Monday, March 19, 2018

Vegan and gluten free Turmeric spoon dessert

After making successfully a turmeric creme, a mousse and a semifreddo, I also made a Vegan version, topped with fruit (blueberries and passion fruit from my garden). 

Mix 1 tbsp of cornflour with 2 tbsp of sugar and a pinch of turmeric powder. Slowly add 500ml or soy milk (or another vegetable milk of your choice), bring to the boil and simmer, stirring constantly, until it thickens. Pour into 4 dessert bowl (I use grappa/whisky glasses), and refrigerate. Before serving decorate with fruit (I used plums, nectarines, watermelon, blueberries and passion fruit).

Super delicious!

Fruit from the garden:

Veggies from the garden


And flowers

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Vegetarian in Lisbon, mostly eating cakes....

Architecture and patisseries!


What a lovely city, and the perfect place for a cake lover like me. So I am afraid to say that this is not exactly a Vegetarian guide, most of the photos are of sweet things! We stayed six days and every morning started with breakfast in a different patisserie, plus we had afternoon cakes too... being four of us we usually got a big selection and then shared, and always included at least one pastel de nata, Lisbon most famous custard flan. 

The Lisbon Cathedral, also called 

To find all kind of food I suggest a visit to the Time Out Market Lisboa

It is a cover market, bus also full of shops, eateries and restaurants

Try the Port!

And the spectacular eclairs!

But the best thing for me is that here we found a restaurant for lunch that also served Vegans, but not the usual Vegan food that you find all over the world...

They made us a Vegan Bacalau A Bras! Bacalau (cod) is the national dish, and in this rice dish they omitted the fish and eggs, added veggies and lots of potato sticks, and as a modern twist they topped the lot with a yummy black olive dust. Highly recommended. 

Those who ate cheese were equally happy, the cheese choice is excellent

Especially the famous Azeitão cheese, to be eaten with a spoon!

Jerónimos Monastery
Back to pastries! Since you will probably visit the  Jerónimos Monastery, or Hieronymites Monastery, in Belém, you won't fail to notice the queue in front of the Pastéis de Belém, a must stop for the most famous pastel de natas around!

Pastéis de Belém

Jerónimos Monastery

The monastery was beautiful, but personally I preferred The Lisbon Cathedral, also called , which is the oldest church in the city and with beautiful tombs.

The Lisbon Cathedral, also called 

The Lisbon Cathedral, also called 

Tumbs in the Lisbon Cathedral, also called 

More photos! But be careful, lots of dairy and eggs here, and many cakes based on ovo mole, a concoction that reminded me of my grandmother sbattutino (egg yolk beaten with lots of sugar), something that she made us when we were a bit tired. Calories galore!! I also found some sweet potato cakes (Broas Castelares) that I used to eat in Japan (Portuguese merchants were among the first European to reach Japan).  Really hard for Vegans though... 

The São Jorge Castle was pretty, a nice walk up to digest all those sweet treats!

São Jorge Castle

 I liked the tiles all around the city

Another place I liked was the aquarium

And finally, a must do is to go and listen to Fado.  We went into one of the most famous Fado Houses, they had two vegetarian options, which we got, nothing special, nor were the salads, but you don't go to these places for the cuisine, you go for the music, and that was top!

On the last night we went to a Vegetarian restaurant, and there are quite a few, just check out the Happy Cow! But the majority seem to be Indian/Nepali or similar, which is ok when you are tired of eating cakes, or pasta dishes (as an Italian I can eat others' vegetarian lasagne if I am hungry, but up to a point). On night we even went to a pizzeria which had Vegan and vegetarian pizza, but what is the point? I wanted to have local dishes... In short, we were tired and hungry and needed to fill up, and the place was ok, a buffet style eatery I guess not different from any other similar eateries, so no need to name, just rest assure that there are plenty around if you really need a big Vegan/vegetarian feed.

What I liked best in Lisboa? Well, difficult to say, there are a lot of grand monuments and old buildings...
Plaza del Comercio
Padrão dos Descobrimentos
And charming details, although sadly many old houses are run down

Perhaps the best thing for me was the light,  a city build up in different layers of colours which seem to reflect with the light of the Tagus River estuary... I think it was magical. Bye Bye Lisboa!

