Monday, October 30, 2017

Baby perlas potatoes two ways: hot 'in padella', and salad with flowers

I received a few potatoes to try from Potatoes New Zealand to celebrate November Means New Potatoes, and here are my first creations.

  I started with baby perlas, which I knew already. These little new potatoes are cute and a real little treat, so they deserve special attention!
I boiled them first (no mint... just cannot bear minted potatoes, sorry Kiwis!) and then I divided them: half I used for salad, I picked the 'bigger' ones and cut them into two pieces, then I mix them with mayonnaise, chopped onion weed bulbs and stalks, nasturtium buds and petals, and Impatiens' petals. 

Keep a few flowers aside for decorations, and onion weed flowers too, if you like. I think that a lot of people now are comfortable with eating nasturtium flowers and buds (I left some buds for decoration too, and for you to see). Buds taste a little like capers. Young tender leaves are nice too (see soup below). Not so many people would eat Impatiens though, or know about them. They taste a little like rocket, and I prefer the red ones, although I always add a few pink ones just because the colour is so pretty. My preference for red ones may be just because I observed the chickens eating all the red ones while leaving behind the other colours, but maybe they are just colour blind? Anyway, I tasted all the colours and decided that the chicken were right... Of course don't eat the flowers if you spray your garden with chemicals!

As for the smaller potatoes, I just heated it some garlic with olive oil in a skillet and then tossed the potatoes around, with an extra good pinch of salt, until hot. Then turned the heat off and added some fresh thyme, another toss, and ecco fatto! Patatine novelle in padella al timo!

I also tried some more potatoes, a variety called Carrera, which I used to make one of my classic spring soup, with asparagus and onion weed and flowers (yes, using lots of onion weeds and flowers, my Spring staples!), and you can find the recipe here, just substitute the agria potato for the Carrera potatoes and you are done!

Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Strangolapreti (Strozzapreti), with silverbeet, onion weed and sage flowers

I had lots and lots and lots of silverbeet and Swiss chard in the garden, I filled a big basket and though of a recipes to use them all, plus the omnipresent onion weed, plus flowering sage. Strangolapreti is a type of gnocchi made either with spinach or with silverbeet, plus bread crumbs or stale bread. 

First divide the leaves from the stalks and wash well (the stalks will be used in a different recipe)

Then cook the leaves with a little water and a pinch of salt, drain, add the raw onion weed (well washed) and blend.

Place into a bowl, add a couple of tbsp of grated Parmigiano, and some breadcrumbs, enough ti get a soft dough. If using stale bread grate it to breadcrumbs (if very dry), or soak it in milk and break it up, if not dry enough to grate. Add salt and pepper to taste, and if you like add one egg (it will keep the 'gnocchi' more 'together'. 

Shape into longish gnocchi, more or less the size of a cotton bobbin. 

Bring a pot of water to the boil, add salt and then turn the heat down to a gentle simmer. Add the strangolapreti one by one, and if you have big quantities cook just a plate at the time. They will loose some green bits during cooking, but not their shape (unless you did something wrong!) Pick them up when they rise to the surface and place them in a plate.

Drizzle with butter, melted in a pan with a few sage leaves, and sprinkle with fresh sage flowers (and onion weed flowers too, if you like). Add more Parmigiano and serve hot.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Marzipan with Amaretto

Assorted natural flavours and colours, including green tea, cherry syrup, berry juice, candied citrus,
and some stuffed dates too!

Last Sunday I did a demo about making Marzipan at the Auckland Art Gallery, to celebrate Italian Language week with the Dante Auckland. I have a basic recipe which I always follow (without egg white, thus suitable for Vegans too) and you can find it here. But since almonds don't have much taste in NZ (sorry... need to be said) I always add a few apricot kernels (not too much, they are poisonous!) so follow this recipe carefully! Now, apricots are not in season yet, and I made a little variation, which worked well: I added a little drop of Amaretto.

Marzapane with Amaretto

200g raw almonds
100g icing sugar
1 tsp Amaretto

Blanch the almonds in boiling water and remove the skins. Keep a few almonds aside for decoration, if you like, and ground the rest into a fine powder, almost like a paste. Add the icing sugar and Amaretto and mix until you get a dough. Shape into your favourite morsels, and colour with berries, green tea powder, spirulina, or anything you like. Some ideas for shapes and colours here.

