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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Recap for Sweet New Zealand #14


Welcome to the recap of Sweet New Zealand #14, the monthly blogging event where you don’t win anything!

Hahaha sorry I couldn’t help myself, after seeing those “Money is bad” and “Money is good” posters and ads around I was just looking for an excuse to talk about them!

Anyway, enough about strange advertising, and without further ado here is the recap for September.

The entries are in chronological order, if I forgot anyone please let me know, and for future reference I would like to remind you that the only rule of Sweet NZ is that the logo and name of the host are to be added to the post (even if the post is old) otherwise the game is not fair.

For my experience Sweet New Zealand always starts slowly, and then on the last two days it becomes an “open fire!” of last minutes entries! Future hosts, please remember this and don’t panic if by mid-month you are a bit low, entries will come later, and we all lead a busy life (or at least, I do!).


Still, being the host myself I thought of giving the good example starting off with an entry for the blog Only Recipes. It is a spoon dessert made with Fresh As strawberry powder and egg whites (after a first experiment I found egg yolk to be a bit too yellow and alter the pink colour that I wanted for this pudding). Here it is, Fresh As strawberry pudding.






Second entry is from Allison from Pease PuddingBrown Sugar Shortbread with Salted Caramel. The entry comes with a post (and amazing photos) about Rarotonga, and I was really impressed that Allie actually baked these little gems there instead of just sunbathing on that hammock. Here are her words:

“…It was an interesting exercise baking a batch of cookies and caramel at the tropical beach hut with limited equipment…”

To add, in case some of you don’t know Allison yet, she is the initiator of the NZ Food Bloggers Association, and one of the organizers of last month’s wonderful food bloggers conference in Wellington.







Next on is Lucy, our Kitchen Maid, who re-proposes a new and improved take on a classic Macaroon Slice. My husband would love this one, he is not impressed by the fancy petit and mignon French macarons, for him a macaroon is something like what Lucy’s makes, and describes as “…chewy, coconutty and you can whip it up in one bowl…” sort of slice. I must add that the “in one bowl” bit is always a winner with me (I really dislike washing up, did I ever tell that?).





Then there is from Arfi of HomeMadeS, and for the joy of all of you who are coeliacs/celiacs, it is PennyLane Brownie Cookies, a gluten-free version.

This is my sort of cookie, and even if I am not a cookie and milk person (I prefer cookies and coffee, or even cookies and tea!) I love this picture with a glass of milk so much! Maybe I should add that Arfi is also a very talented photographer!



























Another gluten free whizz, Emma from My Darling Lemon Thyme, proposes
Strawberry Almond Cakes (gluten free and dairy free!).
Emma is our Kiwi blogger/chef living in Australia, so she gets strawberries before most of us in NZ (decent strawberries, I mean, I needed some for work at the beginning of the month, and I did find them in the shops, but it took me half an hour to sort out the photogenic ones!). Don’t apologize Emma, we will get ours soon and we will be able to make your recipe… is the mangos that I am mostly envious of!

(PS, Emma gave me two photos, and I couldn't choose....)





New to Sweet New Zealand is Julie from Domestic Executive,
with Lemon and ginger cheesecake cupcakes. I was so impressed with Julie taking part with a sweet treat that looks scrummy but actually follows her new eating regime (wheat free, low fat and only natural sugars). Welcome Julie, I look forward to see what else you will be able to whip up, since you have the skills!






Sweet Arfi sent a second entry, Gluten-Free WholeTangelo Almond Loaf. This looks so good and so my sort of cake (probably being Italian I am a big fan of almonds and citrus…), but what I like most about this is that the fruit comes from her tangelo tree. The few citrus plants that I have in my gardens are in pots and will never produce a harvest big enough to show off, but still, I am always proud and thankful even for a few lemons, and I leave off the enthusiasm of other gardeners and relish in their crops, even if only virtually!






Mel is back blogging from her Treehouse Kitchen, and I asked her to share this mango pudding. She didn’t make it, the recipe came from her friend Char, but Mel describes it as “Creamy, rich and so mangoey, for lack of a better adjective!” and we have a photo of it! Mel apologizes for the lighting, but hey, I think it is great that she even managed to take photos during a dinner party (have a look at the rest of them). Usually I am so busy chatting that I remember when the last forkful is left on the plate.





