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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wedding cupcakes with fondant bride and groom




Our friends Fiona and Jonathan recently got married in Las Vegas, a bit of a surprise really, so upon their return (and once we actually found out) we invited them for dinner with other friends. What better excuse for a dinner party? Instead of cake I thought of having some wedding cupcakes, and Arantxa got really enthusiastic about making a small bride and groom to put on the top cupcake, using fondant.




She set to work using white, almond, pink and chocolate fondant, and her miniatures were as small (or smaller) than mini Polly Pockets dolls!!! Just look at her finger next to them!


I thought that they looked so pretty, and the newly-wed cut the cupcake after dinner. What a lovely evening! Anyone else getting married??



Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini, fondant bride and groom by Arantxa Zecchini Dowling©


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Celebrate Terra Madre Day in Auckland, New Zealand









Dear all,

On December 10 the global network of Slow Food and Terra Madre comes together to celebrate Terra Madre Day and promote local food.

Slow Food Waitakere cordially invites you to celebrate Terra Madre Day
on Saturday 10 December 2011

Where: Oratia Farmers Market, 99 Parrs Cross Road, Oratia, Auckland.

Meeting and greeting, and photos at 11:00 am, at the TM delegates Karlene & Terry Shaw-Toomey’s stall (Earthbound Honey).

Lunch at Artisan Vineyard Restaurant (next to the Farmers Market)
1:00pm.
If you like to attend lunch please rsvp to Gabriella Turek

Free parking for the market and the restaurant.

We look forward to meeting you there,

Slowly

The Slow Food Waitakere Committee 








Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Seven Links



I was tagged by Valentina for the 7 links (Game? Challenge? not quite sure what it is in English, the tag was in Italian :-). I quite like the idea: it makes you think about what blogging is all about, or at least, it made me think. So here are my 7 links:


The most popular post: well, this was easy, I just looked at the statistics! Homemade Halloumi cheese and Ricotta is at the top, it was published on 23 October 2009, and to date it had 5,763 Pageviews. Well, I better post my mozzarella soon!!





The most useful post: ... mmmh, I thought it must have been the Halloumi above, but having to choose a second I thought about the 10 posts about writing a cookbook, and I choose Part 7: styling and the photo shoots because a lot of people are curious to know what happens during a photo shoot.





The most controversial post (????): this is a funny one, I don't think I have enough controversial material in my blog, maybe I need to see to that!! But I found this: Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?




The post that did not get the attention it deserved: another hard to choose post! In the end I went for the Banana Flower Salad Step by Step, Am I the only one really obsessed with eating flowers?





The post that was surprisingly successful: third on my all time pageviews, and I have no idea why. It was posted at the beginning of 2009, I didn't even had enabled the comments then (I posted for about a year without enabling the comments, it wasn't a blog, it was a monologue!), the photos are nothing special, and there is hardly any text... yet every week this page is visited. Mystery!





The most beautiful post: totally subjective this one, but I love it! I was alone with the kids and we made crescentine, the traditional food of my village, all three together, and Arantxa took some of the photos too, what a great evening!





The post I am proud of: this one! A monthly blogging event for Kiwis, I hosted the first, then Allison, then Sue, this month is Mairi, next month will be Bron, and Arfi has booked January... thank you ladies, so far so good, and I hope that everybody is having fun :-).


So now I'll pass the baton to these 5 ladies first, and to two other New Zealand bloggers, of course don't feel obliged to pick it up, do it only if you enjoy doing these things, or have time :-). And no rush!

 Sue,
 Mairi
 Bron
 Arfi 





Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday publicity






I am sure that some of you are probably getting tired of all the press cuttings being posted here, but hey, didn't I say before that 99% of the 'writing a book business' is promotion promotion promotion? :-) 

Well, so far we have been very fortunate. Even if our book doesn't have the budget that other books (and famous chefs) can rely on for publicity, the press has been truly interested, and very keen to cover us. I remember this from the previous two boos too: lots of interviews, lots of recipe extracts, and readers really keen to talk about the recipes. I wonder if this is very typical of New Zealand... the only thing that has changed recently is that the net content is much greater and the radio interviews much less.

Also I find that posting my press clipping on the blog is easy and tidy: most of the press clippings of my pre-blogging era are stuffed in a filing cabinet or on some disks in a box somewhere and I never look at them. This is much better.

