Maria and Marco’s Castagnaccio
February 7, 2013
Posted in View from the table
I have two friends in Italy called Maria and Marco. Maria is my friend Jo’s sister and Marco is her husband, they are a true pleasure to be around and it’s not surprising that my whole family quickly took them both to their collective bosom.
To say both my daughters fell instantly in love with Marco would be an understatement. Upon first meeting him I heard Maria matter of factly say, “Oh, another girl loses her heart to Marco.” It clearly happens all the time. It was spring time and the cherry blossom in Jo’s garden was in full bloom and heavy on the tree. Marco was lifting Lily up to reach the blossom so she could shake the boughs and release confetti like showers of pink petals. From there on he gained a friend and fan for life.
Both are blessed with patience and respect for children and that’s a quality that all youngsters seem able to confidently detect. You cannot fool children and you can’t make them like you. Even if they’re your own – joking. I wonder at what age we lose, or rather stop using, the ability to detect falsity and stop going with our gut feeling?
The pair also share a love of food. Just before my wedding I received two heavy parcels from them which made me, myself, feel like a child again. They were full of Italian produce including jars of chocolate and hazelnut gianduja, honey, chestnuts, biscuits, artisan chocolate, my favourite Baci and various kinds of flour that I have only ever seen in Italy. It’s the gift that keeps giving; special, thoughtful and so damn good to eat.
- Preheat the oven to 180oC / 160oC Fan / Gas 4
- Brush a large baking tray with olive oil
- Tip the chestnut flour into a big bowl and whisk in the milk
- Add the sugar, salt and oil and most of the pine nuts
- Spoon onto the baking tray
- Sprinkle with the remaining pine nuts, the needles from the rosemary and drizzle with olive oil
- Bake for around 40 minutes, it’s ready when it’s browned on top and cracks start to form
- Leave to cool before slicing it up