Sunday, November 25, 2018

Mashroom Magic with Tofu Puffs

Mushrooms are my favourite vegetables, except that they are not vegetables... they are fungi, and I like all fungi (as long as they are edible). For this dish I used a mixture of dried and fresh mushrooms. The dried mushrooms are an Asian mix of different mushrooms, which I soaked in water for an hour or so. The fresh one are oyster mushrooms and common button mushrooms. I cleaned them and then sliced the button ones, while I left the oyster mushrooms whole (a pity to cut them!).

In a large skillet I heated a little vegetable oil with a few drops of sesame oil, then added all the mushrooms (I drained the dried mushrooms, but kept the water) and cooked them turning often until they stopped trowing out water. At this point I added the tofu puffs (fried tofu pieces, available in most tofu shops and Asian stores) the mushrooms water and Japanese soy sauce (not too much). After all the liquid was gone I added a little lemon juice, tasted to see if more soy sauce was needed (for salt) and finished with chopped coriander. Golly they were delicious, and so simple too! Serve with rice.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Capsicum staffed with couscous and crispy roasted capsicum skins

This recipe is also about not wasting food!

It is very common to find capsicums (bell peppers) staffed with rice, but couscous can be as good. First boil wash well and the whole capsicums for 5-10 minutes to soften. In the meantime place a cup of instant couscous in a bowl that you can cover with a lid, add some olive oil, salt, and a mixture of dried and semi-dried tomatoes, cut into stripes. Cover with boiling water (and here you can use the capsicums water, if you want to save it!). Cover with a lid.

remove the capsicums from the hot water (use for the couscous) and cut the top off (careful, they will be hot!) and if it peels off easy, the skin. Keep the skin aside. When the couscous is nice and fluffy use it to fill the capsicums. At this stage you can add more things, like tempeh, tofu or anything you like. 

Place the capsicums top on and bake for approx. 30 mins.

You can also roll out the skins, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and then bake until golden.

They will come out like thin crisps, super delicious, and perfect as an aperitif or as a garnish to your stuffed capsicums. A good way to use the skin of tomatoes and other vegetables too!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Miniature Sushi, every piece is a grain of rice

I find it very relaxing to make miniature food, and I particularly enjoyed making this. 
Could it be the smallest sushi in the world? Each piece is exactly a grain of rice! But it is easier that you may think, just check the video out.

I made the rice like regular sushi rice (recipe here) and for the toppings I just used a variety of Japanese pickles, plus nori and bamboo shoots, so this is actually a vegan sushi. It looked super cute!!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, November 16, 2018

Smoothie with fresh turmeric (curcuma)

After a few smoothies with turmeric powder (lovely, I must say), I decided to buy the fresh root and give it a try. It is milder (well, I didn't use tons!) and fresher, with a different 'zing', a bit like fresh ginger.

For this smoothie I used a banana, some frozen mango, a kiwi gold (yellow kiwi), a piece of fresh turmeric root (peeled) and coconut water as a base. I was expecting the smoothie to be more yellow, of course not as yellow as with turmeric powder, but at least a bit more than what I got, so more cutting of roots and more 'experiments' are needed :-).

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, April 16, 2018

Schiacciata con pomodorini - cherry tomato schiacciata

 This schiacciata is easy as it doesn't need muck kneading.

For the schiacciata:
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 500 g high grade flour and 1 tbsp wheat gluten flour, plus a good pinch of salt. Mix well then dust with four, cover with cling film and let it rise for 2 hours. After 2 hours place a little olive oil on your hands and then gently mix the dough, pick it up and place it on a baking sheet cut so that it will fit you over tray (I have a 90cm oven so one long tray is good for me, for a standard oven divide the dough into two pieces). Roll the dough to cover the baking paper and then place on the baking tray. Brush with more oil if you like, then cut the cherry tomatoes into halves and place over the down, pressing them down lightly. Sprinkle with salt and oregano (chopped garlic too if you like).

