Saturday, March 28, 2015

Red beetroot soup with fresh goat cheese


Red beetroot soup with fresh goat cheese

This colourful soup is incredibly quick and simple to prepare, but the flavour (and look) is almost restaurant-like, and everyone will ask you for the recipe!

1 celery stick with leaves
half onion
half carrot
1 l light vegetable stock
one pack LeaderBrand beetroot
fresh goat cheese to serve
freshly ground pepper (optional)

Serves 4 - Gluten free - Vegetarian

Put the celery stick (cut), half a onion and half a carrot in a pot with the vegetable stock and simmer until the carrot is almost soft (about 10 minutes from boiling point). Add one pack LeaderBrand beetroot and simmer for 5 more minutes, then turn the heat off and let the vegetables and stock cool down until lukewarm. Blend the soup in a blender and pour back into the pot, heat gently and dish. Top with a broken-up slice of fresh goat cheese, adding freshly ground pepper if desired.

I am entering this recipe into the LeaderBrand ready-to-serve beetroot special competition, dedicated purely to the taste and versatility of one of New Zealand’s favourite vegetables. 

The winner will receive a bumper prize pack containing 5x packs of the LeaderBrand ready-to-serve beetroot, 5x packs of ready-to-serve gourmet potatoes and 5x packs of ready-to-serve sweetcorn. On top of that, the winner will receive a $300 New World voucher and $200 worth of cooking equipment from Stevens. Two runners-up will receive smaller gift packs, containing the ready-to-serve produce and some other delicious surprise foodie treats.

Well, I hope to win so wish me good luck! And good luck to all other food bloggers taking part!
How to enter:
All you have to do is concoct a recipe that showcases New Zealand beetroot. It couldn’t be easier! You can email the link to or pop a link up on the LeaderBrand Facebook Page  
Entries will open 5pm on Friday 20 March and close 5pm on Monday 13 April 2015.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Chinese broccolini (Kai Lan) with fried tofu and noodles, and some photos of Bangkok

A quick one bowl dinner with only three main ingredients and a few seasonings.

The main ingredients are was to find in most Asian stores: fresh noodles, fried tofu and some kai lan (Chinese broccolini). As an alternative you can use regular broccolini or any green vegetable (bok choy or kale, for example). Wash the broccolini, heat one or two tbsp of vegetable oil and a few drops of sesame oil in a pan or wok, add the broccolini and sauté quickly then add some soy sauce (one or two tbsp) and cover for one minute. Add the tofu and (optional) 1 tbsp of lemon juice. Personally I love tofu with soy sauce and lemon! Add the noodles and stir well, cover and simmer on low for a minute or two. Done!

And to stay in Asian team, here are some photos of our recent stop over in Bangkok. We only stayed one day and one night so no much touring, just relaxing between flights, and I have plenty of other photos of Thailand here. But still, cannot resist going everywhere with my iPhone camera!

sing inside an elevator (lift)





another shrine

Vegan food

more vegan food

beautifully cut fruit

what a masterpiece!


Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, March 20, 2015

Italian Hazelnut cream chocolates - 2 ingredients

Impress your guests with homemade chocolates! They are easy to make and You need only two ingredients to make these chocolates: some dark chocolate (your favourite, I like to use over 70% dark) and some Italian hazelnut paste, I got mine in Auckland from Italian Foodies.

Step 1
Melt the chocolate at bain Marie and line the chocolate moulds (I used silicone moulds). For each mould you will probably need about 1 or 2 tsp of chocolate, let it run to cover the bottom and sides of the moulds and then place the mould in the fridge IMMEDIATELY so that the chocolate sets quickly (you don't want it to roll down the sides and just fill the bottom of the moulds). Use only half of the chocolate, leave the rest in the bowl and keep warm (so it won't solidify). 

Step 2
After 15 or 20 remove the moulds from the fridge and fill with the hazelnut paste, then cover with the remaining melted chocolate. Refrigerate.

Step 3
Before serving remove from ridge, tip the chocolates out of the moulds and serve. Better to store in the fridge if it is a hot day.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Homemade mascarpone with Tawari honey, pistachio and dried strawberries for 2015 National Honey Week

Dear Food Bloggers,

Some of you might have seen the recent announcement launching New Zealand’s second National Honey Week, which is taking take place from 16 – 23 March 2015. It is an initiative that has been cooked up to raise awareness and support New Zealand’s unique honey varieties and to encourage more Kiwis to include it in their diets.

Airborne Honey, the country’s oldest honey brand, is leading 2015 National Honey Week. A number of promotions and initiatives have been planned to help New Zealanders take part in the celebrations. Among other activities, public tastings in supermarkets around the country this National Honey Week will give Kiwis the opportunity to taste the nine main varieties of New Zealand single flower honey types – Kamahi, Clover, Rata, Manuka, Honeydew, Vipers Bugloss, Rewarewa, Tawari and Thyme.

How to enter:
All you have to do is concoct a recipe that showcases New Zealand honey. It couldn’t be easier. The Airborne Honey team will be judging the recipes.
When you write your blog post, if you could also mention that it is a National Honey Week recipe that would be great, as it’ll mean we won’t miss your post when we’re collecting entries. You can also email the link to Rachel Bradshaw at  
Entries are open now and will close at 5pm on Monday 30 March 2015. The winner will receive a bumper pack of New Zealand honey varieties and $350 in Restaurant Association of New Zealand vouchers for a slap up meal out. Three runners-up will also receive smaller honey pack prizes.
Best of luck and have some fun with National Honey Week! If you have any thoughts or questions, please feel free to email Rachel Bradshaw at   And here is my entry:

Homemade mascarpone with Tawari honey, pistachio and dried strawberries

Making mascarpone at home is one of my favourite occupations these days! A part from the 'magic' of it, and the resemblance to a chemistry experiment (I made this with Max, actually, he made it with me in the background giving instructions and liked doing it!) it is also so much cheaper, fresh and delicious that the one you buy! 

For the mascarpone recipe just click here, it is easier that you may think! When the mascarpone is ready just add a tbsp of honey (I used Airborne Tawari Honey) and fold. Divide the mascarpone into 4 cups and it is ready to be eaten or topped with what you fancy. 

For this recipe I just toasted a few pistachios in a pan, then I rub them with a tea towel to take away loose skins and chopped them coarsely. Then I also added some Fresh As dried strawberries, crunchy and full of flavour and aroma. A simple dessert that everyone loved!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Flower fritters

My kids go crazy for these! Only three ingredients

Ingredients: edible flowers
 (I used zucchini flowers and borage flowers - but any edible flower will do)
tempura flour
oil for frying

Clean and wash the flowers. Mix the tempura flour with cold water to make a batter, then add the flowers. Spoon into hot oil and pan fry on both sides until the fritters are golden. Serve hot.

And this is my cat Marameo sleeping on the trampoline (I am glad someone is using it!). She is 18 years old now, poor old cat, so sweet but a bit senile, she is shrinking too, and becoming a bit like a kitten, sleeps a lot and demands lots of attention. But she is sweet! The cats are the only ones eating meat in the household, and so far they have been on a raw meat diet, but in the last week I started 'cooking' meat for them (especially Marameo) as they didn't seem to appreciate too much their raw food. When I say cooking I just mean boiling, just boil pieces of beef or chicken, and then give them to them (and the stock too). Personally I find it disgusting, the smell is horrible, but they love it! Do you have any experience of your pets preferring cooked meat to raw meat?

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©


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