Monday, August 31, 2009

Pasta Primavera

A family favourite. This recipe was sent to me by a friend back home . There are doubts as to whether this recipe is Italian or an American creation but the Italians have been using vegetables in their pasta for decades. It first appeared in American cook books in the '70's which is where the name gained popularity but I have no doubt that the origin was Italian.

6 tbs olive oil
1 1/2 cups plum tomatoes, chopped, peeled, and seeded
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups porcini or button mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 cup asparagus tips, blanched in boiling salted water for 4 minutes
1 cup broccoli florets, blanched in boiling salted water for 4 minutes
1 medium zucchini, quartered, cut into 1-inch lengths, and blanched in boiling salted water for 4 minutes
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed in boiling salted water
1 cup heavy cream
2/3 cups Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus additional for garnish
2 tbs butter
1 lb spaghetti
1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 tbs basil, chopped

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a medium sauté pan over high heat.
Add tomatoes, half of the garlic, and a pinch of salt and cook until tomatoes have rendered their juice and begun to color, stirring or tossing occasionally, about 4 to 8 minutes.
Set aside and keep warm.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium sauté pan over high heat and sauté the mushrooms with half of the remaining garlic and a pinch of salt until they've given off most of their water and are browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Set aside, season to taste, and keep warm.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat in a large sauté pan, add remaining garlic, and cook the blanched vegetables until they've taken on a little color but are still firm, about 5 minutes.
Set aside, season to taste, and keep warm.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Meanwhile, reduce the cream by half in a pan large enough to hold the cooked spaghetti, stir in the Parmesan and butter and turn the heat to low.
Cook the spaghetti.
When the spaghetti is 1 or 2 minutes shy of al dente, drain and transfer it to the pan with the reduced cream to finish cooking.

To serve:
Transfer the spaghetti and cream to a warmed bowl large enough to hold all the ingredients and bring it to the table, with the reserved tomato sauce, mushrooms, sautéed vegetables, and the pine nuts each in separate bowls.
Toss the spaghetti first with the mushrooms, then the vegetables, then portion it into warmed pasta plates.
Garnish each plate with toasted pine nuts, 2 spoonfuls of tomato sauce, a pinch of basil, and freshly grated Parmesan, with salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Frittata di Spaghetti

A great way to use up left over spaghetti!
You can add peas, bacon or anything else that you like to the mixture. Surprisingly, this is also good cold and sliced.

8 oz spaghetti (or 4 cups cooked spaghetti)
4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 onions, chopped
2 (large) eggs
2 (large) egg whites
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbs chopped fresh parsley
2 tbs chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tomato, diced (optional)

Cook spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but firm. Drain and refresh with cold water. (or use left over spaghetti)
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the onions to a small bowl and let cool slightly.
Wipe out the pan.
Whisk together eggs, egg whites and milk in a large bowl.
Stir in the onions, Parmesan, parsley, basil, salt and pepper.
Add the spaghetti.
Spray the pan well with nonstick cooking spray and place over medium heat.
Pour in the egg mixture and distribute evenly in the pan.
Cook until the underside is golden, moving the pan around on the burner to ensure even cooking, about 6 minutes.
Invert a large platter over the skillet, grasp the platter and skillet with oven mitts and carefully turn over.
Lift off the skillet and spray it again with nonstick cooking spray. Slide the frittata back into the skillet and cook until the bottom is golden.
Slide the frittata onto a platter. Garnish with tomatoes if desired.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Its Competition Time!

Name the above vegetables and be entered in a draw to win a custom made business card holder, specially made for Felice in the kitchen.

Open to readers in the EU, USA and Canada

All you have to do is comment on the post, naming the vegetables in the picture above (there are 5).

I will be posting the winner's name on the 15th of September - so keep a look out. The winner will be chosen randomly from the correct answers. GOOD LUCK!!

Tuna Stuffed Tomatoes

This recipe is for 4 - you can adjust as necessary. Great in summer when tomatoes are abundant. I have come across several recipes that feature cooked stuffed tomatoes but I prefer this type - they are fresh, tasty and nearly everybody likes them!

4 large tomatoes
1 can tuna
2 spring onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tbs mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste
Fresh basil, chopped
2 tsp chopped olives
1 tsp capers
1 tsp fresh parsley leaves, chopped

Cut the tops off the tomatoes, and scrape out the inside but leaving about 1/4" flesh inside.
Mix the remaining ingredients and fill the tomatoes with the mixture.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Green and yellow beans with peppers and garlic

I use string beans for this recipe, a mixture of yellow and green. The sesame oil adds an interesting flavour to the dish.

