Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Raw juice magic: celery, lemon and apple juice

I am so into juicing these days, and the kids drink all sort of vegetable and fruit juices, the greener the better! This one is particularly good: for four glasses I used half a stalk of celery (I use the stalks and only a few leaves - mostly to give it colour, usually I keep the leaves for cooking) then half a lemon and  to top a little (about 10-20%) natural apple juice. I will make this again and again, too good!

And now for something completely different:

Nearly bought this one… :-)

 Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, August 1, 2014

Mixed salad leaves (with lots of mizuna) and edible flowers salad

This salad doesn't require much explanation: I have mixed salad leaves (lots of mizuna this year) and an variety of flowers. Did you know that you can eat impatient (busy lizzy) flowers too? They taste a bit like rocket, the best for me are the red ones, but the pink ones are so pretty! Mix and dress with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and salt.

 Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sautéed Asian eggplants and asparagus with Italian herbs (and baby potatoes)

One of my favourite kitchen smells is garlic and herbs sizzling in olive oil! Here I used fresh rosemary, sage and oregano, a couple of garlic cloves, and a few long Asian eggplants, cut into halves or quarters (depending on their size). When the eggplants were done I added the asparagus (which take less time) and sauté the lot for one more minute, then added more fresh herbs, a good pinch of salt, a heavy lid, and turned the heat off. If you leave the veggies like this for 5-10 minutes they will just 'finish' cooking in their own steam.

I had herbs leftover, so I half-boiled some new potatoes, peeled them (sorry Kiwis, but I love to peel my potatoes, unless they are organic) and placed them on a baking try lined with baking paper. I added rosemary and sage, salt and olive oil. I baked the lot and the kitchen smelled lovely.

 Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Spinach, banana, blueberry and apple smoothie

Yes we should all eat more raw fruit and vegetables! This smoothie is super easy, for 4 glasses use 2 bananas, two cups of baby spinach leaves, one cup of blueberries and 2 cups of natural apple juice (from Oratia).

Do you like fresh juices and smoothies?

 Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Super green juice, and it tastes lovely

Don't mind the basil in the background, it just happened to be there but it is not an ingredient (although, maybe next time I'll put some in, it should taste good!). 

This green juice is 100% vegetable, and yet it is not bitter, and it looks 'greener' that it tastes, if you understand what I mean (I am talking to those of you that scream and run away when they see green juices! hahaha!). Use 60% celery, 35% cucumber and 5% silver beet (or another green leafy vegetable). Celery and cucumber have a mild taste and lots of water so they are perfect for juicing with 'stronger' vegetables (like silver beet, kale or spinach). Try it, you will feel so good drinking it, and after! 

 Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, June 9, 2014

Fake Fish (made with potatoes, suitable for veg*s)

When I brought this plate to the table everybody laughed, and it is a fun recipe! Finto pesce means fake fish, the original recipe is a kind of pate made with potatoes, mayonnaise, capers and canned tuna (I think very 1960s!). My Mother made it, we lived in the mountains far from the sea, so fish was rare (and frozen or canned). Of course being a veg I don't use tuna for this recipe, but seaweed.

Brush and wash (but don't peel) 1 kg of mashing potatoes, then peel them and pass them through a potato ricer. Add a tbsp of capers, some nori seaweed, shredded, and a few tbsp of Vegan mayonnaise (to taste). Mix well. Shape into a fish and decorate with veggies and more nori ( I cut my nori with a flower cutter). Perfect for summer, and for kids!

Do you have a dish that makes everyone laugh?

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, June 2, 2014

Rose Cordial, step by step

If you have roses in your garden, and they have not been sprayed (organic) you can make your own rose cordial, beautiful and pink! The recipe is the same as for the elderberry flower syrup.

For this you will need 1 l of water, 1 kg of sugar, organic rose petals (at least 1 cup full, but the more the better), 30 g of citric acid and 3 organic lemons. Wash and cut the lemons and put them in a pot with all the other ingredients (or in a large jar, if you have it). Let this mixture stand for three days, stirring from time to time. Don't go over three days or it may ferment. 

After this time filter the syrup through a muslin cloth, squeezing the lemons and flowers well. 

Boil the filtered syrup for 5 minutes, removing any possible scam forming at the top. Cool down and filter again, through a finer cotton cloth this time (I do this in a funnel directly over the bottles. Use as a cordial for water, or as a syrup for cakes and desserts.

 Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, May 23, 2014

Strawberry and Banana ice-cream: sugar free, gluten free, raw and vegan

You just need two ingredients: 2-3 bananas, sliced and frozen, and 2 punnets of strawberries, cut and frozen. It is actually better if both the banana and strawberries are quite ripe - jam quality!

Freeze the fruit for a few hours (one day is better) then put in the food processor and blend. Eat immediately. Healthy and yummy!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Elderberry Flowers Syrup and Elder flower Tea

Elderberry Flowers Syrup

For this you will need 1 l of water, 1 kg of sugar, about a dozen elderberry flower heads, 30 g of citric acid and 3 organic lemons (I picked some juicy organic lemons from Regina's garden). 

Wash and cut the lemons and put them in a pot with all the other ingredients (or in a large jar, if you have it). Let this mixture stand for three days, stirring from time to time. Don't go over three days or it may ferment. After this time filter the syrup through a muslin cloth, squeezing the lemons and flowers well. Boil the filtered syrup for 5 minutes, removing any possible scam forming at the top. Cool down and filter again, through a finer cotton cloth this time. 

Bottle and use as a cordial (it is very thirst-quenching), or to flavour desserts (like panna cottaor blamanche), ice cream, fruit salads and berries.

