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…

Gorgonzola risotto with mushrooms and asparagus

A few weeks, ago just as the Italian lockdown was finally lifting, I managed to persuade a good friend, who just happens to be an excellent builder, to construct the raised beds for my outdoor vegetable garden and kitchen – of which more later! Whilst he was busy sawing seasoned oak beams and hammering in…

Food, friendship and the comfort of strangers

Exactly three months ago today I was travelling to the UK for work and to see my two grown up daughters and grandson Rex. A few weeks earlier I’d returned from a work trip to The Philippines which I’d combined with an opportunity to learn about some of the delicious but entirely unfamiliar dishes of…

Elderflower cordial

Foraging is one of my new favourite things. There is something immensely satisfying about returning home from a walk with a handful of beautiful flowers or leaves and turning them into something delicious. In the last few weeks I’ve made pesto from wild garlic and sugary fritters from the flowers of the acacia tree. This…