Thursday, July 31, 2014

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 ©

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Gustoso: a dish by Alessandro




I have a special guest post today, a dish prepared by my 5 years old nephew Alessandro (pictured on the left, stirring risotto!). He named his creation 'Gustoso' and it looks yummy and also super healthy, even vegan and gluten free! Carrots, sun dried tomato, olive oil and rosemary. Bravo Alessandro! Un bacione dalla zia!









Alessandro making zucchini trifolate: zucchini, olive oil, salt and garlic


Photos by Emanuela Sias and Recipes by Alessandro Zecchini ©

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

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 ©

Friday, July 18, 2014

Skiing (and not skiing) in New Zealand



 Well, the skiing holiday started off promising, driving towards the mountains and Methven and seeing some snow at the top.
But skiing in New Zealand is a bit of a gamble: the first day we managed, although there was only snow in the ski fields, and not lower into the village, or in the surroundings. The other two days the ski field were closed because of high winds! We ended up driving around and doing some hiking by the Rakaia River.





After Methven and a Christchurch break we tried our luck going towards Arthur's Pass National Park. Here some photos taken on the road.





On arrival we hiked to the Devil's Punchbowl (short hike) and then went back to the lodge as it was bitter cold and wet!


The day after we did ski, in Porters, while they were making snow. A real pity that the winter holidays are in July and not in August, so difficult to get snow in July!


My highlight? Seeing the Kea parrots, I love those birds!


And of course the stunning scenery of the South Island!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Crunchy Bean Sprout Winter 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, 


These crunchy beans are quite filling and with the addition of a few more goodies with just one packet of the packet bean combo I made a salad for 4! It is winter here in New Zealand so there aren't many green leaves around a part from iceberg lettuce, quite bland for my taste, but ok to give 'volume'. No fresh tomatoes either, so I used some semi dried tomatoes, and added more Mediterranean flavors: salted capers, and mixed olives. A salad like this really fills you up, even without carbs or animal protein. The dressing was just extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice, with a pinch of salt.



And now some photos from Nan's garden in Christchurch, to add to my Pinterest flower board!
I told Nan that most of her flowers could be eaten, but promised that I would not ;-).




 





Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Vegan Goulash


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 ©

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Raw, vegan, sugar free and gluten free chocolate truffles



Yes these are raw, vegan, sugar free and gluten free chocolate truffles, but what's more they are made using only 4 Fair Trade ingredients: Trade Aid Palestinian almonds, Trade Aid cinnamon, Trade Aid Madjoul dates, and Trade Aid baking cocoa,  plus one local ingredient, Hazelz hazelnut flour from Canterbury. There is no sugar, no dairy product, and no need for cooking. And although this is not a baking recipe I still like to propose it for The Big Fair Bake, although I may actually enter a proper baking recipe later on… time permitting :-).


I like using Fair Trade products because they are in line with the Slow Food principles of Good, Clean and Fair food. And with my philosophy. Furthermore the quality is really good! Take the Medjoul dates for example, they are so sweet and delicious, they can substitute sugar in many preparations. The baking cocoa is so good that you don't need to use it just for baking, it is perfect for puddings and hot chocolate too. The Palestinian almonds are different from my favourite Italian almonds, but they are quite unique, a bit spicy in fact. The cinnamon really aromatic, you need just a tiny bit, I like to say 'a hint' :-). And the hazelnut flour is what's keep everything together so nicely! 



Ingredients:

4 Trade Aid Madjoul dates
20 Trade Aid Palestinian almonds
50 ml water
1 hint (i.e. a tiny pinch) Trade Aid cinnamon
1 tbsp Trade Aid baking cocoa, plus more to dust
2 tbsp Hazelz hazelnut powder, plus more to dust

Makes 12 truffles

Remove the stone from the dates and break up in rough pieces. Place in a cup with the almonds and 50 ml of water. Wait for 30 minutes to let the fruit soften a little and then blend with an immersion blender. 
Add the cinnamon, cocoa and hazelnut powder and mix with a spoon. Shape into 12 balls and roll half in cocoa and half in hazelnut flour. The best way to do this is roll the truffles first in cocoa or hazelnut flour, and then pass them between the palms of your hands quickly a few times so that you will get an even coating, and not too much of it, just the right amount. No need to refrigerate, just let them dry a bit on a tray before piling them into a serving bowl or glass.






