Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Chinese broccolini (Kai Lan) with fried tofu and noodle, and some photos of Bangkok

A quick one bowl dinner with only three main ingredients and a few seasonings.

The main ingredients are was to find in most Asian stores: fresh noodles, fried tofu and some kai lan (Chinese broccolini). As an alternative you can use regular broccolini or any green vegetable (bok choy or kale, for example). Wash the broccolini, heat one or two tbsp of vegetable oil and a few drops of sesame oil in a pan or wok, add the broccolini and sauté quickly then add some soy sauce (one or two tbsp) and cover for one minute. Add the tofu and (optional) 1 tbsp of lemon juice. Personally I love tofu with soy sauce and lemon! Add the noodles and stir well, cover and simmer on low for a minute or two. Done!

And to stay in Asian team, here are some photos of our recent stop over in Bangkok. We only stayed one day and one night so no much touring, just relaxing between flights, and I have plenty of other photos of Thailand here. But still, cannot resist going everywhere with my iPhone camera!

sing inside an elevator (lift)





another shrine

Vegan food

more vegan food

beautifully cut fruit

what a masterpiece!


Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, March 20, 2015

Italian Hazelnut cream chocolates - 2 ingredients

Impress your guests with homemade chocolates! They are easy to make and You need only two ingredients to make these chocolates: some dark chocolate (your favourite, I like to use over 70% dark) and some Italian hazelnut paste, I got mine in Auckland from Italian Foodies.

Step 1
Melt the chocolate at bain Marie and line the chocolate moulds (I used silicone moulds). For each mould you will probably need about 1 or 2 tsp of chocolate, let it run to cover the bottom and sides of the moulds and then place the mould in the fridge IMMEDIATELY so that the chocolate sets quickly (you don't want it to roll down the sides and just fill the bottom of the moulds). Use only half of the chocolate, leave the rest in the bowl and keep warm (so it won't solidify). 

Step 2
After 15 or 20 remove the moulds from the fridge and fill with the hazelnut paste, then cover with the remaining melted chocolate. Refrigerate.

Step 3
Before serving remove from ridge, tip the chocolates out of the moulds and serve. Better to store in the fridge if it is a hot day.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Homemade mascarpone with Tawari honey, pistachio and dried strawberries for 2015 National Honey Week

Dear Food Bloggers,

Some of you might have seen the recent announcement launching New Zealand’s second National Honey Week, which is taking take place from 16 – 23 March 2015. It is an initiative that has been cooked up to raise awareness and support New Zealand’s unique honey varieties and to encourage more Kiwis to include it in their diets.

Airborne Honey, the country’s oldest honey brand, is leading 2015 National Honey Week. A number of promotions and initiatives have been planned to help New Zealanders take part in the celebrations. Among other activities, public tastings in supermarkets around the country this National Honey Week will give Kiwis the opportunity to taste the nine main varieties of New Zealand single flower honey types – Kamahi, Clover, Rata, Manuka, Honeydew, Vipers Bugloss, Rewarewa, Tawari and Thyme.

How to enter:
All you have to do is concoct a recipe that showcases New Zealand honey. It couldn’t be easier. The Airborne Honey team will be judging the recipes.
When you write your blog post, if you could also mention that it is a National Honey Week recipe that would be great, as it’ll mean we won’t miss your post when we’re collecting entries. You can also email the link to Rachel Bradshaw at nzhoneyweek@gmail.com.  
Entries are open now and will close at 5pm on Monday 30 March 2015. The winner will receive a bumper pack of New Zealand honey varieties and $350 in Restaurant Association of New Zealand vouchers for a slap up meal out. Three runners-up will also receive smaller honey pack prizes.
Best of luck and have some fun with National Honey Week! If you have any thoughts or questions, please feel free to email Rachel Bradshaw at nzhoneyweek@gmail.com.   And here is my entry:

Homemade mascarpone with Tawari honey, pistachio and dried strawberries

Making mascarpone at home is one of my favourite occupations these days! A part from the 'magic' of it, and the resemblance to a chemistry experiment (I made this with Max, actually, he made it with me in the background giving instructions and liked doing it!) it is also so much cheaper, fresh and delicious that the one you buy! 

For the mascarpone recipe just click here, it is easier that you may think! When the mascarpone is ready just add a tbsp of honey (I used Airborne Tawari Honey) and fold. Divide the mascarpone into 4 cups and it is ready to be eaten or topped with what you fancy. 

For this recipe I just toasted a few pistachios in a pan, then I rub them with a tea towel to take away loose skins and chopped them coarsely. Then I also added some Fresh As dried strawberries, crunchy and full of flavour and aroma. A simple dessert that everyone loved!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Flower fritters

My kids go crazy for these! Only three ingredients

Ingredients: edible flowers
 (I used zucchini flowers and borage flowers - but any edible flower will do)
tempura flour
oil for frying

Clean and wash the flowers. Mix the tempura flour with cold water to make a batter, then add the flowers. Spoon into hot oil and pan fry on both sides until the fritters are golden. Serve hot.

