Sunday, January 20, 2019

Marzipan with Amaretto

Assorted natural flavours and colours, including green tea, cherry syrup, berry juice, candied citrus,
and some stuffed dates too!

Last Sunday I did a demo about making Marzipan at the Auckland Art Gallery, to celebrate Italian Language week with the Dante Auckland. I have a basic recipe which I always follow (without egg white, thus suitable for Vegans too) and you can find it here. But since almonds don't have much taste in NZ (sorry... need to be said) I always add a few apricot kernels (not too much, they are poisonous!) so follow this recipe carefully! Now, apricots are not in season yet, and I made a little variation, which worked well: I added a little drop of Amaretto.

Marzapane with Amaretto

200g raw almonds
100g icing sugar
1 tsp Amaretto

Blanch the almonds in boiling water and remove the skins. Keep a few almonds aside for decoration, if you like, and ground the rest into a fine powder, almost like a paste. Add the icing sugar and Amaretto and mix until you get a dough. Shape into your favourite morsels, and colour with berries, green tea powder, spirulina, or anything you like. Some ideas for shapes and colours here.

Perfect for presents! Coloured with cocoa, green tea and berries
Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Carrot leaf fritters, Vegan and gluten free

Having munched through everything green in the veggie garden I am left with the leaves of carrots, I usually make frittata with them, or fritters, and this time I tried a vegan experiment which was very successful (the kids looooved them). To be repeated soon, in the meantime here is the recipe.

Pick your carrots (mine are always small, since they grow in clay soil poor things). Keep the leaves, wash them well and remove the thicker stalks (a bit like cleaning parsley really).

To make the vegan batter I used the liquid from a can of chickpeas, two tbsp of chickpea flour, a good pinch of salt (or two), and the tip of tsp each of ground cumin, ground coriander and ground turmeric.

Then I added the carrot leaves

At this point you can add a chopped spring onion, or some chopped onion, or chives, but since I picked my first onion weeds I added a couple, bulb, stems and leaves, You can also add the flowers, but I kept them for decoration (i.e. to take the photo!). 

Spoon into a frying pan with hot vegetable oil and cook on both sides until crispy.

Drain on kitchen paper, sprinkle with salt (optional) and then serve, hot or cold, with a good squirt of lemon juice.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, January 14, 2019

Italian chips - patatine fritte (with olive oil, garlic and rosemary)

How silly can a recipe be? I never thought that I would bother writing something so basic, but the world where I live is so full of chips, and terrible chips I must say, that I very rarely eat them out, and very occasionally I like to make them at home the Italian way, patatine fritte, like we made on special occasions, usually on a Sunday. These are not deep fried but pan-fried, and they are flavoured with garlic and rosemary, 

Peel the potatoes, cut the potatoes into chip sizes, rinse (or just soak in water) and pat dry. Sizzle some garlic in a frypan with extra virgin olive oil, then add the chips and pan-fry stirring and/or shaking the pan constantly. I add just a little salt at the beginning, and remove the garlic before it burns. Then I add rosemary when they are nearly cooked (they takes about 20 minutes), finish with more salt and eat immediately (although if you cook them this way they are also tasty when cold, unlike British style chips). 

And now for something completely different (especially if you like birds!)

A Kereru! The New Zealand native wood pigeon, all puffed up and using her chest for a pillow.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Orecchiette con cime di rapa (o friarielli) e broccoli

The only reason I made these with both cime di rapa and broccoli is because in the garden I had just a handful of cime di rapa, so the broccoli made them go... further.

Wash the friarielli and broccoli, cut onto manageable pieces. Boil the water for the orecchiette, adding plenty of salt when the water boils, and before adding the orecchiette. In the meantime in a pot sizzle chopped garlic and a chili with olive oil, add the cime di rapa and broccoli, a small pinch of salt, and cook them stirring often, and adding the boiling water from the orecchiette (but only after you have put the orecchiette in!) from time to time. The cooking water from pasta is very useful for pasta sauces and for cooking vegetables this way. When the orecchiette are ready drain and add to the cime di rapa, stir well, add more olive oil and serve.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Vegan chocolate semifreddo, two ingredients only

This is intense and delicious, and yes, only two ingredients are required (well, plus water...). It tastes quite a bit like nama choco, an amazing Japanese chocolate which is made with cream, but there is no cream here, and it is also incredibly easy to make.


200 g dark chocolate (dairy free, and the best you can find)
100ml water
the liquid from a can of chickpeas (aquafaba)

Break the chocolate and place into a bowl with the water, and then onto a pot of boiling water to melt at bain marie. If you heat the water and the chocolate together they will mix perfectly. 

In the meantime beat the aquafaba until you get stiff peaks. 

When the chocolate is melted beat it with an electric beater until it cools down.

Add a spoon or two of aquafaba to soften, and then, spoon by spoon, add the chocolate to the aquafaba mixutre, folding well.

Pour into an ice cream container. It will look quite pale and have the consistency of a 'runny' mousse, but it will turn back into a strong dark chocolate colour while freezing.

Freeze for a few hours, then remove from the freezer 10 minutes before serving, wait for the edges to melt a little and then cut into slices and serve. This is really, really good!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©