Sunday, March 27, 2016

Quince and kahikatea berry tart

The Kahikatea trees in the bush are full of berries, and birds are singing happily. The berries (koroī) are edible, but the trees are too high to climb for me, so I can only pick what falls on the forest floor. It takes time, but foraging runs in my veins, plus it is a good squatting exercise! After picking you need to wash the berries well and remove the hard blue seeds, another time consuming job! After all this you are left with an handful of berries so it is easy to understand why you don't see koroī jam around! In fact there are not many recipes with these berries, and this is my third one only (the other two are Flan with Kawakawa cream and Kahikatea berries, and Kahikatea Cupcakes

The berries don't have much taste so I added one tsp of sugar and a tbsp of lemon juice and I let them marinate overnight. They day after they were yummy and ready to put on cereals, but I preferred  making a tart. I use quinces from Oratia, in season now. I peeled two big quinces and cut them into slices. Then I melted 50 g of butter and two tbsp of sugar in a iron skillet and sautéd the quinces for two minutes. After that I added a small glass of grappa (I used this aged Prosecco Grappa by Bottega). As soon as you pour the grappa over the hot quinces the kitchen fills with a wonderful aroma and you could eat the quinces just like that, maybe with some ice cream on the side. After most of the liquid had evaporated I added 2 tsp of corn flour diluted with a little water to make a paste. I stirred well and positioned all the quince slices neatly on the bottom of the pan. Then I added the kahikatea berries, keeping just a few aside for decoration.

I cut a circle of puff pastry (I used Paneton) and fitted it over the fruit and then baked the lot until the pastry looked golden and puffy. Then I carefully reversed the pan over a serving plate and let the tart slip down (by itself) onto the plate. I added the remaining berries and took a few photos! The tart was very good, you don't have to use quinces, apples and pears are good too, and the berries are just a fancy addition, but what a satisfaction! Today I am going to ask the kids to do a bit of foraging for me, it is a good skill to learn after all, and since it is Easter Sunday in New Zealand, they will be excited after that other form of 'foraging' that happens here: the Easter eggs hunt! In fact here they are coming down now, I'll better go and enjoy this!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Wholemeal Penne with Borage, gorgonzola and walnuts - Penne integrali con borragine, gorgonzola e noci

Borage is a great plant, you can eat the flowers, stems and leaves, but I prefer to stick just to the top 10 cm of the plant, when the leaves are soft. Don't worry if they are prickly: this goes away with cooking.

For this dish:
Pick the fresh tips of borage flowers, with a few flowers and buds, plus tender leaves (but before they have seeds, these are quite hard!). Wash well, keep some flowers aside and then through the rest in a pot with a tbsp of butter. Sizzle, then add a little water and salt, cover and simmer until the greens are tender. In the meantime cook the wholemeal penne al dente. When the borage tips are cooked add a few walnut kernels and then a slice of gorgonzola or other blue cheese. Stir and melt the cheese, adding a little water from the cooking pasta from time to time to make a creamy sauce. Drain the pasta and toss in the sauce, decorate with borage flowers and serve.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, March 17, 2016

More healthy: smoothie: green, croquettes: baked!

Nothing beats a green green green smoothie! Kale, spinach, banana, frozen mango, and coconut water as a base.  The croquettes are zucchini (raw and grated) mixed with feta, eggs, herbs and bread (stale bread soaked and crushed) and instead of frying them, as I usually do, I just drizzled them with olive oil and place them in the oven. Turn over halfway through baking and add more oil in necessary, you will be happy for how good they taste, even if they are not fried!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Using vegetables from the garden, plus grissini

I love summer and the smell of my veggie garden! It is a bit like a jungle now and we are towards the end of the season so there are more weeds than veggies, but what a joy! One of the best things for me is to make minestrone soup with whatever I can pick on the day, even when it is hot (and then you can have it warm). And I am saving some for winter in some old ice cream containers. So funny, my boy opened the freezer the other day and was excited seeing boxes and boxes of ice cream, I felt a bit mean telling him what they actually contained...

Then I like to put veggies on focaccia and pizza, yellow and green zucchini slices look good and taste even better!

Ok, this is nothing to do with veggies, but it is so cool to make grissini, I just use some basic bread dough (500g high grade flour, 2 tbsp gluten flour, 300ml water, pinch of salt, brewer yeast and pinch of sugar), add a bit of olive oil and stretch out long grissini which I roll in polenta flour before baking.

And now for my flower Pinterest board: my pride and joy orchid, which gave me 14 flowers this time.
Happy weekend!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, March 4, 2016

Sushi with flowers

Here is an idea, just for variety, instead of rolling all the norimaki with seaweed leave some without and then stick on some flower petals (find out here what flowers you can eat here) I used impatiens here, not many people know that you can eat them, they taste a little like rocket salad.

And if rolling the sushi in petals is too hard you can always put the flowers on the top. Below vegan norimaki with fresh borage flowers and salted sakura (cherry blossoms). 

And here a couple of pics of the lovely black sand of Te Henga (Bethells beach)

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©


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