Cozze Gratinate – stuffed mussels

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The bizarrely named ‘Bed Bed”- local purveyor of mussels!

When I first came to Puglia I found a great restaurant with tables looking out to sea. The father of the owner sat in a corner of the terrace, cleaning mussels all day, while on nearby tables happy customers worked their way through huge plates of Spaghetti alle Cozze, Fritto Misto and antipasti including Cozze Gratinate – stuffed mussels. Continue reading

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Ingredients from Puglia – vegetables

It may be the Neapolitans who were historically known as ’mangia foglie e mangia maccheroni’ – leaf and pasta eaters, but fruit and vegetables, whether cultivated or growing wild, have also always played a significant part in the cuisine of … Continue reading

Today I went to market and I bought…..

market reducedI always love going to the market in Monopoli, where I live. On one level I feel at home, the stall holders know me and call out hello and the staff in Caffe Roma on the corner of the market square (the best ice cream in Puglia) know that I want a double coffee, still water and a cornetto (pastry not ice cream!) with apricot jam. In another way  it makes me feel like I am permanently on holiday, the calls of the vendors still seem quaint, the colour and freshness of the vegetables exceptional, the setting beautiful in a way that says ‘you are in Italy’.

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Pettole – not just for Christmas (in my book!)

Pettole

Pettole are crisp, light balls of yeast dough and can be either sweet or savoury. The sweet version is dusted with icing sugar, or drizzled with honey or ‘vincotto’ before serving, the savoury version traditionally has a filling of salt cod or cauliflower, but there are other, tastier, variations such as sliced olive, sundried tomatoes and anchovies.

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Today I am making orecchiette with cime di rapa, a typical dish from Puglia …

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Today I walked to the market in brilliant sunshine and came back with bags of fruit and vegetables, chosen in the moment because they looked good.. Particularly tempting were the vividly green cime di rape, or turnip tops – tell a Pugliese that in England we eat the turnips themselves, as I did when I first arrived, and it confirms their belief that all ‘stranieri’ are just that, strange. In fact although related to turnips, cime di rapa, also known as broccoli rabe, are something different. Either way, today I am making orecchiette, the typical pasta pugliese, shaped apparently like ‘little ears’ with cime di rape.. Continue reading

The Casa Nova challenge – amazing antipasti in Alberobello

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Antipasti play a huge part in the Puglian cuisine – possibly as a result of the Spanish occupation (think tapas) or the Greek (meze)… At their best they can be a meal in themselves and never more so than at one of my favourite restaurants, Casa Nova in Alberobello, where you can sample well prepared local dishes in a converted  18th century ‘frantoio’ or oil press. Continue reading

Puglia the ‘bread basket’ of Italy – part one: Pane d’Altamura, taralli, friselle, focaccia, panzerotti.

Puglia has been one of Italy’s main producers of durum wheat since Roman times. Different kinds of bread, focaccia, biscuits, cakes and fresh pasta made with durum wheat and water are an essential part of the Puglian diet. Many of … Continue reading