Sweet NZ image
I like to enter this post for Sweet New Zealand #36, the blogging event open to every one blogging in NZ, and all the Kiwi bloggers living overseas! This month of July is hosted by Libby at Ditch the Carbs. Click here to enter! Libby, I hope that this is your kind of sweet treat!! 





Please Support Fair Trade!




 Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©


Monday, June 30, 2014

Limoncello Zabaione



My mother told me that to make zabaione one must measure the marsala wine with the egg shell. I.e., for every egg yolk use 1 tsp of sugar and the broken eggshell of the same egg for the marsala. 

And it works, but for this zabaione I wanted to finish the end of a bottle of limoncello. Half an eggshell would it been too much!! So I just used a third of that. Hand beat the egg yolks, with the sugar, then put over a pot at Bain Marie (double booking) and keep beating, adding the limoncello little by little. Keep beating until the 'custard' is light and foamy. Pour into shot glasses (won't need any bigger, I can assure you, it is sweet, decadent and … alcoholic!).

The verdict? Although the taste was great and lemony (taking away that 'egg edge'), the small amount of liquid made this zabaione quite firm! Next time I may water down the limoncello, and go back to the eggshell measuring cup!


Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Poor Italy, Viva Mexico and an improvised Vegetarian Mexican dinner


Well, Italy is out of the World Cup, and I am just glad that I didn't get up at 4 am to watch it happen!
But before the games started the four members of our family picked another nation to support (random, out of a hat) and I got Mexico! You had to dress up, cook something and learn some facts and words from that country… I was lucky! I speak enough Spanish, I like Mexican food, I have been there, and my husband was going there for work that week! So he bought me back a Mexican team T-shirts (looks good) and also some tequila, some Mexican sweets and a cute little piñata donkey. 


Now a part from the sweets (some had milk) the dinner was actually Vegan and just improvised with what I had in the house. I also used tofu, instead of meat. I rubbed the tofu in a mixure of chili, salt, oregano (oregano seems to be the only dried herb really used all over Mexico, although the name is approximative - there are several varieties!) dried coriadner, cumin and smoked paprika. The doses were totally random! Then I sautéed the tofu with a little olive oil. I kept the tofu aside and used the same pot (with the very spicy oil) to sauté some chopped celery and onions, I added some rice, then a can of red beans, and finally a couple of cups of vegetable stock. Lid on and cooked the rice by absorption. In the end I added the tofu, just to warm it up.

For the Guacamole I followed this recipe, with the difference that I didn't have fresh coriander at home, but I used a bit of chili (I always have chili in the freezer). Also because this was a really rushed job (and I had the whole chili, seeds removed) I blended everything with an immersion blender. Quite different texture really, but nice for a change. The tortilla chips came from a packet. Well, this dinner took me 40 minutes to make (including cooking time), so Viva Mexico!!






Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, June 20, 2014

Torta Bianca allo Yogurt - White Yogurt Cake



I am very pleased with this recipe, of course I always eat all my experiments, even when I am not so happy about them, but this one… I devoured it! It was so soft and light, possibly the
softest-cake-with-taste ever (if you know what I mean… some 'soft' cakes taste like air, or like a bath sponge!!).

Ingredients
butter to grease the tin (I used a ring tin)
3 egg whites
300 g sugar
250 g plain yogurt (I used full fat)
300 g self raising flour
1 pinch of salt
one drop vanilla essence
icing sugar to dust (optional)

Grease the cake tin with butter. Beat the egg white until they form a peak. In another mixing bowl fold the sugar and yogurt with a wooden spoon. Add the flour, salt and vanilla essence and mix well, then add the beaten egg whites little by little and fold. Pour the mixture in the cake tin and bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for approximately 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Dust with icing sugar if you like.



Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, June 13, 2014

Cavolo nero soup with chickpeas and pasta




A low fat, high protein vegan dish

1 bunch of cavolo nero
1 shallot
1.5 l vegetable stock
1 can chickpeas
plus the same amount of water
1 cup of small pasta 
salt and pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil to drizzle

Wash the cavolo nero and remove the white stalks. Slice the shallot. Put everything in a pot with the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add the content of the can of chick peas, plus a can of water. Simmer for other 30 minutes then blend with an immersion blend, but not too finely, leave some of the chickpeas whole. Bring back to the boil, add the pasta and simmer until the pasta is al dente. Taste for salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil before serving. It is actually better the day after!


And these are the bananas from my garden. I have another bunch on the tree, even greener. But they came a bit late this year and I a ma not sure how to make them ripe now. Any suggestions?



Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

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