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 ©