Monday, January 31, 2011

Pilaf Rice with Chickpeas... and the winner is...

Thank you to all of you who took part in my little giveaway. I copied your names (53) on a list in order of appearance and put them through a list randomizer.

So the winner is Mairi!

Congratulations Mairi, please get in touch to let me know your address (I will also contact you, just to make sure!)

Sue at Couscous and Consciousness and Sasa from Sasasunakku, you came second and third, send me your addresses too, I will send you a little consolation token :-).

List Randomizer

There were 53 items in your list. Here they are in random order:

  1. Mairi
  2. Couscous
  3. Sasasunakku
  4. Astrofiammante
  5. Colleen
  6. Fantasie
  7. Merendasinoira
  8. Pommer cannelles
  9. Manu
  10. Barbara
  11. Red Nomad OZ
  12. Sunflowers8
  13. Barton
  14. Barbara GF
  15. Swati
  16. Sweet Snow Flakes
  17. Madama Bavareisa
  18. Lucy
  19. Jennifurla
  20. Ananda
  21. Agnese
  22. Cinzietta
  23. Nigel Olsen
  24. EliFla
  25. Marydap
  26. Bhumika
  27. Victor
  28. Rosemary
  29. Francesca
  30. Natalia
  31. Jodi
  32. Pam
  33. Eleonora (B&M)
  34. Lusks
  35. Elena
  36. Tami
  37. Turista di mestiere
  38. Laura
  39. Holly Springett
  40. Ambra
  41. Koralee
  42. Michelle
  43. Eleonora (Peggy)
  44. Civette
  45. Ilaria
  46. Mary
  47. Claudia
  48. Saretta
  49. Zoe
  50. La Gaia Celiaca
  51. HeyHarket8
  52. Duck
  53. Adelina

Timestamp: 2011-01-31 00:39:38 UTC

To all others, it was great to read your messages, and to meet new people, keep in touch and I will do another giveaway next month too! And now for the recipe:

Pilaf rice with Chickpeas

I am still very ‘timid’ when it comes to Indian spices: I am always scared to burn them, or to use too much, or too little. In particular I am so used to have cloves and cinnamon in sweet dishes that I never know how much to use in savoury dishes.

For this pilaf I just filled up a tbsp of spices, as you can see there are plenty of cumin seeds, but just a little cinnamon and a few cloves, plus a few cardamom pods), still, just the right amount for me to flavour a pilaf for four.


1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp mixed whole spices (cumin seeds, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom)

1 garlic clove, peeled

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 generous pinch of salt

300 g basmati rice

1 can chickpeas, drained

1 Wash the rice and soak for 30 minutes.

2 Heat 1 tbsp of oil, sizzle the whole spices and garlic.

3 Add turmeric and salt.

4 Add rice, chickpeas and water (just enough water to cook the rice by absorption)

5 Cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sweet As Book Giveaway, seguimi e vinci il mio libro di dolci

(continua a leggere per la versione italiana)

I am on holiday and traveling, so I am not really able to blog these days. At present I am in Christchurch, we had quite a big earthquake this morning, 5.1! Six more tremors followed, but we are all OK. Still, an interesting experience, and I may post some photos on a later day.

I will be away for about two weeks, so in the meantime I thought that I could leave you with a giveaway to consider: my dessert book Sweet As... (New Holland Publishers). All you have to do to enter is:

1 Follow me (put you avatar under the blog title)
2 Leave a reply to this post.

The competition is open to all and I will choose the winner by random number generator, and remember: it doesn't matter where you live in the world, I will post the book to you :-)!

The book is in English, there are over 100 recipes, (vegetarian, not vegan, although some are vegan), dairy free and wheat free recipes are listed in the index. below are some sample pages.

And if you already have the book you could present it to a friend, I can write a dedication on it :-). You have two weeks from now so... Good Luck


Sono in giro per la Nuova Zelanda per due settimane e non ho molto tempo per il blog, quindi ho deciso di fare un piccolo giveaway del mio primo libro di dolci: Sweet As...

Per vincere il libro basta diventare un follower e lasciare un commento in questo blog. Il concorso è aperto a tutti, vi spedirò il libro in Italia o all'estero. Vi ricordo che il libro è in inglese, ma è molto facile da seguire ed ha moltissime foto. Ci sono oltre 100 ricette di dolci, torte, biscotti, gelati, dessert ecc., tutte le ricette sono vegetariane e molte sono senza latticini e/o senza glutine (chiaramente indicate nell'indice). Avete due settimane di tempo da oggi: Buona fortuna!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cauliflower and Borage Curry

This turned out to be a fantastic vegan curry, and quite innovative too: I have never seen a curry made with borage!!!

