Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Banana breakfast cake for Sweet New Zealand

It is so cold that all the bananas in the market turned black, and the stall holder gave me a bunch for free, so I made a dairy free banana cake for breakfast.


4 ripe bananas
Juice of one lemon
100 g icing sugar + some for dusting
1 pinch ground cinnamon
100 ml vegetable oil
2 eggs
200 g self rising flour

Mash the bananas with the lemon juice, add the rest of the ingredients (in the order given above) and mix well. Grease a cake mould and pour the cake mixture in, bake at 180°C for approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Reverse onto a serving plate (I used my Mum's cameo plate), dust with icing sugar and serve. We have this for breakfast with caffellatte.

Photo and Recipe by Alessandra Zecchini ©

This recipe is for the monthly blogging event Sweet New Zealand, this December hosted by Bron Marshall.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Almost Christmas in Feltre, Italy

We are in Italy, in Feltre, getting ready for a mountain Xmas. Decorations in the streets are really subtle,  mostly pine branches, fairy lights, and Christmas trees outdoors, in the gardens, balconies or squares, that light up at night. My Mum put a few decorations on the doors, and we made one too with the little red lanterns that we got in Singapore.

Feltre Winter Bliss: hot chocolate and caramelized fruit from Sommariva (above) and winter vegetables and citrus fruit from the market this morning (below).

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

I would like to wish you all the best for Xmas and New Year, I will try to visit you to send you my greetings, but as I have little internet connection these days it may take me a long time to get to all your blogs... still, you are in my thoughts, have fun and have a good time!


Artwork by Arantxa Zecchini Dowling ©

Thursday, December 22, 2011

More vegetarian (and vegan) food in Singapore

One of the best places to eat for vegetarians in Singapore is Waterloo St.: this area is full of temples, Buddhist shops and vegetarian restaurants and grocery stores. All of the food I tried here is also suitable for vegans, since there are no dairy products and eggs in traditional Vegetarian Chinese cuisine.

The dishes are quite interesting, lots of tofu and gluten dishes (first left below is lemon 'chicken' - chicken made with gluten), and there is a Japanese vegetarian restaurant called Herbivore where they make vegan sushi that looks like fish! In the food courts the kids kept going for Indian, their favourite, but I tried Pandan cuisine, (Indonesian and quite spicy), they didn't have lots of vegetarian options but enough to fill a plate with rice, tofu and vegetables). 

I also suggest that you try kaya, the coconut curd/jam, but remember that this has egg in it (and it is very sweet!)

Kaya is the typical Singapore breakfast, served with buttered toast, boiled eggs on the side, and coffee. It is green because it contain pandan fruit.

Last photo: my friend Marcella, a talented designer and silversmith, made me this beautiful necklace with black river pearls and a silver pendant with an Amethyst. Isn't it beautiful!!!

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fish Spa in Singapore

Yesterday's new experience was to try to be fish food! There are these Spas around Singapore that offer a special fish spa experience: you put your feet inside big fish tanks and all the little fish rush around to chomp off your dead skin. It doesn't hurt, of course, but at first it is quite strange, as it may tickle! It lasts 30 minutes, the kids loved it and laughed all the time, and since we were the only customers there they moved around different tanks to make sure that they feed every single fish! I stayed still in my initial spot, I didn't want to deprive the fishes that had started working on my feet of their morning feed, I even kept my position when I realize that my tank was in the shop window and passers by could see my feet through the glass! Two small children stopped and observed the strange aquarium for a while, but most passers by didn't even notice.  Anyway, I recommend the experience, the fish spa is called Kenko and there are 6 around the city, we went to the 313 Orchard Rd Shopping centre (Tel. 6509 0303).

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, December 19, 2011

First images from Singapore

I have been to Singapore many times, sometimes for work, and others because it is en-route to many other destinations. I have blogged about Singapore before and if you are a Vegetarian you could click this one, or if you like just to look at a few quick and colourful pics, click here.

I really like this city, it changes all the time with new buildings and gardens popping up, and changing the skyline! I have uploaded the first photos, just a few, it is raining cats and dogs here too!

Food: mostly eating at home with our friends, and in food courts (Vegetarian Indian being a favourite). We tried a new fruit: Salak (snake skin fruit) from Indonesia, but nothing special. Maybe I will have time to post more tomorrow :-).

From top left clockwise: macaroons, Indian vegetarian from the food court, and Salak, snake skin fruit

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, December 17, 2011

So much rain

It rained and rained and rained, but Friday there were a few moments of sun and I went into the garden to take some photos to show to my Mother. Well, she will be impressed to see that the garden looks so 'tropical'!! Everything is growing like mad and need a good pruning, but it also looks luscious! 

The pink Datura (right) and the yellow Australian Frangipani (top left) smell delicious, pity that we lost so many flowers with the rain. We also had many Alstroemeria flowers for cutting, I am training myself to bring more flowers from the garden into the house, the Alstroemeria is fantastic for this, sometimes it lasts for up to two weeks in a vase!

 In the box below, potted blueberries (left), and on the right some blue and purple flower, I only know the chive flowers in the centre, the other I didn't even plant and they grow in the most shaded part of the garden. If you know what they are let me know.

