Sunday, October 14, 2018

Oakune Carrot and Beetroot Salad with Feta, Thyme and Edible Flowers

Ohakune is a small town in the North Island of New Zealand, situated 215 kilometres north of Wellington and 292 kilometres south of Auckland. It is located in the Tongariro National Park, at the food of the active volcano Mount Ruapehu. It is also New Zealand’s ‘carrot capital' so after a ski trip there we always get carrots, and other produce (potatoes, beetroots, swedes). 

Recipe: Wash the carrots and beetroots and boil in water (together) until soft but not too much (not mushy!!!). Then rinse under cold water and remove the skins with your fingers (from the carrots too). Cut into bite size pieces. Dress with olive oil, salt and lemon juice, add cubed feta and stir. Place on a plate and add fresh thyme, onion weed flowers and broccolini or friarielli flowers (they are edible and have a lovely peppery taste). Add plenty! These are not decorations, these are to be eaten! And now a few photo of life in the garden!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Timballo di cavoletti di Bruxelles e patate - Brussels Sprout and potato Italian style terrine

Not everyone likes Brussels, my husband doesn't... generally, but when I cook them he does, in fact after making this he went out and bought some more himself!!!

I love them, they are a great vegetable to use to make a main, and they are so pretty!

A timballo is a baked dish of rice and other ingredients, it can be made with anything, and I usually do it when I have left over long grain rice. It is also a good way to pair rice and potatoes, which may seems strange to some, but it works.

I cleaned the Brussels and slice a couple of big peeled potatoes, and then pass them quickly in a pan with olive oil and a little garlic. Just long enough to heat them, two minutes, stirring (don't burn them or colour them!). Then I covered them with vegetable stock, added a lid and simmer them on low until soft.

Add more stock when needed to make sure that there is always a bit of liquid. The potatoes will make the 'sauce' thick, and soften the bitterness of the Brussels.

Turn the element off, keep some Brussels and some of the best potato slices aside, and mix the rest with the cooked, or leftover, rice. Put in a baking dish and press down very well. Top with the potato slices and bake for 20 minutes, then cover with cheese and bake for other 20. Heat the leftover Brussels and pour over just before serving.

Golly, this was supposed to serve 6 but 4 of us gulped it down in no time!

And now: photos from the garden, and orchids in the house! Happy Weekend

 Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, August 24, 2018

Potato salad with Fresh As Tarragon, capers and Friarielli flowers, plus focaccia with Fresh As herbs

I have been trying a few freeze dried herbs from Fresh As and this potato salad is definitely a winner.

Boil the potatoes and peel, then cut and mix with mayo and capers. Sprinkle with Fresh As French Tarragon. I also added some edible flowers from my friarielli (cime di rapa) plants.

The friarielli seeds come for Italian Seeds Pronto, such a great winter crop! Eat the leaves, tips and flowers!

I also tried other Fresh As powders: chili, garlic, oregano, basil and rosemary (plus the French Tarragon) on focaccia. I used letter stencils before adding the powders, just to record what went where. FYI, the garlic becomes orange after baking.

Delicious, and also pretty in a bread basket!

And on some fried eggplants (added after frying, with salt).

 Flowers from my garden

 Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Niue, eating vegetarian from a plantation

Last month we returned to Niue for a holiday, and one of the first things we did was a Plantation Tour with Tony, like seven year ago, to stock up with local produce for a plant based diet. Naturally we started with some fresh coconut to drink.

And some marshmallow coconut to eat. 

We took back quite a lot of young coconuts, from a small one I could get two big glasses of coconut water, if it was a bit bigger two and an half glasses.

After drinking we used the tender flesh, you can just eat it as it is, or use it in cooking (the best was to pan-fry it with olive oil and smoked salt and eat it as 'vegan bacon'. Then we gave the shells to the cat and it cleaned it up! Never seen a cat eating coconut!

Click here for more coconut recipes and creations in Niue.

Next was taro, so much taro, white and pink!

And cassava, a white and a yellow type (I prefer the yellow).

And a type of wild spring onion, very tasty. We also got some basil.

Ginger abounds too, if you are keen.

And this is our bounty!

Taro is very starchy and filling, I made some salads, one with boiled taro, olive oil, salt, basil and spring onions. 

And one with boiled taro, mayo and spring onions.

I also boiled the cassava and then roasted half with olive oil and salt, while the other half I mushed and mixed with falafel mix to make veggie burgers (ok, they don't look 'pretty' but they were pretty good). More recipes here.

No much tropical fruit around a part from bananas, papaya and coconut, but I loved the papayas with a drizzle of Niue Honey and lime or lemon juice.

And for dessert: papaya, banana and young coconut flesh fruit salad, with rum and a little sugar. 

And here something we DIDN"T eat: Uga crab.

And some pretty fish!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©


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