Thursday, April 29, 2021

Learn to make bread, pizza, pastries, savoury tarts and pies, frittata.... and more: Savour is now an ebook!

Exciting news! Savour, my second book with over 100 recipes (mostly family and Italian recipes) is now available as an ebook:
 from Kobo, worldwide. Click here to find out more!
Or for Amazon for Kindle
Also From Barnes & Noble 


Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Kahikatea berries to eat!!

Is kahikatea berry season again! I already have a few posts about foraging these New Zealand tree berries here, if you want to find out more. Since I cannot climb the tall trees I have to pick the berries that fall on the ground, it takes time and they are tiny, but everyday I get just enough to put on the cereal in the morning (for Max and Peter, I just have them with yogurt). They need to be washed and then the black seed removed and discarded. I leave the remaining red berries to marinate with just a drop of manuka honey overnight, and in the morning they are ready for breakfast! 

Max's cereal! (TBW, we also have our own bananas!!)

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©


Thursday, March 11, 2021

Little Bay, Coromandel, New Zealand

Abbiamo passato un po' di giorni nella penisola del Coromandel, vicino a Little Bay, bellissima spiaggia!

La vista dal nostro 'batch' nella foresta.

Spiaggia e acqua meravigliose!

E se non si va durante i giorni di vacanza non ci sono neppure turisti in giro.

L'ultima foto è fatta alla cittadina di Coromandel, i tre Tekoteko.

 Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Homemade Labne with homemade dukka and edible flowers


Labne cheese is basically strained yogurt. I use Cyclops organic yogurt (green top) which I find to be the best for making labne. Use think plain yogurt which is just yogurt (no added gelatin or other thickeners).

To strain the yogurt I used a cotton cloth, not too fine, but finer that a muslin cloth or cheese cloth. Tight well and hang in the fridge with a container underneath to collect the liquid. Leave it for at least one night and one day. Two days if you can.

To make dukka put some almonds in a skillet and toast quickly, then add pumpkin and sunflower seeds and toss in the hot skillet for one more minute, finish with the coriander seeds, which will need only one minute. Cool down and place in a mixer (keep a few almonds and seeds aside for decoration) with a good pinch of salt, and if you like some smoked paprika. Ground. Place the labne on a platter, cover with dukka and the whole seeds and before serving add rosemary flowers and friarielli or broccolini (or similar brassica) flowers.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Omelette with cheese and dried cornflower petals


It is winter here and no so many flowers in the garden, but I have plenty of dried cornflower petals, which keep a beautiful blue colour and are fun to use in the kitchen.

For the frittata: beat three free-range eggs with a little water and a pinch of salt. Grease a fryingpan with olive oil and when the oil is hot add the eggs. Spread the mixture well (I make four 'cuts' on the sides to spread the eggs well) and sprinkle with cornflower petals. 

Add a couple of slices of Edam cheese and more petals.

Fold the omelette and then cook for one more minute on each side. Then add a few more petals on top.

Serves two. Yum!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Apple cupcakes with dried flowers


I have a selection of dried petals: blue cornflowers, red petals (a mixture of rose, verbena, dianthus) and orange and yellow (marigold and calendula), ready to add to a cake or cupcakes or muffins.

Ingredients for 12 cupcakes/muffins

4-5 Oratia Beauty apples
40 ml water
10 ml lemon juice
120 g salted butter
3 eggs
130 g sugar
A few drops of pure vanilla essence (optional)
200 g self-rising flour
Dried flowers
For the icing:
100 gr butter
100 g sugar
more dried flowers

Preheat the oven to 175°C. 

Line a 12-muffin tray with cupcakes paper cups.

In the meantime place the water and lemon juice in a mixing bowl, peel and slice the apples and drop them directly into the lemony water.

Melt the butter in a jug, either in the microwave or in the oven (while the oven is warming up for the cupcakes). Place the eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk, using an electric beater, until the mixture looks light and pale yellow in colour. Slowly add the melted butter and the vanilla essence, if using.

