Monday, January 16, 2017

Vivere in Nuova Zelanda: l'isola di Waiheke, e perché è bello vivere ad Auckland

La spiaggia di Onetangi, Waiheke
Ci sono sempre più italiani che arrivano in Nuova Zelanda, per vivere o per stare anche solo un anno con il Working Holiday Visa (e molti di questi sperano poi di rimanere più a lungo). Ovviamente non mancano le discussioni in rete, dalle richieste di aiuto e consigli alle lamentele. Vivere all'estero può essere difficile, ma non bisogna scoraggiarsi, e chi è 'sveglio' e si adatta a fare tutti i tipi di lavoro se la può cavare dovunque vada. Per quanto riguarda la Nuova Zelanda posso dire solo che sicuramente non si troverà la 'cultura' e 'vita mondana' di altri paesi, ma i paesaggi naturali sono ancora molto belli e ci si può rilassare di più. Avendo vissuto in altri tre continenti posso dire che Auckland ha un vantaggio enorme confronto ad altre città, sia in Nuova Zelanda che all'estero: circa 600 spiagge!
Alcune sono piccolissime, altre grandi, alcune proprio in città e altre a poca distanza, facilmente raggiungibili nell'arco massimo di un'ora (ed un'ora è molto poco, se si è vissuto a Londra, Tokyo o Milano). Oggi pubblico alcune foto di Waiheke. 

L'isola di Waiheke si trova a 40 minuti dal centro di Auckland, le tre spiagge più belle secondo me sono Oneroa (che però è anche la più frequentata, quindi non ci vado quasi mai), Onetangi e Palm Beach (la mia preferita).

La spiaggia di Onetangi, Waiheke
Si arriva a Waiheke con il traghetto, e poi si prende l'autobus per la spiagga (le distanze sono brevi). Ci sono anche vigneti ed altri posti da visitare a Waiheke, ma in questo post mi concentro sulle spiagge, visto che sono gratis! Mangiare nei vigneti e ristoranti solitamente è carissimo, quindi consiglio ai viaggiatori che non vogliono spendere di portare un picnic, in questo modo l'unica spesa saranno il costo del traghetto e dell'autobus.

Auckland vista dal traghetto per Waiheke

Palm Beach è affiancata da Little Palm Beach, che offre l'opzione naturista (cioè, si può essere sia nudi che in costume).

Palm Beach

Ovviamente il modo migliore per godersi il mare, le spiagge, le baie e tutto il golfo Hauraki (che comprende una grande quantità di isolette) è andare in barca. Molta gente ha la barca ad Auckland e se conoscete qualcuno fatevi invitare! Da bravi italiani potete sempre offrire di cucinare! 

L'isola è piena di conchiglie
Photos by Alessandra Zecchini©

Friday, January 13, 2017

Calendula and lavender face steam for teenagers (and everyone else)

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!, lovely aroma!)

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, January 12, 2017

How to make kale chips

I know that it is not season for kale, but we got quite a few seeds from the NewWorld's series Little Garden, and now I have plenty of curly kale! I like it but not as much as cavolo nero, but it is the best to make kale chips!

I had to wash the leaves 7 times (that was my Mother's 'magic' number when I was little and my job was to wash the salad!) to remove all the little bugs from the curls! After spinning the leaves I placed them on a oven tray lined with baking paper, bushed them with olive oil and sprinkled them with salt. I baked them for about 10-15 minutes (until they looked crispy and dark green). They taste a little like roasted seaweed. A yummy snack!

Garden flowers of the day: hydrangeas!

 Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Berries with stracciatella cream, and artichoke risotto

This is a super fast dessert: whip some cream and fold in some grated dark chocolate, cannot really see it much as it blends with the cream but the taste will be like a light chocolate mousse. Then top with strawberries and raspberries. So much better than those packaged instant whipped desserts!

And now for something that takes a little longer, but taste really good: artichoke risotto. I only had two artichokes and needed a meal for 4 people, and risotto was the ideal solution. Clean the artichokes and remove the outer leaves. Peel the stalks and cut into small pieces. Put everything in water with lemon juice while you work or the artichokes will become black. Finely chop a handful of parsley with a couple of garlic cloves and add salt. Stuff the artichokes with the chopped garlic and parsley and add a drizzle of olive oil. Place in a casserole, together with the stalks, and add 5cm of water. Simmer on low with the lid on for one hour or until cooked (the outer leaves will start to detach), adding a little hot
water from time to time. Prepare a litre of boiling vegetable stock (I used Rapunzel vegetable broth cubes). In a separate pot melt a tsp of butter and heat the rice (arborio or carnaroli) 100g per person, then add the artichokes and their juice. Then slowly add the vegetable stock stirring constantly until the risotto is ready. Adjust with salt if needed and serve immediately.

 Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Stained glass Christmas Cookies

I usually make stained glass cookie windows for the cookie house at Christmas, but this year I didn't get round to making a cookie house (you can find a recipe here with step by step images if you like) so I made some cookies, just for fun! All you need to do is cut out the cookies with a central pattern and fill the hole with some crushed candy.

The candy will melt while the cookies are baking, and harden as they cool. 

 Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christmas Fruit Platter with Balsamic

Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena goes well with fruit, and there is also a Balsamic cream you can buy which is less expensive and ideal to decorate plates.

 Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Fried zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta and basil

I have quite a few zucchini in the garden but not so many flowers yet, and I love fried zucchini flowers (you can find the step by step recipe here). So I decided to pick a few little zucchini with the flowers still attached and to stuff them. Clean the vegetables and flower, remove the stigma and the styles. Do not detach from the young zucchini. Mix a few tablespoons of ricotta with a pinch of salt, pepper, roughly broken basil leaves and a drop of olive oil. Stuff the flowers and twist the top to seal. Make a batter with egg, flour, a pinch of salt and thin with a little cold beer of water. Dip the zucchini and flowers in the batter to coat and then pan fry with olive oil, turning them so that they cook on all sides. They should be golden and crispy. Drain on kitchen paper, sprinkle with salt and serve. Use the remaining batter to coat zucchini slices, or sage leaves (look here!) or anything you like.

 Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, December 22, 2016

No waste post: Japanese style pickled radishes - and eat the leaves too!

I picked some lovely radishes from the vegetable garden, did you know that you can eat the leaves too? They are full of nutrients, as well as delicious!

Wash the radishes well, then cut in halves (or quarters if big), keeping attached some of the centre leaves. Set the outer leaves aside to use later.

These are the radishes (with the tender centre leaves) ready to pickle.

Add some salt, I used Japanese unrefined salt because I had it, but ordinary kitchen salt is fine.

Put another bowl over the radishes and then a weight on top (a rock, or anything heavy that you may have in the kitchen). Leave for a day and night, move the radishes from time to time if you like, to get them pressed. They will put out lots of water and create a brine.

This is what they will look like the day after.

Put into a jar with their brine and keep in the fridge (they will last a couple of weeks... maybe more but I don't know, we eat them quite quickly!

And now for the remaining leaves: since I had the above raw I decided to cook the rest for a few minutes in boiling water. 

Then I drained them and when cool I dressed them with soy sauce (gluten free readers can use tamari) and lemon juice. The portion looks small, but they are a perfect addition to a Japanese meal...

 like this one!

Vegan Japanese dinner with produce from my veggie garden

Clockwise from top left: rice with vegetable furikake, nimono of radish leaves, silken tofu with chrysanthemum leaves, rice with spinach, gari (pickled ginger). In the centre pickled radishes. Radishes, ginger, spinach and chrysanthemum all came from my garden

Yes chrysanthemum leaves are also edible (I was given a variety that only seems to make leaves, I like to eat them young). and if you want to know how to grow ginger and make your own gari click here

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

In the garden, and a fresh San Pellegrino drink for summer

The garden is full of produce and flowers, and also limes and mint, so cheers to summer in New Zealand with a glass of San Pellegrino sparkling water (just add fresh mint leaves and lime (or lemon). 

What else I have now? Silverbeet and rainbow chards, calendula and radishes (recipes coming soon)

and lovely dahlias.

The peonies are not from my garden (winter is not cold enough in Auckland to grow them, but I love them so much, so here is a photo for my pinterest board :-).

 Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Fried sage leaves - foglie di salvia fritte

I have beautiful sage leaves in the garden now, big and fat, perfect for frying! Make a batter with egg, flower and a pinch of salt, add some cold water to thin it down and coat the sage leaves. Fry in hot olive oil, drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle with salt. Serve with aperitivo. you can also fry sage leaves without batter, just as they are, they are delicious!

And now some flowers from my garden:


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