Thursday, July 23, 2015

Kumara Cheesecake

I received a gift of kumara, red, orange, gold, and small (thank you #teamkumara) So far I made soup, roasted them, made some Japanese style sweet potato cakes, and then this cheesecake, which is my own recipes, published a few years ago in a magazine here in New Zealand.

400 g kumara (red or yellow)
1 lemon
150 g sugar
250 g cream cheese
3 eggs
Icing sugar to dust
Fruit to serve

Serves 8–10 for dessert, or even more for coffee if you cut it in little squares 

Wash and boil the kumara until soft (check with a fork), then peel while still warm. Grate all the zest from the lemon and put aside. Extract all the lemon juice, discarding pips. Place the kumara, lemon juice and sugar in the food processor and reduce to a smooth paste. 

Add the cream cheese and process again. When the mixture is smooth add the eggs, one by one, while the food processor is on low. Finally fold in the lemon peels. 

Line a baking tin with baking paper. Pour the mixture in and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180°C for approximately 40 minutes, or until the top is golden and the edges start to detach from the sides of the tin. Let the cheesecake cool down completely before cutting and moving it into a serving plate. Store in the fridge (it taste better cold, and one day after).

 This yummy cheesecake has no pastry or biscuit base, making it an ideal dessert or tea time treat for those avoiding wheat products.

Kumara also goes well with orange, so you can substitute the lemon with the zest and juice of an orange.

 Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Win A trip to Italy and other fantastic prizes with the Festival Italiano Raffle

In occasion of our Festival Italiano '15
the Dante Auckland is proud to announce the annual raffle. There are only 3000 tickets so be quick for your chance to win some fantastic prizes, including a trip to Italy!

First Prize

Win a trip to Rome or Milan (your choice) offered by the Dante Auckland in collaboration with Moa Travel

The prize includes 1 return economy class airfare to either Rome or Milan, plus 3 nights accommodation in your chosen city. 

Raffle draw on 27 September 2015, 3.30pm, at the Festival Italiano, in the presence of a Justice of the Peace. The lucky winner will need to arrange the travel dates, which will be between 1 April and 30 September 2016 depending on availability, with Moa Travel by October 2015. 

Second Prize

An exclusive private 4 hour Italian cooking experience for you and three friends offered by Pasta & Cuore

Spend a magic afternoon at Pasta & Cuore in Mt Eden under the guidance of Stefania Ugolini, a professional pasta maker from Bologna. Prize includes a cooking class and dinner for four, date and time to be arranged with Pasta & Cuore. 

409 Mt Eden Rd, Mt Eden Village

Third Prize

 Aceto Balsamico di Modena Hamper offered by Aceto Downunder.

Aceto Balsamico di Modena is the most luxurious and delicious balsamic vinegar in the world, used by the top chefs and the discerning gourmands. To understand the value placed on this liquid, consider that historically the well-off women of Modena would bring balsamic vinegar as part of their dowry. 

Fourth Prize

A luxurious hamper of Italian products offered by Italian Foodies

Italian Foodies imports into New Zealand a luxurious selections of quality regional products, including artisanal pasta, unique sauces, preserves, oils and traditional sweet treats. Win this price and you will eat like a real Italian foodie!

Italian Foodies

+64 9 213 2270

Fifth Prize

A collection of 8 pieces of estetico quotidiano by iconic design house Seletti, RRP $299.00, offered by Seletti Concept Store

Since 1964, with Enthusiasm, passion, creativity and experimentation, the Seletti family has created a brand recognized all over the world, with a series of collections that blend classic design with modern objects. 

69 BEACH STREET                               
T. +64 3 442 4133


T. +64 9 524 7408

Tickets on sale at the Dante Alighieri Society of Auckland, $5 for one or $20 for a pack of 5. Remember that there are only 3000 tickets for sale, so be quick! 
The winning tickets will be draw on September 27th, 3:30pm, 
at the Festival Italiano


All money raised will go towards the Dante Auckland school for children to run our classes and holiday programmes. The school of the Dante Auckland doesn't receive any funding from Italy or New Zealand and relies entirely on its own finances, donations and the work of our volunteers. This raffle is our yearly fundraiser so thank you all for your support. 

(And don't forget to Like the Festival Italiano on FB to win even more prizes!)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Quiche with spinach, parmigiano and cumin seeds

This is an easy dish using two of my favourite ingredients: Parmigiano and cumin seeds. For the base I use some frozen short crus pastry, topped with chopped and cooked spinach and chunks of Parmigiano Reggiano and sprinkled with cumin seeds. Then I mixed eggs, cream and a pinch of salt, pour it over and baked the quiche until golden on top and with a crispy pastry. The Parmigiano and cumin seeds pairing worked really well, definitely something to make again!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Silver beet and paneer curry with aromatic basmati rice - step by step

Wash and cut two small bunches of silver beet, (or a big bunch) then steam the stalks for 10 minutes and the leaves for 5 minutes.

Measure the spices:
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1/3 tsp ground chili

Peel and roughly chop two shallots. In a heavy pot heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil (or ghee) then add the shallots.

Stir and add the spices.

Stir to coat the shallots.

Add the silver beet and a little water, plus a pinch of salt, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add a handful of chopped coriander and blend with an immersion blender.

In the meantime pan fry one block of paneer, cubed, with two tbsp of vegetable oil, a pinch of salt, coriander seeds and cumin seeds.

Add the hot paneer to the silverbeet curry. 

Stir and keep warm while cooking the rice.

Use the same pot where you fried the paneer: keep the leftover cumin and coriander seeds, add a few chili flakes if you like and then the rice.

Add Basmti rice, rinsed a few times, and coat with the oily spices, then cover with water, a pinch of salt, and steam. Serve the hot rice with the silver beet Paneer.

 Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, July 6, 2015

Leek and potato soup, who buys it?

I am surprised when I see people buying already made soups, especially the very simple ones. Ok to buy them if you are going camping. Or if you are staying in a motel and don't want to eat out. Or if you don't have any cooking facilities, for whatever reason.

Ingredients and instructions: peel and cut the potatoes, wash and cut the leek, put olive oil in the pot (for me, or you can use butter) to sauté the veggies, then add vegetable stock to cover and simmer. Blend. Done.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Cannelloni di Paccheri

To do this you need an afternoon, as it is not a quick dinner! On the other hand, you could make it the day before, which is actually better, but I will tell you later about that. To start I cooked a pack of paccheri from Italian Foodies, then I drained them and cooled them under cold water.

In the meantime I made a vegetarian ragù, starting with a soffritto: finely chop 1 onion, 1carrot, 1 garlic clove, 2 stalks of celery with leaves and some Italian parsley. Sauté the vegetables with some olive oil and a pinch of salt.

Then add soy mince, vegetable stock and tomato passata and simmer for at least 30 minutes, or until the sauce is thick.
Make a white sauce (Besciamella) with milk, flour, butter, salt, pepper and nutmeg: melt 100 g of salted butter in a saucepan, then add 100 g of plain flour and stir. Add 1.5 l of milk slowly (this needs more milk than usual as it needs to be a little runny), stirring constantly without making lumps, then simmer until the sauce thickens. At the end add freshly grated nutmeg, white pepper, and salt to taste. 

Put the paccheri in a lasagna dish facing up and fill them with the ragù. I started from the centre to get them to stand up against each others, and yes, this is a bit fiddly!

Pour the white sauce on top of each tube.

Like this:

Keep filling all the pasta, keeping the broken bits for the sides so that they can be rolled around whole paccheri.

Cover with the remaining sauce and plenty of freshly grated parmigiano.

Bake like for lasagne, and until golden on top, then serve! 

When freshly made the paccheri will be soft and bend in the plates, (see photos) but if you leave them to cool and then heat them again the day after they will have more of a 'pie' consistency and can even be cut with a knife. Anyway, it doesn't matter how and when you eat them, they taste amazing!

Have a happy weekend!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©


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