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

I love playing with the iPhone, and Camera +, and I discovered that I can create interesting patterns and designs for textiles and paper with photos from my garden. This reminds me a little of William Morris... now Arantxa has the iPhone, I look forward to see what she will be creating. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's getting closer....

Christmas is getting closer, and greeting cards are piling up! Today I received this one from my publisher, and they used a photo from the book Party Food for Girls! They told me that they did ask the photographer first, but not me, as they wanted to surprise me :-). It was a lovely surprise!

From my part, I remember when I was young and made all my cards by hand... now the big bulk comes from various charities, and I only make a few because I just don't have the time. This year I made some with little painted cakes, first with watercolour, then with ink, and to finish gold sealing wax and my Z.A. stamp.

Last Italian class too, my students came in with lots of yummy food, and Linda made this potent little number from my blog, so we were all very merry!
Off to do some more packing for tomorrow, first stop: Singapore!!!

Ah, and this is my 500 post!!!
Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Carote al Burro, and Max is Dux!

It is Black and White Wednesday, organized by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook. Today's photo is Martina preparing carote al burro (carrots in butter).

But I have more news: today we went to Oratia District School Prizegiving, and Max is the 2011 Dux!!!  Plus he won his class friendliness award (voted by his classmates). I am so happy (and proud :-) that I just wanted to share the news with you! 

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

PPP Panettone Pinguino Pao!

If you live in Italy (especially in Milan) you may be familiar with Pao, the cute penguin created by artist Paolo Bordino. Last year I posted a few photos about a Milan Christmas tram decorated by Paolo with the penguin Pao for Motta, and the other day I saw this great image on Paolo's FB wall, and I asked him to use it: a panettone iced like Pao! The author is Tiziana Amitrano.

Thank you Tiziana and Paolo for letting me use the image, and Merry Xmas Pao!!!

PPP is just because yesterday's post was a TTT...

Photos by Tiziana Amitrano ©

Monday, December 12, 2011

TTT: Taiwanese Tofu with Tomato

Ok, the TTT name is my invention, but the recipe is really Taiwanese. Several years ago I had a Taiwanese baby-sitter, she was also vegetarian (in Taiwan there is a strong vegetarian Buddhist tradition) and she didn't cook with garlic, onion, chives and leeks (this is the old Buddhist tradition). She taught me a lot of recipes... no, not recipes, maybe I should say 'ways of cooking'.

This recipe is so basic that I almost thought of not putting it on the blog, but the fact is that it is quite amazing!! In my Italian brain I never thought of combining tomatoes with tofu and soy sauce this way, it didn't feel right, and I was quite skeptical when she showed it to me. And then I tasted it: WOWOWOW, it works!

And not only it works, the kids love it, and it is so easy and quick... and in a way it feels so ... ethical!
Yes, just a few low cost ingredients, not much time or energy needed, and lots of proteins.

I usually used some red ripe tomatoes, but I had some ripe little orange tomatoes to finish, and so they went: cut and placed into the frying pan/wok/pot with a little vegetable oil (olive oil works well) and a small pinch of salt. Of course you could also add garlic, but the original recipe, as I said before, doesn't allow for allium of any type. Cook on high, stirring constantly, when the tomatoes start to mush into a sauce add the cubed tofu, stir and then add one or two tbs of soy sauce (I use only Japanese soy sauce, Kikkoman or Yamasa) and stir until the tofu is really hot (a couple of minutes only). Top with fresh chopped coriander if you like, and serve immediately with rice or noodles.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Terra Madre Day in New Zealand

Today a few members from Slow Food Waitakere met at the local Oratia Farmers Market to celebrate Terra Madre. We raised the Terra Madre and Slow Food flags at the stall or Terra Madre delegates Terry and Karlene Shaw-Toomey (Earthbound Honey) and talked about ideas for the next TM meeting next year, and projects for our convivium. 

We choose the local farmers market because Terra Madre celebrations are about eating good, clean and fair local food, and to support our local producers. Participants received a small eco wooden dinner set and moved on to buy and eat food from the market.

Our sister convivium Slow Food Te Hiku had an impressive kai (feed) of local food, including lots of kaimoana (seafood). Ka rawe Te Hiku, nga mihi nui ki a koutou mo tenei Ra Terra Madre!
Photos by Alessandra Zecchini and Yvonne Johns ©

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sweet Christmas Links

These recipes/ideas are all suitable for Christmas, take your pick and tell me what you like (or not).

Classic Christmas

From top left clockwise: 

Small Treats

From top left clockwise: 

Christmas 'Shapes'

From top left clockwise:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chocolate and Zucchini

Photo by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Today is Black and White Wednesday, organized by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook
The title for this shot is Chocolate and Zucchini. Thank you Susan, and sorry for missing it last week, I was too busy, my three photo shoots became four and it is a bit of a crazy time of the year!!

For Kiwi bloggers: a little bit of housekeeping for Sweet New Zealand: hey, it is going really well!!! I discovered a lot of new bloggers, and sweet treats! Also, we have hosts until April, and I decided to make a note of their names in the Sweet New Zealand page of this blog so that we all know who is doing what and when. Please let me know if you like to book a month to host the event, or if you have any comments/suggestions. Thank you!


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