1/2 lb green beans
1/2 lb yellow beans
2 tsp olive oil
1 small red and one small yellow pepper (seeded and julienned)
1/2 tsp chili pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1 tsp sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste.

Boil the bean until tender but crisp, about 3 mins
Drain, plunge in iced water to stop the cooking then drain again
Heat olive oil over a medium heat( I use a wok here )
Add the peppers and cook for about 2 mins
Add the beans and cook for a couple more minutes
Add the chili and garlic, and saute until cooked.
Drizzle with the sesame oil and season.

A ZERO cholesterol dish with only 50 cals a serving!!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Almond Biscotti

These classic twice baked cookies can be made in a variety of ways - you can use pecans or walnuts instead of the almonds, you can add dried apricots, cherries or blueberries....anything is possible! The whole-wheat flour in this case gives them an extra crunch.
They can also be drizzled with chocolate for extra sweetness.

This recipe is a lower fat alternative - there are only 79 calories per 3 cookies! part of my lose weight but eat well project!

3/4 cup wholewheat flour
3/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs (beaten)
1/4 cup low fat milk (or soy milk)
2 1/2 tbs canola oil
2 tbs honey
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds.

Pre heat oven to 350F
Combine The flours, sugar and baking powder.
Add the eggs, milk, canola oil, honey and almond extract and mix well
Add the almonds.
Mix until the dough is well blended
(I use my hands here-easier and more fun!)
Put the dough on a long sheet of plastic wrap and shape into a flat log about 12" long, 3" wide and 1" thick. You will need the plastic cos the dough is rather sticky.
Lift the wrap and transfer the dough to a non stick baking sheet.
Bake for about 20-30 mins until lightly browned.
Remove from the oven, put onto another baking sheet or a cutting board and leave for a few minutes to cool slightly.
Cut crosswise on the diagonal using a serrated knife and cut slices of about 1/2" thick.
Put the slices back on the baking dish, cut side down and bake for another 15-20 mins or until crisp.
When cool, you can dust with powdered sugar (or not!)
They keep well in an airtight container and are delicious with a cup of coffee!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Healthy Fish Dish

After all the fattening food in my last posts, here is something healthy, tasty and easy to make!
Recipe courtesy of my dear old mama....


1 catfish fillet or two if small. can use any other type of white fish fillets.
1 spring onion
1 large tomato
few leaves fresh basil
1 lemon slice
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
olive oil, extra virgin, cold pressed.

Wrap fish in pouch of parchment paper and top with white part of spring onion,and sprinkle with lemon juice.
Lightly steam fish in microwave for two minutes.
Slice two rounds from tomato for decoration use and chop the rest roughly, add salt and pepper and chopped basil leaves.
Serve fish decorated with the tomato rounds, the chopped tomatoes the lemon round cut in half, decorate with sprig of basil, check seasoning and sprinkle with a thin stream of olive oil.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mqaret - Date Rolls

Mqaret are delicious pastry parcels - that are deep fried - a killer for your diet but unless you over indulge, great little treats. Served with ice cream they make a great dessert.
These small packages of sweet pastry filled with a date mixture and served blisteringly hot are often sold dripping in paper bags from roadside stalls. You’ll nearly always find mqaret hawkers at Valletta’s city gate near the bus terminus. (Valletta is Malta's capital city)
As you step off the bus, you’ll be greeted by the sickly, sweet smell of mqaret mingling with diesel fumes from the buses (last I checked they were still not eco-friendly!)
400g Flour
1 tablespoon lard
1 tablespoon margarine
1 tablespoon sugar
1.2 kg pitted dates
1 orange peel grated
1 tablespoon anisette
1 tablespoon orange flower water
A pinch of ground cloves

To make the dough, rub the lard into the flour.
Add the sugar and mix.
Moisten with anisette and orange flower water until you can form a soft dough.
Next prepare the filling.
Mash the dates and mix with the cloves, orange peel, anisette and orange flower water.
Note: If the dates are hard, soak in water for about thirty minutes to soften. Drain before using. Roll the dough out into a long wide strip and spread the prepared filling on the top half of the dough to form a layer about a quarter of an inch thick
Wet the edge of the pastry and fold over to cover the filling.
Press all edges well together to seal.
Cut into diamond or rectangular shapes (about 3.5 x 2.5 inches.)
Fry in deep hot oil till golden in colour.
Let drain and eat while still hot.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Jamie Oliver's Pasta Recipe

The best I have found!! A pasta machine helps immensely...but read Jamie's recipe and see what you think!

