Saturday, April 19, 2014

Edible ideas for Easter!

From Party Food for Girls, eggs colored with natural vegetable dyes,
recipe by Alessandra Zecchini (in the April Dante Newsletter), photo by
Shaun Cato-Symonds

Alessi-mania, a serious talk about eggs, and breadsticks instead of soldiers

Iced animal biscuits for Ester

Bunnies? Fondant and marzipan, or sushi?

Natural: quail and chicken eggs are beautiful enough as they are, and for an interesting touch,
eggs decorated by the children with Italian prehistoric patterns

Wow, a full Easter page without Chocolate! What do you think?

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, April 18, 2014

Japanese side vegetables with mushroom and mochi

I love the simplicity and clean taste of Japanese side vegetables, it doesn't matter what you use really, the secret is to cook (or better, blanch) the veggies separately so that they retain their own taste. Here I blanched the carrots and snap peas separately, but I kept the two broths and mixed them together as the base for a miso soup (never trow away anything!).
I cleaned the mushrooms and cooked them in a pan with a little butter, then I added soy sauce and lemon juice. Then I used the same pan to sizzle some small cubes of mochi (rice cakes) on all sides (the centre becomes soft while the sides pick up the mushroom-soy sauce-lemon-butter flavor). Decoration: Onion weed flowers (edible!).

Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Raspberry Pudding made with Fresh As Raspberry Powder

No raspberries this season, but you can make this pudding with freeze dried raspberry powder! I used 2 free range egg whites (no egg yolks or you will not get a pretty pink colour!), 3 tbsp of sugar, 1 tbsp of flour  500 ml of milk, 20 g butter and 2 tbsp of Fresh As Raspberry powder. Stir the first 4 ingredients and then, once the custard is thick, add the following two, stirring well. Turn off the heat and pour into 4 glasses. Refrigerate before serving. Top with frozen raspberries if you like.


Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Vanilla cupcakes with Italian butter icing from the book 'Party Food for Girls'

Here is a recipe from my book Party Food for Girls, I haven't made it in a while, but I needed a sugar hit, and I just felt like baking... it happens!

Vanilla Cupcakes

120 g butter
3 eggs
130 g sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla paste
200 g self-rising flour
60 ml milk
Italian butter icing for the topping (recipe on page…)
Fresh or sugar flowers to decorate (optional)

Makes 12 cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 175°C. Line a 12-muffin tray with cupcakes paper cups.
Melt the butter in a jug, either in the microwave or in the oven (while the oven is warming up for the cupcakes). Place the eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk, using an electric beater, until the mixture looks light and pale yellow in colour. Slowly add the melted butter and the vanilla essence or paste. Keep beating at a low speed now; add half of the flour followed by half of the milk. Add the rest of the flour and milk and keep beating making sure that there are no lumps. Divide the mixture between the 12-cupcake cases
Bake for about 18-20 minutes, until golden brown at the top. You can also check by inserting a toothpick into the cupcakes: if it comes out clean the cupcakes are ready. Remove the cupcakes from the tin and let them cool down.
Prepare the Italian Butter Icing (recipe below) and decorate your cupcakes.

Italian Butter Icing

160 g unsalted butter
2 egg whites
160 g sugar
10 ml water
A few drops of pure vanilla essence

Cut the butter into small cubes and set aside at room temperature.
Beat the egg whites until they form a white peak, and then add 100 g of sugar and beat for 10 more minutes.
Put the remaining 60 g of sugar in a small saucepan (possibly use a single-handle saucepan or a milk pot, which are easy-to pour). Add 10 ml of water to the sugar. Place the saucepan over the stove at a very low heat and bring it to boil. Simmer for 2 minutes, stirring gently with a metal spoon, and making sure that the sugar doesn’t stick to the edges of the pot. The sugar should melt but still look white. Don’t boil it for too long or it will turn into brown caramel; if this should happen wash the pot with warm water and start again.
Resume beating the egg whites and very carefully (don’t burn yourself) pour in the sugar syrup. Beat until the meringue is cold and then turn the speed of the beater to the lowest setting. Add the butter, little by little and beat it in until well mixed. Add the vanilla essence and beat for one more minute.
Scoop the icing into a decorating pastry bag and decorate the cupcakes as shown in the pictures.

