Sunday, June 30, 2013

Our 'tramp' to raise money for The Moodie Report Charity Educathlon

We were set to do 7 km, but in the end we walked about 10 km in the beautiful Waitakere Ranges.
There was mud, and a little rain too, but mostly we were blessed with good weather and fantastic scenery.

We also saw some big Kauri trees, impressive!

We walked from the Arataki Visitor Centre to the Lower Huia Reservoir, stopping halfway at the Hamilton Saddle for lunch.

Thank you to all who supported and sponsored us. Click here to see how much we raised.

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, June 28, 2013

Wholemeal apple cake

I have lots of organic apples to use, so this cake is actually packed with apples! I use about 10, peeled and thinly sliced and sprayed with lime juice (I usually use lemon, but I have lots of organic limes too).
For the batter I used 3 large free range eggs, 130 g demerara sugar, 120 g melted salted butter, a pinch of ground cinnamon and 180 g wholemeal flour. At the end I added half a tsp of cream of tartar and 1/3 of baking soda. I folded the apples in, and poured everything into a baking tin. For the topping I used 6 tbsp of wholemeal flour, 3 tbsp of demerara sugar and 50 g of salted butter, cubed. I mixed the topping to make a crumble and spread it over the cake. I baked the cake at 180°C and it took forever! About one hour or a bit longer! I guess it was because it had so many apples in it. But in the end it was just so yummy and moist and it lasted about 5 days!

I am entering this recipe to Sweet New Zealand, the monthly blogging event for Kiwi bloggers. Our July 2013 host is Nicola from Homegrown Kitchen, click here to enter.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, June 24, 2013

Chocolate, vanilla, cream... and grappa desserts in fancy grappa glasses

I have these really cute grappa glasses, they are small straight tubes with one side of the glass almost 'melted' into it, like a thumb had been pressing it... and in fact it is quite nice to hold! Possibly these are not so practical for dessert (fortunately I have some tiny long spoons) but I wanted to use them, just for look.  So here is the recipes

For the Vanilla layer:
3 free range eggs
4 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp flour
1.5 l full cream milk
Vanilla essence
1 tsp grappa

For the Chocolate layer:
Just add some 72% dark chocolate to the vanilla mixture (about 50 g)
Add more grappa if you like

For the Cream:
Just whip some cream

Mix the eggs with the sugar and flour and add the milk slowly. Simmer until the custard thickens then add the vanilla essence and grappa. Pour half in a jug and stir. Add the chocolate to the rest and stir, then pour into the glasses (bowls, cups, trifle bowl...). Let it set then add the vanilla layer. Refrigerate then top it with whipped cream.

I know that this is number 3 this month, but I feel like sweet things, so here we go, another entry for Sweet New Zealand, the monthly blogging event for Kiwi bloggers. Our June host is Sue, click here to enter.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A big cheese scone ring

I felt like baking something savoury, like cheese scones, but instead of making individual ones (like you are supposed to do with scones) I made a cheese scone ring, it was soft and delicious, especially when still warm from the oven, cut in slices and served with butter. A great afternoon snack for a rainy day, when it is nice to have the oven on and the kitchen warm and smelling of baking.


1 egg plus 3 eggs yolks
200 g self raising flour
100 g grated cheese (like Edam)
1 pinch dried mixed Italian herbs (rosemary, sage, parsley, thyme)
1 cup milk
Salt to taste

Mix all the ingredients and pour into a ring tin greased with butter. Bake at 180°C until the top is golden and the "big scone" is shrinking away from the edges of the tin. 

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, June 21, 2013

A 'tramp' to raise money for five educational charities

Hi all,

On Sunday 30 June our family (Peter, Arantxa, Max and I) will be doing a 7 km tramp in the Waitakere Ranges as part of The Moodie Report Charity Educathlon.

This global event is raising money for five educational charities in Brazil, India, Haiti, Bahrain and Turkey. We will be participating as a team, doing our kilometres on tracks around the Nihotupu/Hamilton Track area.

