Sunday, August 20, 2017

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 ©

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Italian chips and beautiful things in my garden

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 something from my garden

The pink orchids are glorious this year, the yellow ones will follow soon, and every year they cheer me up in the middle of the Auckland winter.

And then, look who is sleeping on one of the Nikau palms!

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

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

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, July 4, 2017

From my mountains...

I was in Italy in spring, enjoying the flowers in the mountains, and the village fairs. After Easter there is this game in Fanano, coccetto, where you try to crack your opponent eggs (hard boiled and painted). Great fun for the children, and the adults!

 Walking in the countryside builds appetite!

Had my favourite, tortelloni, while my brother had cannelloni and my sister in law gnocchetti with cheese and aceto balsamico. Plus we shared some fried veggies (with lots of fried artichokes).

The village of Fanano

A view of the Libro Aperto (open book) mountains

Staples at home: bread, parmigiano and lambrusco


Found a few mushrooms, not enough for a meal, but with a few zucchini enough to dress a plate of pasta

The garden is actually a wood with wild flowers

Sestola, my village

After a pizza they gave us free limoncello... tons of it!!

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, June 29, 2017

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 ©

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Italian flat beans with impatiens and feta dressing (sauce)

 Impatiens are colourful and easy to grow (my garden is always full of them) and taste a little bit like rocket salad. I prefer to pick the red ones for eating, and here is an easy recipe: 

1 cup of petals, cleaned, rinsed and dried on a clean tea-towel
50 g of feta
50ml extra virgin olive oil
(optional, a few drops of lemon juice or white wine vinegar)

Blend until you have a coarse sauce (you can make it smoother, but I like to see little bits of petals)
Add salt and pepper to taste, if you wish, although the feta is already salty, and the impatiens are already 'peppery' so these flavours may be enough. The lemon juice or wine vinegar are also optional.

I poured the source over some Italian flat beans (teghe), boiled and cooled, and the flavours worked well together, but other vegetables could also be suitable, basically anything that goes well with feta!

And here some roses for my Pinterest board.

Buona domenica!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Vegetarian stop-over in Doha, Qatar

Souk Watif, Doha

I flew with Qatar Airways from New Zealand to Italy (my longest flight, 17 and an half hours, Auckland to Doha), and decided to stop a couple of days in Doha on the way back, to add a new country in my world map.

Usually if I can the first thing I do is to walk a supermarket to stock up with vegetarian snacks, and I can happily say that for two days in Doha I could live just on dates!

So many varieties, and they all look so good ... but of course I also wanted other things, like some still warm flat bread. I arrived in front of the bakery at a good time apparently, since I had to almost wrestle through a group of men all wanting to grab the best bread - no women, maybe bread is something men shop for? Then I wanted to grab some labne, a real staple in this part of the world. And then a bottle of pomegranate juice (also very common), and from the delicatessen some vegetarian pastries (similar to samosa) which were quite spicy and tasty. The Mango was imported, like most of the produce I guess, in act I was surprised to see how many apples they imports, I had a few at the hotel (free by the fitness centre) and it is quite likely that they came from New Zealand. Then, for dessert, I opened a pack of dates. 

Bird houses in Katara

Bird houses in Katara

Book exchange in Katara

Breakfast in the hotel was good and after my sweet selection (with cappuccino), I also had a small platter of local food.

A lot of the food reminds me of the colours of the sand and desert, hummus, labne, halwa, naboulsi cheese... all good vegetarian staff (and lots if vegan too). The honey also is delicious, and there are many types too.


Halwa is another specialty, and fresh halwa is moist and not as sweet as the imported ones.

The city is mostly modern and you can find all types of food here, but no alcohol, this is available only in a few major hotels. 

Souk Watif
If you only have a few hours free in the city (Doha is a stop-over rather than a destination) and you have to choose only one place to visit I recommend Souk Watif, which has kept a bit of his history and old buildings. The Souk (bazar) is colourful and inexpensive, and nobody will bother you trying to sell you things. I already have full bags otherwise I would have got a few kitchen things and maybe a dress too...

Souk Watif

Souk Watif

Souk Watif

A man and his falcon in Souk Watif
Camels in Souk Watif

Arabian horses in Souk Watif

yummy paprika
The best thing about the Souk was that it was already buzzing in the morning, unlike many other areas, like the new cultural centre of Katara (or Katara beach). If you want to see some life in these areas you need to go in the late afternoon or evening.



In my day trip I was also taken to the artificial island called The Pearl, this is for fancy designer stores and restaurants, and also absolutely deserted in the morning.

The Pearl-Qatar

The Pearl-Qatar

Souk Watif

Souk Watif

Souk Watif

Souk Watif

Souk Watif

Souk Watif

Souk Watif

Souk Watif

Souk Watif

Souk Watif

View from the Movenpick West Bay Doha
Movenpick West Bay Doha

I was offered some snack in the hotel on my last afternoon, they told me that I had been selected as the 'client of the day', and these gave me a chance to try different nuts, some coated with spices, which I did see in the shops but were in bags to big for me to buy or take home. Well, I guess that I could have easily lived on dates AND nuts alone for a couple of days. And halwa.

Movenpick West Bay Doha

Four Seasons Hotel Doha

Four Seasons Hotel Doha

Four Seasons Hotel Doha

Four Seasons Hotel Doha

Four Seasons Hotel Doha


Photos  by Alessandra Zecchini ©


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