Monday, August 28, 2017

Ile des pins and a vegetarian in New Caledonia

I had a wonderful holiday in New Caledonia, the highlight was the Ile des Pins, a magical island with white beaches and lots of fish. My favourite place was the Natural pool (Piscine Naturelle), just look at the videos!

In the mainland (Noumea) we ended up eating Vietnamese (many Vietnamese restaurants, but not so flavoursome compared with the ones in Vietnam) or food from French bakeries (good), and the food at Le Meridienne was Veggie friendly enough for a four day stay (the veggie patty burger was nice and filling, you always find one when you are Italian and don't want to order pasta, the other usual vegetarian option in hotels).

But lets go back to some sceneries!

This is Oro Bay

And our relaxing spot on the beach (although we actually spent most of the time at the Piscine Naturelle... I just wanted to look at the fish!)

But the Hotel grounds are also lovely

There is a famous (one of the firsts) infinity pool, which I never used... I find it strange to swim in a pool when there is the sea available. But it was photogenic, especially at sunset.

Breakfast was relaxing, a good buffet with lots of fruit and French pastries. The baguettes were excellent!

The famous pine trees make a good contrast with palms and are everywhere.

At low tide you can walk all around the bay

And what else for vegetarians a part from coconuts?

Bougna is the traditional Melanesian dish for special occasions: yam, sweet potatoes, taro and other vegetables and meat or fish/seafood covered in coconut milk and wrapped in banana leaves and cooked on hot stones in am earth oven for 2 hours. I asked the hotel if they could prepare a vegetarian one, it was the very first time they had such a request but they were happy to oblige. So we had our traditional dish, all vegetarian, actually, vegan! 

Quite a ceremony in presenting it and serving it, They cut all the leaves, dish out some and leave the rest on the table so you can help yourself.  Very delicious and filling, I think that four people could have eaten our portion for two! Highly recommended.

Photos  by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Carrot leaf fritters, Vegan and gluten free

Having munched through everything green in the veggie garden I am left with the leaves of carrots, I usually make frittata with them, or fritters, and this time I tried a vegan experiment which was very successful (the kids looooved them). To be repeated soon, in the meantime here is the recipe.

Pick your carrots (mine are always small, since they grow in clay soil poor things). Keep the leaves, wash them well and remove the thicker stalks (a bit like cleaning parsley really).

To make the vegan batter I used the liquid from a can of chickpeas, two tbsp of chickpea flour, a good pinch of salt (or two), and the tip of tsp each of ground cumin, ground coriander and ground turmeric.

Then I added the carrot leaves

At this point you can add a chopped spring onion, or some chopped onion, or chives, but since I picked my first onion weeds I added a couple, bulb, stems and leaves, You can also add the flowers, but I kept them for decoration (i.e. to take the photo!). 

Spoon into a frying pan with hot vegetable oil and cook on both sides until crispy.

Drain on kitchen paper, sprinkle with salt (optional) and then serve, hot or cold, with a good squirt of lemon juice.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Italian chips and beautiful things in my garden

How silly can a recipe be? I never thought that I would bother writing something so basic, but the world where I live is so full of chips, and terrible chips I must say, that I very rarely eat them out, and very occasionally I like to make them at home the Italian way, patatine fritte, like we made on special occasions, usually on a Sunday. These are not deep fried but pan-fried, and they are flavoured with garlic and rosemary, 

Peel the potatoes, cut the potatoes into chip sizes, rinse (or just soak in water) and pat dry. Sizzle some garlic in a frypan with extra virgin olive oil, then add the chips and pan-fry stirring and/or shaking the pan constantly. I add just a little salt at the beginning, and remove the garlic before it burns. Then I add rosemary when they are nearly cooked (they takes about 20 minutes), finish with more salt and eat immediately (although if you cook them this way they are also tasty when cold, unlike British style chips). 

And now something from my garden

The pink orchids are glorious this year, the yellow ones will follow soon, and every year they cheer me up in the middle of the Auckland winter.

And then, look who is sleeping on one of the Nikau palms!

A Kereru! The New Zealand native wood pigeon, all puffed up and using her chest for a pillow.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Orecchiette con cime di rapa (o friarielli) e broccoli

The only reason I made these with both cime di rapa and broccoli is because in the garden I had just a handful of cime di rapa, so the broccoli made them go... further.

Wash the friarielli and broccoli, cut onto manageable pieces. Boil the water for the orecchiette, adding plenty of salt when the water boils, and before adding the orecchiette. In the meantime in a pot sizzle chopped garlic and a chili with olive oil, add the cime di rapa and broccoli, a small pinch of salt, and cook them stirring often, and adding the boiling water from the orecchiette (but only after you have put the orecchiette in!) from time to time. The cooking water from pasta is very useful for pasta sauces and for cooking vegetables this way. When the orecchiette are ready drain and add to the cime di rapa, stir well, add more olive oil and serve.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©


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