Cardoncelli mushrooms: Possibly not an aphrodisiac but delicious nonetheless

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When autumn approaches, ‘one off’ stalls, selling mushrooms that people have collected, join the regular stalls in the market. Pride of place goes to the Cardoncello mushroom, which grows in the ‘Murgia’ area – the stony elevated plateau that occupies more or less the centre of Puglia. Continue reading

Zucchine alla Poverella

DSC_0569okZucchine allla poverella, has to be one of my favourite dishes from Puglia; golden discs of zucchini, with the taste of good olive oil, garlic, the summery freshness of the mint and the slight tang of vinegar. When I first came to Puglia and was staying at a Masseria I was fascinated to say tray after tray of zucchini slices laying out to dry in the sun, and delighted to taste the results later that evening. Continue reading

April News

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The weather has been glorious here for the last couple of weeks and it is now warm enough to lie on the beach in a bikini though the water is still very cold. There have been a spate of last minute holiday requests from people desperate to get away from the lousy weather elsewhere but , although some have made it, the flights to Puglia often get more expensive at the last minute, rather than cheaper so, in an ideal world, you want to be booking at least three weeks ahead. 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