And this is the cover of the book, the very same recipe, with the difference that at present I don't have many edible flowers in the garden a part from a few violets. Next time I'll wait to have lots of flowers, as they are the prettiest decoration ever!

Get it on Amazon!

Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, April 11, 2014

Budino al limone - Lemon Pudding

Two types of puddings with one recipe (and using yolk and whites separately)!

For this Lemon puddings I used 2 free range egg yolks, 3 tbsp of sugar, 1 tbsp of flour  500 ml of milk, 20 g butter and the juice of one organic lemon. Stir the first 4 ingredients and the, once then custard is thick, add the following two, stirring well. Turn off the heat and pour into 4 glasses. Refrigerate before serving.

Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, April 7, 2014

Gnocco fritto con lo stracchino del Casaro

Tonight's dinner, gnocco fritto with the stracchino Massimiliano (il Casaro) made!
First stracchino made in NZ, Max approves!

Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, April 4, 2014

Soba with nori tagliolini, onion weed and salted sakura (cherry blossoms)

Just cook the soba and top with the rest of the ingredients. To serve just add a drop of soy sauce.

To make the nori tagliolini ... well look here! For the onion weed... just forage it, wash and cut (you can eat the flowers, stems and bulbs... the lot!). I bought the salted sakura (cherry blossoms) here, I love them, a bit like salted capers really!

 Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, March 31, 2014

Cutting nori seaweed with a pasta machine!

I had an idea! Instead of cutting nori seaweed with scissors (like I usually do) I tried with a pasta machine, with the tagliolini setting. And it works really well! Next time I'll show you how I used it, but for now I just wanted to share the idea! Anyway, great to top rice, soba, soups, salads... so pretty too!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Linguine with broccoli, semi-dried tomatoes and feta.

Cook the linguine al dente, In the meantime clean the broccoli, cut the stalks into small pieces and the florets in fork size pieces. Heat some olive oil in a pan and add two cloves of garlic, peeled (chopped if you like a stronger garlic flavour). Sizzle the add the broccoli stalks. Stir, after one minute add the florets. Stir for a couple of minutes, add salt, cover with a lid and simmer for two minutes, then turn the element off but leave the lid on: the broccoli will cook in their steam. Cut the semi-dried tomatoes into strips and cube the feta. Drain the pasta and place in the pan with the broccoli (you can add a bit of water from the pasta or a bit more olive oil to mix everything well together. Top with the tomatoes and feta. Serve immediately. 

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spinach with Halloumi and Chinese garlic chives

When time is an issue I can always grab a packet of Halloumi cheese (if I have time I could make it, but not today!). Here it is cooked with Chinese garlic chives and served on a bed of spinach.

What you need:
500 g frozen spinach
1 bunch Chinese garlic chives
olive oil
a small pinch of salt
One block Halloumi

Defrost the spinach and chop the Chinese garlic chives. Put half of the garlic chives in a pan with olive oil, sizzle and then add the spinach and a pinch of salt. Sauté the spinach. In the meantime in a separate pan sizzle the remaining Chinese garlic chives with a little olive oil, then add the Halloumi and cook on both sides until golden. Cut into four and place over the spinach. Serve hot with some crusty bread.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, March 14, 2014

Coconut and ginger tofu


Two blocks of soft tofu
1 shallot
2 fresh red chillies 
1 can coconut cream
500 ml vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
fresh coriander
fresh Vietnamese mint (or basil)

Drain the tofu and cut into slices. Finely chop the shallot, and roughly break up the chili, discarding the seeds unless you like your food very spicy. Place everything in a pot with the coconut cream and vegetables sock and simmer for 20 minutes. Grate the ginger and add to the tofu, finish off with some fresh coriander and Vietnamese mint leaves. If you don't have Vietnamese mint use fresh basil.
Serve with Thai rice or noodles.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Chili and garlic Swiss chard (coste aglio olio e peperoncino)

Swiss chard (silver beet) is a vegetable that you can always find in winter, and fortunately I love it. Also it can be cooked in so many ways, as a side or as an ingredient for a main. This is a quick side, I never had it 'spicy' and I was pleasantly surprised! 

