Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Masala Dahl

My friend Mahendra Motibhai - Patel from Fiji gave me some masala powder. The package is great and the spice mixture smells highly aromatic and fresh. I love Indian food, I tried to make up a few recipes with the Motibhai masala, and I was particularly pleased with this one:

Yes, dahl is usually a soup and the lentils are small, but I had some green organic lentils which I wanted to use, and I was looking for a thicker consistency.

I sautéed for 30 seconds half tsp of turmeric and half tsp of cumin seeds with a little rice bran oil. Then I added a finely chopped onion and one tbsp of masala powder. Then the lentils, which had been rinsed, and then soaked for 30 minutes. I covered with water and added a big hot whole chili. After 30 minutes I added a little salt to taste and, just because I felt like it, a tbsp of butter. It was perfect, warm, fragrant, and mildly hot. 
Serve with basmati rice.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Honey from Earthbound

Thank you all for attending the Honey event hosted by Earthbound and the Oratia Farmers Market. We had a glorious day at the market, followed by a talk about beekeeping, honey and pollination by Karlene of Earthbound. After an educational Q & A we all enjoyed a honey tasting, salads with different honeygar dressings, a picnic, and good conversation. 
Thank you also to all the SFW members and friends who made and brought food to share, to Aldo di Cesare for the salads, and to Hanna of Mámor for her lovely handmade chocolates.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pinot Gris

Recently I visited Cracroft Chase, the winery of my friends Wilma and Alessandro Laryn. 
The vineyard is set in a picturesque cul-de-sac valley nestled at the foot of the Christchurch Port Hills, in New Zealand.

Alessandro and Wilma in their cellar.
 The grapes are processed in the onsite winery.

The label carries the name of the original landowners, the Cracroft-Wilson family, settlers who owned all of the Cashmere area in Christchurch as well as the hunting chase where the vineyard is located. In this way a little piece of New Zealand history is preserved. The label name Wood's Edge refers to the peculiar location of the vineyard. Alessandro and Wilma, who immigrated from Italy in 1996, own and manage the property.

Oh! A touch of Italy in the Canterbury countryside! 

You can see why it is called Wood's Edge....

Roses at the end or the trellis.

And some olive trees too...

Label: Cracroft Chase Vineyard - Wood's Edge 2006 Pinot Gris

Wine description: It displays ripe aromas of pears and stone fruit, with a hint of spice. A dry, mouth-filling wine with a long persistent finish. Alcohol: 14.0%
The bottles come with the sticker "RECOMMENDED BY WINESTATE MAGAZINE".

For more information visit www.cracroftchase.co.nz

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Article on Foraging

Check out the latest Dish Magazine (issue 23, April - May 2009) 
for my article on foraging!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

More Slow Food for Children

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

One more class in Ranui and once again the children were so keen and helpful. After picking fresh basil, oregano, tomatoes and green beans in the community gardens, the children made basil pesto and sautéed green beans with fresh garlic and tomato sauce.

Sautéed Green Beans with Tomatoes




Green beans, plenty

1 garlic clove

2 tbsp olive oil

A few fresh ripe tomatoes

Salt to taste

Fresh oregano (optional)


Wash then top and tail the green beans. Peel the garlic and sauté with the olive oil. Add the tomatoes, washed and chopped. After 5 minutes add the green beans and salt to taste. Stir often and add a little water if necessary. Simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the green beans change colour. Add fresh oregano and serve.

Pasta al Pesto




1-2 or more garlic cloves (to taste)

Plenty of fresh basil leaves

A pinch of salt

Nuts (optional)

Cheese (optional)

Olive oil, a few tablespoons


Salt for the water


Using a mortar and pestle pound the garlic, fresh basil, and a pinch of salt. If you like add pine nuts, walnuts or cashew nuts.

You can also add some parmesan cheese, or feta cheese for a creamier pesto. Add olive oil until the pesto is smooth.


Cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water. Drain the pasta and mix with pesto. Eat immediately.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

March 3, Happy Girls' Day

Photo by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Happy Hina-matsuri 雛祭り

These are my little girl's Japanese dolls (雛人形 hina-ningyō)
representing the Emperor and Empress.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Remarkable Sweet Shop

The original shop in Arrowtown

I bought several of these fudges...1000 calories just to look at them...but wow!!!

I didn't buy any candy....all too colourful for me, but great to look at!

Definitely worth a visit.

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini©


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