And then, how could I not post this! Like I said in this post Arantxa was interviewed by the Dominion Post (just her, not me) and the link is here. But I din't know until I got the paper myself that she also made the front cover of Life. She thinks that she didn't come out that well in that photo though (she always says that, I wonder who she got it from! ;-)) but I like it, it is summery and spontaneous and happy, it was the last photo of that session and the girls were giggling like mad!

The three published recipes are Mimosa Cake, Japanese Lunch boxes and Iced Peach Tea. The Mimosa cake recipe is here




Thursday, November 24, 2011

Beans and flowers, and a morning with the Slow Food ladies





This salad is really simple: I just chopped half red onion and marinated it for 30 minutes in white balsamic condiment of Modena (FYI, white balsamic vinegar of Modena doesn't exist, it can only be called 'condiment') and then I added one can of Italian butter beans and one can of Italian chickpeas (obviously drained and rinsed...), salt, extra virgin olive oil, and flowers from my garden: chive flowers, borage flowers and calendula petals. Easy but yummy!


On Tuesday I spent a morning with a few ladies from the Slow Food Waitakere convivium making sugar roses. There is something magic about a group of girls in the kitchen chatting and drinking cups of teas... you get lots done, for me it is one of the best way of cooking or preparing things that usually take ages or are very fiddly: together it is fun and not as tiring! Do you like cooking with friends?


Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Puy lentil, red onion and herb soup






For today 
Black and White Wednesday, organized by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook, I have chosen to photograph a soup, and also to write the recipe.

Puy lentil, red onion and herb soup


Ingredients
300 g puy lentils
1 bay leaf
1 pinch of salt
1 red onion
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus more for serving)
1 sprig sage
1 sprig rosemary
1.5 l vegetable stock
1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley and chives

Served with homemade onion ciabatta




Rinse the Puy lentils and place in a pot with plenty of water and one bay leaf. Cook for about 25 minutes, then add one pinch of salt and stir. Drain, discard the bay leaf and rinse again. Chop the red onion and place in a capable pot with the oilve oil, sage and rosemary, and sauté for a few minutes, then add the lentils, followed by the vegetable stock. Simmer for about 30 minutes, and just before serving add the chopped parsley and chives and another drop of extra virgin olive oil.



Photo and Recipe by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Homemade Edible Decorations for Christmas



This month Party Food for Girls is featured in Good Magazine with some decorating ideas for Xmas:
Xmas tree biscuits with spirulina icing (the little hand is Max's), meringue wreaths (the hand is Arantxa's friend Yana), and some icing recipes. And the editor told me that the colour palette for this issue of the magazine was based on the same palette of the recipe extracts from the book. 'Good' to hear!





Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pairing Chocolate with Rose and Raspberries, and a chance to win Party Food for Girls in Australia and New Zealand



Photo and Recipe by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Just enough time today to post a decorating idea for chocolate cake: I used rose flavoured icing (egg white, icing sugar and rose water) with fresh raspberries. It wasn't exactly planned, the rose icing was leftover from making rose cupcakes, and I needed to use it up. But the flavours worked very well together: chocolate, rose and raspberry, I will do it again :-).


Also a little notice for Kiwis and Aussies: there are 5 chances to win a copy of Party Food for Girls by clicking here. All you have to do is to fill in your details and write, in 25 words or less, whats your favourite party theme. It is good that for once a competition is open to Australian as well of New Zealand residents, so good luck to all!


Ciao
A.

Copiato dal post di Bibi


L'una e mezza di notte e non riuscendo a dormire ho fatto un giretto in rete. Ho letto il post di Correndomi Incontro e ho visto le foto di un bel sogno coperto di fango, e allora ho pensato di girare il tutto. Barbara, scusami se copio e incollo direttamente dal tuo, sono sveglia ma sono comunque stanca ed ho gli occhi 'pupi pupi' (direbbe Montalbano), spero che vada bene ugualmente.