Just wash the silver beet (chard), cut the white stalks and leaves into fork-size pieces (pieces that you can pick up with a fork). Heat some extra virgin olive oil in a pan, add a peeled clove of garlic or two, and some fresh chilies (I added a green and a red, chopped). When the garlic and chilies sizzle add the white stalks and stir. After a few minutes add the leaves and salt to taste. Cover and let the leaves cook in their own steam, stirring from time to time. Serve hot. Yummy, different and super easy!

And for more silver beet ideas look at all the recipes below :-)

Feb 26, 2012
Pick the silverbeet from your veggie garden (or buy it!), as much as you can, since it goes down a lot! I used young tender leaves of rainbow chard. Sauté with olive oil, one sliced shallot and salt. Cover and cook in its own ...
Feb 03, 2011
The other day I showed you my curry made with borage, 'invented' because I have tons of it in the garden! The other green-leaf crop that does well in Auckland is silver beet. My old plants (from last year!) got so tall that I ...
Jun 15, 2012
I placed the silver beet stalks on top first, and then green leaves as a third layer. I covered everything with the remaining besciamelle. A super generous dusting of grated parmesan cheese on top, and straight into the oven ...
Oct 30, 2011
Broken silverbeet bruschetta, a demo in Italian and what about advertising??? My silverbeet is not big enough to be picked, but I was working in the veggie garden and I broke one entire little plant by mistake. Well, I cut it right ...

Aug 17, 2012
The other day I cooked some silver beet (chard), leaves and stalk separately. We had the leaves as a side, hot and dressed with some Japanese soy sauce and lemon juice, and I kept the stalks for the day after. I love lemon ...

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Saffron Quinotto

In Lima I heard a lot about quinotto, quinoa cooked like risotto. Many of my Italian blogger friends also  make it, and I though of trying, starting with a classic saffron style 'quinotto'.

I chopped one onion and cooked it with a little olive oil (I wanted to make a vegan dish, but remember that butter is traditionally used for saffron risotto), then I added 450 g of quinoa. Once the quinoa was 'toasted' and 'greasy' with oil, I added one glass of white wine, and then, ladle by ladle, slowly slowly, and stirring often, one litre of vegetable stock. I added the saffron just at the end, when the quinotto was cooked.

How was it? Well, I liked it very much, my son liked it too, but my husband and daughter weren't so sure... they ate it, but are they are not going to beg me to make it again, they prefer risotto with rice :-).

And did you ever try to make quinotto?

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, March 3, 2014

Wholemeal apple cake

I have lots of organic apples to use, so this cake is actually packed with apples! I use about 10, peeled and thinly sliced and sprayed with lime juice (I usually use lemon, but I have lots of organic limes too).
For the batter I used 3 large free range eggs, 130 g demerara sugar, 120 g melted salted butter, a pinch of ground cinnamon and 180 g wholemeal flour. At the end I added half a tsp of cream of tartar and 1/3 of baking soda. I folded the apples in, and poured everything into a baking tin. For the topping I used 6 tbsp of wholemeal flour, 3 tbsp of demerara sugar and 50 g of salted butter, cubed. I mixed the topping to make a crumble and spread it over the cake. I baked the cake at 180°C and it took forever! About one hour or a bit longer! I guess it was because it had so many apples in it. But in the end it was just so yummy and moist and it lasted about 5 days!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Blog Candy: win two packs of Fresh As Products

Attention all food bloggers and friends of Sweet New Zealand:

Remember to enter your sweet recipes this month (info here - I am hosting so you will need to email me the entries) by February 27th and you will be in the draw to win two delicious packs of Fresh As products: Raspberry Powder and Strawberries slices. You can enter old recipes as long as you add the SNZ logo. You can enter as many times as you like, winners will be chosen with, so you just need to be lucky!


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