Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cauliflower in the garden

Photo by Arantxa Zecchini Dowling ©

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Saturday, November 15, 2014

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.

I am entering this recipe for Sweet NZ #40, to enter your November Recipe click here.
Sweet NZ image

And now: two images of some of my favourite flowers, peonies, for my Pinterest Board! 

Photo and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Two New Zealand birds in my garden; tui and kererū

I love the fact that I can use my phone to video the birds I see out of the window. We are surrounded by native forest, including plenty of nikau palms, so we have lots of kereru, and we also have flowering trees like puriri, and a one exotic, an Australian frangipani, that tui love! In fact this morning there was quite a fight between two tui for the control of the frangipani, it was like living in a Attemborough's documentary. Here tui and kereru feeding (in peace).

The Tui is an endemic bird of New Zealand that mostly feed on nectar. Here is feeding on an Australia frangipani tree (Hymenosporum flavum).

The New Zealand pigeon or kererū is a bird endemic to New Zealand. The nikau is the only palm native to New Zealand. Filmed in the Waitakere Ranges, Auckland.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Strawberries with orange and cinnamon (perfect for Xmas) and Sweet New Zealand

Sweet NZ image
This is the 40th consecutive edition of Sweet New Zealand, and I will be hosting it from this blog.
Last month (October 2014) our host was Lesley from eat, etc. so check out her round up here for some ideas. And I am also entering the first recipe: Strawberries with orange and cinnamon. This is a prelude to the Xmas Season, strawberries are the traditional Xmas fruit in NZ, but being from the Northern Hemisphere I cannot renounce some more traditional and festive winter flavors, like orange and cinnamon. 

Just wash and cut the strawberries (two punnets), add the juice of one orange, a cinnamon stick and one tbsp of sugar. Let the strawberries marinate for a few hours at room temperature, and then a few more hours in the fridge. Serve cold, with cream, or yogurt, or ice cream, or just as they are!
Now it is your turn to enter Sweet New Zealand!
1. This event is open to all bloggers living in New Zealand (even if you’re not a Kiwi), as well as all Kiwi bloggers living and blogging overseas.
2. You can enter anything sweet: cakes, biscuits, slices, desserts, even drinks. You may submit as many entries as you like, including old posts if you want.
3. Your entry must contain the phrase Sweet New Zealand, the Sweet New Zealand badge (choose your own size), a link to the host, and to this post – so if you are submitting an older post remember to update it accordingly.
4. To submit your entry, email me at alessandra (at) clear (dot) net (dot) nz by 28th November 2014 with:
  • name of recipe with the link to the post you’re contributing 
  • a photo from your post (not more than 250 kb if possible)
  • your name, your blog name and a link to your blog

  • A roundup of all the entries (with links and photos) will be published at the beginning of December. Leave me a message below if you have any questions. 
I look forward to your sweet entries!


Photo and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Just in time for Halloween: Vegan huhu grubs

Click here for the full story (and recipe!)

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, October 27, 2014

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

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 ©

Sweet NZ image
I like to enter this post for Sweet New Zealand #39, the blogging event open to every one blogging in NZ, and all the Kiwi bloggers living overseas! This month of September is hosted by Lesley at Eat, etc.. Click here to enter! And let me know if you are keen to host Sweet New Zealand in November!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

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!

Cans and tins look good on tables, although I wander if this mackerel was also on the menu too… I don't eat fish so I wouldn't know, and the restaurant, albeit rustic, was not a cheap one!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Festival Italiano 2014 - photos by Joe Shearman

KSDA Kim Santarelli Dance Academy students performing the Tarentella at the Festival Italiano - Auckland

Italian market in Osborne St 


Art of Produce stall

Kid's area

Gina's boy

Piazzetta and kids area

Osborne St.

Gina's restaurant

Osborne St

KSDA Kim Santarelli Dance Academy students performing Mambo Italiano at the Festival Italiano - Auckland

United Travel Newmarket stall

Pranzo, Italian lunch

Deanna Tolj and Ken Were from United Travel Newmarket

Luca Manghi and Mary-Ann Di Cesare

Sandro, Renee and Paolo Rotondo

From left: Paolo Rotondo, Festival Italiano MC;
H.E. Carmelo Barbarello, Italian Ambassador in NZ,
Shale Chambers, Chair of the Waitemata Local Board, Mark Knoff-Thomas - Chief Executive New Market Business Association

Face Painting

Selling raffle tickets

Eating area

Face painting


Mark Knoff-Thomas - Chief Executive New Market Business Association


Eating area

From left, Christopher Dempsey - Waitemata Local Board, Pippa Coom - Deputy Chair Waitemata Local Board, Mike Hannan - Peroni Nastro Azzurro NZ, Alessandra Zecchini, Massimo Ciccioni - Dante Auckland President, Shale Chambers – Chair Waitemata Board, Mark Knoff-Thomas - Chief Executive New Market Business Association, Rob Thomas Waitemata Board 

Osborne St

Fans of Italy

Italian cheeses


Alessandro and Spiderman

Cool T-shirts!

Alessandra, John and Fiorella

Luca and Niccolò

Osborne St

From left: In front, Paolo Rotondo, Festival Italiano MC;
Back: H.E. Carmelo Barbarello, Italian Ambassador in NZ, Massimo Ciccioni, President, Dante Alighieri Society,  Mark Knoff-Thomas - Chief Executive New Market Business Association, Shale Chambers, Chair of the Waitemata Local Board


Sandro Aduso and Mario Magaraggia

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