Keep beating at a low speed now; add half of the flour followed by half of the lemony water from the apples. Add the rest of the flour and water and keep beating making sure that there are no lumps. Add the apples and the dried petals. Divide into the cupcakes paper cups.

Bake for about 18-20 minutes, until golden brown at the top. You can also check by inserting a toothpick into the cupcakes: if it comes out clean the cupcakes are ready. Remove the cupcakes from the tin and let them cool down. The icing is optional, I just mixed some melted butter with sugar and used it to top the cupcakes, then sprinkled more dried petals on top. 

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Zucchini with marigold vinegar and marigold fresh petals


This is a delicious starter or side dish. Cut the zucchini in thin long strips and pan fry with olive oil on both sides for just a minute (don't let them brown, they just need to soften). Chop plenty of Italian parsley and garlic with a pinch of salt and add to the zucchini, with a tbsp or two of marigold vinegar (recipe here). If you don't have marigold vinegar just use some white balsamic or white wine vinegar (but consider making marigold vinegar too!). Let the zucchini marinate for at least two hours, more if possible, then lay on a serving platter and sprinkle with fresh marigold petals. Serve at room temperature of chilled.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Marigold Vinegar


Pick the marigolds and shake them well into the garden to save all the insect. Pick a few little tender leaves too.

Next rinse the flowers well: fill the sink with waters and wash the flowers, then repeat several times, until you are sure that there clean. Place them on a clean tea towel to drip and then gently remove all the petals and put them in a clean sterilised mason jar. Add some leaves too and press down well. 

Cover with white wine vinegar and close. Store in a dark place for a few weeks before using. Use as regular aromatic vinegar, for dressing salads etc.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini 

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Onion weed and Parmigiano fritters


Yeah onion weed time again!! Pick some fat one, as many as you can, wash well the juicy bulbs and chop finely, adding some green stalks and a few flowers. Mix three eggs with 2 tbsp of self raising flour and 3 of grated Parmigiano, add salt and pepper to taste and then the chopped onion weed. Fry in olive oil until golden and crispy. So yum!

 Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, June 5, 2020


This open letter has been written by Slow Food USA to address the nationwide protests. Slow Food stands behind the black community members in the United States and across the world who have felt the pain of this fight every day of their lives.


Dear Slow Food leaders and community,
As protesters take to the streets across the country demanding justice, we are reminded, once again, that oppression is systemic. Oppression is deeply rooted in all American systems, including the food system. We cannot ever remain neutral. We stand behind our black community members — the farmers, chefs, activists, leaders, educators, food chain and restaurant workers, youth and fellow citizens — that have felt the pain of this fight every day of their lives. We stand in solidarity with front-line justice organizations by continuing the fight for a just food system.
We are committed to making Slow Food USA an anti-racist organization that authentically pursues good, clean and fair food for all. Let’s not fall into a trap of saying we don’t know how to respond. A diverse Slow Food coalition created an Equity, Inclusion and Justice Manifesto in 2018, and it’s time for every chapter leader and member to commit to putting those words to work in local communities and in the nation’s food system. In doing so, we will take a united approach in addressing the intersection of food and race with new earnestness. Use the EIJ Manifesto as a practical guide and starting point. We will succeed and we will fail, but we cannot stop learning and trying, and we certainly cannot hesitate.
Rachel Cargle offers a helpful recipe we’ll use to hold ourselves accountable to anti-racism: “Knowledge plus empathy plus action. If you take any one away, you’re performing.”  It starts simply with a conversation: How can you unpack and enact the EIJ manifesto in your local chapter and in your community work?
Let’s get to work and hold each other accountable. 
  1. Commit to knowledge. Educate yourself. You can pick one of these books. We will be reading “How to be an Anti-Racist” by Ibram X Kendi this summer as a staff– we would love for you to join us. We will be organizing zoom discussion groups.
  2. Commit to empathy. Follow the lead of food justice organizations like these. Show up for them. Build those relationships.
  3. Commit to action. Comb through the EIJ Manifesto, and create 6 concrete action steps for your Slow Food chapter or community. Share these with us here by the end of the summer (Aug 31).
We at the Slow Food USA national office also commit to knowledge, empathy and action. We are creating a national strategy and roadmap to take concrete steps. And, you can look to us to provide support, collect and share resources, collect and share stories from our network, put together skill-shares, coordinate collaboration across chapters and groups, listen to you, and work with you to co-create this shared action plan.
This is still the opening act for us. Let’s leverage our anger and grief over the senseless murder of black Americans like George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery into action. We are calling for equity and justice not just on our plates, but also on our boards, in our strategies, and through our partnerships and actions.
To the pursuit of joy + justice!