Copiato ed incollato dal Blog di Barbara:

Nel ricordare che con un blog si può fare davvero molto per molte persone che hanno bisogno di aiuto, vi richiamo l'iniziativa di Azabel di Kitchen Bloody Kitchen, per chi si trovasse nella condizione di poter aiutare materialmente se vi va, o di far girare la voce visto che il sogno di queste persone è davvero un po' il sogno di tutti quelli che come noi sparpagliano ricette in giro per la rete.....come potrete notare nel post di Azabel la lista delle cose da fare/ricomprare è lunga ma già ci sono moltissimi aiuti, quindi grazie a chiunque vorrà dare il proprio contributo, ripeto anche solo diffondere la notizia è un aiuto, e non costa niente ^^
Riporto le parole di Azabel:

"Se volete comunque fare qualcosa, il modo più semplice e immediato per aiutare Chiara e Claudia è la sottoscrizione aperta da alcuni amici vicini a loro, che ci hanno autorizzato a diffonderla pubblicamente. Questi soldi serviranno per finanziare le riparazioni a cui non riusciremo a far fronte in modo gratuito, e per le piccole e grandi difficoltà che immancabilmente si presenteranno non appena l'Officina di Cucina sarà nuovamente operativa.


IBAN:IT86T0617501410000001648580
BANCA CARIGE SPA - AG.10 - GENOVA
Intestato a: OFFICINA DI CUCINA S.N.C. FONDI ALLUVIONE 2011 NEGOZIO


Tanto o poco che sia non importa: più siamo, più potremo aiutare Chiara e Claudia a far risorgere l'Officina di Cucina e, con lei, il suo/nostro sogno."

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Japanese dinner and what is blogging these days


Last Sunday we went for dinner to Kazuyo and Dan's place, Pine Valley B&B. Kazuyo is also a blogger and you can find more photos of the evening here. At Pine Valley they organize weddings, parties, cooking classes and special events, catered by chef Katsumi Ishibashi and his wife Eri (a pastry chef). This was an informal dinner for 10, based on fish and seafood, but they made a vegetarian option just for me, and also for my children (there were also 6 children, having their own private dinner party).




I had a vegan aspic for starter, and then vegetable tempura (Katsumi kindly fried the vegetables before putting the seafood into the oil) a fantastic homemade (by Eri) smoked tofu salad, and Japanese omelette. The others had several fish dishes. The only picture missing was Eri's strawberry dessert, because by then it was too dark for me to be able to take a decent picture with my iPhone.





Japanese Cuisine is my second favourite after Italian, and Eri and Katsumi are so talented! Thank you Kazuyo and Dan: it was such a great evening with good food, good company, and in a beautiful setting.

November is pushing on, we will leave for Italy soon and I am very busy. Tomorrow I will go with Arantxa to the Dorothy Butler Children Bookshop in Auckland for another sugar flowers' demo to promote Party Food for Girls if you are in Auckland please pop by because right now I am baking and decorating tons of cupcakes to give away: 1 Jervois Rd, Ponsonby, 10:30am to 12pm.

Then I will have 4 photo shoots in three weeks, for the total of 28 recipes (which I also have to develop and write), a couple of Slow Food events, a Xmas party and tomorrow night I am hosting a dinner for friends. It is also the end of my second year at Maori, with exams and all, and of course the kids have all their own activities, including extra rehearsals for Arantxa's ballet show. I still like to blog, and even if I am posting almost everyday, I am behind with posts just because the days are so full of things and recipes that I would like to share, but cannot find the space or time. Still, I am now officially addicted to blogging, maybe it is my 'relaxing' moment of the day, when I take a break from work, and housework,
and just download my photos and write up a commentary.

And what about you? What is blogging for you these days??


Photos  by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Asparagus Sushi




I really really like the fried tofu parcels used to make oinari-san, I wouldn't know how to make them, a Japanese friend told me ages ago, but it seemed quite involved... maybe one day, but for the time being they can be bought in Japanese/Asian stores :-). This pack contained 16 tofu parcels. 




The parcels are usually filled with sushi rice, but they can also be uses as "containers" (see the image on the packet) and I really liked this brand: not a single parcel broke when I was opening it! I decided to used them with rice and asparagus. The asparagus were simply steamed, and then I cut them and placed then in a bowl with the liquid of the tofu parcels (they are sealed in an sweetish sauce which I thought was a waste to discard).




