Kasbah Spiced Sweet Potato Hummus

As the sun dipped down above the High Atlas mountains, the pink plaster walls of the kasbah shone like bronze. The call to prayer from the Medieval Kasbah Mosque fell softly from its glorious minaret, the flickering lights from the Moroccan lantern threw jewels onto our table and, in the streets below, dozens of men and women…

Leyla’s Lyutenitsa (Spicy Red Pepper & Tomato Spread)

Leyla is a beauty and one of the most nurturing and interesting women I have ever met. She lives in a huge Bohemian apartment on the top of a quietly crumbling building with views of the Bosphorus and the Dolmabahçe mosque beneath. Books – and there are hundreds of them – are piled high upon ornate…

Aya Yorgi Fasulye Piyaz (Turkish Bean Salad)

An early morning walk through the dusty streets of Istanbul down to the banks of the Bosphorus, a long and choppy crossing over the Sea of Marmara, a death-defying ride on a horse-pulled phaeton (there are no cars on Büyükada, the largest of the Princes Islands, just mad horsemen) followed by a hot and steamy mile-long climb…

Sicilian Peperonata with Mint & Lemon-infused Labneh

A lovingly nurtured peperonata – a classic Italian stew of red and yellow peppers, onions and plum tomatoes – is not only a thing of beauty, it’s incredibly versatile. I use it as a salad in the summer; a warming stew in the winter; as a topping on a crispy pizza or bruschetta; stirred into…

Lebanese Batata Harra (Spiced Potato Salad)

Across the eastern Mediterranean – and, indeed, the whole of the Middle East – vegetable-based dishes are as much revered as any that may contain meat or fish. They are the heroes of mezze-based feasts; they are stuffed, they are stewed, deep-fried, sautéed and steamed. Above all, they are always in season and often purchased on…

Ligurian Trofie al Pesto

The northern coastal region of Liguria in Italy is known for its light, herby dishes like this one, a summery pasta dish based on a spiral shaped, slightly porous pasta called trofie which was specifically designed to hold the fine texture of pesto. One of the many books I have on the go at the moment is…

Umbrian Farro

Farro is an ancient rustic grain belonging to the wheat family and is widely used across northern Italy. It has a taste and texture similar to that of barley – nutty and chewy – making it a perfect base for hearty salads, soups and farrotto, a dish that uses farro in the place of rice and…

Umbrian Rocket & Walnut Pesto

‘When we first started cooking, dishes like lasagne and cannelloni were treated with suspicion. Few people knew what to expect. Thirty years ago these dishes were virtually unknown to the British population; only a few who had travelled to Italy had tried them. These dishes always had to be described in great detail before people…

Jaffa Orange Blossom-infused Labneh

In his book, 88 Short Stories, the writer Guy de Maupassant wrote, ‘Did you ever sleep in a field of orange trees in bloom? The air which one inhales deliciously is a quintessence of perfumes. This powerful and sweet smell, as savoury as a sweetmeat, seems to penetrate one, to impregnate, to intoxicate, to induce languor, to bring…

Palestinian Halloumi and Za’atar Manakish

“Is that not the best pizza you have EVER eaten?” he said with a smile. The glint in his eye said to me that he was really, really proud of the manakish (Palestinian flatbread) he had just baked in his tabun, a clay oven shaped like a truncated cone with an opening at the bottom from which…

Provençal Endive and Walnut Salad with an Orange & Oregano dressing

Weirdly, I am beginning to think about Autumn. I blame the jet stream which is currently acting as a shield preventing the warm air of the south from entering our northern climes. But the nights are drawing in too; gone already are the gorgeous long days of endless light and, come sundown, the candles are…