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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Fresh Pasta with Leaves and Flowers






I have been making pasta with herbs for years now, a good party trick, easy and effective. But I never had much luck with flowers, usually I got strips of colour and little more... until now. I am not sure if this is the reason but... I made a little change to my pasta dough. Usually I make fresh pasta with flour and eggs, the ratio being 100 g of flour to one free range egg. This time for 300 g of flour and 3 eggs I also added 1 tbsp of olive oil. At first I did this to make my job easier: I have little cold hands, not really suitable for pasta making. I could never do what my Grandmother did: work with a huge mass of 1 kg, all by hand and with the rolling pin. But she was a real Emiliana (from Emilia Romagna), with strong harms, and she started to make pasta at a very young age.





I picked some herbs and flowers from my garden. I rolled the pasta with a manual pasta machine down to the lower setting (very thin). Then I placed some leaves (and flowers) on the pasta (if it gets dry just brush the spot with a little water), folded some more pasta over and sprinkled with a little flour.





I set the pasta machine back to the second lower setting a put the pasta through the rollers again.





I think that you could easily stop here and cut your pasta, but I like fresh pasta to be very very thin, so I passed the pasta once more through the roller on the last setting. The pasta didn't break, and the leaves and petals flatten beautifully. I really like the patterns, especially the one the chives made.




Then I cut the pasta out with a pasty cutter: Here is the Italian parsley



Borage Flowers



Vietnamese mint



Nasturtiums


Oregano (Fresh)


Rose (red)


Basil


Chives


Calendula


Do not use rosemary or even sage, they are too thick and will break the pasta.




I cooked the pasta in salted boiling water. It only takes a couple of minutes because it is so thin, and the colours stayed!!! Usually I dress fresh pasta with butter, sage and parmesan cheese, but I didn't add sage this time because I wanted to taste the herbs and flowers in the pasta. Also I have to say that butter in NZ is really tasty, yellow and creamy (because cows eat green grass all year round).




The Vietnamese mint has a strong but super pleasant and fresh taste. Parsley and chives also had a lot of taste, basil and oregano less. Among the flowers the winner was the rose, I could really taste it. I am quite happy with the result, an easy but effective and delicate dish which could do well for important occasions.


Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©



Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Bron Marshall's Macaroons






On Christmas Eve I received a present from New Zealand food extraordinaire Bron Marshall:
a box of her home made macaroons. Pity that my photographic skills are not good enough, and it was evening... by the morning the macaroons were gone!



They came in four flavours: Pistachio, Lemon and Raspberry; Spiced Chocolate; Christmas Fruit; and Lime & Milk Chocolate. You can find the Lime & Milk Chocolate recipe here. We had them on Xmas Eve, after dinner, and loved each one of them! Thank you Bron, and thank you also for the beautiful tea-towel :-), too pretty to use as a tea-towel in fact!






Monday, December 27, 2010

More Ideas for the Year of the Rabbit: Sushi Rabbits






The New Year is approaching and I got into this 'rabbit' mood... Actually, for me New Years is more important that Xmas, being inclined towards Buddhism and Eastern Cultures. And then, let's admit it, I love playing with my food, and my kids!



To make the sushi rice you can follow the recipe here. I have a Sushi rabbit stamp from Japan, but you can also use a cookie cutter, if you have one (maybe among your Easter's stuff?).




I have to say that the sushi rabbits looked really nice and stylish even plain! I would have them plain for a more 'formal' dinner :-). But today we have little faces: I used borage flowers, cucumber, chives, takuan, (Japanese pickled daikon), Ume (Japanese pickled plum), and black sesame seeds.




And then it was my daughter's turn, and she also used some tiny basil leaves. We had so much fun making these, and I hope that you like the idea!


Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©



Sunday, December 26, 2010

Year of the Rabbit Decorations: Sugar Bunnies





Next year will be the year of the Rabbit: a very important year for our family as my daughter is a rabbit! I made some little bunnies, the white one is made with fondant, and the cream bunny is made with marzipan.



To show you the sizes I put a cherry next to them :-). I thought I did a pretty good job, and them my daughter showed me the rabbit she had made...



What do you think? Isn't it cute!!!


Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©




Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve




Meri Kirihimete me ngā mihi o te tau hou ki a koutou katoa

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all


Manuia le Kerisimasi, ma le Tausaga Fou


新年おめでとうございます

Fröhliche Weihnachten
und ein gutes neues Jahr


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Three Christmas Trees





Christmas trees are so difficult to photograph (for me, at least!), I didn't turn the lights on, and still it was hard! If anyone has a good tip for taking good photos of Xmas trees please pass it on :-)!!

Anyway, the first is my little tree, on the entrance, and maybe this is also my favourite, with soft teddies and animals and Xmas figurines, and a few little wooden ones too.




The kids make their own tree up in their room, it has a lot of home-made and school-made decorations :-)


Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©


And then I make my big tree in the living room. I feel like a kid, I have collected many decorations through the years, mostly traveling, and made some of my own. When I was a child we didn't always had a tree, and when we had it was small and a little bare. Maybe this is the reason why I love to decorate Xmas trees now!





Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Baking





Busy today, tomorrow I have a photo shoot so I don't have much time for posting. Here are some recipes from last Xmas: the first, pictured above, is a Mont Blanc Mille-Feuille, shaped like a Christmas Tree. I took it to an Italian party, since we all miss chestnuts, and everybody loved it. The step by step instructions are here.



Then I have some Christmas Biscuits, recipe here,




And more Christmas Biscuits here.



Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©



Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Bake Club, Auckland





On Sunday I went to my first 'social' of the Bake Club. Frances was the host, Nicola and Ginny were there with their baking (the Bake Club is going through a Gluten Free stage now, it seems) and, possibly something unusual for a blogging club, the partners were there too.

Usually I see food bloggers meetings made up by ladies, often with kids, so having the blokes there made it seem quite different. It is also the only blogging club I know of in Auckland... in New Zealand actually. And I got my badge!!!!

I took a lot of photos with my little camera, but I cannot find the cable to download them! I can only post the photos I took at home...

We had to bring some baking, fortunately for me the day before I had the neighbours
for afternoon tea (we never see them because there are too many trees around), and I had some food ready.




The marzipan and calissons....




And then as a quick fix i just dipped some cake squares in melted chocolate and topped them with a raspberry.





To bake something savoury, and gluten free, I picked my very first zucchini from the garden.



Cooked them with olive oil, garlic and salt.



I cleaned and flatten the zucchini flowers,




And placed everything nicely in a baking pan lined with baking paper.



I whipped 6 eggs with a pinch of salt, pepper and a drop of olive oil until really foamy (thanks to my new kitchen aid!!!)



Poured it on top of the zucchini,




Baked at 160°C for ... 25 minutes? About that ... I got distracted. Anyway, it smelled ready so I took it out.




Flip it over and ecco pronta a gluten free baked frittata! Thank you for the great afternoon Frances :-)


Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©




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