Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween Vegan Sushi

There are plenty of Sushi rice recipes on this blog, so I won't repeat myself, and this is just an idea. I used lots of seaweed, nori, seaweed salad and a Japanese dried seaweed that looks like the wrapping of a scary mummy.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Martina Doglio Cotto, Global Brand Ambassador for Riccadonna, visits New Zealand


Last week Martina Doglio Cotto, Sommelier and Riccadonna Ambassador, visited New Zealand for the first time hosting an intimate Italian lunch in Auckland. The event started with a Campari aperitif, followed by  delicious dishes matched to the Riccadonna range and accompanied by Martina’s stories about the famous sparkling wines from Asti. Riccadonna is part of the Campari Group and it is distributed in New Zealand by Lion.

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, October 26, 2015

Tomato tofu with vegetables and Hokkien noodles

I learned to cook tofu with tomatoes from a Taiwanese friend 13 years ago, and I still remember thinking then how odd the pairing was… until I tasted it! Yes it works, and it is great! 

Heat some vegetable oil in a pan then add some fresh chopped tomato.

When the tomato is starting to mush add the tofu (use a firm type), cubed. Sauté on all sides then add two tbs of soy sauce (I use Japanese sou sauce). 

Add some green vegetables for colour (I use some pak choi), and cook for a few more minutes.

Add the Hokkien noodles (directly form the packet or soak in boiling water for one minute to loosen), and stir well with the tofu and vegetables.

Sauté the noodles for a few minutes, then add chopped coriander and chopped onion weed stalks (my Taiwanese friend would not have done that as she was a Buddhist vegetarian and ate no garlic, onion and chives, so I guess no onion weed!). Stir a bit more then serve, decorated with onion weed flowers.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Instant mango and coconut yogurt vegan ice-cream, and how to make more coconut yogurt from your bought jar to save money!

I have tried a couple of brands of coconut yogurt and it is quite nice, although I am not sure 100% if I can call it Vegan. One of the two labels it as Vegan, but the live bacterias (a part from being 'live', if you see what I mean) could come from dairy products, as usually lactobacillus originally do… so if you know more about it just tell me, I really like to find out!*

Another thing that I have noticed is the price of coconut yogurt… so expensive!!! Around $10! So before finishing the second jar I have filled it up with a can of coconut cream (only about $2.50) and after two days in the hot water cupboard followed by two days in the fridge I got my own coconut yogurt (albeit a bit more runny than the bought one). I am trying the second lot with a thicker coconut cream and I'll let you know if it works.

The ice-cream

One cup of frozen mango
Half a cup of coconut yogurt

Blend with immersion blender

I am glad I remembered to take a photo before they gulped it all up: it was delicious!!

And of course it could count as sugar free, gluten free, and possibly raw vegan*.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Coconut and Lavender Agar Agar, like a Vegan Panna Cotta or Biancomangiare

I like to use lavender for dessert, but the flavour has to be delicate, not too overwhelming. 


one small bunch of Lavender
3 tbsp caster sugar
1x400ml can coconut cream +
same amount in boiling water to rinse the can
1 tsp agar agar

to serve: blackberries and lavender

Pick the lavender from the garden and make sure it is clean, or rinse lightly and pat dry with a clean tea towel. Put in a container and cover with the caster sugar. Put a lid on and leave for 2-3 days. The sugar will absorb the aroma of the flowers. 

 Place the coconut cream in a pot, fill the can with the same amount of boiling water to rinse it and add into the pot. Remove the flowers from the sugar (it will be crumbly and moist) and add it to the mixture. Add a tsp of agar agar and bring to the boil stirring constantly. You can add a few petals of lavender if you like, but don't overdo it - not everyone likes to find 'bits' in such a smooth pudding. Fill 6 individual jelly moulds and let them set. The container with the lavender and sugar still had some sugar around the sides so I put the blackberries there for a few hours to marinate (with the lavender also) and get a bit of juice! I serve them alongside the tipped agar agar, which tasted a bit like young coconut flesh and with a subtle but distinctive lavender flavour.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Make your own vegan meat

It is quite satisfying to make fake meat, meat eaters will not understand this, but they should try too, when the fridge is empty and you have little time. No hunting, killing, butchering … cheap and so versatile for many dishes. All you need is some gluten flour, and the flavouring of your choice. 

This is also called seitan and can be made in many different ways, but I find that the easier for me is to mix one cup of gluten flour with one cup of water. To the gluten flour you can add salt and pepper, herbs, seasoning… smoked salt or paprika, garlic flakes, dried sage and rosemary… anything really. Then you mix everything with your fingers and then work into a dough. Once the dough is ready shape it into a sausages and with a pair of scissor cut into very thin slices directly into a pot of boiling vegetable stock and simmer for 30 minutes (it will grow and absorb more flavour). For this dish I drained the fake meat slices and then pan fried them with a little oil to brown them, then I added so sauce and lemon juice. In a separate pot I sautéed some green beans and then added a bit of the leftover stock and simmer them for a few minutes to absorb the liquid, then I added the fake meat and some chopped up onion weed cubs and stalks (reserve the flowers for the end). A final touch with a bit more soy sauce and lemon juice to taste, then I turned the heat off, added the flowers and served everything on top of rice. 

 Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©


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