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…

Ramen noodle soup

Lockdown2 means that I need to find new dishes to cook and eat without being able to travel. And whilst I love Japanese food it’s not something I have ever cooked. So when my daughter introduced me to her Vegan Japaneasy cookbook by Tim Anderson I thought I would give it a try. It’s really…

Leek and aduki bean stew with cheesy dumplings

It might sound unlikely, but when my children were teenagers this was one of their favourite dishes – or at least that’s what they used to tell me! I think it was the combination of firm beans and soft vegetables in a rich, smoky tomato sauce with deep flavours of paprika and soy. Oh, and…

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…

Squash, red lentil and coconut dahl

I love dahl. Sometimes when I make it I think that maybe I could live on nothing else but dahl and rice and then I remember all the other delicious things there are to eat and get distracted! But seriously, dahl is utterly delicious eaten on its own with rice, with other curry dishes such…

Homemade paneer with spiced garden vegetables

I adore paneer cheese in a curry dish but it’s impossible to get hold of in this part of Italy where, unlike the UK, there isn’t a long history of inward migration from India and Bangladesh. So this week between Zoom meetings I had a go at making my own. It was incredibly quick and…

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…

Pickled cucumbers

When I first started my vegetable garden back in May I planted some cucumber seeds. For several months nothing happened. And then they started to grow, and grow, producing an endless supply of cucumbers which I’ve mainly been eating in salads. Unlike many vegetables, cucumbers really can’t be frozen so I’ve gone down the pickling…

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…

Spicy tomato salsa

As some of you will know, I started building a garden of raised vegetable beds at the beginning of the year when few of us had even heard of COVID-19. Since then the world has changed in ways that we could never have imagined and so too has the scrappy piece of land behind my…