Elder flower Tea

I am drying the remaining flowers for tea. Dry them in the shade and keep them for winter: the tea is traditionally used to relieve cold and flu, cough and sore tummy.

Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Elderberry Flower Fritters

Elderberry Flower Fritters

Yes you can eat elderberry flowers!

Shake and clean (no need to wash in water) the elderberry flowers to make sure that there is no dirt (or insects).

Mix 100g of plain flour with a tsp of icing sugar and enough cold water to make a light batter (a bit like tempura). 

Pick the flowers heads by the stalk and drop into the batter, and then into hot oil. Fry, turning once, until the fritters are golden and crispy.

Dust with icing sugar and fresh elderberry flowers, then serve, hot or cold. 

Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Pasta e fagioli soup with Cavolo nero and a ... purple carrot!

I love pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans) soup, especially when there is cavolo nero too, this Italian kale is my favourite brassica and makes any soup taste amazing! But the surprise here was a purple carrot. Carolyn brought me one, thinking that with me being a foodie I would appreciate the novelty. I told her that I grew purple carrots but that only the outers skin was purple, and inside they were orange. She was a bit disappointed, but hey Caroly look here: I peeled the carrot and, surprise surprise, it was purple all the way through! I never seen anything like it! It almost bleed like a red beetroot (and had a light beetroot taste too, but maybe that was just my imagination, it mostly tasted like... carrot)! And it coloured the soup too, it looked like a borsch!

For the soup use one large (purple) carrot, peeled and cubed, a bunch of cavolo nero, washed, white vein removed and chopped, and one onion, chopped. Sauté everything with one tbsp of extra virgin olive oil  then add one litre of vegetable stock and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add one can of cannellini beans and simmer for 10 more minutes. Remove some of the beans, add one cup of cold water and blend the soup. Bring back to the simmer, then add a handful of risoni pasta. Simmer, stirring often, until the pasta is cooked. Add back the whole beans and cook for one more minute. Serve hot or at room temperature, with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. The best soup I made in a long time, thank you for the carrot Carolyn, and for the cavolo nero Sue!

Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, May 2, 2014

Better than you can ever imagine: Vegan Cabbage Bolognese Sauce

This is not a quick recipe, but require slow cooking, so if you are in a rush just look at the pictures :-).

There are several vegan Bolognese sauces around, mostly using soy or fake mince, and some with lentils, but I wanted to try one with cabbage, which is not a veggie I particularly like myself, but it is highly nutritious. It came out better that I hoped!

Half a cabbage
1 large carrot
2 sticks of celery with leaves
1 large onion
1 garlic clove
A few Italian parsley leaves
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 glass wine (white or red)
1-2 tbsp tomato puree
1 l vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
more extra virgin olive oil to serve

With a food processor finely chop the vegetables, then put in a pan with the olive oil and sauté for a few minutes. Then add the wine and stir well. Add the tomato puree, cover and cook slowly, stirring from time to time and adding the vegetable stock little by little. Simmer for one to two hours, the more the better, I think I went over two hours. I started in the afternoon but by the time I took the last photos it was dark, so the images are a bit blurry, sorry!

Taste and add salt and pepper to taste (I like it with quite a bit of black pepper!), then use to top your pasta, drizzling with more extra virgin olive oil. Enjoy! This can also be used to fill pies, or for a gluten free variation try it on polenta! Yummy!

Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Haute Vegan Cuisine: Asparagus and onion weed soup with edible flowers

This is so easy to make, but looks impressive and tastes delicious.


1 big agria potato
1 bunch asparagus
3-4 onion weeds with flowers
1 l vegetable stock
nasturtium flowers and baby leaves
sage flowers
violet flowers

Peel the potato and cube. Clean the asparagus, remove the woody stalk ends and cut into small pieces keeping the tips aside. Clean the onion weed, set the flowers aside and cut the stalks. Place potato, asparagus spares and onion weed stalks in a pot with the vegetable stock and simmer until all the veggies are soft. Add the asparagus tips and blanch. Remove the asparagus tips and blend the rest of the soup. Serve and top with the whole asparagus tips, decorate with nasturtium flowers and baby leaves, sage flowers, violet flowers and onion weed flowers. Eat everything!

Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ochazuke, Japanese comfort food

When I was teaching Italian in Japan I once asked my students to tell me what was the typical Japanese dish they had for dinner, one answered ochazuke, and everybody laughed! Ochazuke meant that you lived alone, or your mum/wife was out for the night and you couldn't cook. Or that you run out of money! For homework they had to write a description of Ochazuke (in Italian) and the week after they came with their recipes and, most surprising for me, they all brought a sachet of flavoring for ochazuke, for me to try. The basic idea is to use leftover plain rice and top it with hot green tea, and then some toppings (and these where the sachets, a bit like furikake, but with green tea added, so that you just needed hot water). Most of the students in that class were young and lived by themselves, thus the need of quick comfort food, and they always had left over rice, and possibly a sachet of seasoning. I got to love ochazuke, but rather than seasoning from a sachet I use some chopped-up nori, some wasabi or ume plum, salted sakura flowers, dried shiso... anything I have at hand really, and then some green tea. 

Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Soba with nori tagliolini, onion weed and salted sakura (cherry blossoms)

In this post you saw my idea of cutting nori with a pasta machine. So here is what I did what that cool nori 'fettuccine'.

Just cook the soba and top with the rest of the ingredients. To serve just add a drop of soy sauce.

To make the nori tagliolini … just cut the nori sheet with a pasta machine! For the onion weed... just forage it, wash and cut (you can eat the flowers, stems and bulbs... the lot!). I bought the salted sakura (cherry blossoms) in Japan, I love them, a bit like salted capers really!

 Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©