Friday, February 24, 2012

Plant a tree for your blog

Today I want to let you know about this initiative (in Italian, but you can find something in English here).
If you have a blog and you would like to join in and have a tree planted for your blog, write a post about it, use the logo and let the team know by sending them an email here, and then they will plant a tree for your blog.
So far they have planted 927 trees, but if they get to 1000 trees by the end of February will plant 100 more trees for them.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Two Vegan and Gluten Free recipes with onion weed: Yudofu, and Chickpea Fritters

I have been telling friends about onion weed these days, everybody seems surprised (and happy) that you can eat it, especially those who gave up growing spring onions because they seem to take so long for what you get. And onion weed is free and plentiful! I kept telling everyone to use it as a spring onion without realizing that most people here use spring onions just chopped in salad, and that'a about all! 

On the top left my nabe (pot) with simmering Yudofu, one of my favourite tofu meals for chilly evenings:
In a capable pot I put water with some dried kombu (about a large sheet broken into 3-4 pieces), and a few dried shitake mushrooms to simmer, and after 20 minutes I added some soft tofu cut into squares, salt (I have a nice Japanese unrefined salt for it) carrot sliced to look like flowers, and onion weed (bulbs, stalks and leaves cut into 'longish' pieces). I added the flower just before serving. To tell the true the tofu should be then taken out of the broth and eaten with a sauce and relishes, but as a family meal we eat the lot in bowl, broth and veggies too, except for the kombu seaweed, which I discard.

The other three photos are of chickpea flour fritters: I chopped the onion weed (the whole plant, but kept a few flowers for decoration) plus I added some finely chopped spinach, chickpea flour, salt, water and a drizzle of olive oil. When the batter was ready I remember that I have lots of pitted black olives to use, so I chopped up a few and added those too. I fried the lot and the fritters were incredibly tasty! I will make them again, in the next few days, they are incredibly easy and the kids loved them.
These meals are vegan and gluten free.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Salad Sushi rolls and Ume topped Onigiri

Salad Sushi Rolls

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!). Roll the rice with nori seaweed and the filling of your choice: I used carrots, takuan (Japanese pickled daikon) and rocket salad.

Clockwise from top left: Salad sushi with pickled ginger, edamame beans, plates for lunch, plum sake to drink and mandarins for dessert


To make the rice balls cook some Japanese (or sushi) rice as explained above but do not dress with rice vinegar, leave it plain. Start working it when it is still warm: wet your hands with water, and rub them with just a little salt, then shape the balls with your palms, sticking a whole ume (Japanese pickled plum) in the middle while you are working. This time I didn't put the ume inside but on top, for visual effect, and added a violet (edible) for decoration.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

With this recipe I take part in the contest VegetariaMo (Ricette Vegan) hosted by

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Kumara dip

Kumara, the New Zealand sweet potato, is a very Kiwi winter staple. There are different types of kumara, but the most common are the gold/yellow/orange ones, and the red ones. The reds look prettier, but if you peel them inside they are white, while the orange ones are still colourful under their skins.

Kumara are sweet and they mush and blend so well that I used them a lot when I was making baby food, years ago. The kids have progressed from baby food now, but I haven't stopped blending kumara: I am just adding more seasonings to it now :-).

Kumara dip

I used the orange kumara here, peeled. This is not a recipe as such, you can add what you like to your blend. Peel and boil the kumara, or roast them for more flavour. Blend with a couple of garlic cloves (peeled), salt and pepper, olive oil, lemon juice, and a fevourite spice (some examples are smoked paprika, cumin, coriander, or a mixture of all of the above if you like). Serve as a dip or with a plate of meze.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Cooking Taro

Taro is the Polynesian staple, usually baked or boiled, it is quite starchy and very filling. Being Italian I like to use olive oil, so after cleaning, peeling, cutting and boiling my taro, I dressed it with olive oil, salt flakes and chopped spring onions. It was truly yum!!!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©