And this is my cat Marameo sleeping on the trampoline (I am glad someone is using it!). She is 18 years old now, poor old cat, so sweet but a bit senile, she is shrinking too, and becoming a bit like a kitten, sleeps a lot and demands lots of attention. But she is sweet! The cats are the only ones eating meat in the household, and so far they have been on a raw meat diet, but in the last week I started 'cooking' meat for them (especially Marameo) as they didn't seem to appreciate too much their raw food. When I say cooking I just mean boiling, just boil pieces of beef or chicken, and then give them to them (and the stock too). Personally I find it disgusting, the smell is horrible, but they love it! Do you have any experience of your pets preferring cooked meat to raw meat?

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, February 27, 2015

Is Tiramisù the most adaptable dessert for Fusion Cuisine?

Pineapple tiramisu at Bistro:D restaurant, Taoyuan International Airport, Taipei

Photo by Peter Dowling ©

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Beautiful beetroots!

I love making fresh juice with red beetroots, it tastes great and the colour always cheers me up. Then the other day my friend Alan from Dream of Italy gave me an Italian beetroot from his garden, I think that it must be this one. Well, when I cut it I though that it looked so pretty that I didn't want to juice it! So I just cooked it al dente, and then cooled it under cold water and added extra virgin olive oil, lemon and salt. Unfortunately the cooking took the colour away, but it still looked really pretty (scroll down for the photo). Next time I'll get another beet from Alan I'll try it raw, cut into very thin slices.

And then I used a 'normal' red beetroot for my juice!
1 large red beetroot, 6 large carrots, 4 stalks of celery, half a cucumber and 6 pears.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Limoncello Tiramisù

Would you like t make a tiramisù style dessert without coffee? Are you a fan of lemons and limoncello? I had a jar of lemon curd to finish, so I made up this lemon version, and it worked wonders: in fact it tastes so good that no one will be believe that it is so easy to make! Of course I used NZ best limoncello, Limoncello Sovrano

3 tbsp of lemon curd
300 ml cream
1 small glass of Limoncello Sovrano thinned with a little water
12 savoiardi biscuits
Edible Flowers to decorate

Smooth the lemon curd with 3 tbsp of cream, then whip the rest of the cream and fold with the lemon curd mixture. Place the Limoncello in a deep plate and add a little water to thin it down (or use just limoncello - I prefer to thin it down so that my kids can also eat this). Quickly soak the savoiardi biscuits in the limoncello, one side only, then place them in a serving bowl, soaked side up.

 Add some cream and lemon curd mixture and then repeat, making two or there layers (depending on the shape and size of your bowl. 

Cover everything with a final layer of cream and lemon curd mixture and refrigerate for a few hours.

Decorate with edible flowers (I used roses and borage flowers). Serve.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Plum jam with a little brown sugar

I am back to New Zealand and it is still plum season in the Oratia orchards! But is it so hot that plums don't last long after picking, so I had about 1 kg that was far too ripe and soft for eating. I washed and then put the plums in a pot with a little water and boiled them, then I strain them to discard stones and leftover skin and tasted the paste. I usually add 50-60% of sugar (I don't like the 1kg fruit for 1kg sugar ratio they do in NZ), but this paste was already sweet! So I added just 2 tbsp of brown sugar and a pinch of citric acid (as a preservative) and, fearing that the jam wouldn't set, 1/3 tsp of agar agar. If I were to keep this jam longer maybe I would have added more sugar, but I only made 5 small jars and two are gone already!
It is a really delicious and sweet jam, and it is the first time (after 18 years in NZ for me) that plums seems to be so sweet when ripe (almost like in Italy), and a jam need so little sugar - I guess it is due to the dry January we had.
But I really want to try to make a jam with even less sugar (or no sugar at all) to keep, any suggestion?

Remember that the first pears and the famous Oratia Beauty apples are also in season at the Dragicevich Orchard, 556 West Coast Rd, Oratia, Auckland. The Oratia Beauty apples are the first fruit to be added to the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity Ark of Taste
Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Dreamy Dolomites in Winter, and best skiing

No much snow this year but enough to ski, and to appreciate how beautiful my Dolomite Mountains are! Paesaggi da favola! 

And of course the best ski ever! Below the record of my best day on the slopes, from Val di Fassa to Val Gardena.

After 23+ km I deserved a bombardino (probably about 2000 calories!)

More scenic shots:

Look at this frozen waterfall, dreamy!

We stayed at the Hotel Pareda in Canazei, which has a beautiful pool and wellness centre, lovely staff, comfortable rooms, and where every evening we filled our bellies well.

In Val Gardena I even found a restaurant (at the Hotel Valpudra) with lots of Vegan options, like this delicious homemade rye pasta with seitan ragout with marjoran and cress fragrance. I licked the plate clean! 

And the bread was great too! I love the local pan dur, hard crispy bread with fennel seeds.

Bye bye to a lovely week in the mountains, I hope you get more snow!

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©


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