Perfect for presents! Coloured with cocoa, green tea and berries
Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Vivere in Nuova Zelanda: Radicchio e orchidee, la vita capovolta

Radicchio leaves with goat cheese and a drizzle of olive oil, on crackers

Sono mezza veneta, cresciuta con radicchio, non ne sono mai stata entusiasta eppure adesso mi manca. Ma ad Auckland cresce a fatica, troppo caldo e umido nel bush. Tentativi miseri e se non lo mangio quando le foglie sono piccole mi finisce subito in semenza. E cosa cresce invece? Orchidee!! Ho sempre sognato di avere orchidee, e adesso le ho sia in casa che in giardino! In giardino!!! Quando posso vado anche alle mostre di orchidee, queste sono cresciute da professionisti e appassionati, molti belle e curate.

E queste sono le mie (ne ho altre, ma non sono in fiore adesso), un po' misere a confronto, ma gli voglio bene :-). Quelle singole (prese dal giardino) sono in mini vasi giapponesi che svolgono la seconda funzione di appoggia-bacchette.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Halloumi with onion weed bulbs, flowers and thyme

The beautiful white and crunchy bulbs of onion weeds to me taste even better than spring onion, plus you can eat the leaves and flowers too (although here I just had the bulbs and a few flowers.

Nothing could be easier than this dish! Pull out the onion weeds from your garden (while weeding) or from any field where they abound (like here in Oratia), wash and clean, remove the outer skin of the bulbs and sauté in a pan with just a little olive oil. Add the Halloumi and cook on on both sides. No need to add salt as the cheese is already salty and its juices will coat the onion weed too. Finish with a few sprigs of fresh thyme (if you like) and some onion weed flowers (just use the flowers which have not formed a seed  pod yet). Serve with salad or in a burger bun, or with pita and olives, or how you like. You will be digging for more onion weed bulbs in no time!

 For more recipe ideas with onion weed click here

For more recipe ideas with edible flowers click here

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Vivere in Nuova Zelanda: Festival Italiano Auckland

Il Festival Italiano 2017 di Auckland si è tenuto la scorsa domenica, concludendo un mese tutto italiano nella città più grande del paese. Il mese, cominciato il balletto di Romeo e Giulietta, il Cinema Italiano Festival e l'apertura della Mostra Corsini alla Auckland Art Gallery, ha inoltre incluso nel calendario piccoli eventi, come concerti, occasioni speciali di prodotti italiani in negozi partecipanti, e naturalmente tante occasioni 'mangerecce', proposte da ristoranti italiani. Un mese anche pieno di premi offerti dalla pagina FB del Festival per far conoscere al pubblico i nostri produttori, importatori, e ristoratori, e ancor più premi donati al Festival, o sorteggiati, come il biglietto aereo per due per l'Italia (o Europa) in Premium Economy con Lufthansa (quest'ultimo era una lotteria per raccogliere fondi per la scuola dei bambini della Dante Auckland).

Ovviamente il festival è stata la giornata più importante, e nonostante il tempo infelice abbiamo registrato migliaia di visitatori, fra Osborne Street e Kent St, Lumsden Green e dentro al Rialto Centre. Musica, mostre, arte per bambini, mercato, e naturalmente mangiare e bere a prezzi politici, perché tutti hanno il diritto di mangiare bene. 

Abbiamo anche celebrato il primo anno ufficiale come Zero Waste Event, mostrando il film di Bottura  sul riciclo degli avanzi alimentari ad un pubblico selezionato, introducendo piatti e bicchieri biodegradabili, organizzando riciclo e monitoraggio dei bidoni, ed eliminando palloncini e altre cose di plastica. Insomma, siamo felici!

Grazie Auckland e Grazie Waitematā Local BoardPeroniNewmarket Business Association, e tutti i nostri sponsor!

The 2017 edition of Festival Italiano was held on Sunday 1 October, with a crazy weather (mostly raining) yet people came in great numbers and ate, drunk, listen to music and had fun! 

To see more images click here 
Photos by Gianni Flego


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