Jamie Oliver's Recipe for Pasta
• 600g/1lb 6oz Tipo ‘00’ flour
6 large free-range or organic eggs or 12 yolks

serves 4

You can find Tipo ‘00’ flour HERE – this is a very finely sieved flour which is normally used for making egg pasta or cakes. In Italy it’s called farina di grano tenero, which means ‘tender’ or ‘soft’ flour.

Place the flour on a board or in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and crack the eggs into it. Beat the eggs with a fork until smooth. Using the tips of your fingers, mix the eggs with the flour, incorporating a little at a time, until everything is combined. Knead the pieces of dough together – with a bit of work and some love and attention they’ll all bind together to give you one big, smooth lump of dough!

You can also make your dough in a food processor if you’ve got one. Just bung everything in, whiz until the flour looks like breadcrumbs, then tip the mixture on to your work surface and bring the dough together into one lump, using your hands.

Once you’ve made your dough you need to knead and work it with your hands to develop the gluten in the flour, otherwise your pasta will be flabby and soft when you cook it, instead of springy and al dente.

There’s no secret to kneading. You just have to bash the dough about a bit with your hands, squashing it into the table, reshaping it, pulling it, stretching it, squashing it again. It’s quite hard work, and after a few minutes it’s easy to see why the average Italian grandmother has arms like Frank Bruno! You’ll know when to stop – it’s when your pasta starts to feel smooth and silky instead of rough and floury. Then all you need to do is wrap it in clingfilm and put it in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour before you use it. Make sure the clingfilm covers it well or it will dry out and go crusty round the edges (this will give you crusty lumps through your pasta when you roll it out, and nobody likes crusty lumps!).

How to roll your pasta
First of all, if you haven't got a pasta machine it's not the end of the world! All the mammas I met while travelling round Italy rolled pasta with their trusty rolling pins and they wouldn't even consider having a pasta machine in the house! When it comes to rolling, the main problem you'll have is getting the pasta thin enough to work with. It's quite difficult to get a big lump of dough rolled out in one piece, and you need a very long rolling pin to do the job properly. The way around this is to roll lots of small pieces of pasta rather than a few big ones. You'll be rolling your pasta into a more circular shape than the long rectangular shapes you'll get from a machine, and they won't look like the step-by-step pics on the next few pages, but use your head and you'll be all right!

If using a machine to roll your pasta, make sure it's clamped firmly to a clean work surface before you start (use the longest available work surface you have). If your surface is cluttered with bits of paper, the kettle, the bread bin, the kids' homework and stuff like that, shift all this out of the way for the time being. It won't take a minute, and starting with a clear space to work in will make things much easier, I promise.

Dust your work surface with some Tipo ‘00’ flour, take a lump of pasta dough the size of a large orange and press it out flat with your fingertips. Set the pasta machine at its widest setting - and roll the lump of pasta dough through it. Lightly dust the pasta with flour if it sticks at all. Click the machine down a setting and roll the pasta dough through again. Fold the pasta in half, click the pasta machine back up to the widest setting and roll the dough through again. Repeat this process five or six times. It might seem like you're getting nowhere, but in fact you're working the dough, and once you've folded it and fed it through the rollers a few times, you'll feel the difference. It'll be smooth as silk and this means you're making wicked pasta!

Now it's time to roll the dough out properly, working it through all the settings on the machine, from the widest down to around the narrowest. Lightly dust both sides of the pasta with a little flour every time you run it through. When you've got down to the narrowest setting, to give yourself a tidy sheet of pasta, fold the pasta in half lengthways, then in half again, then in half again once more you've got a square-ish piece of dough. Turn it 90 degrees and feed it through the machine at the widest setting. As you roll it down through the settings for the last time, you should end up with a lovely rectangular silky sheet of dough with straight sides - just like a real pro! If your dough is a little cracked at the edges, fold it in half just once, click the machine back two settings and feed it through again. That should sort things out. Whether you're rolling by hand or by machine you'll need to know when to stop. If you're making pasta like tagliatelle, lasagne or stracchi you'll need to roll the pasta down to between the thickness of a beer mat and a playing card; if you're making a stuffed pasta like ravioli or tortellini, you'll need to roll it down slightly thinner or to the point where you can clearly see your hand or lines of newsprint through it.
Once you've rolled your pasta the way you want it, you need to shape or cut it straight away. Pasta dries much quicker than you think, so whatever recipe you're doing, don't leave it more than a minute or two before cutting or shaping it. You can lay over a damp clean tea towel which will stop it from drying.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Avocado Gazpacho

Something cool for the summer evenings...the lobster makes a nice touch! Another recipe of unknown origin so if there is anyone out there who knows where this came from let me know!

I have a whole box of recipes I collected and unfortunately I never wrote where they came from, so unless i remember I cannot give credit to the author!

3 avocados
juice of 1 line
100 gms onion, diced
150 gms red bell pepper, diced
150 gms tomato, diced
15 gms cilantro, minced
2 teaspoons coriander
8 gms cumin
5 cloves garlic, roasted
3 cups water

for garnish
300 gms lobster , chopped
1 whole scallion, chopped fine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pinch saffron
salt and white pepper, to taste

1. Cut the avocados in half and remove the pits.
2. Scoop the meat into a bowl and discard the skin. Pour the lime juice over and set aside.
3. Put the tomatoes, onions, red peppers, roasted garlic, cilantro, coriander, and cumin in a bowl and mix.
4. Put the avocados and water in a blender. Lightly pulse so the avocados are just broken up. You do NOT want a smooth consistency.
5. Add to the diced veggies and season with salt and pepper.

For the garnish:
6. Boil the lobster meat for approximately 8 minutes or until nicely firm.
7. Shock it with an ice bath and then drain well, removing all extra water. Roughly chop.
8. In a small bowl, mix the lobster, scallions, olive oil, and saffron together.
9. Season with salt and pepper. Chill and set aside

To Serve:
Put the vegetable mixture into serving bowls and garnish with the lobster mix.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Biskuttini tar-rahal - Village Biscuits

These Maltese biscuits “Biskuttini tar-Raħal”, "Village Biscuits" in English, were traditionally served during special occasions such as the Christening of a baby. They would be decorated on top with swirls of pink icing for a baby girl or pale blue for a boy. I just find them great with a cup of tea and babies seem to love them too - go easy on the anisette in that case!
The icing swirls on top add a sugary kick as the biscuits themselves are not overly sweet. Wish I had a better pic!!

3 eggs,
8oz of sugar,
8oz of flour,
grated rind of 1/2 lemon and 1/2 orange,
2tsp of crushed aniseed seeds. (I sometimes add a few drops of anisette..)

Preheat the oven to 450f, but turn down the heat to 375F as soon as you put in the biscuits.
Separate the eggs and beat the whites until they are stiff.
Add the sugar a little at a time, whisking well between each addition.
Put in the yolks, mix again, and then stir in the grated peel and crushed seeds.
Fold in the flour.
Shape the dough into ovals, using two spoons, and bake them on a tray scattered with semolina, for 20 minutes or until they are a light golden colour.

Decorate the biscuits with swirls of icing.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Squash Soup

This is what's on the menu today! Something easy, tasty, and healthy!
The lemongrass, coriander and ginger lift this soup with their tangy taste.

2 small squashes (peeled and cubed),
2 small onions (chopped),
1/2 tsp fresh ginger (grated),
1/2 tsp fresh lemongrass,
1 tsp fresh coriander (chopped),
salt, pepper,
two cans of coconut milk,

Fry the onion in butter until it is translucent.
Add the squash and cook for a few minutes, ‘sweating’ it with the lid on the pan, over a gentle heat.
Pour in two glasses of water.
Add the ginger and lemongrass, stir and leave the pot to simmer gently for 20 minutes.
Use a blender to achieve a smooth consistency, then return the soup to the pan.
Pour in the coconut milk and cook for a few more minutes.
Serve the soup garnished with coriander.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Shrimp Flambé with Ricard

This super recipe was obtained during a vacation - my cousin got it off the chef ! It got passed to me and i gave it a shot...

Oh yummy!! and I LOVE Ricard...its is an aquired taste though - and you can always use Pernod as an alternative...same same!!

This recipe, with the famous liquor from the South of France, Pastis, evokes Cote D'Azur evenings shared with friends and family. Pastis can be found at any large liquor store.
Watch the clear alcohol turn cloudy when you add cool water and ice.

Shrimp Flambé with Ricard (Pastis)Serving Size: 6

1 1/2 pounds shrimp
1/3 cup Ricard (Pastis is a licorice flavored alcohol popular in the south of France)
1/2 cup white wine
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 whole tomato -- diced
1/2 whole onion -- diced
3 cloves garlic -- minced
1 tablespoon parsley -- chopped
salt and pepper -- to taste

In a medium saute pan, over medium-high heat, saute the shrimp in the olive oil,constantly turning, season with the salt and pepper.
After several minutes, add the garlic.
After another minute, add the vegetables and saute for another 4-5 minutes.
Add the Ricard and light on fire.


