Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Ginger and Chili Tofu

 I like cooking with ginger, especially when the weather is colder. Most of my Chinese style dishes are very simple, I usually make a tofu or a gluten (seitan) dish, and a side vegetable dish, to serve either with plain rice, or noodles.

 To use fresh ginger I cut a piece from the root, peel it, and then grate it using the ginger grater that I got in Japan (Italian bloggers, you can use the apple grater designed to grate apples for baby food).

Ginger and Chili Tofu

Cut a piece of firm tofu into cubes, top with a chili, sliced, and some grated ginger. Add a couple of tbsp of gluten free soy sauce (or regular light soy sauce) and let the tofu marinate for a few hours, stirring it from time to time so that it gets all coated with the sauce.

 Drain the tofu but keep the sauce and all the chili pieces aside: they will be used later. Heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil (I use rice bran) and lightly fry the tofu on all sides. Lift the tofu from the pan and set aside. Add one tsp of cornflour to the marinade, and a couple of tbsp of water (if it looks too thick), mix well and then put into the same frying pan (or wok) where you fried the tofu. Do not rinse the pan, usually some pieces of tofu get stuck there (they are the best!), but scrape them all up while stirring the sauce. The sauce will thicken immediately, add 1 tbsp of tomato ketchup, and then the tofu. Stir and serve immediately.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Italian-NZ Vegan Casserole

Italian tomatoes and NZ Vegemite... Is it fusion? 

Well, the pot is French too... :-)! I chopped some vegetables (agria potatoes,
carrot, onion, celery -with leaves-) added one fresh yellow chili and some Italian parsley, then sauteed everything with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Then I added one can of Italian cherry tomatoes, one can of Italian chick peas, some water from rinsing both cans, and a little (very little) Vegemite. Simmer simmer simmer, until the potatoes start to mush and the carrots are soft. Then add salt to taste, and serve.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, September 23, 2011

Feijoa and lemon zest cordial

Krzyszof gave us a bag full of Feijoa. With mine, and the one Carolyn gave us, we have been eating them everyday, and using them for smoothies. But because the feijoa season is short I though of freezing some for winter, to make smoothies when we don't have so much fresh fruit. To freeze them it is better to peel them and cut them into two, so that they can blend better.

But before peeling them I wanted to keep some zest. I wanted to make a liqueur, and then the kids complained: they cannot drink alcohol! "Mamma, can you make a cordial please?".

I collected the zest from 12 large feijoa (wash them well first), added the zest of half a lemon, placed everything in a pot with 500 ml of water and 100 g of sugar. Boiled the lot for 5 minutes (to dissolve the sugar), then covered with a lid and let it rest overnight. In the morning I strained the 'syrup' and bottled it.

Now the kids have their cordial (a real treat, as I don't usually have sugary cordials in the house) in a fancy bottle. Just need to add a finger of it in a full glass of water and enjoy: delicate, refreshing, and with a note of exotic fruit :-).

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

I am entering this recipe for Sweet New Zealand April 2012
hosted by Frances of the Bake Club

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Vegan Patisserie Class for those who live in the Auckland area.

Scrumptious Vegan Chocolate Cake
with Pastry Chef Eri Ishibashi

Scrumptious Vegan Chocolate Cake
Tutor Pastry Chef Eri Ishibashi

If you are a Vegan and live in Auckland this is for you! Eri is a very talented Vegan Chef, her classes are truly inspiring and she teaches skills that will change your cooking forever!     

when : 2 October, from 11 am
where : Pinevalley B&B,  48 Young Access  Daily flat 0992
cost : only $55 to public,  $50 to Slow Food Members
Lunch included, and then bring the whole cake home with you!

RSVP to Kazuyo, Tel.: 09-442-5701 or
Maximum of 6 students

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pears cooked in red wine

I had some leftover red wine and so I decided to make a quick dessert. Peel 4 firm pears, but leave the stalk on. In a pot place one glass of wine and one glass of water, add 3 tbsp of sugar and one star anise. If you don't have star anise you can use a stick of cinnamon. Bring to boil and then lower the pears in. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes (depending on how firm your pears are, they should not mush!

 Remove the pears from the pot and reduce the syrup until is thick. Pour over the pears and serve. They actually turned out redder than the photo shows, but it was late in the evening and dark, and the kitchen light made them look orange!

And now a little cameo: My cat Marameo always finds different spots to sleep in, that shelf is where I usually keep my scales, and when it was vacant Marameo took her chance and grabbed the spot! I thought that she looked very sweet :-).

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Red and Yellow Bell Pepper Risotto

This is a super quick, simple but tasty dish

1 large red capsicum
1 large yellow capsicum
2 garlic cloves (peeled)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
400 g arborio rice
1 glass white wine
1.5 l hot vegetable stock

Chop the capsicums into small cubes, place in a pot with the garlic and olive oil and sizzle. Before the capsicums start to brown add the rice and stir to coat the rice with the oil, then add the wine. Let the wine absorb then add the stock, ladle by ladle, stirring constantly, until the risotto is cooked (about 20 minutes). Serve immediately.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, September 5, 2011

Vegan Heart Biscuits


I found a Vegan frozen sweet short pastry in the supermarket, and I wanted to try it. Actually, I like making short pastry, but making Vegan short pastry is not that easy (for me) so I was really curious.

Because the pastry is already rolled it was easy to cut it with a cookie cutter, and I opted for hearts.

Up to here everything was fine, but then the pastry shrunk in the oven! My pretty fat hearts became long quirky hearts! Did this ever happen to you?

My solution: transform the hearts into pretty-quirky-modern-art hearts with some glossy icing. I did the borders white first, and then I coloured some icing with saffron powder for yellow (this also gave the biscuits a lovely saffron aroma and flavour), cocoa for chocolate, and then I added a drop of red food colouring to the yellow saffron icing for a geranium orange/red. The colour reminded me of lipstick and nail polish, but I liked it! The kids took the biscuits to the Surf Life Saving Club and they were all eaten happily, but next time I think that I will stick to my own pastry :-).

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, September 2, 2011

Ginger, lemon and mint tea

One of my favourite hot drinks: lemon (from my friend's garden), fresh ginger (peel it first) and a few mint leaves (from my garden). All into the teapot, add boiling water and let it rest for 5 minutes. Good for colds too!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©