Friday, May 22, 2015

Celery, cucumber and coriander juice

Green, cleansing and refreshing! 


Celery stalks and leaves, cucumber, and a few sprigs and leaves of coriander (to taste, it can be really strong).

Happy detoxing!



Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Vegan Sushi and onigiri (rice balls)


The weather has been beautiful, and it is still possible to eat outside, especially fresh things like this vegan sushi. Note that fish sushi is not traditionally eaten in summer in Japan, although thanks to refrigeration now many do, but some 'traditionalists' refuse. Vegan sushi on the other hand, like inari and norimaki (nori rolls), as well as onigiri (rice balls) are all great summer options.


Let's start with the onigiri. Wash the sushi rice (or Japanese rice) several times in cold water, until the water runs clear, and then cook it by absorption. The doses are about 1 and 3/4 (three quarters) cups of sushi rice for 2 cups of water, but that depends on the type of pot. You need a pot with a good lid, or you will loose too much steam. I kind of regulate myself by ear now, since I know my pots and pans. Bring the pot to boiling point, lower the heat and simmer until all the water has been absorbed. Once the rice is ready pour it into a bowl and stir it with a wooden spatula, cooling it with a fan if you can. At this stage I took some rice aside to make onigiri and used the rest for sushi (see below). Rub your hands with salt and shape the rice into balls. I added some salted sakura blossoms on top to make pretty onigiri, and then I made some miniature ones (last photo) which I sprinkled with fresh chives.


To the remaining rice I added some ready made sushi vinegar, about 2 tablespoons, but this is my personal taste. If I don't have sushi vinegar I use 2 tbsp of rice vinegar, a little sugar and a little salt (to taste, and I don't like to use too much sugar or salt!). Roll your norimaki with the filling of your choice (I used takuan, cucumber and busy lizzie flowers). Or use the rice to fill inari (tofu) sachets, and then top them with herbs, flowers, veggies and pickles. So refreshing.


Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Vermicelli in coconut and veggie broth with tofu and Asian fragrances


This is an aromatic vegan and gluten free soup, light and delicious.


500 ml vegetable stock
1 can coconut cream or milk + one can of water (rinsing the coconut cream)
1 large yellow courgette (zucchini)
2 fresh red chilies
1 block of tofu
a pinch of freshly grated ginger
1 stalk lemon grass
Vermicelli
a few coriander leaves
a few cherry tomatoes

Simmer all together for a few minutes until the zucchini are soft but not mushy.

In the meantime soak the vermicelli in hot water until soft then divide between 6 bowls.
chop a few cherry tomatoes, and wash some fresh basil and some thai mint

Pour the hot soup over the vermicelli, making sure that each dish has equal parts of tofu and veggies.
Decorate with the tomatoes, basil and Thai mint and serve immediately.


Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Grape juice


There are some beautiful grapes on sale at the Dragicevich Orchard in Oratia, those old fashion grapes that really smell and taste like grapes (not like the stuff that you find in supermarkets). And they make a wonderful juice. Apparently grape juice has antioxidant effects, well, this would be a bonus, but the only thing that I can say so far is that it is delicious, and the aroma brings back happy childhood memories of picking grapes at my Grandma's in Italy. Yes, memories in a small glass! 




Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Raw, vegan, sugar free and gluten free chocolate truffles



Yes these are raw, vegan, sugar free and gluten free chocolate truffles, but what's more they are made using only 4 Fair Trade ingredients: Trade Aid Palestinian almonds, Trade Aid cinnamon, Trade Aid Madjoul dates, and Trade Aid baking cocoa,  plus one local ingredient, Hazelz hazelnut flour from Canterbury. There is no sugar, no dairy product, and no need for cooking. 


I like using Fair Trade products because they are in line with the Slow Food principles of Good, Clean and Fair food. And with my philosophy. Furthermore the quality is really good! Take the Medjoul dates for example, they are so sweet and delicious, they can substitute sugar in many preparations. The baking cocoa is so good that you don't need to use it just for baking, it is perfect for puddings and hot chocolate too. The Palestinian almonds are different from my favourite Italian almonds, but they are quite unique, a bit spicy in fact. The cinnamon really aromatic, you need just a tiny bit, I like to say 'a hint' :-). And the hazelnut flour is what's keep everything together so nicely! 