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! 

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Eat your colour in a minestrone soup

Lovely colourful vegetables from the garden (except the red onions), all ready for a minestrone. From the bottom: red onions, rainbow chard, carrots, yellow beans, silverbeet stalks, celery, green beans, flat beans, kale. Just add water and salt.

Wishing you all a colourful week!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, March 12, 2018

Tofe con friarielli (cime di rapa)

For the first time in my life I planted friarielli (cime di rapa), I got the seeds from Slow Food Auckland and I was so excited that I didn't wait for Autumn but I planted them straight away. Auckland is hot and wet, so they grew fast and started flowering quickly, I had to pick them before they seeded even if the tops were small. But they were delicious. I also have to confess that I ate some as salad, when the leaves were very young, and they are probably one of the best alternative to rocket salad around.

After I got my first batch I cleaned it and then cooked in a pan with olive oil, garlic and salt. You can add chilli, but I prefer to taste the friarielli rather than the chilli. Simmer them slowly with a lid for 20-30 minutes stirring often, if they are fresh you don't need to add water (mine came directly from the veggie garden!). The best pasta to have them with is orecchiette, but I didn't have any so I used some tofe, which are close enough in shape, but different in flavour! Still, they were great, or maybe it is just me, happy with my new crop of friarielli!

And now for the bouquet of the day from my garden!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Risi e bisi coi baccelli - Fresh pea risotto with pea pod broth (waste not!)

Peas are a precious crop for me, I don't like to buy big bags of frozen peas like everyone seems to do in New Zealand (and other countries), it makes them feel 'cheap' and 'common' and an everyday boring side veggie.

I like my fresh peas and I like them to be the main player in a dish, like for risi e bisi, a traditional risotto dish from Veneto, Italy. And the best part of growing them? Is to keep the pods, and as I am a NO-FOOD-WASTE advocate, to use them to make stock, which will be the base of the risotto. So shell the peas and keep the pods, wash them well and place them in a pot with water (I used about 1.2 litres of water for a basket of peas) and rock salt and simmer for at least one hour. You can also add a little parsley or celery leaves to the stock, but not too much as they have very strong flavour. Filter the stock and keep hot. You can also cut the pods into tiny strips and add them to the risotto, but I just gave them to some hungry visiting chickens (big mistake, they are always around my house now!!).

To prepare the risotto chop an onion and saute with margarine or soy butter (olive oil ok but vegetable butter is better for this). Butter should still be bubbling when you add the rice (I used arborio). Stir until the rice is hot then add the peas.

Stir again and then start adding the stock, little by little. If you use a good casserole you can cover the risotto from time to time and let is absorb the liquid, otherwise keep stirring and adding stock until the risotto is ready.

Towards the end test for salt and add a little pepper if you like. Eat hot. Leftovers are good to make croquettes or arancini the day after.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, February 5, 2018

Plum and strawberry smoothie

This is the season for plums, and we also have a few last strawberries in the garden, enough to add to smoothies and make them sweet! In fact I love the fact that plums are a little tart, but they do benefit from the strawberry sweetness. As a base I used half apple juice and half coconut water. Perfect breakfast!

And now a few things from my garden!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Two recipes for face steam for teenagers (and everyone else): Calendula and lavender face steam, and calendula, rose and sage face steam

Calendula and lavender face steam

Something a little different today, not food but a floral face steam for my two teenagers! I have plenty of calendula and lavender in the garden so I picked some petals and put them in a bowl. Then you just need to add boiling water and enjoy a face steam. My kids loved it, and I am planning to dry some of the petals to keep for winter... just need a bit of sun though!!  (PS, the rose is just for fun.. but you could add rose petals too, try the next recipe).

Calendula, rose and sage face steam

This is also very aromatic: use calendula as the base since is it good for healing skin from acne, and add rose petals and sage flowers (which have a milder flavour that sage leaves). Also good to clear nose and mind!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©