Monday, June 11, 2018

Banana and raspberry smoothie, and things from the garden

The last of my own grown bananas, perfect for smoothies, just added frozen raspberries and water, so sweet and delicious!

In the garden the friarielli (cime di rapa) are growing

 and the broccolini

  and cavolo nero

Hibiscus in pots

Winter is coming, time for warm slippers and pumpkin soup 

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, May 25, 2018

Wholemeal fresh pasta - pasta fresca integrale

Wholemeal fresh pasta is delicious! I made it with Agnese and her son Antonio, they get the flour from a local mill, organic and all :-). First you need to pass it through a sieve.

Leave the bran behind, this will be for the chickens, they make the eggs for the pasta!

And this is Agnese's knife to cut tagliatelle and maltagliati.

Then you make the dough, usually for  each 500g of white flour I use five eggs, but for wholemeal pasta you need more, about six or seven eggs. Of course you can also mix wholemeal and white flour, in any case, the dough was done by machine and you can see if it is the case to add an extra egg or not, it all depends on the egg size and if the dough looks too dry. Once the dough is ready Agnese cuts it...

And then rolls it so it is ready to go through the pasta machine.

From the largest setting to the thinnest roll roll roll!

Then fold the rolled pasta and cut into tagliatelle

Now maltagliati: fold the rolled pasta and cut the corners, this is Arantxa doing it:

Maltagliati is great for soups, like pasta e fagioli, or with a simple clear broth. Wholemeal tagliatelle goes well with thick and flavoursome sauces.

I made it with a mushroom sauce (porcini, garlic, tomato and cream), amazing!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Frittata with flowers

Picking a few things from the garden, and the flowers are perfect for a frittata.

Mix eggs, salt, pepper, grated parmesan, fresh basil leaves and a little self raising flour and pour in a skillet greased with olive oil, arrange the cleaned flowers on top (zucchini flowers, impatiens, cornflowers), cover with a lid and cook on low until the base is golden, then tip and cook on the other side. Flip on a plate and enjoy!

Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Coconut tofu and vegetables strips with Eastern herbs

I planted some ginger roots in my garden from a bought root that started sprouting and got a beautiful plant... but the flower looked like that of the wild ginger (a weed in New Zealand) and I was a bit worried... my neighbour told me that it is a good ginger, the flower is similar but it doesn't make the seeds that birds spread around the forest. Well, since I was worried I remove the plant (the flowers looked good in a vase anyway) and used the root to make gari (delicious, recipe here) and this tofu dish.

Very easy: just simmer some sliced tofu in a pot with coconut milk, vegetable stock, ginger, chili, lemon grass and a shallot. Add some celery, carrots and capsicum strips and simmer for a few more minutes, then turn the heat off and add some cucumber strips, fresh coriander, basil and Vietnamese mint and serve with Thai rice.

And now a few more subtropical delights from my garden: cherimoya (not ready yet) and bananas (the best bunch so far, shared with many friends!)

Had some flowers too, outdoors...

And indoors.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, April 30, 2018

Colomba Sestolese - A traditional sweet pie from my Italian village in the Apennines - step by step photos and instructions

This cake is traditionally made in Sestola on 6 December for St Nicholas' Day, so I am totally out of season here, but I have a good excuse: my friend Stefania gave me a jar of jam she made with rusticane plums, and the flavour was just right, not too sweet and a little sour... just like the plum jams they make at home, and an essential ingredient for this preparation. Please note, this is a VERY ITALIAN CAKE, not one that Kiwis may like as in this country the preference is for somewhat soft and 'moist' cakes (although my husband ate this happily, but with cream on the side!!!).

I am sure that every family has a lightly different recipe, this is mine and works pretty well. In a large bowl, or on a wooden table, measure 500 g of plain flour, 200 g sugar, 1 tsp of baking powder and 120 g of butter. Usually in Italy we use unsalted butter, so add a pinch of salt, but here in NZ I used salted butter, so no more salt is needed. Mix just a little then add 3 free range eggs and a small glass of liquor. I used Sambuca, Sassolino is best, but hard to find here, and Sambuca is a good substitute. You can also add the zest of a lemon or some citrus peels (I added citrus peels, about 1 heap tsp).

Mix well, don't worry if it feels too dry at first, you need to work on the dough and with a little patience you will get a soft dough.

Shape into a ball then cut into three pieces. Take the bigger piece and roll it (add more flour for the board/table).

Line a 20cm round cake tin with baking paper and place the rolled piece inside, building up the borders a little.

Now add about three or four tablespoons of plum jam.

Chop some almonds and chop some walnuts. You can also add pine nuts, or even hazelnuts, the important thing is always to have walnuts! 

Top the jam with the chopped almonds,

Then with walnut pieces, and sprinkle with sultanas.

Roll some more pasty and cut a circle to cover the filling, add some leftover pastry to lift the border where necessary.

Repeat! Jam, chopped almonds and walnuts, sultana...

Roll some more pastry and cut another circle to cover the filling. Always lift the border with more pastry where necessary.

And repeat for the third time: jam, nuts, sultana and one more circle of pastry. 

Use the pastry strips left over to seal well the borders with the top, I press everything down with a teaspoon for a neat look.

Make some light incisions with a fork on the top.

Sprinkle with sugar and bake at 180/200°C for about 40 minutes.

Let the pie cool down before cutting, even if the fragrance will be irresistible.

Ok, I was going to cut the cake the day after and take a great photo... but my daughter got up first and had some for breakfast.... and then it went so quickly that this is the only photo I have... anyway, you can see the three layers, and the crust is like a biscuit. It was delicious, and this is a good thing: when we make this cake in the village we have a proverb which says that if the cake is good it will be a good snowy season (mountain village you see, we need snow for skiing), and now the family hopes that this year Mt Ruapehu  will have lots of snow and a great skiing season!

 Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©


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