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Simple mousse with strawberries and roses

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Fried paneer with turmeric and cornflowers

  My family love paneer, most of our curries have it, and if they don't I often fry some on the side to add to warm roti or chapati breads. For this recipe I added some spices, including a little turmeric, so the blue cornflower petals looked stunning! Cut the paneer in slices. Heat some vegetable oil in a skillet or frying pan, add a few coriander seeds and a few cumin seeds and then, when the oil is hot, the paneer slices. Fry for 2-3 minutes on one side, then turn, add a pinch of salt and a little turmeric powder and fry on the other side for 1-2 minutes. Turn one last time so the paneer slices are completely coated with turmeric and then turn the element off.  Sprinkle with cornflower petals and serve immediately. Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini  ©

Super Healthy Winter Salad: Broccolo Romanesco and chickpea salad

Broccolo Romanesco is a beautiful vegetable, but if you cannot find it you can substitute here with a cauliflower. Cut the florets and drop them in salted boiling water, then cook them until soft but not mushy. Cool in cold water and drain, then dress with white wine vinegar or white balsamic (about one tbsp). Drain one can of chick peas (keep the chickpea water - aquafaba, to make  vegan meringues  or  other vegan recipes ) and add to the Broccolo. Add olive oil (about 2 tbsp) and salt to taste. To finish add some olives (ascolane olives are the best, otherwise used other marinated olives). Mix well and serve at room temperature. Photo and Recipe by Alessandra Zecchini  ©

Nasturtium buds in vinegar

  When preserving nasturtiums don’t just use the seed pods, the best part are the tiny green buds, the smaller the better although I also add some buds with the orange petals showing (mostly for colour) and also some tiny leaves, which are delicious! The seeds are crunchy so I add some too. Cover with white wine vinegar and keep in a dark place. When you open the jar they really smell like capers!    Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini  ©

Stained glass Christmas Cookies

I usually make  stained glass  cookie windows for the cookie house at Christmas, but this year I didn't get round to making a cookie house (you can find a recipe  here  with step by step images if you like) so I made some cookies, just for fun! All you need to do is cut out the cookies with a central pattern and fill the hole with some crushed candy. The candy will melt while the cookies are baking, and harden as they cool.    Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini  ©

Christmas Fruit Platter with Balsamic

Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena goes well with fruit, and there is also a Balsamic cream you can buy which is less expensive and ideal to decorate plates.   Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini  ©

Risi e bisi coi baccelli - Fresh pea risotto with pea pod broth

Peas are a precious crop for me, I don't like to buy big bags of frozen peas like everyone seems to do in New Zealand (and other countries), it makes them feel 'cheap' and 'common' and an everyday boring side veggie... In fact I think that in so many years of blogging I have posted only one recipe using frozen peas and it is  here  (cooked with some foraged onion weeds - so the point of that recipe was to have a very low cost dish). I like my fresh peas and I like them to be the main player in a dish, like for  risi e bisi,  a traditional risotto dish from Veneto, Italy. And the best part of growing them? Is to keep the pods, and as I am a NO-FOOD-WASTE advocate, to use them to make stock, which will be the base of the risotto. So shell the peas and keep the pods, wash them well and place them in a pot with water (I used about 1.2 litres of water for a basket of peas) and rock salt and simmer for at least one hour. You can also add a little parsley or celery l