Saturday, September 20, 2014

Sublime Onion Tartlets

This recipe is from my book Savour, it 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. 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 ©

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Quick passion fruit semifreddo

Today is the first day of the Italian Festival Season in Auckland and I am getting ready to go to Andrea Bocelli in Concert! I have been so busy with the Festival that I don't have time to blog, but I can always find time for a super quick dessert! This one is cute and 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 ©

Sweet NZ image
I like to enter this post for Sweet New Zealand #38, the blogging event open to every one blogging in NZ, and all the Kiwi bloggers living overseas! This month of September is hosted by mummy do it. Click here to enter! And let me know if you are keen to host Sweet New Zealand in October!

Friday, September 5, 2014

I am on TV

Tune in to TV One this Sunday at 11am for the Neighbourhood episode of Oratai, which I will be presenting. And if you miss it you can always watch it on TV On Demand by clicking here
For the readers overseas, I am not sure if you will be able to watch TVNZ On Demand fro your computers, but there is the trailer on FB, just click here to see it.

Season 3 Episode 20 - Oratia

This week Italian born Alessandra Zecchini shows us around her neighbourhood - Oratia a rural community of about two and a half thousand lucky souls on the border between Auckland’s city sprawl and the wild forests and beaches of the West Coast.
We’ll meet a glass artist, born in Greece, who finds inspiration in the myths of her homeland and an Oratia man shares his Dutch mother’s love of the soil.
We’ll join in the celebrations with the Dalmatian community who have made Oratia home for such a long time and a local woman demonstrates her mother’s recipe for a classic French Pate.

Curator Bio:

Alessandra Zecchini is a food writer, stylist and publisher, born in Northern Italy. She moved to Oratia with her kiwi husband, after years spent in London and Tokyo.
Alessandra feels very welcome in her adopted country. “For me, it is a privilege to be both Italian and a New Zealander. I don’t need to renounce my Italian heritage and culture to live in NZ, which is a very accepting society and offers great opportunities for new arrivals to enrich the cultural tapestry of this country. Migrants to Oratia – generations back or more recent - have all brought something to the table that makes this area unique.  I couldn’t be happier to call it home.”

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Gnocchi di palate step by step

To make gnocchi you need big floury potatoes, like agria, wash them and boil them with the skin. Do not peel first! Peel the potatoes only after they have been boiled, then press with a potato ricer. This is very important, if you you a blender or food processer you will not get the right texture.

I added a bit of cooked pumpkin too (not necessary, but I had it!). Then salt, pepper and ground nutmeg. And then a bit of flour, enough to get a workable dough. There is no exact dosage really, it all depends on how floury are your potatoes, and adding pumpkin does require a bit more flour too.

Take a piece of potato dough and roll it into long strips, then cut off the gnocchi.

Shape the gnocchi with the help of a fork to make some incisions on the top.

The gnocchi is ready! Cook in salted boiling water and as they rise to the surface remove with a slotted spoon and place in the pot with the sauce of your choice (or just melted butter with sage!).

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

And the winner of the Kimono Tango bag is...

Thank you all for entering the Kimono Tango's competition. The winner was selected using  
Congratulations Martina! 

And if you like to find out more about this beautiful and unique brand please check out their Facebook Page.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Persimmon agar agar

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.

And if you love Japanese things remember that this contest ends in two days, you could win a beautiful Kimono Tango Bag!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Kimono Tango and a Giveaway!

A while ago my friend Chizuko made me with these beautiful cushions (she calls them pillows), plus some table runners. The the other day in the post I got 5 amazing handbags, one more beautiful than the other!

They are all made by hand using kimono and obi (Kimono belts) materials, and you can get them from her cottage industry shop Kimono Tango

If you like Japanese design and craft do have a look at Kimono Tango's website in English: they make cushions, bags, iPhone and iPad covers, Laptop bags and more… made to order and sent all over the world. Kimono Tango is made up by a group of Japanese mothers and grandmothers who are trying to make ends meet in the current economic crisis, which was worsened by the recent earthquake and tsunami.
They make everything themselves, often using their heirloom kimonos and obi. You can only make about 6 or 7 bags from one obi, and Kimono Tango uses fabrics exclusively from 1955 to 1965 circa, to make sure that they are real silk, and handcrafted. The handles are leather. Also have a look at their Facebook Page to keep up with new designs and news!

And what will I do with five bags? Well, the one above is my favourite, and it is MINE!!, The first one in the post I gave to my friend Flavia who is a super stylish person and came over for dinner the day after I got the bags when they were all displayed in the entrance and she was so taken by them that I asked her to choose one! Then I'll give one to my mother and one to my sister in law in Italy, and the last one is for …. you!

Yes, this is a giveaway, to enter just pop by Kimono Tango's website or Facebook Page, then come back here and leave a reply to this post saying what you liked best (bags, cushions, covers…). You have one week from now! Good luck!

 Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Baking fairly for Sweet New Zealand

There are so many good Fair Trade and Trade Aid ingredients for baking, and although I have already submitted my entry for the Big Fair Bake I thought of using more 'fair' ingredients for Sweet New Zealand. The August edition is hosted by Munch Cooking as a celebration of Wellington on a Plate, so they have suggested using a Wellington ingredient, like Whittaker's (in my pack of Fair Trade goodies!)

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.

Sweet NZ image
I like to enter this post for Sweet New Zealand #37, the blogging event open to every one blogging in NZ, and all the Kiwi bloggers living overseas! This month of July is hosted by Munch Cooking. Click here to enter! And let me know if you are keen to host Sweet New Zealand in September!

 Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Win a trip to Rome!

In occasion of our Festival Italiano'14 the Dante Auckland is proud to announce the annual raffle with fantastic prizes! There are only 3000 tickets so be quick for your chance to win a trip to Rome!

First Prize

A fabulous trip to Rome offered by United Travel Newmarket

The prize includes: 
1 return economy class airfare to Rome on Cathay Pacific
 3 nights accommodation in a standard room at Hotel Rimini
Rome Hop on Hop off Tour (2 day ticket)

Second Prize, offered by the Blues!

In Italy we support the Azzurri, and in Auckland we support the Blues
Win a Blues Rugby jersey signed by the Blues team and framed.

Third Prize, offered by Aceto Downunder!

A $250 Aceto Balsamico di Modena Hamper form Aceto Downunder.
Aceto Balsamico di Modena is the most luxurious and delicious balsamic vinegar in the world,
 used by the top chefs and the discerning gourmands!

Fourth Prize, offered by O'Sarracino!

      O'Sarracino dinner for two (value $160).
      O'Saraccino is an elegant Neapolitan restaurant voted by Metro as one of Auckland' top 50 restaurants.

And five more prizes offered by 

Italian Film Festival in NZ

5 x double tickets for the Italian Film Festival 2014
Take your date out of an Italian night in Auckland with this  great selection of Italian movies! Click below to watch the trailer.

Tickets on sale at the Dante Alighieri Society of Auckland, $5 for one or $20 for a pack of 5. Remember that there are only 3000 tickets for sale, so be quick! 
The winning tickets will be draw on September 28th, 3:30pm, 
at the Festival Italiano


All money raised will go towards the Dante Auckland school for children to run our classes and holiday programmes. The school of the Dante Auckland doesn't receive any funding from Italy or New Zealand and relies entirely on its own finances, donations and the work of our volunteers. This raffle is our yearly fundraiser so thank you all for your support. 

(And don't forget to Like the Festival Italiano on FB to win even more prizes, this week we have $50 voucher for Settebello Pizzeria Italiana!)

Sunday, August 3, 2014

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 ©

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 ©


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