Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Eggplant, tomato and mozzarella

I could almost call these mini parmigiana, but there is no Parmesan, so I am not quite sure. Still, same principle, but they are little individual portions, and they look quite good for a party, entree or fancy dinner.

Slice the eggplants and 'sweat' with salt for at least an hour. Rinse and pat dry. At this stage you can either fry the eggplant slices (with olive oil) or grill/bake them. If you fry them they are tastier, but a bit greasy (remove excess oil with kitchen paper) and it does take time! If you decide to grill them or bake them just put them on a baking tray lined with kitchen paper, brush with olive oil and add a pinch of salt. Place under the grill or in fan oven at 180°C until they look cooked on one side, turn them over and cook them on the other side. The grill is quicker, the oven tends to dry them up, so when I turn them I also cover them with more baking paper so that they keep some 'steam'. I prefer the baking method but for special occasions I fry!! Once you have your cooked eggplants add a little Italian tomato passata sauce on top, and a bit of mozzarella (I got mine from Massimiliano il Casaro). Place back in the oven until the mozzarella starts to melt. Serve individually or stack two together (like I did). Top with fresh basil, or fresh thyme or oregano (I used thyme). Eat hot or warm. I had them cold too, ok but not as good as hot! Variations are endless, and they look like mini pizzas, but without the dough!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mango and banana ice-cream, only two ingredients, again!

Now I don't know which one tastes better: this one, or the berry-banana ice cream? Same principle again, but I used some Indian canned mango puree (this is sweetened, so I cannot say that this ice cream is actually 100% sugar free, but if you have fresh soft mangos they would be perfect too!). I sliced two bananas and froze them (keeping the slices separated by kitchen paper, so they didn't freeze together), I also froze about one cup of mango puree, directly inside the white container for my upright blender (this container has become my new instant ice cream machine, perfect dose for 4!). Then I added the frozen banana slices, blended everything, and this was the result! I think that you can guess how good it tasted just by looking at it! And once again, two ingredients, vegan, and very creamy!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The easiest sorbet ever, almost an ice cream in fact, but vegan, sugar free, gluten free, basically just two ingredients!

This is so easy and simple that I wasn't even sure if it was worth publishing, but then the other day I was reading this post from Sue and I though yeah, why not! I have been making instant frozen berries sorbet for years, but at first I used to make it with the frozen berries blended with a little sugar. It was good, maybe a bit watery, but good. I also tried with yogurt, but still needed sugar. But then I tried to add a banana, and I never turned back! A banana makes the sorbet creamy like an ice cream, and you don't need any sugar! I made it a few times and then the other day I discovered frozen banana slices, and for this I have to thank Sue. Yes yes of course I heard about froze banana before, but the way Sue made her ice cream was inspiring and really made me think that maybe frozen banana slices were what I needed all along to 'upgrade' my recipe!

And yes, I can confirm that it is better to use frozen bananas! The sorbet/ice cream stays 'frozen' for longer, and it tastes amazing.

So, all you need is one big banana, cut it into slices and freeze it (try to keep the slices separate, do not freeze it as a block!). The put the slices into a container, add about one cup of mixed frozen berries, (or just frozen raspberries, or blueberries... your choice) and blend with an immersion blender. This is the result. It looks like an ice cream, taste like and ice cream, and can be eaten immediately. 

So thank you Sue, here is another entry for Sweet New Zealand!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Win a flight to Italy and other wonderful prizes at the Italian Festival

Photo by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Ok, I know that I haven't been posting too many recipes recently, please forgive me, but the Italian Festival preparations are taking up all of my spare time now (and a bit more than that actually). But it is going to be a great day, and a chance for all the Italians in Auckland to get together, and all the Kiwis to live like an Italian for a day. And if you live in Auckland please come along, info in the poster below.

In occasion of the Festival Italiano the Dante Alighieri Society is also raising money for the Italian School for children (open to all children who wish to learn Italian, regardless of their ethnic background). The Dante is a non-profit registered charity, totally self-founded, and aims to keep the cost of the children classes really low. To help paying for tutoring and buying material raffle tickets will be on sale at the Festival, and you can also buy them at the Dante rooms in Freemans Bay community centre from Monday 15 October, 1 for $5 or 5 tickets for $20. And yes, I am selling them too, remind me if you meet me in the street! Only 3000 tickets printed, so more chances to win. 

Thank you to our generous sponsors this year's prizes are:

First Prize: $2000 voucher from STA Travel

 Second Prize: $200 (4 x $50) restaurant vouchers from Gina's 

Third Prize: One bottle of Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena valued at $180 from Aceto Downunder

Fourth Prize: one $150 gourmet hamper from Sabato

Fifth Prize: $50 worth of Giapo ice cream (5 x $10 vouchers)

Prize draw at the Festival Italiano, 28 October 2012, 3:30pm.
Winners, if not present at the draw, will be notified by telephone.

Thank you for supporting the Dante Italian school for children, and 
Buona Fortuna!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Frankfurt Book Fair, a few photos

Very happy to have my book Party Food for Girls at the Frankfurt Book Fair (did you know that New Zealand is the guest of honor?). Here is a photo with New Holland Publishers NZ MD Belinda Cooke (Belinda you look radiant!)...

And here is a photo of Peter in front of our stand, Oratia Media / Libro International.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A present

A present from Harriet, from her chucks, from Spring. 
Aren't they beautiful?
 Just perfect, 
they look like Italian Confetti (sugar almonds). 

Have a wonderful day!
(or night...)

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Manu Harre Art Exhibition in the West

The other day I went to the art exhibition of friend and local Westie Manu Harre. Manu is really talented, and the exhibition was at the Harre family house in Oratia, in the old dining shed. Somehow it all blended in so well, Manu's inspiring art work, the old settlers' buildings all around (with all the original fittings!), and the fact that there is no place in Auckland that can actually beat the West when you are looking for an art experience like this one. Thank you Manu!

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, October 8, 2012

Spinach and feta polpettine


Olive oil for frying
thyme (optional)

Wash and cook a big bunch of spinach, then chop as finely as you can/wish. Place in a bowl and add some feta (about 100 g for each bunch of spinach), one egg and as much breadcrumbs as you need to make a mixture that can be shaped into small walnut size balls. Pan fry in olive oil turning them often until cooked. Place on some kitchen paper lined with fresh thyme (if using) to remove excess oil and give the polpettine a hint of thyme flavor. Serve hot, or even cold. My kids love them!

I am also adding a couple of photos of my Italian Thursday night class, finally we managed to make pasta in this class, I think they liked it more that grammar...

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, October 7, 2012

On the Slow Food Waitakere blog....

We have a new writer on the Slow Food Waitakere blog, Clinton George, I love his post about the latest event: Modern Japanese Cooking Class. Check it out by clicking here, Clinton wrote the recipes too (so efficient!) and I love the way he manages to use his iPad and make all these handwritten notes :-).

Photos and images Clinton George ©

Friday, October 5, 2012

Are you in Auckland? Spot this bus and win an Italian prize!

There are two Metrolink busses with a big tomato running through Central Auckland these days.
If you spot one, take a photo and post it on the Dante FB group for the chance to win a prize! (Prize to be announced later on in the month of October, on the Dante blog). 

Keep your eyes peeled, and good luck!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Out now!

Happy mid-week to everyone! Yesterday I got my copy of Little Treasurers Magazine in the mail, and I have read most of it already! Even if my children are a bit older I found a lot of informative articles, and I really like the design of the magazine, I felt honoured to be in it!

If you live in New Zealand, and have children, check it out: for this issue I made polenta lasagne, macaroni cheese with vegetables, potato and eggplant moussaka, miniature baked pasta crockpots, apple and sultana crumble (and sugar free apple and sultana baby food) and silver beet with a creamy sauce.


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