Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Caprese with three types of tomatoes and two types of basil

The weather has been strange, one moment sunny and then rainy again, and I needed a colouful salad to keep me happy! So here is a Caprese with bocconcini, and I used cherry tomatoes, beef tomatoes and yellow tomatoes, plus green basil and purple basil. And a few very young leaves of cavolo nero from the garden :-). Drizzle with olive oil, add a pinch of salt, and the sun is shining!

I have prepared my reading deck, with flowers and all...

And cut the lavender to dry for scented sachets… but now it is raining again… never mind! Spring in Auckland!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Pea, onion weed and feta dip, and butter peas with onion weed, again!

Spring recipe for New Zealand! Personally I find frozen peas a bit boring, but I love the colour, plus the frozen ones are so cheap, and if you add some onion weeds, which are free, and a little butter and salt, you have a quick and delicious side veggie. Plus you can use the leftovers to make a low cost dip just by adding a little feta. 

For the peas, just clean and chop the onion weed (bulbs, stem and leaves, leave the flowers aside for decorations, they can be eaten too!). Melt a dollop of butter and add the chopped onion weeds, then add the frozen peas (don't boil the first, it is not necessary) and a little salt. Stir, cover and simmer (add a tiny bit of water when needed, but never too much). Enjoy!! 

With the leftover peas, just blend them with some feta and some of the brine from the feta (if you feta has no brine use a little water). Add more raw onion weed if you like a stronger taste. Super yummy on bread and crostini, with chips, eggs, salads or as a spread.

And now a photo of my cat Nikita

And of my garden! Happy weekend!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Easiest pavlova recipe ever!

Personally I am not a great fan of pavlovas, but they are so easy to make and a good way to use egg whites, so once or twice a year a make one. This is my easiest recipe so far.

3 egg whites 
1 pinch of salt
1 tbsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
200g white sugar

Start the evening before.

The most important ingredient is egg whites, use free range and possibly organic eggs for egg whites that have lots of proteins and beat into perfect standing peaks! Start beating the egg whites at high speed with a pinch of salt. Add the vinegar, then the cream of tartar, then the sugar (I add this in three-four goes, but quickly). Don't need to use caster sugar if you are beating at high speed and if the egg whites are really stiff. Sometimes I forget the cream of tartar so I add it after the sugar, nothing has ever happened. Some people add vanilla, but I like pavlova to smell and taste of meringue, not of vanilla! The vinegar takes away that eggy edge, in case you are worried.

Heat the oven at 200°C or more. It has to be really hot!

Scoop the meringue onto a oven tray lined with baking paper, making a circle. I don't like to pipe the meringue, I prefer the 'spatula' look on a pavlova. Place at the centre of the oven then turn the oven off immediately. Leave overnight and don't open the door (oven door, I mean, you can open the other doors in the house!). 

The day after take your pavlova out and decorate with cream before serving, and with the fruit you like best. I even used my homemade cherries in cognac, they work very well as they are not sweet and very alcoholic and go well with the very sweet taste of the meringue.

And if you are into flowers, well, pansies and violets are edible too, and ever so pretty! These are from my garden, they make every dessert, even the simplest, look beautiful!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Soft tofu and avocado sashimi served on homemade disposable bamboo dishers made with bamboo leaf sheath

There is no much to this dish really, just soft tofu with grated ginger and avocado (add wasabi and say sauce) plus some pickles, mostly bought except for the cucumber (recipe here).

The exciting thing for me here are the bamboo platters! I have some bamboo in the garden and it is shedding leaf sheaths. I love those fancy bamboo disposable dishes that you can buy in home stores, so I though of making my own. To clean the sheaths I just placed them in the dishwasher! Some rolled up a bit, but after a couple of days they were flat again! The dishwasher took away the dirt but some black stains remained, which makes me wonder how ecologically they treat the commercial plates, since they are so pale and spotless! But now I can make my own and doesn't matter if they are a little stained, they are natural and lovely to look at!

Photo and Recipe by Alessandra Zecchini ©


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