All posts filed under: Recipes

baked peach mascarpone

Baked peaches

If anything was going to bring me back to writing, it was going to be a baked peach. Ever since the days of reading Jane Grigson in the greengrocers at my Saturday job, bundled up in knitwear and watching the clock on the wall tick laboriously by, I’ve dreamt of baked peaches. In the summer, late August usually, an elderly Italian woman who lived in Bungay would bring in a crate of peaches; big and fat and rosy. They were from her garden, and I would buy three and take them home to savour. The shop is no longer there, but the idea of a peach tree in Suffolk – perhaps planted by a homesick immigrant – has stayed with me. I ate those home-grown peaches with gusto – no time for baking – but I would think of Jane Grigson’s recipe for baked peaches as the juice dribbled down my chin. The hollow left from the stone is filled with crumbled amaretti – or coconut macaroons, this is after all 1980s Britain. The cooked Read More

ossobuco with borlotti beans

Beef shank with borlotti beans

Ah a recipe! And a distinctly un-springlike one at that. I hope you’ll forgive me. This is something that we cooked during our last couple of weeks in Venice: slow-cooked beef shin with borlotti beans. I don’t think I’ve talked much about our Venetian kitchen, and when I think of it now it doesn’t seem like a place where all that much cooking happened. Mostly just polished wood and a cranky gas hob. I used to work at the table there until the bench made my legs numb. And in the morning, while waiting for the kettle to boil for coffee, I’d look out at the patchwork of apartments opposite.  There were habits that I learned; the student who was always at her desk by 9; the woman who filled her chilled marble window ledge with groceries; the old couple who ate at 7.30, always with the tv on in the kitchen. On the ground, Venice eludes any sense of normality. But up there, up there mornings started with radios and breakfasts and moka pots Read More

Venetian food: a beginning

It’s probably safe to say that Venice beat Walt Disney to the title of “most magical place on earth” by over a thousand years. But like so many things, The Most Serene Republic is a city built on compromise. The first people to settle on these damp heaps of mud didn’t do so out of choice. They came here to escape the rather unpleasant chaps who had a penchant for coming down to Italy and setting things on fire. The islands we now refer to as Venice, scattered as they are throughout a shallow Adriatic lagoon, started life as seasonal refugee camps. It wasn’t until AD 421 that Venice became a permanent settlement, and even then, it was a destination for groups that had been driven from their homes elsewhere. It’s a place chosen by people who didn’t really have all that much choice left. And even after things got a little more permanent – mud and wood gradually providing the foundation for masonry and stone – Venice spent much of its history practicing its Read More