Now here is my entry from this very blog, Vegan Chocolate Brownies. A double recipe really, as it starts with a vegan ‘nutella’, that then can be transformed into brownies for the sole reason of not ending up, spoon by spoon, all in my belly. 





And another one from me from the Vegan Blog. Yes another Vegan treat, but super easy and uncomplicated, Mandarin chocolates made with Fresh As dried mandarins. The result is quite sophisticated really, one of those recipes where the only thing that counts is the quality of the ingredients: the fruit, and good dark chocolate.








Three chocolate entries one after the other (must be that time of the month?).  Here is Bridget from After Taste with Self-Saucing Chocolate Puddings. Bridget, first of all you are not alone liking cold desserts (not sure about the other leftovers though…). Second, happy first blog birthday, and finally, these puddings looks super chocolaty and yummy!

















Frances from the Bake Club breaks the chocolate cycle with Honey semifreddo, a recipe from Nigella but with pistachio instead of roasted pine nuts. Once again, being Italian I am a fan of semifreddo, one of the best and easiest way to make an ice cream at home. I also need to add, for the gluten free gals, that this is gluten free too!





Jemma from Time for a Little Something proposes an Unusual Orange Cake (her words, not mine!) in a post rich with memories and beautiful images. The image of the cake is really stunning too, don't you think?
For the “unusual” adjective… adding the whole orange seems fine to me, but for the warm water and baking soda I cannot comment, as I don’t use baking soda in baking. Anyone with some intelligence about this?








Last but not least is Sue from Couscous and Consciousness, a late entry maybe, but quite well timed too so that I can introduce her properly as the host for the next Sweet New Zealand (October 2012).

This month Sue proposes an Upside-down pineapple and kawakawa cake, made with the kawakawa tea we received at the food bloggers conference. And as a bonus you can also read about day one of the conference in the same post!
Thank you Sue and have fun with hosting Sweet New Zealand #15!









 But hey, wait, just as I am writing this here arrives Lesley from Eat etc.

(what did I tell you about “open fire”?). But a welcome pretty and Spring like entry this is: Very berry Belgian biscuits! And I see a classy use for the Fresh As blackcurrant powder. Thank you for the entry Lesley, and for the lovely photo too!




And now all off to visit each others and acknowledge (and compliment) your creations! And remember to keep your eyes peeled for when Sue will announce the next Sweet New Zealand!


Alessandra






Saturday, September 29, 2012

Spring, flowers, and quinoa


I like flowers.


Flowers in my garden, to decorate the statues. 


Flowers to use for work.



Flowers of sugar, made by Arantxa to use for a school project.




Flowers in my quinoa


Quinoa with flowers

Ingredients
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 small carrot
1 small cucumber
1 bunch onion weed (or spring onions)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
juice from half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
edible flowers

Cook one cup of quinoa with two cups of water for 20 minutes. In the meantime chop very finely a small carrot, a small cucumber and a bunch of onion weeds (or spring onions). Put the still hot quinoa into a serving bowl, add two tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, the chopped vegetables, the juice of half a lemon and salt and pepper to taste. This dish can be served warm or cold (yes, even if it has cucumber it can be served warm!). Just before serving add edible flowers: I used onion weed flowers, marigold, violets and bok choy flowers.




Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Breakfast with a kokako, and mustaches




Isn't it nice when goody bags last a long time? The 2 (yes 2) goody bags I got from the NZ Food Bloggers Conference where so full of goodies that I am still using some, and for some of us who had to travel back to Auckland with extra luggage Andrea offered to bring up the Kokako gifts. I knew that it was some organic hot chocolate but then when I found out that it came with a mug with mustaches I immediately told Arantxa, and she was so excited!! She loves those quirky mustaches! I said that I would give the cup to her. And Andrea mailed it over to me (we are all so busy in Auckland!!!) and guess what, it arrived on Max's birthday, a perfect day, as he was busy opening all his mail and presents  and it was great that there was something for Arantxa as well. Thank you Kokako and Andrea. And of course the organic hot chocolate is delicious, this was breakfast on Sunday, I had some too, and maybe I will have to get a mustache cup for myself as well!

Do you also like these mustaches?


Photo by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Vegan chocolate brownie... and remember Sweet New Zealand, 3 days to go!





