Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pumpkin Cake

I never thought I would be using pumpkin so much! I got this recipe off my mum - its really easy and very moist and tasty. I made it for Thanksgiving Lunch as a Dessert.

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tbs mixed spices (i used cinnamon, ginger and all spice with a dash of cloves)
3 eggs
1/1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin - I actually used the canned one here and its not that bad!

Sift first 4 ingredients together.
In another bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla.
Add the pumpkin and beat some more.
Add the dry ingredients.

You can divide mixture in 2 pans or use one.
Bake at 350 for about 40 mins or until cake passes the toothpick test.
Let cool.

I used a cream cheese topping made this way:
8oz cream cheese ( a packet of Philly)
2 cups  icing (powdered) sugar
1/2 cup butter  (melt 1/4 cup until browned then pour it over the rest until all is melted)
Put all in a bowl and beat well

Cut cake in half and spread mixture on one piece, use the rest of the topping to cover the cake.
I also used some crushed walnuts as decoration.

The colour of the cake rather surprised me - its rather orange!!But looks great with the white topping!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Timpana - pastry covered maccaroni

This is a very popular Maltese dish - we would often eat it at Christmas or some other occasion. Its is a super carb dish so should be eaten in moderation! The addition of chicken livers really adds to the flavour - but can be omitted for the faint of heart! I would often make the pastry from scratch, using a semi-short recipe. I have come across some others that use puff pastry but that isn't strictly correct.

1.5 lb pastry
1.5 lb. macaroni
1 lb. minced meat(mixture of beef and pork)
4 oz. chicken livers
6 oz. crushed tomatoes
1 chopped onion
2 oz. grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbs tomato paste
1/4 pt. chicken or vegetable stock
2 hard boiled eggs(chopped)
1 aubergine, sliced very finely and fried or grilled.
4 eggs(beaten)
2 cloves of garlic
olive oil
salt and pepper

Fry the onion and garlic.
Add the meat and liver, fry until cooked.
Add the tomatoes and the tomato paste. Cook for a few seconds.
Slowly add the stock and simmer till the meat is tender.
(or you can make a bolognaise of your choice)

Boil the macaroni (al dente!) drain and cool.
Add the sauce, aubergine, cheese and hard boiled eggs and stir well.

Roll the pastry , not too thick, and put into a greased dish with enough over the edges to cover the top
Pour the mixture and cover with the pastry.
Brush the top with beaten egg
Cook in a moderate to hot oven.

You could also just put the pastry on top, to minimize the carbs (ha ha ha) but the real recipe calls for the pasta to be completely wrapped in the pastry.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Omelette Souffle

The telegraph on line has some of the best recipes.

Check out their site here. I couldn't resist this recipe - it takes the humble omelette  and turns it into a souffle


  • 2-3 eggs (per person)
  •  filling of your choice i.e cheese and onion or mushroom


  • Seperate the egg yolks. 

    Whisk the egg whites until stiff like a meringue mix. 

    Fold in the yolks just before cooking.

    If the filling includes onion or mushroom, saute in a small knob of lard for a few minutes before adding the omelette mix on top.

    If using grated cheese, sprinkle on top.

    Turn only once if possible, folding over in half and cooking slowly to dry out the mixture.

    I find it better to make one at a time as the whites will become watery whilst cooking the first, reducing the light, fluffy texture.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Swordfish with capers

I found this recipe on Saveur and had to post it here.
Its very typical of the way we make swordfish in malta.
Here is the recipe:

4 swordfish steaks (about 6 oz. each 
   and 3/8" thick), skin removed

Kosher salt and freshly ground black 
   pepper, to taste

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 cups whole peeled canned tomatoes, 
   drained and minced

1/2 cup large green olives, such as 
   cerignola, pitted and roughly 

3 tbsp. salt-packed capers, soaked 
   and drained

1/4 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
2 tbsp. roughly chopped flat-leaf 

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1. Season swordfish with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 12" skillet over high heat. Working in two batches, add swordfish and cook, flipping once, until golden brown and medium rare, about 3 minutes. Transfer swordfish to a plate, leaving oil in skillet.

2. Reduce heat to medium; add garlic and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, olives, capers, and chile flakes and cook, stirring, until tomatoes soften and release some of their juices, about 5 minutes. Return swordfish steaks to skillet, nestling them in the sauce, and add parsley and lemon juice; cook until fish is cooked through. To serve, transfer swordfish to a platter and spoon sauce over top.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Christmas Pudding

The most British of desserts, the traditional Christmas pudding was always a must at home. It would be made several months in advance, then re-steamed a few days before christmas. Tradition also dictated that a silver sixpence would be put in the mixture for a lucky person to find (and hopefully not choke on!) A sixpence does not exist any more - let alone a silver one but I do remember putting one in!
Another tradition was that everyone in the family would stir the pudding and make a wish.

This is a great recipe adapted from the
 Telegraph on line

Butter a pudding basin (8-10in/20-25cm) and line the base with a circle of baking paper. Into a very large bowl put 4oz/115g raisins, 4oz/115g sultanas, 4oz/115g chopped Smyrna figs, 4oz/115g chopped pitted prunes and 4oz/115g chopped dates.

