Friday, August 30, 2013

Linguine with broccoli... and some semi-dried tomatoes and feta too!

I love pasta with broccoli, but for this dish I just felt like adding some colour... and fancy that, it looks like the Italian flag! This is not a combo I would do every day, or with all my broccoli pasta (which I prefer plain) but it seems to go very well with Kiwis, who are still keen of having several things on their pasta (never understood why...), and it is easy and tasty too!

Cook the linguine al dente, In the meantime clean the broccoli, cut the stalks into small pieces and the florets in fork size pieces. Heat some olive oil in a pan and add two cloves of garlic, peeled (chopped if you like a stronger garlic flavour). Sizzle the add the broccoli stalks. Stir, after one minute add the florets. Stir for a couple of minutes, add salt, cover with a lid and simmer for two minutes, then turn the element off but leave the lid on: the broccoli will cook in their steam. Cut the semi-dried tomatoes into strips and cube the feta. Drain the pasta and place in the pan with the broccoli (you can add a bit of water from the pasta or a bit more olive oil to mix everything well together. Top with the tomatoes and feta. Serve immediately. 

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, August 26, 2013

Vegetarian in Montevideo, Uruguay

We miss Montevideo, we were living there only a few months ago and it already seems like years. So it is good to go back to the photos while doing this Veg* guide. But first a bit of sight-seeing: this is Palacio Salvo and we were all fascinated by it, especially Max. It looks like something out of a movie, or the tower of terror in Disneyland, or a great place for ghosts... anyway, we never got tired of looking at it!

Montevideo is a very livable city, we walked a lot and loved the old buildings and details (click here to see some of beautiful doors of Montevideo). Less should be said about the pavements, always broken and full of doggy poos :-(. The air in the centre is quite polluted too, and the traffic slow, but all in all this must be the most relaxed and safe capital city in South America.

But how about being a vegetarian here? I googled a few veg* restaurants while there, but they always appeared to have 'dsappeared" or were too far, or difficult to find. I guess guides need to be updated, so here there are only a few suggestions, mostly about places that seem established or food to buy in shops (after all we were mostly cooking at home).

But I was quite surprised to find veg* options in most city centre restaurants. We stopped at El Copacabana, in the main pedestrian street of the city centre, as it had quite a big vegetarian menu. The kids had pizza, and I had the veggie milanesa with salad. To be honest I am not a fan of fake meat, and this wasn't the best, but I was quite grateful to find it.

If you like this kind of meat replacements I found similar food in the large supermarket in Punta Carretas (a former prison successfuly transformed into a shopping centre). Even if you don't speak Spanish it is pretty easy to understand what the packets say. Sadly I didn't like any of them: these are the sort of things that I prefer making myself but, once again, it is good to know that they exist.

Much much much better are the veggie burgers (two types plus two veggie sausages with buns too) at the Bulebar. Our were tasty and full of roasted veggies, with a side of regular and sweet potato fries. And the smoothies are good too. Fun place, the kids loved it!

Then of course there are good market with fruit and veggies, see a few pics here.

And this is Martin, our local baker, we went there almost everyday after school to buy our daily bread (and a few pastries too). There is some good bread in Uruguay, but be careful with the pastry and pies, they may have pork fat, so remember to ask first! Our daily shopping also included the local supermarket, nothing special but it did have tofu, and soy milk, and carrot juice ... as well as many types of pasta, olives, different types of beans, dried fruit and fruit pastes, and nuts.

For a raw energy kick, one positive thing about Montevideo (and South America in general) is the great variety of fresh fruit smoothies - (mostly vegan). Here a few yummy juices (and other drinks) not only in Montevideo, but also in the rest of Uruguay, and also in Chile, Argentina and Peru.

In our Spanish school, La Herradura, they also do cooking classes, and for us they had a special meat free cooking class!

Clockwise from left: Making faina de zapallitos, a zapallitosalchichon de chocolatefainas de queso (yellow) and de zapallitos (green).

A final note is for Italian restaurants: they are very common, with pasta and pizza everywhere, but please note: they tend to be very "creamy" and "cheesy". Most of the pasta we had was so cover with a cream sauce that the ravioli were swimming in it. The only vegan dish is usually spaghetti with tomato and basil...

Well, I hope that this was useful to you, and if you know the city feel free to add your additions in the comments :-). I miss you Montevideo, and hope to be back one day!

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Flowers from Nan's garden in Christchurch

Last week I went to Christchurch, I want to share with you some flowers from nan's garden, 
aren't they just lovely? 

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, August 19, 2013

Spinach with Halloumi and Chinese garlic chives, quick comfort food!

When time is an issue I can always grab a packet of Halloumi cheese (if I have time I could make it, but not today!). Here it is cooked with Chinese garlic chives and served on a bed of spinach.

