Sunday, May 27, 2012

Vegan Banana Cake, with sultana and grappa


2 tbsp sultana
1 small glass of grappa
5 ripe bananas
A few drops of lemon
100 g icing sugar + some for dusting
100 ml vegetable oil
200 g self rising flour

Soak the sultana in the grappa. Mush the bananas with the lemon juice, add the sugar and the other ingredients and beat well, then fold in the sultanas with the grappa. Grease a cake mould and pour the cake mixture in, bake at 180°C for approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Reverse onto a serving plate and serve warm or cold. This cake is very moist and delicious, great with tea or coffee, I even have it for breakfast (don't worry about the grappa, you can barely taste it and the alcohol is all gone!).

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini  ©

This recipe is for Sweet New Zealand, the monthly blogging event hosted this month of May by Jemma

Saturday, May 19, 2012

TTT: Taiwanese Tofu with Tomato

Ok, the TTT name is my invention, but the recipe is really Taiwanese. Several years ago I had a Taiwanese baby-sitter, she was also vegetarian (in Taiwan there is a strong vegetarian Buddhist tradition) and she didn't cook with garlic, onion, chives and leeks (this is the old Buddhist tradition). She taught me a lot of recipes... no, not recipes, maybe I should say 'ways of cooking'.

This recipe is so basic that I almost thought of not putting it on the blog, but the fact is that it is quite amazing!! In my Italian brain I never thought of combining tomatoes with tofu and soy sauce this way, it didn't feel right, and I was quite skeptical when she showed it to me. And then I tasted it: WOWOWOW, it works!

And not only it works, the kids love it, and it is so easy and quick... and in a way it feels so ... ethical!
Yes, just a few low cost ingredients, not much time or energy needed, and lots of proteins.

I usually used some red ripe tomatoes, but I had some ripe little orange tomatoes to finish, and so they went: cut and placed into the frying pan/wok/pot with a little vegetable oil (olive oil works well) and a small pinch of salt. Of course you could also add garlic, but the original recipe, as I said before, doesn't allow for allium of any type. Cook on high, stirring constantly, when the tomatoes start to mush into a sauce add the cubed tofu, stir and then add one or two tbs of soy sauce (I use only Japanese soy sauce, Kikkoman or Yamasa) or gluten free tamari sauce if you are gluten free, and stir until the tofu is really hot (a couple of minutes only). Top with fresh chopped coriander if you like, and serve immediately with rice or noodles.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

I enter this recipe in Cooking to Combat Cancer

Monday, May 14, 2012

No knead flat bread with seeds (sesame and cumin)

My motto is "when in doubt bake some bread!" Not cake but bread, my kids like bread over cakes, which is good, since I like it too! This is easy, a mixture between flat bread and focaccia really: place 300 ml warm water in a large mixing bowl, add 2 tsp active yeast granules and 1/4 tsp raw sugar. Wait 5 minutes then add 400 g high grade flour and 1 tbsp wheat gluten flour, plus a good pinch of salt. Mix with one hand (sticky!), then dust with four, cover with cling film and let it rise for 2 hours. After 2 hours flour your hands and then pick up the dough and divide into two pieces which you will pull to make two long loaves (like in the picture). 

Place the loaves on a long baking tray (I have a 90 cm oven) or make 4 smaller loaves if you have a regular oven. brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and then with seeds. I used sesame seeds on one loaf and cumin seeds on the other one. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200° C for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until you can see that the bread is baked on top and on the bottom (lift to check). Eaten warm is fantastic, but it keeps well for a couple of days, or at least, it would, but we tend to eat it pretty quickly! The kids prefer the cumin seeds, and so do I actually, but it is nice to have the sesame seeds too, once the cumin seeds is all gone!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Artichokes Roman Style

Kazuyo gave me 4 artichokes, so we got one each and I cooked them alla romana, the best way to make a few artichokes go a long way. Cut the spikes off, and the stalks and then immediately put the artichokes in water and lemon (so that they don't become black) to wash them. Finely chop plenty of Italian parsley with garlic and a pinch of salt, and use this to fill the centre of each artichoke. Place the artichokes side up in a pot, drizzle some olive oil in the centre of each artichoke and add a little water at the bottom (about 2 fingers). Cover with a lid and simmer on low for a long time (1-2 hours) adding water from time to time. The artichokes are ready when the leaves easily detach with your fingers. 

This is Vegan and Gluten Free

To eat the artichokes remove the harder outer leaves with your fingers and just scrape the flesh off with your teeth (keep a bowl on the side to discard the used leaves) until you get to the heart, which can be eaten whole. The remaining stock is excellent for risotto. One artichoke per person is just right!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Beans and flowers

This salad is really simple: I just chopped half red onion and marinated it for 30 minutes in white balsamic condiment of Modena (FYI, white balsamic vinegar of Modena doesn't exist, it can only be called 'condiment') and then I added one can of Italian butter beans and one can of Italian chickpeas (obviously drained and rinsed...), salt, extra virgin olive oil, and flowers from my garden: chive flowers, borage flowers and calendula petals. Easy but yummy!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©