Add 4oz/115g grated pumpkin and 1 grated  apple. Pour over 3½ fl oz/100ml cider or ale and leave to stand for about 20 minutes, until the raisins have plumped up a little.

Add 2 beaten eggs and 2 extra egg yolks, 2 tbsp black treacle and 4oz/115g dark muscovado sugar. Stir in 4oz/115g ground almonds, 4oz/115g vegetable suet  and 3oz/85g grated plain chocolate .
Sift together 4oz/115g white  flour , ½ tsp ground mixed spice, ½ tsp grated nutmeg and ½ tsp ground cinnamon and fold well into the pudding.

Spoon into the greased basin (or basins, if you are making more than one smaller pudding, in which case reduce cooking time by two thirds). Cover the surface of the pudding with another circle of baking paper.

Cut a large piece of baking paper (big enough to cover the bowl and be tied down) and a similar-sized piece of foil. Lay one on top of the other and fold to make a pleat so they hold together.

Lay over the bowl and tie down with a piece of string. Place in a large, deep pan and pour water in until it reaches halfway up the basin.

Bring to the boil, cover with a lid, turn down to a slow simmer and steam for about 6 hours. Allow to cool and store at room temperature. From time to time, open the seal and sprinkle with brandy. You will need to steam the pudding again for about 3 hours before serving it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Maltese Pastizzi

Pastizzi are traditional Maltese 'delicacies' made up of diamond shaped pastries filled with either ricotta (pastizzi ta' l-irkotta) or a slightly spicy pea filling (pastizzi tal-pizelli) The pastry is a puff-pastry like dough that I still have to try and replicate! 
Sometimes pastizzi are referred to as Maltese cheesecakes or ricotta cheesecakes, a slightly misleading term since cheesecakes are usually sweet not savoury like pastizzi. I have actually found Pastizzi in Australia and Canada, probably thanks to the Maltese emigrants there!


8 oz. flour
6 oz. margarine cut into  cubes
6-7 tbs. cold water
dash of salt

The trick here  is that everything you use must be cold! If the margerine melts you will not get the desired result.The best working surface for the dough is a slab of marble since marble tends to stay cool. Make sure the dough, working surface and the rolling pin are sprinkled with flour before you start working the dough.Don't turn the dough over while you are working it. Always keep the same surface up. Turn it flat on the board (or turn the board itself) clockwise before each rolling and always in the same direction. This is one of the hardest doughs to make and you may have to try it a few times before you get it right!

Sift flour and salt together. Divide the margarine into half-inch squares. Drop the margarine into flour making sure not to squash them. Mix lightly until all margarine cubes are covered with flour (make sure that the cubes remain intact.) Add some cold water and mix lightly with a knife again making sure that the cubes remain intact. If some flour is left loose, add a teaspoon of cold water at a time until all the flour has been brought together. The resulting dough should be very soft.

Sprinkle the dough and the working surface with flour. Work the dough into an elongated shape using your finger tips. Sprinkle some flour on the rolling pin and roll the dough until it's about eight inches long and not more than five inches wide.
1 - Fold the lower third toward the top. Now fold the upper third toward the bottom on top of the first fold. You should end up with a three-layered rectangle. With light pressure from the rolling pin, seal the three edges.
2 - Remove any extra flour. Now turn the folded dough anti-clockwise so that the right side is at the top. Roll the dough lightly until it is nine inches long and six inches wide.
3 - Repeat steps one and two.
4 - Cover the dough with a damp cloth and store in the refrigerator for twenty minutes.
5 - Repeat steps one through four, four times.
The dough can now be rolled out to the desired thickness.
Another way is following the video posted at the bottom of this recipe. The dough is streched out and then rolled up rather like a jelly roll. Then thin slices are cut and shaped into the pastizzi.

You could also use store bought puff pastry - not quite the same but much easier! A Pastizzi fan would shun your efforts!!!

For the Filling:
2lbs ricotta
2 eggs(beaten)
salt and pepper to taste
optional: some chopped parsley

Mix the ricotta with the beaten eggs and season
Roll out the dough. Cut into aprox 3" to 3" circles.(or cut slices off the 'jelly roll') Put a tablespoon of the rikotta  mix in the middle of each circle.Hold both sides of the circle and bring them together, then pinch the top and bottom so that  the ends are in points Put the pastizzi on a margarine greased baking sheet. Bake in a moderate oven (350-425 degrees) for about one hour. The pastizzi should be a golden-brown colour when they're ready.

I found this great video that shows how pastizzi are made! It should make the  explanation of how to form them much easier! HOWEVER...the video shows a REAL pastizzi maker who has has years of experience so don't get discouraged!!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Penne con funghi

Pasta con  funghi is a classic recipe, but this one omits the cream, for once!
A super simple recipe sent by Olga in Rome. Thanks for this one - had it for dinner last night!!!

