Tuscan kale, lancinato kale, dinosaur kale, black kale. How many names for such a humble green. Tuscan, in particular, is revelatory of its origin, or perhaps of its role in the cuisine of this region. You might have heard of ribollita, a soup made with stale Tuscan bread, beans and cavolo nero. A true autumnal delight. I was so happy to find it here in Piedmont that I cooked a huge feast with it.
I made a simple soda bread to go with our meals. So, lunch consisted of buttered seedy bread, poached eggs on stir fried cavolo nero. More cavolo nero was tossed in a salad with some grated pecorino cheese, oil and garlic croutons and a simple lemon and olive oil dressing. The day before I also made some turnip and pear mash with leftover ingredients from a soup. It was a good alternative to mashed potatoes and it worked pretty well with the rest of the dishes. Back from our usual Sunday stroll, I made soup using mixed legumes, cabbage, and cavolo nero. That was dinner.
I am fairly sure there are as many recipes for apple cake are there are households, but I suspect, too, that no recipe will ever feel as special as one’s own. This is a simple apple cake, or torta di mele, of the kind my nonna used to make when I was little. So, really, a vintage apple cake. Perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up with a cup of tea, no matter if it’s a break in between homework or an excuse to run away from the computer.
If there’s something my husband really loves, that’s chocolate cake. I don’t bake it often, but I did promise him one for his belated 30th birthday celebrations, ready to welcome him upon his return from a working trip abroad.
The night he came back, we feasted on Prosecco, cheese, carpaccio and salad. Then, we chatted the night away between a bit of gorgonzola and a sip of Nebbiolo. Then, the lights went off, and only two candles lightened the room. He finally got his chocolate cake.
I love figs to bits, and one of the things I’ve been missing about home is having the freedom to go out in the yard and pick them at will. So when I went home to Veneto a few weeks ago, one of the first things was exactly that – picking figs eating them while still warm. I baked quite a lot of fig cakes, too, and the easy fig cake recipe below is the result of a few attempts.
It’s an unfussy cake. It’s not too sweet and it’s very light due to the lack of butter or oil. It makes for a lovely breakfast or afternoon snack.
The first figs have just started to appear on the market stands, and I just can’t resist their call.
As a child, the only figs we ate were those growing in Grandma’s garden – small and pastel-green, with a bright red, sweet and jammy flesh. I remember them being ripe and ready in early September. She had so many that it was impossible to keep up, so we came up with all kinds of recipes to use them up. I liked them with yoghurt and honey, or simply oven-roasted, then topped with chopped almonds and a scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream. I loved fig jam, and fig jam crostata even more.
I have been living far from Grandma’s garden for a while now, but my passion for figs hasn’t faded a bit. I bought a good bagful at the market the other day, and after eating almost all of them as simple as they come, I had to get creative with those left behind, which were becoming a little too soft.
I found this lovely cake recipe and it was perfect for what I had in mind and in my fridge. The cake turned out as light and airy as a soufflé, and perfuming of orange blossom water. We all loved it; it felt just perfect for these last days of summer.