Saturday, April 23, 2016

Parmesan and Borage fritters: four ingredients, gluten free!


Borage flowers are perfect for fritters, and for many other recipes, but I mostly use them for fritters because everyone loves them.

Ingredients:
Borage flowers and young leaves (or other edible flowers)
3 free range eggs
1 tbsp parmesan cheese
Olive oil for frying.

 Pick the top of the plant as soon as it flowers, about 10 cm of stem with a few young leaves too. Don't wait until the flowers make seeds, these are too hard to eat!!! Rinse the stems well and several times and drip dry them. You can also use zucchini flowers for this, I had just a three in the garden and in they went into a batter made by whisking three eggs with a tbsp of parmesan cheese. Fry with extra virgin olive oil turning once until golden and crispy, and serve hot (but even cold leftovers are great to put into a sandwich, if you manage to save some, that is!).

Would you like more recipes for borage flowers? Try these:



Also check out the blog Cooking with Flowers for more ideas and recipes using edible flowers.

Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Vegan chocolate pudding with strawberries and edible flowers


Arantxa picked flowers from the garden: roses, lavender, sage, violets and nasturtiums 
 I made my trusted vegan chocolate pudding, and since we are in season I wanted to top it with some strawberries, and maybe some flowers too? So I asked Arantxa to look after this.


For 4 puddings:
500 ml oragnic soy milk (I use Vitasoy, either Original, Milky or Calci Plus)
2 tbsp raw sugar
1 heap tbsp cocoa (the better the cocoa the better the flavour, so don't go for cheap baking cocoa, but for 'hot chocolate' quality)
1 tbsp cornflour
Natural Vanilla essence (or a little cinnamon if you prefer)
Strawberries and edible flowers to finish.

Dissolve the dried ingredients with a little soy milk to make a paste, then add the rest of the milk and mix well. Put on the stove on low and, always stirring, bring to simmering point. Make sure that you stir well, especially around the borders and bottom of the pot, so that the pudding has a smooth consistency. As soon as it start thickening turn the element off, add the vanilla essence (if using) and keep stirring until it has cooled down a bit. Divide into 4 dessert ramekins or small bowls (or teacups) and refrigerate. Cut the strawberries and place over the puddings, then add the petals of edible flowers (I think that maybe there was a bit much here, with lots of lavender, rose and sage aromas… but it was definitely a very perfumed dessert!).






Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Chocolate and plum mousse with Italian meringue base and Fresh As plum powder



What I like about mousses is that you can just improvise, and as long as you beat well the main ingredients (eggs and cream) you can never go wrong! I made this with Arantxa; while I made the Italian meringue and whipped the cream she whipped the egg yolk, and while she folded the chocolate I folded the plum cream, and there was a lot of licking of spoons and bowl at the end, and 7 lovely mousses in the fridge!



3 large free range eggs, separated
2 tbsp icing sugar
50 ml water
300 ml cream
1 tbsp cocoa2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp Fresh As Plum Powder (plus some to sprinkle)

Start by making an Italian meringue base: whip the egg white until stiff. In the meantime boil the water and icing sugar into a syrup. When the syrup is bubbly, start to thickens and smell like candy (but before is turns white or caramel! Be careful here!) pour it at once into the egg whites, (while beating). Keep beating until the meringue is cold again.

In another bowl beat the egg yolks with the sugar and cocoa for a loooooong time, until light and creamy. In a third bowl beat the cream well too. Divide the Italian meringue into two, add the Fresh As plum powder to one half and beat for one more minute, until the meringue is pink.

Divide the cream into two and fold with the pink and white meringue mixtures. In one bowl you will have the pink plum mousse ready (set aside) and in the other the white 'base' to which you will need to add the chocolate mixture. Do this slowly and folding well.
Pour the chocolate mousse first into glasses or verrines, and then top with the plum mousse. Sprinkle with more Fresh As plum powder and refrigerate for a few hours.




And now: two images of some of my favourite flowers, peonies, for my Pinterest Board! 




Photo and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Tiramisù di Alessandra



I developed this recipe many years ago when I was living in Japan, and it has two particularities:
it is made with cream instead of mascarpone (which was difficult to find then, but then became my signature dish - thus the name!) and the topping is not cocoa but Italian ground coffee. I also like to use whisky, good quality, it makes all the difference!