Ingredients for penne ai funghi for 6
600 g.  penne
80 g. butter
1 clove of garlic
1 onion
3 large salvia leaves
250 g. fresh porchini
1 small glass of dry white wine
1 cup of bolognaise sauce (home made is best)
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated parmesan

Clean the mushrooms, dry and cut into slices
In a pan, gently fry the butter, finely chopped onion, sage, and crushed garlic (you may remove the latter when done if you want a more delicate taste)
After a few minutes, add the funghi porchini and cook gently. Add the wine and let evaporate. Add the meat sauce, salt and pepper and cook on a low heat for a few more minutes.
Boil the pasta in salted water, drain, add the sauce and mix well. Serve with a sprinkling of the parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Vitello Tonnato (Tuna Veal)

This is a traditional Italian dish that I can never seem to find out of Europe. I think it is because Veal is hard to come by in the USA.

2 kg of veal in one piece- i find that the fillet would be the best but choose a tender cut
1,5 l of white wine
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic

2 celery sticks
2 carrots
1-2 leaves of thyme
Salt and Pepper

1 7-oz. can imported tuna, packed in olive oil
5 flat anchovy filets
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tsp. lemon juice, freshly squeezed
3 tbsp. capers, soaked and rinsed
1 1⁄4 cups mayonnaise


Tidy up the veal and remove any fat.
Fill a pot with wine and water, enough to cover the meat
Add the onion, chopped up, the carrots, grates, the garlic, the celery and the thyme.
Bring to the boil, then add the veal, season and bring to the boil.
Simmer for 1 1/2 hrs.
Take off the fire.
Let the veal cool in the pot and broth for about 2-3hrs

While the meat is cooling, drain tuna and put into a food processor with anchovies, olive oil, lemon juice, and capers.
Process until it becomes a creamy, beige-colored sauce.
Fold sauce gently, but thoroughly, into mayonnaise.
Keep the sauce in the fridge until ready to serve.
When the meat has cooled down, cut in very very thin slices - as thin as possible - this is the key.
Arrange on a serving dish and cover with the sauce. Add some capers on top for decoration

Friday, November 5, 2010



This is one of my favourite dishes. Many recipes do not use  bechamel sauce but I find that this makes the dish ever so tasty!

Ingredients for the sauce:
2 onions: 1 brown, 1 white
1 glove of garlic
1 leek
2 celery sticks
300 gr. lean pork
100 gr. of chicken
300 gr ground beef
some parsley
extra virgin olive oil
pinch of oregano
1 nutmeg
2 cans tomato pulp
1 can tomato sauce
a sage leaf
a bay leaf

Ingredients for the B├ęchamel Sauce:
1.5 litre of milk
1 nutmeg
salt and pepper
50 gr. butter
200 gm. cornflour

PREPARATION of the sauce:

1. Finely chop the onion, garlic, leek, celery and parsley. Lightly fry them in the oil with the sage, bay leaf and rosemary. Once the vegetables are browned remove the herbs.
2. Finely mince the meat. Add the meat to the vegetables and cook the combined ingredients for a further 20 minutes.
3. Add the tomatos, remaining herbs and a bay leaf and continue cooking the sauce over a medium heat for approximately 2 hours.

PREPARATION of the b├ęchamel sauce:
4. Heat aprox 2 cups of milk and the butter until almost boiling - but don't let it boil!
5. Take off from heat and add the cornflour stirring constantly to avoid lumps.
6. Put back on heat and slowly add the rest of the milk stirring constantly over a medium heat until it begins to thicken. Allow the sauce to thicken for a further 5 mins reducing the heat to low.

7. Cook the lasagne in a saucepan of salted boiling water.( I find that the no cook lasagne is just as good.Barilla makes some excellent no boil lasagne)
8. Cover the base of a greased baking dish with a thin layer of meat sauce, then add a slither of bechamel sauce, and a layer of lasagne. (You can also add some parmesan cheese.) Repeat this process until all the ingredients have been used, finishing off with the bechamel on the top. Cover with aluminum foil
9. Cook the lasagne in a preheated oven for 1/2 hour at 180°.
10. For the last 10 minutes, take off the foil and add grated parmisan cheese and put back in the oven

Some tips.
You can also layer with ricotta and/or creamed spinach for a really decadent dish!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Zuppa Di Cozze - Mussels

I love seafood - and nothing is better than fresh mussles and Italian Bread to soak up the juices! I like to add as much garlic as possible. Since there is no sea here in Arizona i have to buy fresh frozen...not quite the same but still good.

1 Kg of mussels
Lots of fresh parsley
2 or 3 large garlic cloves
6 ripe tomatoes (about 600gms)
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
4 slices of Italian style bread

Clean the mussels, washing well and getting rid of any 'beard'.
Chop the parsley, garlic and tomatoes.
In a large pot, place the oil, the mixture of garlic and parsley and bring to an almost boil.
Add the chopped tomatoes, some salt and cook for about 10min on a low heat with the cover on, stirring often.
In the meantime, grill the bread and rub with some garlic.
Add the mussels and cook on a rolling heat until the mussels open - about 5-6 mins- stirring from time to time.

Serve in a soup plate in their own juice, adding a slice of bread, some freshly ground pepper and a piece of parsley for decoration.
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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.