November Newsletter – Gunpowder, Treason and Plot

Don Alfonso Today, November 5th, is Guy Fawkes day, and all over England excited children will be whooping round the bonfire, letting off squids, while they wait for the more spectacular fireworks to be let off. I always used to find the noise intimidating but I loved the smell of the wood-smoke and this evening in Ferentino the misty dusk and neighboring bonfire make me feel very nostalgic. I would love to plan a robust casserole with jacket potatoes but, alas, I am doing the first five days of the Dukan diet, after a long summer of over- indulgence.

I am very late with this newsletter but October has been very busy. The Puglia school went well and we had a great time in spite of the unseasonal rain storms which swept over most of Italy. We paddled to restaurants in the evening and were thankful for the cars that took us to Ostuni, Alberobello and the three cooking lessons.

 The day I returned to Rome I had a three- day consultancy with a group of chefs and food executives from the UK. The first day, after a market visit to replenish supplies, I cooked 12 dishes for them to sample and in the evening we dined at the Troiani brothers lovely Convivio restaurant. We each managed to pay justice to our chosen 4 course meal and lovely wines but that night I suffered painful shin splints from all the standing. The following day we drove down to Ferentino to cook several different lasagne with Amadeo at the Trattoria Consolare and in the evening we returned to Rome to have dinner at the very special Viva Voce restaurant. Alfonso Iaccarino had come up from Sant’Agata to cook for us so we felt very priviledged. The next morning we had a very enjoyable time cooking at Moli in Testaccio with Piero and Giuseppe Zanni.

Last week I had a couple of cooking lessons and then I went to Don Alfonso for a fleeting visit before they closed for the winter The food was of course superb and the bedrooms get more sybaritic each time I visit. In the morning limped round Alfonso’s organic farm in front of Capri. The weather felt like high summer and the view is enchanting.  I always feel that if I slipped I would roll right down to the sea. In all it was a very peaceful two days break and I finished it off with a simple fish lunch at my favourite trattoria on the sea. Don Alfonso also have a spectacular cooking school, purpose-built in the garden. I am planning to organize a few 3 day breaks for people to do before or after any other Italian holiday, with or without one of their cooking classes. Please let me know if you are interested or think it is a good idea.

This newsletter is getting too long so I will wait until the end of the month to talk about next year’s Marrakech, Sicily, Greece – Sifnos and Symi and Budapest.

At the end of next week I am going to London to publicise my new, 25 recipes, cookbooks.

Diane Seed’s Favourite Seafood is already available as an e book or printed copy.

Click here to buy:

Diane Seed’s Favourite Vegetable Dishes will be ready in time for Christmas.

This month’s recipe


Faraona con uva e arance

I love to cook this for dinner parties because it can be prepared well in advance. If it is cooked and allowed to cool the bird seems to absorb more of the flavour. The grapes, however, must not be added until a few minutes before serving.

2 guinea fowl

1 onion, roughly chopped

I carrot, roughly chopped

1 stick celery, roughly chopped


4 T ev olive oil

3 shallots, finely chopped

150 g (5 oz) sultanas soaked in little wine

Black pepper

400 mL (14 fl oz) dry white wine

6 oranges

1 small bunch of black grapes

Clean the guinea fowl and place in a large pan covered with boiling water, together with the onion, carrot and celery. Add a little salt, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and cut into quarters.

Heat the olive oil in another pan and add the shallots and the drained sultanas. Cook over a low heat for 5 minutes then add the guinea fowl portions and turn up the heat so that they brown. Season to taste, then add the wine and the juice of 4 of the oranges. Cover and cook slowly for another 30 minutes.

Peel the remaining oranges and cut into thin slices.

Halve the grapes and remove the seeds. The grapes should be stirred into the guinea fowl mixture about 3 minutes before removing from the heat. Arrange the bird on a heated serving plate surrounded by sauce and decorated with the orange slices.


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