Yes, borage again! I have tons of it in the garden, you can eat the flowers, the stems and the leaves, but I limit myself to the smaller tender leaves. They are prickly, but that goes away with cooking.

The only thing to remember is to discard the pods with the seeds that have already formed (they are too hard), like the one in the photo below. Flowers and flower buds are soft, and can be cooked.

Sizzle one tsp of fenugreek seeds and one green chili with one tbsp of vegetable oil.

Add one small tsp each of turmeric, ground coriander, ground fennel and paprika, and also a good pinch of salt.

Add one onion, chopped, and sizzle for two minutes, and then add half cauliflower, cut into florettes. Coat the cauliflower well with the spices.

Add one can of coconut milk, and then one can of water (to rinse the coconut milk can). Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the borage, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add one tsp of masala powder and simmer for other five minutes, or until all the vegetables are soft. At the end decorate with fresh borage flowers.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, January 15, 2011

What to see in New Zealand: Great Barrier Island

The day after sailing in Waiheke we took the ferry to Great Barrier Island. While Waiheke is well patronized by tourists, the Great Barrier has remained a bit 'isolated'. Naturally Waiheke is only 30 minutes by ferry from central Auckland, for the Barrier you need two and a half hours (on the fast ferry, four and a half on the slow ferry) and you don't really see foreign tourists there, mostly Kiwis who have a batch there. Compared to Waiheke, full of wineries and cafes, the Barrier has remained kind of... relaxed.

Bye bye Auckland (seen from the ferry)

The sea crossing is very beautiful, sometimes you can see whales and dolphins, but unfortunately this time we didn't.

Landed! What a tranquil place! We rented a car and moved towards Steve's batch. The car was good up to a point, then we had to walk in the bush to get there.

The bach

The kitchen (outdoors). I didn't take pics of the food, basically I just made spaghetti and a salad on the first night, and a frittata with the leftover spaghetti on the second night.

The dining/living room (also outdoors). Three dads, one mum (me) six children (slept in tents) and the great outdoors.

The view

The water supply. No electricity, no bathroom (there is a long-drop but I forgot to take a photo, pity, it was a well built long-drop!); the water for drinking, cooking and washing, had to be carried up to the batch with buckets.

The beach. Great Barrier Island has some lovely beaches.

We stayed 3 days and 2 nights, and flew back to Auckland. Flying only takes about 30 minutes, but the planes are very small (this was for 10 people including the pilot).

You need to wear ear muffs in the plane, and the ride may be bumpy (fortunately for me it wasn't).

But what a great chance to see the Hauraki Gulf from above!

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, January 14, 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cape Gooseberry Cake, and a gardening surprise

When I got back to New Zealand, in October, I noticed that the tomatillo had self-seeded in the veggie garden. I thought "good!" and left it there. At first there were just a few little plants, then they took over half of my top terrace garden bed, and became a forest. I though "oh!" but I left the plants there, imagining a surplus of Mexican green sauce for the summer.

The plants grew, but the pods remained small. Initially I thought that this was due to the fact that I didn't actually plant them, or looked after them. Then I got suspicious, and I tasted one.

They are NOT tomatillos, they are Cape Gooseberries!!! How did they get there I have no idea!
Usually I pick Cape gooseberries from my neighbor, but he is too far away in the bush... the only explanations is... birds??? I am not sure.

Anyway, we like them, and pick some every day now. I decided to improvise a dairy free cake.

I mixed 3 eggs with 200 g of sugar, 200 g of self raising flour, 100 ml of vegetable oil, a little vanilla essence and a few cut Cape gooseberries. Not much of a recipe really, I made it in 5 minutes, and baked it for about 30.

And here it is, my cake, fruit of my surprise crop!!!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Te Henga, and Sugar-craft Owl

I posted about Te Henga (Bethells Beach) before (here), this is one of the best West Coast beaches... of course not a swimming beach for me: just look at the sign!!! But it is a magical place, especially for surfers. The sand is black and you need to walk quite a bit to reach the beach... so make sure that you wear some foot wear, like Flip-flops, (thong sandals, flip flops, zories, slip slaps, thongs, pluggers, toesies, jandals) or you will burn your feet!

The view is amazing, magical and surreal. And almost empty...

The waves are strong, swim between the flags (not that I would, but my husband and the kids do go in, they are stronger swimmers than me, even the my 10 years old boy!).

Volunteer life-guards keep the watch

We took our German wwoofer here, overseas visitors are always amazed at the scenery here.

No recipes today, but I would like to show you my marzipan owl. I made it with ready made marzipan and used sugar sprinkle leaves for the feet, sugar cachous for the eyes, and candied fruit for the beak. I hope that you like it :-)

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©


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