This didn't start as a brownie, it started as a vegan chocolate-hazelnut spread. I had some hazelnuts to roast, and after doing that I decided to use a few for a nutella like spread, but vegan... and more chocolaty :-). 

Vegan chocolate-hazelnut spread

5 tbps roasted hazelnuts (remove all skin too!)
3 tbps rice bran oil
100 gr dark chocolate (72% and dairy free)
50 ml hot water

Blend the hazelnuts and oil with an immersion blender until you get a cream. In the meantime melt the chocolate with hot water at bain-marie (nothing bad will happen, just keep stirring!). Mix everything together. If the hazelnuts are not fresh or oily enough you may need a bit more oil.



But my problem is that when I have a chocolate spread I don't spread it, I eat it all with a spoon! Too dangerous, I had to make something with it. What about a Vegan chocolate slice, a bit like a Vegan chocolate brownie...


Vegan chocolate brownie

6 tbsp of Vegan chocolate-hazelnut spread (recipe above)
100 g ground almonds
2 tbsp sugar
100 g self rising flour
200 ml soy milk
100 g dark chocolate broken into small pieces with a knife
Icing sugar to dust (optional)

Gently heat the chocolate-hazelnut spread until is soft (not melted) enough to make it easier to fold in the rest of the ingredients. Start with the ground almonds first, then add the sugar, half of the soy milk and half of the flour. Fold in the rest of the ingredients (if it looks too thick add a bit more soy milk) and the chocolate, then pour into a square or rectangular baking tin lined with baking paper. Bake at 160 C for about 30 minutes, or until the surface looks cooked but the centre is still a little soft. Dust with icing sugar (optional) and set aside to cool down. Cut only when completely cold and set (in fact wait for a day if you can!).



It is yummy and delicately nutty with lovely pieces of dark chocolate melting into every bite.




Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©




This recipe is for Sweet New Zealand, the sweet monthly blogging event for Kiwis, this month of September hosted by moi, so I won't bother adding the link because it would bring you straight back here, even if this would probably register as an extra visit :).

Anyway,  if you haven't entered your recipes please remember that you have time until the 28th of this month, if you have posted some nice biscuits on your blog (Allie!!!) but not emailed me the link and photo please do so, or if you have sent me the link but haven't updated the posts with the Sweet New Zealand banner (lovely sisters????) please do that too before the 28th :-).



Future Sweet New Zealand hosts

October 2012 host: Sue from Couscous & Consciousness

November 2012 host: Lucy from The Kitchen Maid

December 2012 host: Lydia from Lydia Bakes

Do you want January???

(leave me a message if you like to book a month) 




Monday, September 24, 2012

Fruity lunch box for two, Vegan and mostly raw





Thank you to all of you for your lovely thoughts about lunches in New Zealand schools. Little time to post recipes today, So I am adding a photo of another lunch box idea, a lunch box for two (to share with your friend at school or at work :-)). The 'main' is avocado pita bread (the pita bread being the only thing pre-made here (and baked too, the rest is raw). In the pita sandwiches there is avocado (treated with lemon juice not to go brown), lettuce and cherry tomatoes. The rest, as you can see, is fruit: green and gold kiwi fruit, mandarin, grapes and strawberries. Believe it or not this was actually quite filling!

Have a great week!



Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Bums and Roses at the Going West Storyfest



Pretty cupcakes for the Storyfest






Party Food for Girls was once more on tour, today at the Storyfest with another sugar roses' workshop for children (of all ages) and a baking demonstration too. We started with baking cupcakes at 10am, and then we moved to our workshop table to show the kids how to make sugar roses and decorate their own cupcakes.


 
Arantxa and Martina teaching the children how to make sugar roses.





Next table down we had lovely Dawn McMillan (pictured here with Libro International children book editor Carolyn Lagahetau). Dawn is the author of I need a new bum!, an hilarious new book all about ... Bums! She was at the Storyfest with illustrator Ross Kinnaird who did a lot of sketches for the children present. And we had so many children around, all reading books and attending all the creative workshops that Storyfest had to offer. 



Literally hundred of children came to our stall to make sugar roses, here is what some of them made.




I would like to thank Martina and Arantxa for helping all day long (9:30 to 4:30!), and everyone at Going West for organizing another wonderful Book & Writers Festival. Well done!

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

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