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Baby zucchini, zucchini flower and basil leaf beer tempura

This was so yum!!!! My zucchini plants now make only little zucchini, they must be tired. But baby zucchini are so delicious and special, and the flowers too, that I decided to make something scrumptious, like tempura. And also to add some big basil leaves: I love leaves in tempura, but I never tried Italian basil, it was amazing!!

For the batter I used a tempura flour mix and, instead of water, a chilled Peroni Leggera beer. Using cold beer produce a crispy tempura, plus you can drink beer while you are cooking :-).

Don't overtax the batter, make sure the oil is really hot, and cook the baby zucchini first, then the flowers and the basil leaves. sprinkle with salt and serve, with more beer!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Gramigna con panna, funghi e noci

Gramigna is a type of pasta usually found in Emilia Romagna. Shaped like curls, it comes in different sizes and sometimes is green (or mixed, like here). It requires a 'heavy' or creamy sauce, so it is common to see it with bolognese sauce or sausage and cream or similar. It is not my favourite pasta, but every now and them I would have it, and my vegetarian suggestion is to serve it with a creamy mushroom sauce. 

Soak some dried porcini mushrooms, clean and slice some fresh mushrooms. 
Pan fry the fresh mushrooms with a little butter, then add the porcini mushrooms and their soaking water, plus  half an organic vegetable stock cube, if you are cooking for 2, or a whole one, if you are cooking for 4. When all the water has been absorbed add 100-200 ml of cream and a handful of walnut kernels, and cook for five more minutes. Finely chop a peeled garlic clove with a handful of Italian parsley (adding a pinch of salt too to aid the chopping). Add to the sauce. Finish with black pepper and then dress the pasta. If too dry add more cream. In Italy the cream for pasta is thick and mixes well, in NZ we only have one type of cream, rich but very liquid, the important thing is to make sure that the result is not too watery. Serve with grated Parmigiano Reggiano and accompany with Lambrusco or Pignoletto wine.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, February 12, 2018

Turmeric semifreddo, and Turmeric Mousse

10 years ago I made a turmeric cake, it was well before the 'turmeric fad', and definitely an experiment (that came out well!) but the most important thing for me is that it made me look at the spice in a new light, i.e. for desserts! This time I made a creamy mousse which, when frozen, becomes a delicious semifreddo. I made 8, 4 for the fridge and 4 for the freezer, I liked the semifreddo more, and so did my son, while husband and daughter preferred the mousse, it is all a matter of taste of course, but conveniently this recipe makes 8 portions and everyone could be happy.


1 egg
1 tbsp cornflour
3 tbsp sugar
half tsp turmeric powder
250 ml milk
300 ml cream
cornflowers to decorate (optional, and see note at the end)

Mix the egg with the cornflour, sugar and turmeric powder, then add the milk slowly and bring to the boil, stirring constantly with a whisk. When the custard is thick remove from heat and keep stirring until it cools down, adding 50 ml of cream (not whipped) as you do so, to make the custard nice and creamy. 

Whip the rest of the cream and then start adding it to the custard, little by little, and folding gently with a spatula. 

Halfway through (when you have used half of the cream), do the reverse: add the custard to the cream bowl, always folding gently. 

The resulting mixture will be quite pale, but it will become more bright and yellow after freezing and/or refrigerating. 

Now spoon the cream into 8 ramekins (still gently, to keep it nice and fluffy) 

Sprinkle with petals (optional) and then freeze for a few hours (for a semifreddo) or refrigerate overnight (for mousse).

For a semifreddo remove the ramekins from the freezer 20-30 minutes before serving; serve the mousse straight from the fridge. FYI, I have also tasted the custard before adding the cream, and it was scrumptious, perfect for a tart or to fill a sponge or for a trifle... will work more on it!

As for cornflowers, usually the they have a little pungent taste (a bit like clove) and I never used them for dessert before, but these from my garden didn't taste pungent, in fact they were quite 'bland', maybe because of all the rain we had? Not sure, but anyway, they are pretty and edible, and as I was using some to garnish basmati rice I kept the rest for the dessert. Taste them before using them though, and if they are pungent choose another flower for this (or any) dessert.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©


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