Ingredients:

4 Trade Aid Madjoul dates
20 Trade Aid Palestinian almonds
50 ml water
1 hint (i.e. a tiny pinch) Trade Aid cinnamon
1 tbsp Trade Aid baking cocoa, plus more to dust
2 tbsp Hazelz hazelnut powder, plus more to dust

Makes 12 truffles

Remove the stone from the dates and break up in rough pieces. Place in a cup with the almonds and 50 ml of water. Wait for 30 minutes to let the fruit soften a little and then blend with an immersion blender. 
Add the cinnamon, cocoa and hazelnut powder and mix with a spoon. Shape into 12 balls and roll half in cocoa and half in hazelnut flour. The best way to do this is roll the truffles first in cocoa or hazelnut flour, and then pass them between the palms of your hands quickly a few times so that you will get an even coating, and not too much of it, just the right amount. No need to refrigerate, just let them dry a bit on a tray before piling them into a serving bowl or glass.




 Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Raspberry agar agar vegan jelly



Agar agar must be the easiest pudding ever, and it is vegan and gluten free. Also, if you don't use too much sugar it will be low in calories (and no fat, I guess…). 

For 4 serving I use 500ml of water, half tsp of agar agar powder (usually I use 1 tsp, but I wanted a softer and more wobbly jelly) and 1 tbsp of sugar (here too, personal taste!). For the Fresh As fruit powder dosage, it depends on your taste; for most fruit (like pineapple) I use 1 tbsp, or 1 and half tbsp (like passion fruit), but the raspberry powder is so intense that half tbsp with suffice, using the other half just to sprinkle on the jelly when is set. Bring to boil and pour into 4 jelly moulds. Let it cool down, refrigerate, and serve (with more Fresh As powder sprinkled on top). 

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Vegan Rice Paper Rolls with vermicelli, salad and fake meat


Something filling yet light, done in a jiffy! I had very little left in the fridge, just a bit of salad mix, but in the pantry I had some rice paper, vermicelli and dried gluten meat. So I put the 'fake' meat in a pot with a little vegetable stock (made with an organic veggie cube) and cooked it until soft. Then I cut it into little strips (actually, Arantxa did it - see photo).  I soaked the vermicelli in boiling water and then drained and rinsed them. To assemble the rice paper rolls you will need to line the table with clean tea towels, then soak the rice paper in hot water until soft, top with salad, the vermicelli and the gluten meat strips.



 To see how to fold the rolls (step by step) you can have a look here. If you have time you can fold the rolls adding herb leaves and flowers. Keep the rolls covered with a tea towel until ready to eat. Serve with soy sauce or sweet chili sauce.


Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Fresh juice using beetroot stalks and leaves, carrots, apples and ginger


… plus beetroots from the garden, carrots, apples, and a little ginger. For five juices I used about 1.5 kg of carrots, plus a few local apples, and i picked two beetroots from my veggie garden, they were small but the leaves and stalks are perfect for juicing too (of salad) so nothing get wasted. I used just a little ginger (not all the piece in the photo) to give the juice a little zest. It was really sweet and delicious!




 Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Zucchine ripiene - Stuffed zucchini


I have two zucchini plants in the garden, one yellow and one green. They produce a lot, the yellow three times more than the green (I don't know why) and we have been eating zucchini in 100 different ways: grilled, sautéed, fried and tempura, in soups, with pasta… fortunately they are very versatile!
Here I had a few big ones (sometimes I don't pick them for a day and they double overnight! But the important thing is that they don't get to the 'marrow' state - too big and bitter) so I decided to stuff them.
I cut them into two and scooped out the flesh. Then I baked the shells upside down with a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil for 15 minutes. In the meantime I blended the zucchini flesh and then added chopped parsley and chives (about 1 tbsp), salt and pepper, a tbsp of olive oil and enough breadcrumbs to make a stuffing (add the breadcrumb one tbsp at the time so that you don't add too much). The zucchini were fresh from the garden and therefore they were very moist, so I needed more breadcrumbs, but if you buy them they may be a few days old and more dry, so less breadcrumbs are needed. I removed the zucchini from the oven, turned them up and filled them tightly with the stuffing. 
In the tray you can see also some zucchini slices, these where from 'regular' size zucchini, and I used them as side veggies.


