Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Rose Cordial, step by step

If you have roses in your garden, and they have not been sprayed (organic) you can make your own rose cordial, beautiful and pink! The recipe is the same as for the elderberry flower syrup.

For this you will need 1 l of water, 1 kg of sugar, organic rose petals (at least 1 cup full, but the more the better), 30 g of citric acid and 3 organic lemons. Wash and cut the lemons and put them in a pot with all the other ingredients (or in a large jar, if you have it). Let this mixture stand for three days, stirring from time to time. Don't go over three days or it may ferment. 

After this time filter the syrup through a muslin cloth, squeezing the lemons and flowers well. 

Boil the filtered syrup for 5 minutes, removing any possible scam forming at the top. Cool down and filter again, through a finer cotton cloth this time (I do this in a funnel directly over the bottles. Use as a cordial for water, or as a syrup for cakes and desserts.

 Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Strawberry and Banana ice-cream: sugar free, gluten free, raw and vegan

You just need two ingredients: 2-3 bananas, sliced and frozen, and 2 punnets of strawberries, cut and frozen. It is actually better if both the banana and strawberries are quite ripe - jam quality!

Freeze the fruit for a few hours (one day is better) then put in the food processor and blend. Eat immediately. Healthy and yummy!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, December 27, 2013

Breaking the cookie house...

This was the Cookie House, broken and eaten on Boxing Day (and the day after…) by three enthusiastic kids. It tasted lovely, of cinnamon and vanilla with a hint of peppermint near the windows.
And what did you do on Boxing Day?

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Carrot Sweets

I often make carrot juice and I have lots of carrot pulp left over, so I decided to make some little sweets with a few Christmas flavours. These came out really well, moist and soft. I started with 1 kg of organic carrots, drunk the juice (it makes approx. 500ml of juice) and use the leftover pulp (approx. 400 g, when removing the bigger bits of carrots that didn't get pulped - eat those as they are, they are too big for baking).

1 kg organic carrots
120 g butter
3 eggs
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
100 g self rising flour
50 g mixed citrus peels
icing sugar to dust

Wash and brush the carrots well, then juice (and drink the juice). If you use organic carrots you don't need to peel them. Keep the leftover carrot pulp (approx 400 g) aside. Melt the butter. In the meantime mix the eggs with the sugar with an electric beater. 

Add the melted butter, spices, flour and citrus peels. Fold in the carrot pulp (it is quite dry, but finer that grated carrots). I made two different shapes: I spoon some mixture in cupcake cases, and shaped some little cones with the remaining mixture and placed them on a baking tray lined with baking paper. The cones were better in my opinion, so if you you have time follow this method. Bake at 180°C for 25 minutes, or until the bottom of the cones look done and detach well from the baking paper. The sweets in the cupcake cases needed a bit longer to cook (next time I'll just make the cones!). Let them cool down then sprinkle with icing sugar. I hope that you will enjoy them as much as I did!
Happy Holidays!

Sunflowers from Kate, Liz and Jan, thank you guys!!
Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas tree, cookie house and sweet Christmas display (mostly homemade)

For me Christmas is a chance to express creativity, make things by hand, bake, ice, decorate and fill the house with a festive display. 

This is my little coffee table tree, all the decorations are made with paper and rolling icing (fondant).
You can find the step by step instructions here.

And this is the big tree, the main colour is white with a touch of red (with South Tyrol/Scandinavian motifs).
I change the design of my tree every year, and this is possible when you make your own decorations to complements what you may already have at home. 

A few decorations have been collected over the years, they are made of wood, felt, porcelain and cotton - no plastic,
but most are paper (just use paper doilies, they fill up the tree nicely and are so pretty and inexpensive) and
white sugar decorations, once again made with rolling icing (fondant).
Click here and here for instructions to make your own.

Lots of reindeers, hearts and stars.

Click here for more homemade Xmas ideas from past years.
This is the sweet table, all white and gold. Christmas decorations which have not been used on the tree are piled in crystal bowl and glasses around the house.  The doilies are real (not paper) come from Italy, some where made by my Mum.
There are cookies made by the kids
Carrot Christmas pastries (so yummy, I'll try to post the recipe for these tomorrow)
Homemade Panforte (recipe here)
And the sweet things that didn't fit in the other plates!
But of course the cutest display of all is the cookie house!
The pattern is my own and comes from my book Party Food for Girls. I call it cookie house because it is not a gingerbread house, but much easier, made with frozen sweet crust pastry. 
Of course I made it with Arantxa (more fun!) and with a few variations: we cut holes for the door
 and windows, and in each window we put a little mint (Golia active plus - blue Italian mints)
 to make the glass. The mints melt while the biscuits bake, and then harden again.
Arantxa also wanted to sprinkle some cinnamon on the biscuit for a sweet smell and rustic look.
The house was assembled and decorated with royal icing made with egg white, hot sugar syrup,
vanilla icing sugar and cornstarch. Max made the snowman with white fondant.
The back of the house
Merry Christmas to all!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Chocolate, strawberries and cream pudding

This dessert has three layers, and the first is a velvety chocolate pudding made with 3 egg yolks, 3 tbsp of sugar, 500 mil of full cream milk and plenty of Peruvian cooking chocolate (milk or dark, I used milk here). I didn't measure the chocolate, but you should go by taste, not everybody likes really intense chocolate! Mix the egg yolks with the sugar and beat well, then put on bain marie (double boiling) and simmer slowly, adding the milk little by little. Use top milk, otherwise use 400ml milk and 100 ml cream. Stir until the mixture thickens (it takes a long time!) then add the chocolate and melt. Pour into glasses and set aside to cool. Refrigerate for a few hours. In the meantime clean and hull the strawberries and cut into small pieces. Add a tsp of sugar and one of lemon juice and set aside for a few hours. Before serving top the chocolate with the strawberries and finally with whipped cream. Decorate with edible flowers (I used borage).

This recipe is for Sweet New Zealand, the monthly blogging event for Kiwi bloggers. Our December 2013 host is Alice in Bakingland, click here to enter. I still looking for a host for January 2014 (and the following months) so if you are a Kiwi blogger and you are keen to host please leave me a message.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Asparagus with pistachio and Feta

Also tried with halloumi and with quinoa, very good combos! Just wash the asparagus and cut off the hardest bit at the end. Heat a couple of tbsp of olive oil in a pan, add a garlic clove, peeled and cut into two, and then the asparagus. Sizzle for a minute or two, stirring, then cover with a lid and turn the heat off. The asparagus will cook in their own steam. Uncover, add a tbsp of crushed pistachio nuts and cubed feta. If using halloumi, cube it first then sizzle with the garlic and olive oil, remove, add the asparagus and cook as before. Add the halloumi back at the end with the pistachio. Serve on a plate of quinoa.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, December 16, 2013

Finto Pesce (fake fish)

When I brought this plate to the table everybody laughed, and it is a fun recipe! Finto pesce means fake fish, the original recipe is a kind of pate made with potatoes, mayonnaise, capers and canned tuna (I think very 1960s!). My Mother made it, we lived in the mountains far from the sea, so fish was rare (and frozen or canned). Of course being a vegetarian I don't use tuna for this recipe, but seaweed.

Brush and wash (but don't peel) 1 kg of mashing potatoes, then peel them and pass them through a potato ricer. Add a tbsp of capers, some nori seaweed, shredded, and a few tbsp of mayonnaise (to taste). Mix well. Shape into a fish and decorate with veggies and more nori ( I cut my nori with a flower cutter). Perfect for summer, and for kids!

Do you have a dish that makes everyone laugh?

A walk in my garden>

First harvest: radishes! 


Mixed salad leaves

Zucchini and borage flowers (to fry). Hopefully tomorrow I will have zucchini too!

More flowers and ferns in the bush

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, December 13, 2013

Royal icing Christmas decorations

I made some royal icing (or fondant) decorations last year and they still look good. This is a good and inexpensive way to make your own beautiful decorations, and very little skill is required (just a few cookie cutters!). Last year my decorations were all white (I had a all-white Xmas tree). But this year my main tree is white with a touch of red and a South Tyrol/Scandinavian look (lots of reindeers and Alpine motifs), so I also made a few red decorations, and painted some of the white ones with red reinders (you can use a craft stamp for the outlines and a little red jam diluted with water and a fine paintbrush). I also made a little tree with royal icing white and green decorations, I will post some photos in the next few days. In the meantime if you like you can find out how to make royal icing decorations by clicking here, or here.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Fondant Xmas tree decorations, step by step

And the twinkle gif version, courtesy of Google (thank you!!)

These cute Xmas trees are made out of green fondant, I had a pack but I don't really use it (i.e. eat it) so I thought of making little Xmas tree decorations.

Roll the fondant, use corn flour so it doesn't stick to the table and rolling pin.

Cut using cookie cutters.

Make a hole for the ribbon/string (so that you can attach it to your tree). I made the holes using a small pastry nozzle. 

Decorate as you like. Tomorrow I will show you some more fondant decorations (white and red), my tree is looking very sweet this year!

Although this is not a recipe but an idea, it is sweet, so I am entering it in Sweet New Zealand, the monthly blogging event for Kiwi bloggers. Our December 2013 host is Alice in Bakingland, click here to enter. 

Flowers from my garden

Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©


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