Monday, April 27, 2020

Covid-19 recipe 9: foraging for bamboo

I have bamboo growing in the driveway, which is beautiful but also invasive and we keep it under strict control, by cutting and.... eating. Every now and then my neighbour bring me big shoot (already about 1m high) which is great, but I much prefer the small and tender shoot so I check the driveway early in the morning for signs of shoots like the one picture above (bottom right). If you leave it to the afternoon it would shoot up in no time!!

I started cooking bamboo shoots when I was living in Japan, they were a different kind, much 'fatter' but these are good too, better than buying canned bamboo! Peel off the outer green layers, then cut into slices (I also like to cut the tips into two to see the layers), and discard the hard nodes. Rinse and cook for about 20 minutes in the water left over from rinsing rice (or add a little rice bran to your cooking water, I don't have rice bran so I keep the rice rinsing water), a pinch of salt and a chili (optional, but apparently it takes away the bitterness). 20 minutes suffice for small tender shoots, but if you have longer ones just make sure that you can pierce them with a knife or leave 5 minutes longer. If not using immediately store in lightly salted water.

Fresh bamboo is tasty by itself, or can be added to a variety of Asian dishes. Usually I have it with rice and other veggies in a Japanese meal, in a stir fry or a coconut 'curry'.

For this curry I fried a shallot with a little vegetable oil, then added one can of coconut cream, 500 ml of vegetable stock, 1 tsp each of Fresh As Kaffir lime powder, ginger powder, sweet basil powder, coriander powder and lemon grass powder, plus a bit of turmeric, and chili flakes, a couple of carrots, green beans, dried mushrooms (pre-soaked) Tofu and my cooked bamboo. At the end of cooking I also added fresh Vietnamese mint, basi, young broccoli leaves and, just before serving, marigold flowers and young Nasturtium leaves.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, April 17, 2020

Covid-19 lockdown recipe 8: eating weeds

Those who know me also know that I like foraging and to eat a variety of wild food, weeds and flowers. I used to do this a lot as a child, and foraged food was a big part of my diet, but these day I do it mostly for fun, for taste, and for health.  This week I have been back to foraging for necessity, which is the best purpose to forage after all. Strictly this has not been 'foraging' though, but more like weeding. My salad leaves are growing at such a slow speed now that it is painful to watch (and yes, I go and watch them every day!!!) but what is growing in the salad bed at remarkable speed is chickweed! This little weed tends to cover the ground in no time, but it is also yummy, especially the young sprouts, and apparently has plenty of vitamin C, A and Bs. It can be cooked, but I prefer it raw, so here are a few ideas, in case you feel like weeding the garden too!

I made a smoothie with chickweed, feijoas and frozen banana (both the feijoas and banana also came from my garden) and some coconut water as a base. It tasted great and very healthy, similar to a smoothie with fruit and spinach. Ahhh but the satisfaction of having used a weed instead!!

Then, recovering a few salad leaves, and equal part (or more...) of chickweed, I had enough for a salad. I also added a few of the youngest leaves of nasturtium plus some flowers and buds, marigold petals and dianthus. This salad went straight into salad rolls, so it didn't need dressing, but if serving it as a side salad just add a little salt, lemon juice and olive oil.

And here another serving idea: bagel with nut cheese (or cream cheese) and weeds! Chickweed, wild cress and onion weed, all growing wildly in my backyard! So, if we really get into dire straits at least you can say that I taught you how to pick weeds and eat them! 🌱🌿

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©


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