What you need:
500 g frozen spinach
1 bunch Chinese garlic chives
olive oil
a small pinch of salt
One block Halloumi

Defrost the spinach and chop the Chinese garlic chives. Put half of the garlic chives in a pan with olive oil, sizzle and then add the spinach and a pinch of salt. Sauté the spinach. In the meantime in a separate pan sizzle the remaining Chinese garlic chives with a little olive oil, then add the Halloumi and cook on both sides until golden. Cut into four and place over the spinach. Serve hot with some crusty bread.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Win a bottle of Sovrano Limoncello!

Dear readers, I like to share with you this competition, especially if you like lemons and limoncello!!
Go to Sovrano Limoncello facebook Page, like and share the Sovrano Limoncello at the Festival Italiano 2013 post, and be in the draw to win a 500ml bottle! Open to NZ residents only.

Good luck!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Amaretti biscuits dessert for Sweet New Zealand

I am so busy with this that I don't have much time to cook and blog, so I am recycling this fantastic recipe that my kids made (they 'created' the dish a few years back!) for  Sweet New Zealand, the monthly blogging event for Kiwi bloggers. Our August 2013 host is Marnelli from Sweets and Brains, click here to enter.

Children can make this, and no cooking required!


300 ml cream,
1 tsp caster sugar
2 (children's) handfuls of amaretti biscuits
+ 4 amaretti to decorate
70 g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
2 tbsp mixed citrus peels

Serves 4

Whip the cream with one teaspoon of caster sugar. Crush the amaretti into small crumbs. Grate the chocolate. Fold the crushed amaretti, grated chocolate and citrus peels with the cream. Divide between four glasses and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Top each dessert with an amaretto biscuit and serve.

Not bad, maybe a bit fattening for mum, and also I could have added some booze to mine...but it is interesting for me to see that even if my children were born in New Zealand they think Italian when they choose ingredients and mix things together.

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Festival Italiano in Auckland

The Festival Italiano is coming to Auckland, this year bigger and better than ever, and in a new location: Newmarket! Follow the buzz on the Festival FB Page and on the Festival website

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Winter flowers and "magic" wands

These are some of the flowers that I have in the garden now: orchids, camellias and reinwardtia indica (I had to look for the name back in this post from 2011, I can never remember it!).

Reinwardtia indica

Anyway, my largest Pinterest board is now flowers, so I will add these in. I hope to have the time to post some recipes soon, I have been very busy lately...

... so in the meantime here a couple of pics of where I have been:  Just magic ehhh!

The Wind Wand in New Plymouth

The Wind Wand in New Plymouth

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, August 10, 2013

STREET EATS (Auckland Restaurant Month) at Shed 10 Queens Wharf

Sorry I am not posting regularly these days, I have been busy with work, but today I took a break to go to Street Eats at Shed 10 to meet the Slow Food Waitakere Group. Very interesting! Did anyone else go? What did you eat?

Have a good weekend!


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Auckland Street Eats, with Slow Food Waitakere


Saturday August 10th at 11am
Shed 10 Queens Wharf
FREE entry
You pay for what you eat!
Join Slow Food Waitakere at Street Eats

RSVP Thursday August 8th to
or call/text Anutosh on 0298250150

Join Fiona and Anutosh - Slow Food Waitakere hosts 
In September we will have a foraging event with a Japanese focus and  will be at the Italian Festival- so keep an eye on our blog.
Our collective choices and actions - as consumers, producers, chefs, writers, gardeners, teachers - can influence great change on how food is cultivated and produced, bringing good, clean and fair food to communities around the world. 
For one day only, chefs from all over Auckland’s city centre are leaving their kitchens and taking to the streets!
Shed 10, Queen’s Wharf: 10.30am – 7pm. Entry is free.

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Friday, August 2, 2013

Orecchiette con broccolini e pangrattato

To start with I fried some breadcrumbs with olive oil, a clove of garlic, and a little salt. When the breadcrumbs were golden I put them aside and used the same pan to cook the broccolini (no rinsing of the pan required, just add a little more olive oil and fresh garlic). Fresh broccolini need very little cooking, even less than broccoli, I just wash them and then sautéed them with olive oil and garlic, add a pinch of salt, then turned the heat off, put the lid on the pot for a few minutes and the remaining steam will do the rest of the cooking for you. You need a pot with a good lid!

In the meantime I cooked the orecchiette in plenty of salted boiling water. I followed the packet instructions for this, as different manufacturers seem to have different timing and orecchiette are usually more 'crunchy' than other types of pasta.

Once ready I drained them and placed them in the pot with the broccolini, I stirred and then topped everything with the fried breadcrumbs.

A chilli can also be added to the broccolini for a hotter taste.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©


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