Thursday, August 14, 2014

Detox! Celery, rhubarb, cucumber and apple juice


This juice tastes good and feels good! For four glasses I used seven stalks of celery (no leaves this time) half a telegraph cucumber, two stalks of rhubarb from the garden (yes, raw!) and then topped up to taste with natural apple juice (no sugar added). The apple juice is optional, of course, but I like it ;-).



For a change in my weekly bouquet from the garden I picked some parsley flowers. They look quite pretty actually, and there is no parsley smell around (I was a bit worried about that!).


Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Raw juice magic: celery, lemon and apple juice



I am so into juicing these days, and the kids drink all sort of vegetable and fruit juices, the greener the better! This one is particularly good: for four glasses I used half a stalk of celery (I use the stalks and only a few leaves - mostly to give it colour, usually I keep the leaves for cooking) then half a lemon and  to top a little (about 10-20%) natural apple juice. I will make this again and again, too good!


And now for something completely different:


Nearly bought this one… :-)

 Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mixed salad leaves (with lots of mizuna) and edible flowers salad



This salad doesn't require much explanation: I have mixed salad leaves (lots of mizuna this year) and an variety of flowers. Did you know that you can eat impatient (busy lizzy) flowers too? They taste a bit like rocket, the best for me are the red ones, but the pink ones are so pretty! Mix and dress with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and salt.




 Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sautéed Asian eggplants and asparagus with Italian herbs (and baby potatoes)


One of my favourite kitchen smells is garlic and herbs sizzling in olive oil! Here I used fresh rosemary, sage and oregano, a couple of garlic cloves, and a few long Asian eggplants, cut into halves or quarters (depending on their size). When the eggplants were done I added the asparagus (which take less time) and sauté the lot for one more minute, then added more fresh herbs, a good pinch of salt, a heavy lid, and turned the heat off. If you leave the veggies like this for 5-10 minutes they will just 'finish' cooking in their own steam.


I had herbs leftover, so I half-boiled some new potatoes, peeled them (sorry Kiwis, but I love to peel my potatoes, unless they are organic) and placed them on a baking try lined with baking paper. I added rosemary and sage, salt and olive oil. I baked the lot and the kitchen smelled lovely.


 Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Ricotta Cheesecake with Rum and Raisins



I love ricotta cheesecake, and it has less calories that regular cheesecake. This recipe is very simple and calls for many variations: here I used rum and raisins, but it is great with lemon zest, or vanilla, or candied citrus peels...


Ingredients
1 sheet sweet butter pastry for the base
1 handful raisins (or sultana)
50 ml rum
3 eggs
3 tbsp sugar
500 g ricotta

Line a square or rectangular baking tin with baking paper and the sweet butter pastry, pinching the pastry so that it lightly comes up to the borders (it doesn't need to come up all the way through, just about 2 or 3 cm.). Soak the raisins with the rum. Beat the eggs with the sugar until they are foamy and pale yellow, then add the ricotta and beat for one more minute. Fold in the raisins and rum and pour over the pastry. Place immediately in a preheated oven at 160°C for approximately 45 minutes, or until the borders look golden. Let the cake cool down for several hours before cutting.


 Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Rose Cordial, step by step


If you have roses in your garden, and they have not been sprayed (organic) you can make your own rose cordial, beautiful and pink! The recipe is the same as for the elderberry flower syrup.


For this you will need 1 l of water, 1 kg of sugar, organic rose petals (at least 1 cup full, but the more the better), 30 g of citric acid and 3 organic lemons. Wash and cut the lemons and put them in a pot with all the other ingredients (or in a large jar, if you have it). Let this mixture stand for three days, stirring from time to time. Don't go over three days or it may ferment. 


After this time filter the syrup through a muslin cloth, squeezing the lemons and flowers well. 





Boil the filtered syrup for 5 minutes, removing any possible scam forming at the top. Cool down and filter again, through a finer cotton cloth this time (I do this in a funnel directly over the bottles. Use as a cordial for water, or as a syrup for cakes and desserts.




 Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Spinach, banana, blueberry and apple smoothie


Yes we should all eat more raw fruit and vegetables! This smoothie is super easy, for 4 glasses use 2 bananas, two cups of baby spinach leaves, one cup of blueberries and 2 cups of natural apple juice (from Oratia).

Do you like fresh juices and smoothies?




Sweet NZ image
This recipe is for Sweet New Zealand #35, the blogging event open to all Kiwi bloggers (living in NZ or overseas) and expats blogging from NZ. June's host is Amanda from Move Love Eat  Click here to share you sweet creations with the Sweet New Zealand team! Also let me know if you are keen to be a host in 2014, and book a month for you!


 Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, June 20, 2014

Chocolate, strawberries and cream pudding



This dessert has three layers, and the first is a velvety chocolate pudding made with 3 egg yolks, 3 tbsp of sugar, 500 mil of full cream milk and plenty of Peruvian cooking chocolate (milk or dark, I used milk here). I didn't measure the chocolate, but you should go by taste, not everybody likes really intense chocolate! Mix the egg yolks with the sugar and beat well, then put on bain marie (double boiling) and simmer slowly, adding the milk little by little. Use top milk, otherwise use 400ml milk and 100 ml cream. Stir until the mixture thickens (it takes a long time!) then add the chocolate and melt. Pour into glasses and set aside to cool. Refrigerate for a few hours. In the meantime clean and hull the strawberries and cut into small pieces. Add a tsp of sugar and one of lemon juice and set aside for a few hours. Before serving top the chocolate with the strawberries and finally with whipped cream. Decorate with edible flowers (I used borage).





Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Asparagus with pistachio and Feta


 Just wash the asparagus and cut off the hardest bit at the end. Heat a couple of tbsp of olive oil in a pan, add a garlic clove, peeled and cut into two, and then the asparagus. Sizzle for a minute or two, stirring, then cover with a lid and turn the heat off. The asparagus will cook in their own steam. Uncover, add a tbsp of crushed pistachio nuts and cubed feta. If using halloumi, cube it first then sizzle with the garlic and olive oil, remove, add the asparagus and cook as before. Add the halloumi back at the end with the pistachio. Serve on a plate of quinoa.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Finto Pesce (fake fish)



When I brought this plate to the table everybody laughed, and it is a fun recipe! Finto pesce means fake fish, the original recipe is a kind of pate made with potatoes, mayonnaise, capers and canned tuna (I think very 1960s!). My Mother made it, we lived in the mountains far from the sea, so fish was rare (and frozen or canned). Of course being a vegetarian I don't use tuna for this recipe, but seaweed.

Brush and wash (but don't peel) 1 kg of mashing potatoes, then peel them and pass them through a potato ricer. Add a tbsp of capers, some nori seaweed, shredded, and a few tbsp of mayonnaise (to taste). Mix well. Shape into a fish and decorate with veggies and more nori ( I cut my nori with a flower cutter). Perfect for summer, and for kids!

Do you have a dish that makes everyone laugh?




Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Parmigiano with Airborne Bush Honey and coffee - Parmigiano con miele e caffè





I wish this was one of my creations, but I cannot take the credit: it is in fact an appetizer (but also served as a cheese course, or with a good vino da meditazione (meditation wine) that I first tried in my village in Italy (Sestola, an excellent Parmigiano producing area) about 20 years ago. It was very fashionable then, and it may be still now for all I know, I am not sure, but it is definitely very original, and too good not to share!

All you need is real Italian Parmigiano Reggiano Stravecchio (over 30 months aging), good quality creamy honey and good ground coffee (espresso quality). If you cannot find 30 month old Parmigiano, look for a 24 month, or you can try with a younger Parmigiano, but really, here you have only three ingredients, and the better they are, the best the end result.

Cut the Parmesan into bite size chunks, spread with honey and sprinkle with ground coffee. The pairing of these three flavours really works. I used Airborne Bush Honey because I like bush honey, but I also had it with other New Zealand honey varieties, and I guess the honey choice goes down to personal taste (and the coffee choice too... but make sure it is finely ground!).



