Author: Rachel Priestley

Rachel Priestley, a cook and wine and food consultant, has opened Italian restaurants and wine bars in Italy and in Vienna. Passionate about Italian food, she has spent 10 years living and working in Italy, including six years in Tuscany. She exports a line of gourmet artisan-produced Italian products and fine Italian wines into New Zealand, where she produces a range of products. She divides her time between Tuscany and New Zealand. You can contact her at [email protected] and follow her on twitter: @ProdigaDaughter.
October 1, 2015

Tuscan pumpkin soup: Zuppa di zucca

Autumn brings vibrant colors and mellow flavors to Italy’s markets and, in Tuscany especially, soups to the table. At the markets of Tuscany, the region that boasts more soups than pasta in its repertoire of first courses, cabbages, carrots, onions and silver-beet are ready to be mixed
April 29, 2015

Tuscan schiacciata with rosemary and smoked guanciale

Although spring has sprung and flowers are blossoming on all the herbs in my garden, the nights are still cool enough for comfort food, though not the heavy ragus of winter. As I always have some home-prepared guanciale affumicato (smoked pigs’ cheeks) in my fridge, now that the
March 5, 2015

Tuscan maccheroni with rabbit and fennel

Italian cuisine has an abundance of primi piatti, first courses, which are usually a starch, but in Tuscany, unlike elsewhere in Italy, more of the primi piatti are based on legumes and bread—such as zuppa di ceci, ribollita and pappa al pomodoro—and fewer on pasta. Yet
January 15, 2015

Gnudi Recipe

Well known for being tricky, rife with double meanings and open to various interpretations, the Italian language never ceases to surprise and delight me. What do Michelangelo’s 20 seated nudes, young men in various poses, painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and my gnocchi dish have in common?           Ignudi was […]
July 3, 2014

A melon by any name

The longest day has past, the heat is here to stay, and so is the summer fruit. The star of summer fruit in Tuscany is by far the watermelon. Citrullus vulgaris: luscious rich red in colour, juicy and glossy, sweet and syrupy, sticky on the fingers and face if you
May 8, 2014

Not for the fainthearted

Every week I buy some pigs’ heads to cure the cheeks to make guanciale, and I have been sad at discarding so many good bits of the head. Then I started thinking: most of my Italian friends get a pig every year, and the day becomes a family affair,
February 27, 2014

Stone soup

In the past, people's diets followed the seasons: eating fresh when nature offered an abundance of harvest and preserving as much as possible for use in the colder months, when plant activity slowed to a minimum. Autumn was a time for harvest and for making conserves to last for
January 30, 2014

Crespelle alla fiorentina recipe

When it comes to food and drink, the world has a lot to thank Tuscany for. Tuscan cuisine dates back to the time of the Etruscans, the ancient civilization once living in areas of Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio a number of centuries before the Romans arrived.   Etruscan frescoes show
December 12, 2013

Pasticcio alla fiorentina

Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi (Christmas with your family, Easter with whoever you like) is how the great Italian saying goes, but when you are like me and have spent more than half your life in places other than home, the word ‘family’ gains a
November 7, 2013

Precious potatoes

The humble potato is often referred to as a tartufo bianco, a white truffle, both because of its looks and for its vital role in keeping people alive during World War II. But the potato-filled pillows of pasta that are tortelli di patate mugellani are close to divine.   &