Bake everything until the stuffing has a nice golden crust and serve.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Plum Jam (using much less sugar that the traditional 'Anglo' recipes)




Jam made with plums from Oratia. I removed the stone and cooked the plums with a little water and some jam setting sugar (this was a present, and I wanted to try it). The NZ jam tradition seems to be 1kg of sugar for 1 kg of fruit (or even more sugar if you make raspberry jam) for an Italian this is too much. I go for 40 to 60%, with the latter being my preference if I need to preserve the jam for a long time (it helps agains botulin). You can taste the fruit better with less sugar :-).





And our cats, Nikita (left) and Marameo (right) are also enjoying the last of the sun, sleeping outdoors all day long! Marameo is 18 now, an old lady cat 


 Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Fresh borlotti beans cooked in a skillet with red onion


I love shelling fresh beans from the garden, especially borlotti, as they are so pretty!
I usually put fresh beans in soups, or boil them to make a salad (and keep the water for a soup). To cook them slowly in a frying pan takes a bit longer, but they are delicious!


Chop a small red onion and sauté with a little olive oil for a few minutes, then add the borlotti. Stir and add a little water and salt, cover and check form time to time, stirring well and adding more water when needed. It takes about a hour (or more if you simmer on low), so be patient. No need to add tomato paste as the onion will almost melt and make a nice colored sauce. Taste for salt at the end and adjust with black pepper, if you like. 1000 times better than baked beans!



 Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Melon and apricot smoothie


 After the green juice of the previous post here is a smoothie, and the kids made it: melon, natural apple juice, banana and apricot, decorated with borage flowers (edible).

Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Green Juice for kids


With summer here it is easy to make juices and to eat more raw food.
Green juices are the best, of course, above celery, cucumber and green apple, light and refreshing.



Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Sushi in a bowl - Chirashi-zushi




I like chirashi-zushi, sushi in a bowl, a part form the fact that you save time, it also looks pretty. For topping you can add what you fancy, here I have avocado, salted sakura (cherry blossoms), nori (cut with a craft puncher) takuan (Pickled daikon), cherry tomatoes and ume paste (I use wasabi but the kids wanted ume…). A perfect light lunch for summer!


Sushi rice

Wash the sushi rice (or Japanese rice) several times in cold water, until the water runs clear, and then cook it by absorption. The doses are about 1 and 3/4 (three quarters) cups of sushi rice for 2 cups of water, but that depends on the type of pot. You need a pot with a good lid, or you will loose too much steam. I kind of regulate myself by ear now, since I know my pots and pans. Bring the pot to boiling point, lower the heat and simmer until all the water has been absorbed. Once the rice is ready pour it into a bowl and stir it with a wooden spatula, cooling it with a fan if you can. I then add some ready made sushi vinegar, about 2 tablespoons, but this is my personal taste. If I don't have sushi vinegar I use 2 tbsp of rice vinegar, a little sugar and a little salt (to taste, and I don't like to use too much sugar or salt!). Spoon the rice in a bowl and add your topping. Serve with soy sauce and wasabi on the side, like for rolled sushi.


Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Beautiful heart melon and watermelon plate



This is perfect if you:

A: follow a raw diet (or don't know what to give to a raw eater/vega/gluten free/allergic/etc.)
B: prefer fruit to dessert (i.e. no time to make dessert)
C: want to lose weigh or to eat breakfast all day long
D: are in love! (BTW, this is perfect for St Valentine!)



All you need is a knife and a hear shaped cookie cutter. 

Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini