Monday, May 23, 2016

Frittata con le primule - Frittata with cowslip

Pick as many cowslip flowers as you can from a field and clean them gently, removing the green parts. Keep the best for topping and chop the remaining, adding them to eggs whisked with grated Parmigiano and a little water. Pan fry the frittata (I make several thin 'frittatine' if I have time) with a little olive oil. Cut the frittata into pieces and lay over a base of mixed salad. Top with the remaining flowers. You can add some Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena on top if you like.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Carciofi alla romana

These type of artichokes are called mammal  the 'petals' are rounded and not as spiky like for carciofi. But they are excellent cooked alla romana. Cut the outer petals off until you get to the tender heart, leave a bit of the stalks, but peel them, and then immediately put them in water and lemon (so that they don't become black) to wash them. Finely chop plenty of Italian parsley with garlic and a pinch of salt, and use this to fill the centre of each artichoke. Place the artichokes in a pot, drizzle some olive oil in the centre of each artichoke and add a little water at the bottom of the pan (about 2 fingers). Cover with a lid and simmer on low for a long time (1-2 hours) adding water from time to time. Sorry I didn't take a photo of the final product, but you can find one here.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Strawberries with ricotta - snow on spring flowers

I was back in the Italian Apennines recently and in the market I bought some fresh strawberries and some local ricotta which was so creamy it was almost like mascarpone, so I thought of 'marrying' the two. I marinated the strawberries with lemon juice and a little sugar for a few hours, long enough to make a nice sweet smelling strawberry joyce and enhance their flavour. Then all I had to do was to put a slice of ricotta in a dessert bowl and top it with the strawberries and their juice. Mmmhhh! It was so good I am still thinking about it!

I also loved the colour combination, the red of the fruit with the snow white of the ricotta… which made me think of both spring and winter! In fact when I arrived in the mountains the fields and woods where full with flowers...

…and after a few days I woke up in the morning to find everything covered with Spring snow!

Well, it did last only one day, but it was quite beautiful! 

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Milan in Spring and Salone del Mobile 2016

Paris may be beautiful in Spring, but so is Milan! In recent years the city has become greener, cleaner and more livable, mixing the old and the new with style and gusto. Every time I visit I discover a new gem, and this year it was San Maurizio, a recently restored sconsacrated church in the centre of the city, free entry and beautiful art! Another novelty: Ape trucks dot the city as food trucks, selling everything from gelato to strawberries, from beer to hot food. What a cool city!

Tip: if you are seeking serious coffee, New Zealand style, (and perhaps Eggs Benedict) go to Taglio, in the Navigli area.

Salone del Mobile 2016

This year the Salone del Mobile was great, and I really enjoyed all the new designs, and the very popular exhibition event Before Design: Classic (classic decor revisited). 

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, May 2, 2016

Risotto with hop shoots step by step

Hops grow wild at my Aunt Alice's in the North of Veneto

Pick the new shoots and wash well, then chop.

Add a small chopped onion and then sauté with butter or olive oil (if making a vegan risotto).

Add carnaroli or another risotto rice and then, when the rice is hot, vegetable stock, ladle by ladle.

Keep stirring and adding stock (we made this over a wood fired kitchen, it didn't take long!)

Serve, by itself or with Parmigiano Reggiano

Flowers for Pinterest

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Avocado and celery cocktails with vegan mayo and edible flowers

This is a delicious raw and vegan dish, serves 4 as a starter or side salad, and 2 as a main


2 avocados
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 crunchy legs of celery
2 tbsp vegan mayonnaise
cherry tomatoes and edible flowers to decorate

Cut the avocados and remove stones, drizzle with lemon juice. Clean the celery legs and remove the strings (I use a carrot peeler for this). Cut into small bite sizes and mix with the vegan mayonnaise (click here for the recipe). Fill the avocados with the celery and decorate with cherry tomatoes and edible flowers.
Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Quince and kahikatea berry tart

The Kahikatea trees in the bush are full of berries, and birds are singing happily. The berries (koroī) are edible, but the trees are too high to climb for me, so I can only pick what falls on the forest floor. It takes time, but foraging runs in my veins, plus it is a good squatting exercise! After picking you need to wash the berries well and remove the hard blue seeds, another time consuming job! After all this you are left with an handful of berries so it is easy to understand why you don't see koroī jam around! In fact there are not many recipes with these berries, and this is my third one only (the other two are Flan with Kawakawa cream and Kahikatea berries, and Kahikatea Cupcakes

The berries don't have much taste so I added one tsp of sugar and a tbsp of lemon juice and I let them marinate overnight. They day after they were yummy and ready to put on cereals, but I preferred  making a tart. I use quinces from Oratia, in season now. I peeled two big quinces and cut them into slices. Then I melted 50 g of butter and two tbsp of sugar in a iron skillet and sautéd the quinces for two minutes. After that I added a small glass of grappa (I used this aged Prosecco Grappa by Bottega). As soon as you pour the grappa over the hot quinces the kitchen fills with a wonderful aroma and you could eat the quinces just like that, maybe with some ice cream on the side. After most of the liquid had evaporated I added 2 tsp of corn flour diluted with a little water to make a paste. I stirred well and positioned all the quince slices neatly on the bottom of the pan. Then I added the kahikatea berries, keeping just a few aside for decoration.

I cut a circle of puff pastry (I used Paneton) and fitted it over the fruit and then baked the lot until the pastry looked golden and puffy. Then I carefully reversed the pan over a serving plate and let the tart slip down (by itself) onto the plate. I added the remaining berries and took a few photos! The tart was very good, you don't have to use quinces, apples and pears are good too, and the berries are just a fancy addition, but what a satisfaction! Today I am going to ask the kids to do a bit of foraging for me, it is a good skill to learn after all, and since it is Easter Sunday in New Zealand, they will be excited after that other form of 'foraging' that happens here: the Easter eggs hunt! In fact here they are coming down now, I'll better go and enjoy this!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©


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