Saturday, March 28, 2015

How to make mascarpone at home


To make mascarpone at home you can use just cream or a mixture of cream and milk, plus citric acid. Lemon juice can be used instead of citric acid, and if you have lemons (preferably not Meyer lemons, but some more acidic lemons)  you can use lemon juice, but citric acid is easy to measure. Some bloggers make a similar recipe and call the result ricotta (or creamy ricotta), but don't be fooled, they are mistaken (or idiots) and this is NOT ricotta, ricotta is a totally different product made in a totally different way and with different ingredients. You can find a recipe for ricotta here or, even better, here

Mascarpone is delicious, rich and fat, it is used in many Italian desserts or cheese dishes (like torta di mascarpone and gorgonzola) and of course the more cream you add the highest the fat content.

I used 300 ml of cream and 200 ml of full fat (grey top) milk and 4-5 g of citric acid diluted in 50 ml of hot water (the lower the dose and the less 'lemony' the taste, but it is difficult to measure 3 or 4 g, just think of half a level tsp - and again, all teaspoons are not the same!). Gently bring the milk and cream to 85°C, and stir with the thermometer for 5 minutes (yes you will need a cheese thermometer), keeping the temperature constant. Add the citric acid and water solution and stir, turn the heat off and let it rest for 10 minutes. Place a sieve over a bowl and line with a clean cotton cloth (or even two if the cloth is too fine - do not use gauze or cheese cloth, you need something with a thicker mesh). Place in the fridge and let it rest overnight to drip the excess liquid away. In the morning the mascarpone will be ready! The longer you leave it the thicker it will become, so you can let it rest for a bit longer if you like, or stir it into a creamy consistency and store in a container with a lid until you are ready to use it (a few days only). 

Just eat it by the spoon with a little cocoa and sugar, or honey, really decadent!


Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, March 20, 2015

Fresh juice using beetroot stalks and leaves, carrots, apples and ginger


… plus beetroots from the garden, carrots, apples, and a little ginger. For five juices I used about 1.5 kg of carrots, plus a few local apples, and i picked two beetroots from my veggie garden, they were small but the leaves and stalks are perfect for juicing too (of salad) so nothing get wasted. I used just a little ginger (not all the piece in the photo) to give the juice a little zest. It was really sweet and delicious!




 Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Zucchine ripiene - Stuffed zucchini for vegans and for vegetarians


I have two zucchini plants in the garden, one yellow and one green. They produce a lot, the yellow three times more than the green (I don't know why) and we have been eating zucchini in 100 different ways: grilled, sautéed, fried and tempura, in soups, with pasta… fortunately they are very versatile!
Here I had a few big ones (sometimes I don't pick them for a day and they double overnight! But the important thing is that they don't get to the 'marrow' state - too big and bitter) so I decided to stuff them.
I cut them into two and scooped out the flesh. Then I baked the shells upside down with a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil for 15 minutes. In the meantime I blended the zucchini flesh and then added chopped parsley and chives (about 1 tbsp), salt and pepper, a tbsp of olive oil and enough breadcrumbs to make a stuffing (add the breadcrumb one tbsp at the time so that you don't add too much). The zucchini were fresh from the garden and therefore they were very moist, so I needed more breadcrumbs, but if you buy them they may be a few days old and more dry, so less breadcrumbs are needed. I removed the zucchini from the oven, turned them up and filled them tightly with the stuffing. 
In the tray you can see also some zucchini slices, these where from 'regular' size zucchini, and I used them as side veggies.


Bake everything until the stuffing has a nice golden crust. If you are a Vegan you can enjoy them as they are, and if you are a vegetarian add cheese 5 minutes before removing them from the oven. The kids loved them, and they are so easy to make!


 Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Plum Jam



Jam made with plums from Oratia. I removed the stone and cooked the plums with a little water and some jam setting sugar (this was a present, and I wanted to try it). The NZ jam tradition seems to be 1kg of sugar for 1 kg of fruit (or even more sugar if you make raspberry jam) for an Italian this is too much. I go for 40 to 60%, with the latter being my preference if I need to preserve the jam for a long time (it helps agains botulin). You can taste the fruit better with less sugar :-).





And our cats, Nikita (left) and Marameo (right) are also enjoying the last of the sun, sleeping outdoors all day long! Marameo is 18 now, an old lady cat 


 Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©



Sunday, February 22, 2015

Fresh borlotti beans cooked in a skillet with red onion


I love shelling fresh beans from the garden, especially borlotti, as they are so pretty!
I usually put fresh beans in soups, or boil them to make a salad (and keep the water for a soup). To cook them slowly in a frying pan takes a bit longer, but they are delicious!


Chop a small red onion and sauté with a little olive oil for a few minutes, then add the borlotti. Stir and add a little water and salt, cover and check form time to time, stirring well and adding more water when needed. It takes about a hour (or more if you simmer on low), so be patient. No need to add tomato paste as the onion will almost melt and make a nice colored sauce. Taste for salt at the end and adjust with black pepper, if you like. 1000 times better than baked beans!



 Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Boysenberry and whisky trifle




For the first layer I made a vegetarian jelly with agar agar, you can follow the recipe here, but instead of pineapple powder I used a handful of frozen boysenberries. When the agar agar was set I added a layer of sponge soaked in whisky (up to you how much, but don't use cheap whisky unless you want a cheap dessert!). Then I made a vanilla creme like this one and covered the sponge. Finally I added whipped cream and boysenberries. 





 Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Onion Weed Dip, two ingredients only!



A recipe from the Forage to Feast event held by Slow Food Waitakere last year: onion weed dip. Foraging is healthy and environmentally friendly, and foraging onion weed in Auckland and Waitakere is easy - remember that onion weed is, in fact, a weed, so it can be removed safely!

Onion weed freezes well, just wash and cut into pieces. Every part can be eaten: bulb, stem, leaves and flowers, just make sure that it has not been sprayed or been near busy roads and dogs. To make this dip you just need some creamy feta cheese and onion weed (fresh or frozen). Blend, adding a tiny little bit of water (or olive oil if you prefer) to thin the sauce down if needed. No salt is required as feta is already salty. Refrigerate for a couple of hours and then serve as a dip or spread.

Onion weed can be collected in Spring and stored in the freezer for months. It can also be used in cooking in place of onions, spring onions, chives, leeks and garlic.


 Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, December 19, 2014

5+ a day with colorful fruit!

 A fruit lunch box: grapes, melon, watermelon, strawberries and wild strawberries (these are from the garden), plum and apricot, plus some mini pikelets. Easy as!



Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Melon and apricot smoothie


 This one is a smoothie and the kids made it: melon, natural apple juice, banana and apricot, decorated with borage flowers (edible).

Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, December 15, 2014

Green Juice for kids


With summer here it is easy to make juices and to eat more raw food.
Green juices are the best, of course, above celery, cucumber and green apple, light and refreshing.

Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sushi in a bowl - Chirashi-zushi




I like chirashi-zushi, sushi in a bowl, a part form the fact that you save time, it also looks pretty. For topping you can add what you fancy, here I have avocado, salted sakura (cherry blossoms), nori (cut with a craft puncher) takuan (Pickled daikon), cherry tomatoes and ume paste (I use wasabi but the kids wanted ume…). A perfect light lunch for summer!


Sushi rice

Wash the sushi rice (or Japanese rice) several times in cold water, until the water runs clear, and then cook it by absorption. The doses are about 1 and 3/4 (three quarters) cups of sushi rice for 2 cups of water, but that depends on the type of pot. You need a pot with a good lid, or you will loose too much steam. I kind of regulate myself by ear now, since I know my pots and pans. Bring the pot to boiling point, lower the heat and simmer until all the water has been absorbed. Once the rice is ready pour it into a bowl and stir it with a wooden spatula, cooling it with a fan if you can. I then add some ready made sushi vinegar, about 2 tablespoons, but this is my personal taste. If I don't have sushi vinegar I use 2 tbsp of rice vinegar, a little sugar and a little salt (to taste, and I don't like to use too much sugar or salt!). Spoon the rice in a bowl and add your topping. Serve with soy sauce and wasabi on the side, like for rolled sushi.



And now the weekly photos of flowers for my Pinterest Boards, to cheer me up! This morning I tried to delete a spam comment and by mistake I remove almost 100 comments (no spam, your comments!). I tried to get them all back manually and it took ages, plus I am sure that I lost some… blame the spammers! 


Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Beautiful heart melon and watermelon plate




This is perfect if you:

A: follow a raw diet (or don't know what to give to a raw eater/vega/gluten free/allergic/etc.)
B: prefer fruit to dessert (i.e. no time to make dessert)
C: want to lose weigh or to eat breakfast all day long
D: are in love!



All you need is a knife and a hear shaped cookie cutter. 

Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Raw, vegan and gluten free sweet for Christmas? Homemade marzipan!!




Marzipan is the perfect sweet for the Holiday Season, and this is RAW, VEGAN and GLUTEN FREE, so it seems to cover most of the current food trends :-). Click here to see the recipe and step by step images (including how to use apricot kernels). Note that for colouring this time I didn't use berry juice but Fresh As raspberry powder, and also quite a bit of spiraling powder for a darker green hue. The nuts on top are optional, of course.




I am entering this recipe for Sweet NZ #40, to enter your November Recipe click here.
Sweet NZ image




Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, November 28, 2014

Orange and carrot juice: so delicious!


The juice of the day is just carrots and orange. Usually I have this in winter, but I had a couple of oranges to use and it is refreshing (it has been hot!)



Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Plum smoothie, and purple heaven



Another day, another smoothie. I used some free stone plums from Oratia Orchard (they have many variety of plums, freshly picked), drinking yogurt, one banana and ice cubes. Perfect for breakfast and I love the colour! In fact I love all hues of purple and plum, here are some of my favourite.




Well, my blueberries should be blue by now, bus a bug ate half of my plant form the inside, and
the birds tend to get to the berries before me as soon as they turn blue! No blueberry jam this year,
but they look pretty in the garden. 


And these I adore, tiny little pansies from the garden.

Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini


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