Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What next....

I was looking through my recipe collection and realized that i have loads of dessert recipes...so the question today is..What sort of recipes are YOU interested in? is there anything in particular that you'd like me to find and post for you? I am open to suggestions.

In fact, I think I'll turn this into a competition. Whoever sends me the most interesting challenge will win a prize. What that prize will be is still unsure but I will definitely send something!
So please comment on the post, or better still e mail me your suggestions that way I will be able to contact the winner.
I'll post the winning suggestion by the end of April so hopefully someone would have replied by then!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Nougat Ice Cream

Just in time for an easter dessert. This recipe is taken from the Telegraph on line (UK) which always has the most amazing recipes. Whoever said the English don't have a great cuisine is crazy! Th Telegraph has so many great recipes it is worth taking a look.


40g whole blanched almonds
40g whole blanched hazelnuts
40g shelled unsalted pistachio nuts
375g caster sugar
6 egg whites, at room temperature
300ml whipping cream

Pre-heat the oven to 175c. 
Line a baking-sheet with non-stick baking-paper. 
Roast the almonds and hazelnuts in an ovenproof dish for approximately 10 minutes. 
Allow to cool. 
Combine all the nuts, including the pistachios, and smash them with a rolling pin or pestle into small pieces. