Monday, April 16, 2018

Jackfruit for tacos

I love tacos, tortillas and Mexican food in general, and for me it goes with beans, but everyone is talking about jackfruit these days, so I gave it a try. Got myself a jar of green jackfruit in beans and started the experiment.

First I fried some onion with olive oil and a Tio Pablo Mexican spices, in the meantime I drained the jackfruit and cut it into smaller segments, like in the photos.

I added the jackfruit to the onions and cooked it until the jackfruit become soft and easy to break with the wooden spoon. 

 Like this. Various recipes suggest breaking it up so it resemble shredded chicken... not sure I like the idea, never had shredded chicken and I don't see the appeal of it, but the jackfruit 'core' is a little hard, so some mashing goes well here, and the spices combined well. I used this to fill tacos, with the usual salad, tomatoes, guacamole and salsa verde, it was ok, the kids liked it too... but at the end of the day we all prefer beans, they have much more flavour, and proteins too. Anyway, quick and easy, and good for a change :-).

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, April 1, 2018

How to make perfect rice balls with the plastic Kinder Surprise capsule

This is a good trick, and suitable for onigiri, rice croquettes, supplì... anything really, works with cold and hot rice (the best thing for hot rice is that you don't even burn your hands!!). as long as it is short grain, Japanese of Italian style rice (i.e. for sushi or risotto). 

In no time you will have lots of perfect little rice balls, just look here, it takes 30-40 seconds!

And where did the egg capsule came from? Well, today it was Easter so we had an egg hunt, breakfast with eggs (real and chocolate) and since we are Italian and for us a Easter egg MUST have a surprise inside, the kids got Kinder Surprise eggs (the only Easter eggs in New Zealand with a surprise inside). I used the same trick with smaller Kinder Surprise capsules, but they make very small rice balls (ok for canapés, but not much else...) so I quickly took my chance and used the bigger one from my daughter's egg.

Happy Easter!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Bologna, Italy

Bologna, one of Italy greatest city, is only 80 km from my village, easy to reach for a day trip and a dose of art and culture. Just strolling around the old city, the portici, the churches and squares you have the feel that this is also a very liveable city, full of grand things but also little details.

I stopped in a cafe for my morning cappuccino in front of this church and I got an art piece!

Something to discover: a little window on the last canal of Reno gives you the illusion that you are opening a window on Venice! 

The Nettuno fountain is beautiful during the day, and stunning at night!

What to eat in Bologna? Well, first of all I have to say that you eat well everywhere here, absolutely everywhere! But the best thing for me is fresh pasta, find any restaurant where they make their own pasta (and some are pretty low key) and you won't be disappointed! We had vegetarian filled pasta and gnocchi, all delicious! 

For dessert I recommend this calorie bomb called tenerina, a semisoft chocolate cake, here with a mascarpone cream. 

 Bye Bologna, beautiful city!

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

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 ©


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