Monday, April 23, 2018

Piadina Romagnola (Piemontese Version)

While I've made Piadina in Australia they have never really reached the level of those that I've enjoyed in Italy and I've held the belief that it's due to the absence of one important ingredient - strutto. Now that I'm in Italy I've been able to put this belief to the test and have come to the conclusion that it is this magic ingredient that makes the difference.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Agretti or Barba di Frate

It's been a busy few weeks here in Alba - thoroughly enjoyable and over-indulgent, it was great to reconnect with friends over good food and wine.

With a definite change in the weather from winter to spring, it's great to see the return of Agretti. Much loved by Italians, though slowly showing up elsewhere, they are still greeted by a questioning glance.

barba di frate

You'll see them most commonly called either Agretti or Barba di Frate (Friar's Beard), in the UK you might see them called Saltwort - their scientific name is Salsola soda. They look a bit like chives and are sold in bunches as you can see in the photo. They come with the root attached and really need to be used quite quickly.

Agretti can be eaten raw or cooked. You'll first need to wash them well and remove the roots. If serving raw, just dress them with a little extra virgin olive oil and lemon. Otherwise a quick dip in salted boiling water for a few minutes and you'll be able to use the agretti in a variety of ways - with pasta, in salads, frittata or as a filling in a pie or quiche. One of the best ways to appreciate them is as a side dish - simply sautéed with garlic and anchovy.

sauteed agretti

Sautéed Agretti with Garlic and Anchovy

1 bunch agretti
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 anchovy fillets
extra virgin olive oil

1. Clean the agretti - remove the roots and then rinse the agretti thoroughly to remove any dirt.
2. In a large pot of salted boiling water, add the cleaned agretti and boil for a couple minutes or until al dente.
3. Drain and plunge into a bowl of iced water - this will help set that vibrant green colour.
4. In a frypan over a low heat add a good glug of olive oil along with the garlic and anchovies - stir to break up the anchovy and then let it gently infuse - you don't want the garlic to colour, you just want it to flavour the oil. Optional - you could also add a little chilli at this stage.
5. After about 5 minutes, add the drained, cooked agretti to the pan and toss through the oil. Cook until warmed through. Remove the garlic cloves before serving.

This is a great side to any meat or fish dish but you could also use this as a base of a frittata for a quick one pot meal.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Cappelletti di Manzo in Brodo

With the decidedly cold weather we've been experiencing, it seems like the perfect time to settle back with something warm and inviting. For me, that means a generous bowl of cappelletti in a hearty beef broth.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Bergamot Curd

Most people would probably recognise Bergamot as the distinctive flavour in Earl Grey tea but it is actually a citrus and most of the worlds supply comes from Calabria.


Flavour-wise I'd say that it is a bit closer to Meyer Lemon in its tartness but with a more interesting fragrance. Surprisingly, I found it wasn't as strong a flavour as you find in Earl Grey tea - so if you are one of those that dislike Earl Grey don't write off Bergamot until you try the fresh fruit.

As Shrove Tuesday is coming up, I needed something to serve with my pancakes and a curd is a quick and delicious way to fill that need.

Monday, January 29, 2018


I've been keeping an eye out for them and this Saturday saw their first appearance in the markets here - Puntarelle season has finally arrived!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Ciambella Bolognese

My mother had that special ability to take a few ingredients and turn them into something memorable and utterly delicious. This simple recipe is one of those dishes. It can be made in half an hour and provide that little sweet treat we can all enjoy. Whether you like coffee, tea or hot chocolate, a slice of this ciambella is just made for dunking.

ciambella bolognese

Ciambella Bolognese
250g wholemeal flour
150g plain flour
1 sachet/16g baking powder
150g raw caster sugar
50g softened butter, cubed
zest of 1 lemon
1 egg, lightly whisked
sugar sprinkles

1. Sift together the flours, baking powder and sugar.

2. Add the lemon zest and stir.

3. Rub the butter through the flour mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs.

4. Add the egg and mix - adding just enough milk to form a firm dough.

5. Knead lightly and shape into a long log.

6. Join the ends of the log to form a circle.

7. Place on a baking tray, brush with milk and then dust with sugar sprinkles

8. Bake in a preheated 160°C oven for about 30 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

9. Place on a wire rack to cool before serving.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Fried Artichokes - Carciofi Fritti

It's the time of year when the market stalls are full of Artichokes. So many different varieties (there are over 90) coming from all parts of Italy. While I await the arrival my most favoured artichoke from Albenga, these spikey Ligurians are a good alternative.

Monday, January 01, 2018

A fresh start

<deep breath and exhale>

That little blinking cursor is just as intimidating as ever. There are so many things to say but I'm unsure of where to I will start with something simple.

Hello again, it's been a while.

I've never been one to make new years resolutions but this year it just seemed the right thing to do, or at least, it has given me that final push to start again.

I'd like to thank my friends - both online and IRL - that have gently encouraged me, your kind words seemed to always come at the right time to brighten even the darkest of days. Most of all, I'd like to thank my husband, just for always being there - through all the changes, you've been the constant.

When it came time to think of what I should cook first, I knew it needed to be something to honor my mother and nothing fills that requirement more than pasta.

In Italy, it's traditional at this time of the year to have a dish of cotechino and lentils and while I love maintaining traditions I also like to give them a little twist. I've made plin - which is a traditional filled pasta from Piemonte - but filled them with a mixture of cotechino and potato and served them with a ragu of Castelluccio lentils.

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