Happy National Honey Week everyone!




Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Elderberry Flowers Syrup and Elder flower Tea


Elderberry Flowers Syrup

For this you will need 1 l of water, 1 kg of sugar, about a dozen elderberry flower heads, 30 g of citric acid and 3 organic lemons (I picked some juicy organic lemons from Regina's garden). 


Wash and cut the lemons and put them in a pot with all the other ingredients (or in a large jar, if you have it). Let this mixture stand for three days, stirring from time to time. Don't go over three days or it may ferment. After this time filter the syrup through a muslin cloth, squeezing the lemons and flowers well. Boil the filtered syrup for 5 minutes, removing any possible scam forming at the top. Cool down and filter again, through a finer cotton cloth this time. 


Bottle and use as a cordial (it is very thirst-quenching), or to flavour desserts (like panna cottaor blamanche), ice cream, fruit salads and berries.




Elder flower Tea

I am drying the remaining flowers for tea. Dry them in the shade and keep them for winter: the tea is traditionally used to relieve cold and flu, cough and sore tummy.

Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Elderberry Flower Fritters




Pick the flowers from a tree that it is not too close to the road and traffic, and has not being sprayed with chemicals. Shake and clean (no need to wash in water) the elderberry flowers to make sure that there is no dirt (or insects).

Mix 100g of plain flour with a tsp of icing sugar and enough cold water to make a light batter (a bit like tempura). 


Pick the flowers heads by the stalk and drop into the batter, and then into hot oil. Fry, turning once, until the fritters are golden and crispy.



Dust with icing sugar and fresh elderberry flowers, then serve, hot or cold. 



Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Cavolfiore al forno: Italian cauliflower cheese


When I was living in London, over 20 years ago now, every eatery I went to (unless it was some sort of hippy/alternative/macrobiotic/ethnic restaurant) would have two hot veggie choices: vegetarian lasagne and cauliflower cheese. I am not joking: that was it! The vegetarian lasagne was usually frozen stuff, and it seems that most pubs and cafes ordered it from the same company (i.e. it always tasted the same!). The cauliflower cheese was either boiled cauliflower with cheddar melted on top, or baked cauliflower with a white sauce... and the consistency of porridge. Meat eaters pitied me and wondered why on earth I would choose to be a vegetarian. Things are different now, and there is more choice, but I am sure that lots of vegetarians still have nightmares about that bland 'cauliflower porridge'.

Anyway, here is a version that is not too cheesy (but you can add more cheese on top if you like), and tastes good. 

Cavolfiore al forno

Ingredients
1 large cauliflower, plus plenty of water and a pinch of salt
100 g salted butter
100 g plain flour
1 l milk
nutmeg
white pepper
salt to taste
100 g freshly grated parmesan cheese (or the cheese you like)

I usually remove the leaves form the cauliflower, then I wash it and boil it whole in a large pot with plenty of water and a pinch of salt. This way I make sure that it is not overcooked and mushy. Then I divide it into florets. 

For the sauce (Besciamella) melt 100 g of salted butter in a saucepan, then add 100 g of plain flour and stir. Add 1 l of milk slowly, stirring constantly without making lumps, then simmer until the sauce thickens. At the end add freshly grated nutmeg, white pepper, and salt to taste. Spread a little sauce in the bottom of a oven dish, then arrange the cauliflower florets on top. Cover with the rest of the sauce, banging the dish so that there are no air bubbles. Sprinkle with 100 g of freshly grated parmesan cheese and place in the hot oven for about 40 minutes, or until the top is golden. Serve hot. Easy!



Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Crêpe cake with Cointreau butter and flowers



You will need some ready made sweet Crêpes (about 9) and whip about 100 g of unsalted butter with one heap tbsp of icing sugar and a good dose of Cointreau (to taste!). Spread the butter cream on the Crêpes and top it with edible flowers from the garden (you can do this if the flowers in your garden have not been sprayed). I added a few Alpine strawberries (also from the garden) but any berry would work here, or some orange slices too, and voilà! An instant cake that looks great, taste really good and takes no time! 






Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

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