Wash the sushi rice (or Japanese rice) several times in cold water, until the water runs clear, and then cook it by absorption. The doses are about 1 and 3/4 (three quarters) cups of sushi rice for 2 cups of water, but that depends on the type of pot. You need a pot with a good lid, or you will loose too much steam. I kind of regulate myself by ear now, since I know my pots and pans. Bring the pot to boiling point, lower the heat and simmer until all the water has been absorbed. Once the rice is ready pour it into a bowl and stir it with a wooden spatula, cooling it with a fan if you can. I then add some ready made sushi vinegar, about 2 tablespoons, but this is my personal taste. If I don't have sushi vinegar I use 2 tbsp of rice vinegar, a little sugar and a little salt (to taste, and I don't like to use too much sugar or salt!).




I filled the parcel with rice and then I placed a couple of asparagus tips on each one, and a dollop of Japanese mayonnaise.  I had a lot of stalks left, so I placed one or two, plus some rice, inside some more tofu parcels, and wrapped them up with a chive. I think that these were the prettiest!




In the end I only had some rice and a few asparagus left, so I made a frittata with egg, soy sauce and the  leftover asparagus, and cut it into strips. 





I used the frittata strips to roll up some sushi with the asparagus frittata inside.


Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wooden Kitchen Utensils, Dominion Post, and the Winner of Sweet Feast


 Photo by Alessandra Zecchini©

I have a few things to post, but I didn't want to miss out Black and White Wednesday, organized by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook, a wonderful weekly blogging appointment that I hope will improve my photography skills, and it is definitely improving the way I look at my everyday objects! Last week it was the dishwasher, and today is my wooden utensils, I choose sepia because... I just felt like sepia :-)!




More press news: Arantxa was interviewed by the Dominion Post about writing Party Food for Girls (for those who live overseas, The Dominion Post is the Wellington newspaper) and you can read the article, which includes the recipe for Mimosa cake, by clicking here. Probably I will post about this again in the future (with our photo for the Mimosa cake), but I just wanted to give you the link now, since it is "today news".

And now for the winner of Sweet Feast by Julie Biuso. Once again thank you all for taking part, and sorry for those living overseas, I couldn't enter you in the draw. Well, just left only 10 names (more chances!!) and the list randomizer said.....


List Randomizer

There were 10 items in your list. Here they are in random order:
  1. Lesley
  2. Easyfoodhacks
  3. Domestic executive
  4. Viv
  5. Vanille
  6. Olly
  7. Cynthia
  8. Nardia
  9. Sue
  10. Make-do-Mum
Timestamp: 2011-11-15 20:53:10 UTC

Congratulations Lesley!!!! Please send me you mailing address at alessandra at clear dot net dot nz



Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Orange, Cinnamon and Honeydew Tea, and the winner of the J.Friend honey giveaway


Photo and Recipe by Alessandra Zecchini ©


Well, it isn't a tea as such, maybe just a hot drink? But very nice! Squeeze the juice of one orange into a cup, top with boiling water, add a teaspoon of honey (I used beechwood honeydew) and stir with  cinnamon quill. Nice and "Christmasy"!


And now the winner of the J.Friend and Co Honey competition. Thank you to all that took part, sorry for those of you who live overseas (I couldn't include you in the draw) and congratulation to David!!

David, please send me your mailing address (alessandra at clear dot net dot nz) and I am sure that in the end you will share the honey!!!



List Randomizer
There were 38 items in your list. Here they are in random order:
1.             David
2.             Johanna
3.             Peasepudding
4.             Zazie
5.             Andrea
6.             Cheryl
7.             Vanille
8.             Luca
9.             Couscous…
10.         Judith
11.         Timefor…
12.         Olliik
13.         Hope
14.         LaVally
15.         Shelley
16.         Makedomum
17.         Kate
18.         Sirley
19.         Transparency
20.         Ostetrica
21.         Whaywood
22.         Mairi
23.         Amber
24.         Timelyland
25.         Boi
26.         Janine
27.         Amanda
28.         Sugar
29.         Aftertaste
30.         Rod
31.         Nardia
32.         Martina
33.         Gemma
34.         Plum
35.         Athena
36.         Pilgrim
37.         Louise
38.         Cynthia
Timestamp: 2011-11-15 00:52:10 UTC
 And if you missed out, and live in NZ, please remember that there is also this book giveaway, just put your name down by tomorrow!




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