I learned to make this simple cake standing in the kitchen that used to belong to one of Sicily’s most notorious mafia gangsters. I’m sure he’d have been a dab hand at dicing the apple but luckily he’s in a high security prison. His country property has been repossessed and turned into a restaurant and guesthouse. It’s lovely chef saw how much we loved her apple breakfast cake and there it was every morning waiting for us. Soft, plump and packed with juicy bits of apple. She says this was a firm favourite with her three girls when they were little. This is a cake that keeps really well and is also perfect for a tea time treat. I was so determined to recreate it’s aesthetic beauty as well as taste that I brought home a rather lovely silicone ciambellone or ring mould. It’s possible to buy them outside Italy if you want to look on the internet or in kitchen shops. If not then a normal loaf tin is fine too. I don’t mind at all.Read More
After 2 years living in Italy, I had to buy an extra case to bring back my very neccessary emergency shoe purchases. I’m returning home after this Sicily trip with rather different accessories. There’s my new silicon cake mould in this season’s scarlet, and a doorstop of Parmesan that’s going to stop the fridge door from closing. There’s also the bag full of rocks, sadly not of the sparkly variety. My daughter insisted that all her friends would like a crumbly black pumice stone from mount Etna’s crater.
Most importantly though, I’m bringing back around 30 fabulous new recipes given to me by the lovely people I revisited around Sicily. Some welcomed us into their kitchens to meet their families and friends and to demonstrate how to recreate the dishes their own children loved and still love. They didn’t mind at all when my daughter wanted to help with the cooking, clapped with delight when she demonstrated her egg breaking skills, and waved away my apologies when she spilt flour all over the floor.Read More
It’s a strange feeling when you’re about to revisit people and places last encountered at a very different point in your life.
This occurred to me as we finally finished squeezing all the toddler paraphernalia into an enormous bag, and squashed cereal bars and colouring books into our hand-luggage. All at the last minute. That’s one thing that hasn’t changed. I’ve never been good at packing in advance.
Whenever I made one of my many trips to Sicily for work it was generally with very little time to pack and prepare; that’s the business of breaking news for you. It meant I always arrived late at the airport trailing a rather suspicious looking case containing my satellite dish for radio broadcasts, an unsightly spaghetti of cables bursting from the pockets. Amazingly that bag was never searched at Italian security and yet I was perpetually late for check in. A last minute purchase of a glossy Chanel lipstick from duty free was of course crucial to hone my reporting skills. This time I’m not sure our trip justifies new posh cosmetics. More likely a packet of chocolate buttons to keep the small person quiet on the plane.Read More
When autumn embraces Italy, ladies of a certain age don their fur coats in temperatures that still invite tourists to wear shorts and sandals. The change of season also welcomes this delicious pasta dish to many school dinner menus. It makes the most of the abundance of squashes and pumpkins. This recipe was given to me by a head teacher I know in Naples. She says the sweet buttery taste goes down a treat with most kids. It also makes sure they get a good dose of veggies. In my house this recipe is a big hit for an easy supper as it only uses one pan to cook the lot. We stir some chilli oil into the adults portions to add a kick that contrasts nicely with the sweetness.Read More