All posts filed under: Italian

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

Baked branzino

I come to you this evening with possibly the simplest fish recipe in the world. In fact, it’s barely a recipe – more a gentle reminder of something we all know: that lemon, parsley and  fresh fish are three things that almost always come together to create something wonderful. And I’m talking about really fresh fish here. This branzino came from the Rialto Fish Market, bought and eaten on the same day. Before I tell you about the bass, let me talk a little about the market. It was early December when I bought these two fish, and so cold that even the seafood seemed to chatter in their shells. Yet the market was bustling at 10am on a Tuesday, and the fruit and vegetable stands overflowing. The Italians, it seems, are experts at drawing out colour in the depths of winter; their stalls full of glossy persimmons, orange fleshed pumpkins, flaming bunches of peperoncini, and radicchio di Treviso, its ruby tipped tendrils flailing over the counters. I stopped at my favourite vegetable stand and bought potatoes, zucchini and a handful of parsley. They asked Read More