‘Twelve is one of two cookery books I own by Tessa Kiros, the other being ‘Apples for Jam’ Both of them are gorgeous to look at full, of stylishly presented images and delicious sounding recipes. Despite this they are both inexplicably rather underused in my kitchen. In a bid to change that (as they are both far too pretty to simply sit on a shelf), I made ‘Twelve’ my cooked book for March. Yes, I know it’s now April, but, better late than never.
Tuscany is one of the places I have had some of my best holidays. Warm evenings, rich Wild Boar Stew, thick casseroles of sausages and beans, a robust glass (bottle) of Montepulciano, sharp ice-cold limoncello. Strong coffee, crackley biscotti, figs, just picked from the tree warmed in early morning sunshine. All of these transport me back to warm Septembers in Tuscany. Like most holiday related things, these flavours are hard to recreate in the cold light of a British March (or even July) day. But, maybe that’s as it should be, holidays would not be so special if they were just like being at home. However, saying that Tessa Kiros does a pretty good job of transporting me to a sun drenched Tuscan farm-house with the variety of recipes and the accompanying photographs in this book.
Twelve is divided into the months of the year – I like these kind of cookery books. I’m particularly fond of Nigel Slater’s ‘The Kitchen Diaries’ for that very reason. Consequently the recipes are seasonal, although understandably whats seasonal in Tuscany may likely differ from whats seasonal in the UK. Tessa begins each months recipes with a lovely introduction to available ingredients, the weather and Tuscan traditions. In March she writes…..
“Although the table is still dependent on the winter fresh produce, there is the welcome and exciting arrival of green garlic and asparagus. And even in the wooded countryside, there is the atmosphere of a treasure hunt, as people make their way back to their cars, their hands full of the long thin stalks of the first wild asparagus”
I have made a number of recipes from this book but in my general scattiness and greediness to tuck in realise I only photographed two of them. The first was Penne with sausages walnuts and cream which went down very well with us both. I’m not a huge walnut fan but the flavour of this sauce was glossy and glorious. I made the full quantity and froze it. It was just as good second time around.
Penne with Sausages and Walnuts or Penne alla Seneso
Not everyone is a fan of anchovies, my husband included. I therefore find myself sneaking them into things rather than presenting them in an identifiable form. They add a briny richness to sauces that I suspect most supposed anchovy haters would be unable to identify. Orecchiette with Broccoli was one such dish and one I shall certainly do again. Its cheap, easy, and wholesome, a perfect weekday supper.
Orecchiette with Broccoli or Orecchiette ai broccoli
Other tasty dishes were Pollo al Limone (chicken in lemon) and Salsicce e fagioli (sausages and beans). I have made variations of sausages and beans on a number of occasions. Tomatoes, herbs and tins of cannelini beans are store cupboard staples and I usually have some sausages lurking in the freezer. The dish I’m desperate to try but haven’t managed yet (mainly because it needs 24 hours advance preparation, and I’m never that organised) is Frittelle di rise (fried rice balls). These are small nuggets of pudding rice fried and dusted in icing sugar. I have the pudding rice ready in the cupboard so its only a matter of time……
April’s Cooked Books will feature Lorraine Pascale. Watch this space, and happy cooking.