Let the alcohol burn off.

Serve with white or wild rice


Monday, August 17, 2009

Chicken Liver Pâté

This is a great pâté and one of my favourites. Its great with toast, crackers or melba toast.

We would often have "Dip" parties - everyone would bring a dip and a bottle of wine and we would spend a great evening!

I know some people are scared of liver, or dislike the taste but they should give this a try!

1kg of chicken livers ( washed, trimmed and cleaned)
some olive oil,
1 tsp fresh rosemary, very finely chopped
1tsp sage very finely chopped
zest of one small orange,
2 cloves garlic, crushed,
salt and pepper to taste
100ml of brandy,
100ml of red wine,
250g of butter,
2 bay leaves.
About 8 bacon rashers (fry - or grill - and put on paper towels to remove the oil. Don't let the bacon crisp however, it has to be cooked just enough)

Fry the chicken livers in the olive oil, and add the herbs, orange zest and garlic.
Do not over fry or the livers will get tough. they should be brown on the outside but left pink inside.
Season, remove from the pan and put into a blender
Put the pan back heat and pour in 100ml of brandy, 100ml of red wine, and bring to the boil, stirring and scraping any residue from the sides.
Pour this into the blender along with 200g of butter and process until smooth.
Line a terrine with the cooked bacon strips
Pour the pâté into a suitable terrine and decorate the top with a bay leaf or two, a couple of sprigs of rosemary and some curls of orange zest.
Melt 50g of butter very gently over a low heat – do not allow it to bubble – and carefully pour the clear part of the butter over the top of the pâté, making sure all is under a thin layer of clarified butter.

Leave it to cool, and then put it in the refrigerator, covered with a lid or foil.

You can turn it out to serve, it looks rather pretty - or else just leave in the terrine.

Pumpkin pie - not the usual type!

Pumpkin pie is a standard traditional dish in the north of Malta but unlike the pies that are so popular in America, these are not a dessert, but the main meal. It is made using fresh pumpkin (NOT canned) which is abundant in Malta (hmmm and we don't even celebrate Halloween there!)
This recipe is not my own, it was sent to me by my cousin so if the author is out there please let me know so I can give you credit!!!

I made this yesterday and it is yummy!!!

For the filling:
one onion (peeled and finely chopped),
three cloves of garlic (crushed and chopped),
extra virgin olive oil,
400g of pumpkin (peeled, de-seeded and diced),
100g of olives,(pitted)
two tablespoonfuls of capers (some people use sultanas instead),
two tablespoonfuls of Italian marjoram
one tablespoonful of fresh mint (chopped),
two x 170g cans of tuna in oil,
three or four anchovy fillets,
250g of long-grain rice.

For the pastry:
450g of plain flour,
a generous pinch of salt,
150ml of extra virgin olive oil,
one large egg and enough white wine to make 150ml of liquid.

To make the filling:
Boil the rice in abundant salted water for about half the time stipulated on the packet, then drain it immediately and leave it to cool.
Fry the onions and garlic until they are soft and golden, add the pumpkin and carry on cooking. Stir in the olives and capers (or sultanas) and fry until everything is soft.
Add a little white wine if the mixture starts to stick to the bottom of the pan.
When it is cooked, put in the tuna, anchovies, herbs and cooked rice.
Stir the mixture and season it with salt and pepper.
Leave it to cool.

To make the pastry:
Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl, stir in the olive oil and rub it into the flour.
Add the egg-and-white-wine mixture and continue to stir until you have pastry.
You may find that you need to add a little more liquid.
Flatten out the pastry with your knuckles and fold it in half, repeating this action four or five times until it is smooth.
Now divide it in two, one piece a little smaller than the other.
Roll out the larger piece and use it to line a 24cm-diameter shallow pie-dish. Fill the lined dish with the pumpkin mixture and press it down lightly.
Moisten the outside edges of the pastry with a little water.
Roll out the other piece of pastry and use it to make a lid for the pie.
Using the prongs of a fork, press down onto the moistened edges of the pastry.
Prick the lid all over and use any left-over scraps of pastry to decorate it.
Brush the pastry lid with egg or milk to glaze it, and bake the pie for around 45 minutes at 190C or until it is golden and cooked.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Coconut Biscuits

Wonder of wonders! I was rummaging through some old photo albums and found a recipe from cooking class at school when I was about 14!! Tried it out and they are still as tasty as i remember.

Cooking class was always one of my favourites - we had a couple of fires and burnt fingers..and the teacher walked out one time when we brought in rum to add to the cakes we were was a VERY strict Catholic all girls school.....but is was just as fun as sewing class...hmmm...seem to remember a nun who would love to measure the over developed girls....but i's the recipe!

130g of plain flour
a pinch of baking-powder,
75g of sugar,
100g of butter,
one teaspoonful of vanilla,
3tbs of shredded coconut.

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla together until light and creamy.
Add the flour and mix it in thoroughly.
Divide the mixture into 20 pieces.

With damp hands, roll each one into a neat ball and coat it with desiccated coconut.
Flatten into 'biscuit' shapes
Place these on a well-greased baking-tray.

Bake for about 20 minutes.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Bambinella - do you know what that is!!

Bambinella is like a tiny pear...and tastes super delicious! I have never seen it anywhere but at home in Malta...and maybe in Sicily though I can't be sure. I don't think there is another word for the fruit though if anyone else had heard of it let me know!

Here's an interesting article about the new export of bambinella...the first time actually and to none other than marks and sparks!

Taken from Business today

A number of farmers affiliated within the Ta Qali Producers Organisation have struck an important deal with Marks & Spencer’s of the UK and have started to export quantities of ‘bambinella’ to the chain store at very competitive prices.Speaking to Business Today, the President of the Ta’ Qali Producers Organisation Peter Axisa expressed his satisfaction with the agreement reached with Marks & Spencer as it opened a brand new ‘niche market’ for Maltese farmers with a unique product.“Next Thursday will see the fourth consignment of bambinella to be exported to the UK in just over four weeks, and farmers are working round the clock to ensure an excellent quality product,” he said.

Marks & Spencer were reportedly quick to contract the Maltese producers for bambinella exports, and asked for immediate consignments of what they are describing as ‘tiny pear’ given that there is no word for bambinella in English.

According to sources, bambinella grows in limited numbers in the UK, and they are considered ripe for harvest later in the year.While a number of new trees are being planted in Kent, the Maltese bambinella has the unique blush that gives them a distinct appearance.

The exported bambinella are being sold in Marks & Spencer flag ship stores around the UK, displaying a Maltese cross, and clearly labelled ‘produced in Malta’.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bigilla - Maltese bean dip

This traditional dish is extremely popular in Malta - and again and safe thing to make as you cant go wrong!
The main ingredient is broad beans (or fava beans). In Malta, the beans used are called 'Ful'. They grow abundantly and are really good fresh with some olive oil and garlic


1 lb dried broad beans
2 tsp parsley
1 head of garlic crushed
juice of half a lemon
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp of mixed marjoram & mint, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Soak beans overnight (or at least 12 hours)
Replace water. Add salt to taste
Bring to boil & simmer until beans are soft. (you may need to add more boiling water to be sure that the beans do not stick to the pan!)
Mash beans lightly and place them in a serving dish
Add other ingredients to taste
Pour olive oil on top and add some more parsley for decoration

Foodie Fights Winner!

YEA! My first competition!! Check out all the recipes at foodiefights

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Roasted Sweet Potatoes or Yams

Sweet potatoes seem to be around all year long - at least here in Arizona. They are as versatile as ordinary potatoes but apparently are much better for you.
This is one of my Mum's recipes - she said she would disown me if i didn't give her credit!!

6 yams or sweet potatoes - peeled and sliced into thick rounds
4 tbs olive oil
6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1/2 cup fresh thyme
1 tsp red pepper flakes
salt to taste

Serves about 8

Heat oven to about 450F
Put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix, making sure the potatoes are well coated with the oil mixture.
Roast for about 40-50 mins or until done.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Feta Cheese Souflee

I got this recipe from an English friend of mine - I first made it about 30 years ago! (i am so OLD!) when i was in college in Bournemouth. It can be rather impressive - if it rises that is!
The mixture can be prepared in advance but since the souffle is best served immediately, start step 5 just before serving time so that it will be served nice and fluffy.

7½fl oz milk
3 thick slices sourdough bread(cut off crusts)
5oz crumbled feta cheese
3 eggs, separated
7oz ripe tomatoes, finely diced (remove seeds)
2oz butter, softened
pinch of sugar
1 tbs fresh basil or mint leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

1. Preheat the oven to 425F
2. Tear up the bread, pour the milk over and soak for 5-10 minutes.
3. Put the cheese into a food processor with the butter, egg yolks, milk and bread mixture, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Process until smooth.
4. Mix the tomatoes with the sugar, basil or mint and salt and pepper, and divide between six buttered ramekins.
5. Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and fold into the cheese mixture. Spoon this over the tomatoes, filling each ramekin almost to the top.
6. Put the ramekins straight into the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes until nicely puffed and browned. Do not open the oven while cooking or the souffles will deflate!
7. Serve immediately.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Foodie Fights Challenge

Foodie Fights Challenge: Ingredients - Kohlrabi and Rosemary

I wasn’t sure how to submit my recipe for this competition – since the final product cannot be tasted, it looks like the photo and recipe will be the main elements in the judging. I took a look at past challenges and noticed that many entries had the challenge ingredients being the accompaniment to the dish and not the star!

I decided to take the challenge literally - The main flavors in my submission will be the kohlrabi and rosemary – anything else is just used to bring out their flavor. The challenge for me is to concoct something interesting using two MAIN ingredients. Anything else in the recipe is their accompaniment - they will be the stars.

My recipe is Cold Kohlrabi Mousse.

This soft mousse has an extremely delicate taste with an undertone of rosemary for a great summer hors d'oeuvre. It’s pretty simple to make and although I generally shy away from using gelatin this turned very well.

Recipe for Cold Kohlrabi Mousse.
Serves 6

1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup mayonnaise
salt, ground white pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 cups boiled and mashed kohlrabi (use small kohlrabi as their taste is better)
1 cup heavy cream


In a medium sized bowl, dissolve the gelatin in the cold water. Add some boiling water to melt it. Let stay for a few minutes (or follow the instructions on your packet of gelatin!)
Whisk in the mayonnaise, salt, ground white pepper, chopped rosemary, and lemon juice.

Refrigerate the mixture for 15 to 20 minutes or until it begins to thicken lightly.

Whip the cream until thick and fluffy. Fold the mashed kohlrabi and then the cream into the gelatin mixture.
Transfer the mousse into individual molds and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours to set.

To Serve:
Put the ramekins in some warm water, then run a knife along the inside to loosen the mousse.

Turn upside down onto a serving plate.

See all the recipes at

Kohlrabi Appetizer

I had some left over kohlrabi from my foodie fights challenge, so i made the simplest of dishes that was very popular in Malta since kohlrabi - or 'gidra' is very common.
Boil a couple of small, tender kohlrabi.
Slice, add some olive oil, salt and pepper, some minced garlic and voila!
Some crusty bread for dipping is all you need for a quick - and rather original appetizer.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Kohlrabi and Rosemary

Foodie Fights!
On Monday I will be posting my entry to foodie fights -
The two ingredients were kohlrabi and rosemary. Weird stuff..
Don't forget to take a look at my recipe which should be posted here tomorrow and on the foodie fights site on Tuesday.
I have come up with something quite original......

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Pisellata - Peas and eggs

I have no idea where this recipe came from - all I can say is that it was always used when we could not think of anything too cook. Its fast, easy, and rather nutritious.
I am just giving the basic idea on how to make this. Adjust the quantities according to how may are eating!

Ingredients: (per person)
1 egg
about 1 - 1/2 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
1/2 onion
1 rasher bacon.
about 1/4 cup broth or water and a piece of stock cube

Fry the onion and bacon in a tad of oil, then add the stock/broth until almost translucent.
Add the peas and cook until almost done

Add the eggs (as if you were frying them sunny side up)
Put the lid on the pan for a few minutes

Weird? i think so but it tastes great!

Friday, August 7, 2009


It's only August, but preparation for Christmas starts now. My all time favourite is Mince Pies.
It's important to make the mincemeat well ahead - this is actually late but i thought id make some instead of buying the mince meat for my pies. The recipe to make the pies will follow at a later date.
Mincemeat does not actually contain any meat (it originally did) but is a spicy preserve comprising a mixture of dried fruit, apple, suet and candied fruit and spices steeped in rum or brandy. It has been part of British cookery for centuries and mince pies are traditionally served at Christmas

For 6lb mincemeat:
12oz (350g) seedless raisins
8oz (225g) sultanas
8oz (225g) currants
4oz (110g) cut mixed peel
4oz (110g) chopped dried prunes
12oz (350g) soft brown sugar
1lb (450g) cooking apples - peeled, cored and grated
8oz (225g) shredded suet
grated rind and juice of 2 oranges
grated rind and juice of 2 lemons
2oz (50g) chopped almonds
2oz (50g) chopped pecan nuts
1 tbsp (15g) mixed spice
1 tsp (5g) freshly grated nutmeg
5fl oz (150ml) brandy

