Sunday, July 17, 2016


I love feijoas 



They are perfect for breakfast!


For 2 smoothies I just used 6 feijoas (peeled), 400 ml natural apple juice and half a tsp of spirulina.







Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Red beetroot soup with fresh goat cheese

 

Red beetroot soup with fresh goat cheese

This colourful soup is incredibly quick and simple to prepare, but the flavour (and look) is almost restaurant-like, and everyone will ask you for the recipe!

Ingredients:
1 celery stick with leaves
half onion
half carrot
1 l light vegetable stock
one pack LeaderBrand beetroot
fresh goat cheese to serve
freshly ground pepper (optional)

Serves 4 - Gluten free - Vegetarian

Put the celery stick (cut), half a onion and half a carrot in a pot with the vegetable stock and simmer until the carrot is almost soft (about 10 minutes from boiling point). Add one pack LeaderBrand beetroot and simmer for 5 more minutes, then turn the heat off and let the vegetables and stock cool down until lukewarm. Blend the soup in a blender and pour back into the pot, heat gently and dish. Top with a broken-up slice of fresh goat cheese, adding freshly ground pepper if desired.





Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Chinese broccolini (Kai Lan) with fried tofu and noodles



A quick one bowl dinner with only three main ingredients and a few seasonings.

The main ingredients are was to find in most Asian stores: fresh noodles, fried tofu and some kai lan (Chinese broccolini). As an alternative you can use regular broccolini or any green vegetable (bok choy or kale, for example). Wash the broccolini, heat one or two tbsp of vegetable oil and a few drops of sesame oil in a pan or wok, add the broccolini and sauté quickly then add some soy sauce (one or two tbsp) and cover for one minute. Add the tofu and (optional) 1 tbsp of lemon juice. Personally I love tofu with soy sauce and lemon! Add the noodles and stir well, cover and simmer on low for a minute or two. Done!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, June 20, 2016

Italian Hazelnut cream chocolates - 2 ingredients


Impress your guests with homemade chocolates! They are easy to make and You need only two ingredients to make these chocolates: some dark chocolate (your favourite, I like to use over 70% dark) and some Italian hazelnut paste, I got mine in Auckland from Italian Foodies.

Step 1
Melt the chocolate at bain Marie and line the chocolate moulds (I used silicone moulds). For each mould you will probably need about 1 or 2 tsp of chocolate, let it run to cover the bottom and sides of the moulds and then place the mould in the fridge IMMEDIATELY so that the chocolate sets quickly (you don't want it to roll down the sides and just fill the bottom of the moulds). Use only half of the chocolate, leave the rest in the bowl and keep warm (so it won't solidify). 



Step 2
After 15 or 20 remove the moulds from the fridge and fill with the hazelnut paste, then cover with the remaining melted chocolate. Refrigerate.



Step 3
Before serving remove from ridge, tip the chocolates out of the moulds and serve. Better to store in the fridge if it is a hot day.


Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Homemade mascarpone with Tawari honey, pistachio and dried strawberries



Homemade mascarpone with Tawari honey, pistachio and dried strawberries

Making mascarpone at home is one of my favourite occupations these days! A part from the 'magic' of it, and the resemblance to a chemistry experiment (I made this with Max, actually, he made it with me in the background giving instructions and liked doing it!) it is also so much cheaper, fresh and delicious that the one you buy! 


For the mascarpone recipe just click here, it is easier that you may think! When the mascarpone is ready just add a tbsp of honey (I used Airborne Tawari Honey) and fold. Divide the mascarpone into 4 cups and it is ready to be eaten or topped with what you fancy. 


For this recipe I just toasted a few pistachios in a pan, then I rub them with a tea towel to take away loose skins and chopped them coarsely. Then I also added some Fresh As dried strawberries, crunchy and full of flavour and aroma. A simple dessert that everyone loved!




Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Flower fritters


My kids go crazy for these! Only three ingredients

Ingredients: edible flowers
 (I used zucchini flowers and borage flowers - but any edible flower will do)
tempura flour
oil for frying

Clean and wash the flowers. Mix the tempura flour with cold water to make a batter, then add the flowers. Spoon into hot oil and pan fry on both sides until the fritters are golden. Serve hot.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Cooked beetroot salad





Look at this beautiful beetroot! Eat it raw or cook it! Below is a picture of the cooked one. For a simple salad cook the beetroot al dente, and then cool it under cold water and add extra virgin olive oil, lemon and salt.





Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Red beetroot juice with carrots, celery, cucumber and pears





1 large red beetroot, 6 large carrots, 4 stalks of celery, half a cucumber and 6 pears.







Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Limoncello Tiramisù step by step



Would you like t make a tiramisù style dessert without coffee? Are you a fan of lemons and limoncello? I had a jar of lemon curd to finish, so I made up this lemon version, and it worked wonders: in fact it tastes so good that no one will be believe that it is so easy to make! Of course I used NZ best limoncello, Limoncello Sovrano


Ingredients:
3 tbsp of lemon curd
300 ml cream
1 small glass of Limoncello Sovrano thinned with a little water
12 savoiardi biscuits
Edible Flowers to decorate

Smooth the lemon curd with 3 tbsp of cream, then whip the rest of the cream and fold with the lemon curd mixture. Place the Limoncello in a deep plate and add a little water to thin it down (or use just limoncello - I prefer to thin it down so that my kids can also eat this). Quickly soak the savoiardi biscuits in the limoncello, one side only, then place them in a serving bowl, soaked side up.


 Add some cream and lemon curd mixture and then repeat, making two or there layers (depending on the shape and size of your bowl. 


Cover everything with a final layer of cream and lemon curd mixture and refrigerate for a few hours.


Decorate with edible flowers (I used roses and borage flowers). Serve.




Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Plum jam: Saving really ripe fruit that nobody wants to ear, and adding very little sugar and agar agar


Publishing old photos as the plum season in the Oratia orchards is well finished! But jam recipes are good to keep! I used 1 kg of plum was far too ripe and soft for eating. It happens, sometimes we buy fruit and it is hot so it doesn't keep… but very ripe fruit is sweeter, and it is perfect for jams! I washed and the plums and put them in a pot with a little water and boiled them, then I strained them to discard stones and leftover skin and tasted the paste. I usually add 50-60% of sugar (I don't like the 1kg fruit for 1kg sugar ratio they do in NZ), but this paste was already sweet! So I added just 2 tbsp of brown sugar and a pinch of citric acid (as a preservative) and, fearing that the jam wouldn't set, 1/3 tsp of agar agar. If I were to keep this jam longer maybe I would have added more sugar, but I only made 5 small jars and they went pretty quickly!  


Remember that apples and pears are still in season at the Dragicevich Orchard, 556 West Coast Rd, Oratia, Auckland. 
Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

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 ©

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