends in Portugal and the UK, both of whom were making fresh pasta for first time. I’m calling it an ’experience’ rather than a ‘lesson’ because for me cooking…

Italian lemon and ricotta cake

I’m finding the second lockdown in Italy much tougher than the first. Maybe it’s because winter is upon us and we know this is how things will be at least until the Spring, maybe it’s the relentless online Zoom meetings, a novelty when they started back in March, now anything but. I’m also acutely aware…

Roasted chestnut and squash soup

There is something very special about the chestnut (castagne) season in Northern Italy. It starts at the end of September when the first spiky green shells fall from the trees and within a few weeks the floors of the woods that surround our house are strewn, the shells bursting open to reveal the burnished brown…

Pickled peppers

Whilst the alliterative tongue twister ‘Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers’ was a childhood favourite, I’ve never actually eaten a pickled pepper let alone a peck, which is around two gallons in the British imperial system (roughly 7.5 litres). But my vegetable garden currently has an abundance of beautiful cherry peppers so I…

Foraged fig chutney

One of the wonderful things about living in Italy is that the foraging opportunities are very different from those I’m used to in the UK. Over the last few months I’ve been keeping my eye on a large fig tree at the top of a field near our house. This week there were enough ripe…

Tray-baked sea bream with lentils and salsa verde

Our garden has gone crazy over recent weeks so I’m looking for new ways to use the growing supply of vegetables that are ready to be eaten each day. This one brings in the green stuff…spinach wilted into lentils and a salsa verde made from fresh basil and parsley. There’s nothing like drizzling homemade salsa…

Apricot, plum and lavender cake

This weekend we harvested the apricots that grow on the tree behind our house. Last year was a bumper crop but sadly there were very few this year, most likely due to the unseasonally cold and wet conditions during May. So the only option was to make them into a cake, adding a handful of…

Baked green pea fritters

One of the things I love about visiting any farmer’s market is that whilst you often go with a list of the things you need you almost invariably come home with something unexpected, a beautiful seasonal fruit or vegetable that’s caught your eye and which you are prepared to change your cooking plans for! A…