1. Mix all the ingredients together, except half the brandy in a large ovenproof bowl and cover and leave to stand overnight.
2. The next day, preheat the oven to 110C/225F/Gas ¼, cover the bowl with foil and place in the oven for about 3 hours.
3. Allow to cool, then mix in the rest of the brandy and put into sterilised jars.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Figolli - Traditional easter delights from Malta

The figolla is a traditional almond pastry and according to mythology, the figolla was presented as a gift to Astarte, the goddess of fertility.This recipe was kindly sent to me by my cousin Paula in Malta.
This is the first time she is giving out this recipe, and according to all that have tasted them they are pretty good.She would like to stress that She buys whole almonds, blanches them herself and breaks them up in very tiny pieces but not so much that they look like powder - more like crumbs

yields approx 4-5 depending on the size of your shapes
14 oz self raising flour+ 1 teaspoon baking powder,sifted
6 oz margarine,
rind of a large lemon,grated
4 tbs sugar,
2 eggs, beaten
and a little fresh milk to bind if necessary.

Make Pastry
Mix the dry ingredients, add the margarine, eggs and milk if necessary - work to a smooth dough.

20 oz ground almonds,
8oz icing sugar+12 oz sugar or 20 oz icing sugar,
juice of 1/2 lemon,
1 tbs brandy.
Mix all in one stage and allow to chill for at least 1 hour in the fridge.

Heat oven to 325F.
Roll out a piece of pastry until it is 1/2 inch thick on a well-floured surface.
Cut into desired shapes (Figolli are traditionally cut into the shape of a bird, a fish or a duck and the size of each Figolla is between 8 to 10 inches).
You need two cut-outs for each Figolla.
Spread the filling on one of the cut-outs.
Place the other cut-out on top and press the edges to seal.
Brush the top of the Figolli with the beaten egg.
Bake until the Figolla turns to a golden colour.
Let the Figolla cool down and then decorate with coloured icing.
You can also cover with chocolate.
Place a hollow chocolate egg in the center of each Figolla using some soft icing to hold it in place.
Figolli can be really elaborate - with cut out pictures, richly decorated etc etc - I prefer the iced ones - with the Easter egg on top!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

No Cook Cake

This no cook dessert is a favourite of mine. The biscuits used are 'Morning coffee' or 'Marie biscuits'. You can also use the LU Cookies or Rich Tea Biscuits that can be bought from Amazon.
I have not seen the Marie or Morning Coffee type in the US except at the PBX on an armed forces base! They have all sorts of European food!
This was really popular when we were young as it was one thing we were allowed to make as it did not involve anything electric or hot! I believe the British were the first to make it - came to that assumption because of the British Biscuits used but if anyone knows the origin...please let me know!

200g of butter,
200g of caster sugar,
five small eggs, (beaten well)
250g of plain chocolate,
About 2 cups of strong coffee,
Two packets of plain biscuits (see above).

Melt the chocolate ( I use the microwave, checking it and stirring it until it melts. You can also use a double boiler )
Beat the butter with the caster sugar until light and creamy.
Beat in the melted chocolate and then the eggs, one at a time.
Dip the biscuits into the coffee
Use a largish dish that isn't too shallow make layers of coffee-moistened biscuits alternating with layers of the chocolate cream.
Refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
If you really want to be decadent, top with some fresh whipped cream!
Grate some chocolate curls on top.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

German Potato Salad

Although a German recipe, this comes form my friend Regula who lived in Basel, Switzerland. This was a dish often served at her home, together with some most excellent German sausage - a great meal for a cold day. Sauerkraut was also something else i learnt to enjoy!The main difference between German potato salad and American potato salad is that the former is made with HOT potatoes and is usually served warm.However it's also great cold.


About 6 potatoes, boiled , peeled and sliced (not cubed)

For Dressing
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon of spicy brown mustard
1/2 - 3/4 cups of mayonnaise
3 rashers of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped (optional)

Mix the above (except the bacon and eggs)and pour over the potatoes.

Sprinkle the bacon and eggs over.

Serve warm. refrigerate any remaining salad as soon as possible. Can be eaten cold later!
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All the recipes here have either been sent to me, adapted by me or found on the web. If I know the source I always give credit to the author/website. If you know of a source I may have missed please let me know.