Tiramisù di Alessandra

Ingredients
3 free range eggs, separated
300ml cream
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp sugar
15ml espresso coffee
15ml whisky
20 (1 x 250g packet) savoiardi or sponge biscuits
espresso coffee powder for dusting (or cocoa)


Beat the egg whites into stiff peaks. Lightly  whip the cream, then fold in the eggs whites and beat together for a few seconds. In a separate bowl beat the egg yolks together with 1 tbsp of sugar until runny. Add to the cream and egg white mixture and beat again for a few seconds, In a wide soup bowl mix the espresso coffee, whisky and the remaining sugar and quickly dip the savoiardi biscuits, sugary side only, in the liquid. Arrange the biscuits soaked side up, in a 5cm deep 20x20 serving dish. Spoon over a little more coffee liquid if the biscuits look dry. Spread hald of the cream mixture over the biscuits and repeat with the remaining ingredients, Bang the dish on the working surface to remove any air bubbles in the dessert and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight,. One hour before serving dust with plenty of ground Italian espresso coffee (or cocoa). Refrigerate again, cut into squares and serve.

Recipe by Alessandra Zecchini ©, from the book Sweet As…easy to make desserts and baked treats, New Holland Publishers NZ




Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©



Friday, April 15, 2016

Israeli cous cous with grilled eggplants and capsicums


I cannot wait for summer, capsicums and eggplants! Nearly there, in the meantime I use char grilled veggies preserved in oil, they are very versatile for a quick meal. For this dish I cooked a packet of Israeli cous cous (but fregola pasta is perfect too) with just water and salt, then I drain it and rinse it under cold water to cool it down and separate the 'grains'. I added extra virgin olive oil, a few drops of lemon juice, and finely chopped herbs and garlic. Then I mix it with the eggplants. Finally I filled some of the capsicums with it. It needs to rest for a few hours at room temperature, so that the cous cous gets more flavour. Easy and quick, and it makes such an impression!

And now just some pretty things I saw: loved this wallpaper with plates, + real plates!





Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Tofu with onion weeds


If you can forage onion weed, it is free, delicious, and you can eat the flowers too! This one uses tofu, so you can be doubly good to the earth: no meat, and at the same time you forage and get rid off a weed from the garden!

Wash and chop the onion weed (bulbs, stems, leaves and flowers). In a fryipan sauté the onion weed (but keep the flowers aside for later) with a little vegetable oil, and when it smells good add the tofu cut into pieces. Sauté on both sides then add a tbsp or two (according to taste) of soy or tamari sauce, and a tbsp of lemon juice. Cook the tofu on both sides for a few more minutes, then add a drop of sesame oil (optional) and the onion weed flowers. Serve hot.


Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, April 11, 2016

Sublime Onion Tartlets



This recipe is from my book Savourit is really easy and the result is guaranteed to make your dinner guests go WOW! All you need is ordinary brown onions (one per person for a main or just half per person for a starter). Peel the onions and boil whole for about 10 minutes (or until half cooked but not too soft) then cut in half horizontally. For every two onions melt about 50g of salted butter in a pan and add 2 to 4 tsp of brown sugar (it depends on your taste). Put the onions, cut side down, into the pan and them place them into individual ramekins (still cut side down. Add the remaining butter. Cover each onion with a disk of flaky puff pastry (your own or bought, I used Paneton) and press down well until you get a 'bowler hat' shape around your onion. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for about 20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden. Reverse over a serving plate (or individual plates, they will pop out easily). Serve hot, they are deliciously buttery and fragrant, they can be topped at the table with Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena Extravecchio, or with grated Parmigiano, or freshly ground black pepper… or just by themselves! Sorry about the 'orange' photo below, but the time we had dinner it was dark!



Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, March 28, 2016

Quick passion fruit semifreddo


 This one is a cute dessert with three ingredients: Passion fruit, sugar and cream. Take two passion fruits, cut them in half and scoop the pulp out. Put the shells in the freezer.
Mix the pulp with sugar to taste and let it stand for 30 minutes so that the sugar dissolves, then fold into just enough whipped cream to fill the passion fruit shells. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes then serve.


Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©



Saturday, March 12, 2016

Persimmon agar agar, sugar free, gluten free and vegan


This dessert is perfect after a Japanese meal, maybe not a traditional Japanese dish (I invented it, after all, like most of the recipes in this blog) but it taste great and and it is made with only two ingredients: persimmons and agar agar (and a little water). So it is sugar free, gluten free and vegan! All you need to do is peel two persimmons and cube them. Put the fruit in a blender with a just enough water to be able to blend it. Mix half tsp of agar agar powder with 50 ml of water and add to the persimmon 'smoothie'. Put everything in a small pot and bring to the boil. Simmer for just one minute then pour into a mould (rectangular is better). Let it cool down and cut into slices.



Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, March 4, 2016

Chocolate and banana cupcakes



I made some cupcakes using 3 eggs, 130 g of Trade Aid cane sugar, 1 tbsp of Trade Aid baking cocoa,  120 g butter, 1 banana and 150g of self rising flour. And then I added one square of milk chocolate in each cupcake. 


We ate half of them very quickly they were so good, and the other half Arantxa decorated and took to a sleep over to share with her friends.


 I made them again after a few days, but this time I put some of my date and chocolate truffles in the centre, plus I topped them with some whipped coconut cream, thus using 4 more Trade Aid ingredients.


 Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©


Friday, February 12, 2016

Florence Fennel and avocado salad with walnuts



This is a lovely salad and also a light main, filling, nutritious and full of different textures and flavours!

For two serving use:
1 medium Florence fennel, sliced
1 avocado, sliced
1 small carrot, grated
A little red cabbage, finely chopped (this is mostly to add a dash of colour, red radicchio would work well too!)
8-10 walnut kernels, crushed
A few drops of lemon juice
Extra virgin olive oil and salt to taste (optional)

Usually I just put the lemon juice on the avocado and the carrots only, and then assemble the salad, and it taste great even without salt or olive oil (avocado and walnuts are full of good fats anyway).



Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, January 18, 2016

Konnyaku and vegetables with Japanese dressing


The other day I had a crazy craving for gomadofu, the 'tofu' made with sesame seeds. But I couldn't find it anywhere in Auckland! If anyone can help (or tell me how to make it at home!) please do!

Anyway, I ended up buying konnyaku, a Japanese starchy-jelly food made from Konjak yam plant.
It has nothing to do with gomadofu but perhaps the colour (a little) and to satisfy my goma (sesame) craving I thought of serving it with a sesame dressing.


You don't need to do anything with the konnyaku except taking it out of the packet and slice it! For the veggies i steamed some cauliflowers florets and carrots (separately) and cooked some spinach. The spinach were rolled in a nori seaweed sheet (like a sushi roll, but with spinach instead of rice). For the dressing, usually I make this miso dressing, but this time I tried to make Nami's miso dressing, from Just One Cookbook, mostly because I have never tried to put rice vinegar in my dressing and I wanted to have a go! Nami, the only thing that I didn't put in here is the miring (didn't have any at home!) and my sesame seeds were already ground. But yes, it was delicious! Thank you!

Now, do you know how to make gomadofu? :-)




Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Yogurt with quince topping - yogurt con sciroppo di mele cotogne



A simple dessert or a treat at any time of the day: use some plain thick yogurt, like greek yogurt, or yogurt from The Collective Dairy. For the topping I cooked some quince apples until mushy, then I put them into a muslin cloth over a bowl for a night to collect the juice. I measured the liquid and added half of its weight in sugar and boiled everything until I got a thick syrup. This can be kept in the fridge for a long time and spooned over the yogurt (or cakes or other desserts) when needed. So yummy!


Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Crunchy Bean Sprout Mediterranean Salad


I love beans and lentils, but I also love salads and raw food, my body feels like it needs them!
I usually mix cooked beans with raw salad vegetables, but when I remember I get some bean sprouts, and I particularly like this crunchy bean combo from Sproutman. I can just eat the sprouted beans as they are, with a drop of olive oil and lemon juice, 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Vegan Gulash


Ingredients:

2 blocks of tofu, frozen for one day and then defrosted
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp hot paprika (or to taste)
2 carrots
4 large potatoes
1 green capsicum (bell pepper)
1 red capsicum (bell pepper)
2l l vegetable broth
Salt to taste

If you freeze the tofu and then defrost it it becomes porous and easy to cook in stew without breaking up. Also it will absorb flavors really well! Once the tofu is defrosted cut it in big cubes. Chop the onion and sauté with the olive oil. When the onion is translucent add the paprika, the sweet paprika will give flavour, and the hot one… heat, so use this according to taste. Then add the tofu cubes and stir well. Add the vegetables and the hot vegetable broth. Simmer until the carrots and potatoes are ready, but before the potatoes start to break up. Goulash is more like a soup than a stew. If you prefer a thicker stew just cook it for longer, stirring often and breaking up the potatoes. Add salt to taste (no necessary if the broth is salty enough).

 Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

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