Monday, February 20, 2017

Using and freezing vegetables from the garden, plus grissini recipe


I love summer and the smell of my veggie garden! It is a bit like a jungle now and we are towards the end of the season so there are more weeds than veggies, but what a joy! One of the best things for me is to make minestrone soup with whatever I can pick on the day, even when it is hot (and then you can have it warm). And I am saving some for winter in some old ice cream containers. So funny, my boy opened the freezer the other day and was excited seeing boxes and boxes of ice cream, I felt a bit mean telling him what they actually contained...


Then I like to put veggies on focaccia and pizza, yellow and green zucchini slices look good and taste even better!


Ok, this is nothing to do with veggies, but it is so cool to make grissini, I just use some basic bread dough (500g high grade flour, 2 tbsp gluten flour, 300ml water, pinch of salt, brewer yeast and pinch of sugar), add a bit of olive oil and stretch out long grissini which I roll in polenta flour before baking.



Happy cooking and baking!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, February 6, 2017

Sushi with flowers


Here is an idea, just for variety, instead of rolling all the norimaki with seaweed leave some without and then stick on some flower petals (find more Vegan recipes with flowers here). I used impatiens here, not many people know that you can eat them, they taste a little like rocket salad.

And if rolling the sushi in petals is too hard you can always put the flowers on the top. Below vegan norimaki with fresh borage flowers and salted sakura (cherry blossoms). 




And here a couple of pics of the lovely black sand of Te Henga (Bethells beach)



Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Noodle salad with banana blossom and tofu, and Happy New Year!



I love to eat flowers, and if you have a banana plant in the garden you can eat the blossoms!  First you need to remove the pink/mauve petals (and small banana florets under each petal) from the blossom until you get to the pale centre. Keep the petals though, they are good as food containers or decorations. You can find the step by step photos on how to peel and cut a banana blossom here, where there is also a delicious banana flower (blossom) recipe. Then cut the centre and mix immediately with lemon juice. Put into a bowl and add more lemon juice and a couple of tbsp of Japanese soy sauce. Put another bowl on top (inside the first one to press down the content) and fill the second bowl with something heavy (a rock, for example). Keep the cut blossom pressed in this marinade overnight, in the fridge. This is necessary or the banana blossom will taste too astringent.

The day after, cook the noodles and drain. Rinse under cold water, and place into a bowl. Cut the tofu into squares and fry in a mixture of sesame oil and vegetable oil until golden, then add a tbsp of lemon juice and 2 tbsp of Japanese soy sauce, sizzle quickly and toss with the noodles. Squeeze the banana blossom from excess liquid and add to the noodles. Mix well and serve at room temperature, decorated with some Thai mint or coriander. This noodle salad was delicious and I will make it again, in fact so far this has been my favourite recipe with banana blossoms.

Happy Chinese New Year to all!



Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Frutta sotto spirito




The easiest way to preserve fruit, if you like alcoholic fruit, that is! The Cape gooseberries are with Whisky, and the cherries and plums with Cognac (I added a bit of sugar to the plums because they were a little sour). I will try them soon!!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, January 13, 2017

Vegan chocolate and coconut cream puddings with edible flowers





1 can coconut cream
1 l oragnic soy milk (I use Vitasoy, either Original, Milky or Calci Plus)
4 tbsp raw sugar
2 heap tbsp cocoa (the better the cocoa the better the flavour, so don't go for cheap baking cocoa, but for 'hot chocolate' quality)
2 tbsp cornflour
Natural Vanilla essence 
1 tbsp icing sugar
Edible flowers to decorate



Place the can of coconut cream in the fridge (possibly one day ahead). 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 8 dessert ramekins or small bowls and refrigerate. When the pudding is set open the can of coconut cream and scoop out the cream top, leaving the water at the bottom of the can (this can be added to other dishes, like curry or rice. Whip the coconut cream with a drop of vanilla essence and the icing sugar. Top the chocolate puddings with the whipped coconut cream.


And now for the flower decorations: choose only organic flowers, here we have borage, rose petals, violets, diantus petals (small carnations), calendula petals (pot marigold). Wash the flowers and petals with water, I let mine soak for white a while and shake them gently to make sure that there are no insects (this is a Vegan dish after all!). A few flowers or petals will suffice, as they are only decorations, although to be eaten. Refrigerate again so that the coconut cream set, and then serve.





Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Capsicum pastry rolls and peperonata recipe




This is one of those creations that happened while using up leftover vegan pastry and a bit of peperonata I had in the pot. The resulting dish was so pretty and delicious that I decided to share it,

Capsicum pastry rolls

Yu must use some cooked capsicums (bell peppers) for this recipes, and I had some peperonata ready:


Peperonata
2 yellow capsicums
2 red capsicums
1 green capsicum
1 garlic clove
half carrot
1 small celery stalk
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus more to drizzle at the end)
A little water
salt to taste (if the capers are not too salty)
chopped Italian parsley and fresh basil leaves, plus a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to finish

Wash and cut the capsicums into thin strips. Peel the garlic and cut into two. Wash and chop the carrot and celery into small pieces. Heat the olive oil in a pan and sauté the vegetables, then add the a little water and salt. Cover and simmer on the lowest setting for 45 minutes to one hour, stirring from time to time, and adding more water if necessary. Adjust with salt at the end, if necessary, and finish with some freshly chopped parsley, fresh basil and another drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

I then used some of the capsicum strips for my pastry rolls: I cut the vegan pastry sheets in long strips and place a thin strip of capsicum on the border of each pastry strip (see photo) and then rolled it up.


To keep the rolls nice and round I place them in a mini-muffin pan, and used some mini-cupcake cases. I sprinkle the top with salt and dried herbs and baked everything at medium heat until the pastry was golden and puffy. Serve hot or cold.






Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, December 26, 2016

Macedonia di frutta


Strawberries, nectarines, pears, blueberries and kiwi fruit, a drop of lemon juice and some coconut water. No sugar. 

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, December 19, 2016

Melanzane fritte (fried eggplants) and photos of peonies


I love fried eggplants, on pasta, on pizza, in a panino, as a side dish… or just by themselves, they are so versatile! Just cut them very thin (I use a bread knife) make them sweat with salt for an hour, rinse them and pat them dry. Fry them a few at the time with plenty of olive oil and a clove of garlic. Drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle with salt. Serve or use as required.

And now a few photos of peonies - now in season!












Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Sugar Christmas decorations


On Sunday we had the Dante Alighieri Society Xmas Market (Mercatino di Natale), and I made lots of sugar decorations for sale.


Ideal for 'baby's first Christmas' trees, sweet pastel colours, they can be used for Christmas cards too!

White and hand painted with a thin brush

Chocolate fondant, they smell great!

Green and silver for the trees


I used fondant (white, chocolate, red and green), corn flour, cookie cutters, food coloring (not cochineal!) and a thin brush to paint. We sold the lot!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Sugarcraft: how to make a tin rose bud in under 30 seconds



I found this 'old' video (almost 3 years ago) of Arantxa making more sugar roses, this time tiny rose buds! They are so simple yet they look great!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Vegan sushi without nori




There are a lot of traditional vegan sushi rolls already, like kappamaki, kampyo, takuan, inari-san, and the famous avocado rolls, but sometime is fun to make more varieties, especially since Arantxa received   kit to shape sushi rice shapes from Japan, ready to be topped! And for topping we used some carrots  slices cooked with soy sauce and mirin and topped with seaweed (vegan) caviar, and some mushrooms slices sautéed with a little vegetable oil, soy sauce (or Tamari sauce for gluten free) and lemon juice. Well, it was truly delicious!

But for even more amazing vegan sushi recipes, and how to cooke the rice, click here and here
and here and here



Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Japanese Vegan bento with tofu and eggplant



Leftovers from Japanese dinner make good a bento (lunchbox). Here from the bottom right there is tofu, pan fried with vegetable oil and sesame oil, then finished with soy sauce (gluten free, use tamari) and lemon juice. The Asian eggplants had a similar treatment (minus the sesame oil): at home we just love the soy sauce + lemon juice combo! Next to it some seaweed salad, this was bought ready made, something that I would happy do more often if I didn't think that they overdo it with artificial colouring! But I love seaweed and you can use the dried types - dried wakame soaked in water will make a nice salad. Finally there is leftover rice, topped with vegetable, nori and sesame seeds furikake (Japanese seasoning for rice, look for it in Asian stores, and choose the one without fish or other animal products).

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©


Halloween Vegan Sushi - just a few ideas


There are plenty of Sushi rice recipes on this blog, so I won't repeat myself, and if you never made sushi just click here and you can find all the different ways to prepare rice and create vegan sushi, norimaki and onigiri (rice balls). 

So just follow the basic or your favourite sushi recipes and just apply these cool Halloween variations! I used lots of seaweed, nori, seaweed salad and a Japanese dried seaweed that looks like the wrapping of a scary mummy. You can find everything in Japanese shops :-). The skulls and pumpkins are made with Takuan (pickled daikon), the zombi eyes with asparagus, the 'slime' with avocado and seaweed salad, and the details with cut nori.


Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Celery, mango, coconut water smoothie

Smoothie of the day!
Celery (add a few leaves), frozen mango cubes, coconut water


Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©