If you are able to support this worthy cause, please visit to make a donation. Note that donations are in British pounds (£1 = approx NZ$2) and our target is £250 / NZ$500.

Thank you!

Peter, Alessandra, Arantxa & Max

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Flowers on Pinterest

Are you on Pinterest? Well, I have so many food boards, quite an addiction really, and guess what... my most popular board is the this one about flowers! But I have to admit that it is an easy board to manage: no recipe links, just images, and flowers are always beautiful! 

Have a great day!

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, June 17, 2013

Minestrone with the last veggies from the garden

My garden is now empty, except for some miniature leeks (a kind name for leeks that haven't grown) a few solitary small potatoes trapped in clay, and some mizuna. Pots still have herbs and some timid Alpine strawberries (incredible!), but for the rest... all gone! I save everything, even ugly carrots and watery yellow zucchini, and even the green tomatoes: in a minestrone soup all tastes good.

My favourite were the beans, it is just so much fun shelling them and look at the beautiful colours. Pity that they become all brown during cooking.

And here is the minestrone. No recipe, just wash, chop and boil, add salt to taste and extra virgin olive oil at the end. So tasty and healthy! Some of the photos are mine, but the prettiest are Arantxa's!

Photos and recipe by Alessandra Zecchini and Arantxa Zecchini Dowling ©

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The human, the cat and the fridge

Marameo spends more time in the kitchen than me these days, always positioned in front of the fridge. I am sure that she resents humans for being able to open it, while she cannot. And she needs milk! Meow meow meow stupid human the fridge door is here, here look! Open it! Meow meow meow get the milk out! Meow meow meow oh this is so irritating, I know that you came here to make a cup of tea, I can hear the kettle, make sure that it is a milk tea and give some milk to me too. Meow meow meow, why do you take so long! Humans are so slow meow meow... oh why can't I just open the fridge myself!!!

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Feijoa zest agar agar jelly

In this post you can find the recipe for the feijoa zest syrup, and from it I took about one tsp of sezt for the feijoa zest meringues. The leftover syrup (full of zest) was about 350 ml, and I decided to use it to make a little jelly with agar agar. I added a level tsp of agar agar and brought it back to the boil. The I poured it into a jelly mould and waited. It tasted great and was quite a visual treat, with all the zest floating in jelly! 

In fact I think that I will enter this one too for Sweet New Zealand, the monthly blogging event for Kiwi bloggers. Our June host is Sue, click here to enter. 

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Feijoa zest meringues for Sweet New Zealand

In this post I mentioned using feijoa zest, I have use them before for this cordial, but I wanted to experiment more. Feijoa zest is bitter, that kind of bitter that makes you think that in large doses could be poison (possibly, anyone knows?) just like apricot kernels or fern fronds, but in small amounts, and occasionally, they feel safe (and I am still alive!). And they were good, possibly not as good as my favourite passion fruit meringues, but still good! 

First I put into a pot the zest of about 20 feijoas (you don't need all these, but there is another recipes coming out of this!) with 500 ml of water and 100 g of sugar, and I made a thin syrup. Then I drained about a tsp of zest and set it aside for the meringues. With the rest I made agar agar jelly (the next post). For the meringues I used 3 eggs white at room temperature and 150 g of sugar (normal white sugar). Once the egg whites and sugar were well beaten and stiff I added the zest and also one tbsp of cornflour to 'dry' the mixture (moisture from adding fruit or something moist to the meringue mixture can ruin meringues). I spooned the meringues on an oven tray and baked them at 50°C for about 4 hours. They were crunchy outside but moist inside. I tasted them first, for poison of course, and then I offered them at my Slow Food committee meeting. Nice to have foodies to experiment on!

This recipe is for Sweet New Zealand, the monthly blogging event for Kiwi bloggers. Our June host is Sue, click here to enter.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The joy of free feijoas, and feijoa smoothie

Feijoa is one of those fruits that really symbolize Kiwiana for me, and in particular the joy of sharing produce in New Zealand. There is always someone ready to share feijoas in New Zealand, and this to me is like sharing joy: no matter how little fruit my plans produce (I think that this year I had 3!) in a way or another a bucket of feijoas alway reach my kitchen from another garden. This time it was a Dante member who brought in tons of feijoas at the Italian school. We gave many to the children and then there were still lots left for me to take home. We mostly eat them with a spoon, but for a big feijoa zing try a shake: for 4 smoothies I used about 10-12 feijoas and some natural apple juice: so delicious and full of vitamins!

Another thing I love about feijoas is their smell, so fresh and tropical! So I like to use the zest too, and made more recipes which I hope to publish soon (a peak preview here).

Keeping the green theme going, these small capsicums are the last thing I got our of my garden the other day. They didn't turn yellow-orange like the previous ones, but it was time to uproot the plant, and I fried them :-).

And this is Marameo, keeping me company in the kitchen (I mean, she is there just to see what she can get to eat, but still, she is company!). And she got big green eyes!

Have a lovely week everyone!

Photos and Recipe by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Antipasto easy easy: pickled peppers stuffed with feta and herbs

You can see them in the deli department of all the supermarkets, little red peppers stuffed with feta, and they are not cheap! But mostly, if you have a big party they go too quickly! But for a fraction of the deli price you can buy a couple of jars of sweet pickled peppers and a block of creamy feta, and then you just need a few herbs from the garden, and a little milk to thin down the feta. And a bit of patience!

Cut the feta (goat or cow) and place in a bowl, then with a fork start to mix it, adding some milk until you have a paste as thick as Greek yogurt. If you cannot find feta cheese, or for a milder flavor, use cream cheese. Chop some herbs like basil, dill, chives and/or parsley (or what you have fresh in the garden). You can use just one herb or a mixture of herbs. Or you can use an already flavoured feta, or dried spices like black pepper and cumin seeds (a combo that I particularly like with cream cheese). 

Mix the herbs with the feta mixture. In the meantime drain the pickled peppers and place open side down on a plate to drain all their liquid for 30 minutes or so. Then with a teaspoon fill all the peppers with a little feta mixture. This take time but it isn't difficult, as the cheese mixture is soft and will 'pour' easily inside the little peppers. Finally refrigerate everything for a few hours (better overnight) so that the feta mixture will set, and serve as an antipasto or canapés. Leftover feta mixture can be used as a dip.

Photos and Recipe by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Little Italy in Auckland!

The Food Truck episode with the Italian Festival, screening soon!

The Food Truck series 3 will start on TV ONE this Sunday at 800pm. And if you would like to watch Michael Van de Elzen at our last Italian Festival make sure not to miss episode 4, on 30th of June, 8pm, TV ONE. The Title is 
Little Italy

Sunday June 30 8pm TV ONE  Episode 4 Little Italy

Monday, June 3, 2013

How the Italians celebrated the Festa della Repubblica on the other side of the world

We celebrated at Gina's, with our Italian Ambassador, the Honorary Consul and many Kiwi friends.   Click here for more images (o per leggere il post in italiano).

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Frittelle di castagne

This was my last batch of chestnut flour (pity!) and I made the chestnut fritters that I always ate as a child in Italy. When I say always I mean every week in Autumn and Winter (and sometimes every day), I ate so many that for many years I didn't miss them, but now they are a special treat, as I need to source the flour in Italy!

The best thing about these fritters is that chestnut flour is naturally sweet, so no sugar is needed. Also these are vegan and gluten free, all you need is chestnut flour, water, sultana (optional) and some oil for frying. You can find the recipe here, if you can get some chestnut flour, that is :-). And if you do find it in New Zealand, please let me know!!

Photos and Recipe by Alessandra Zecchini ©


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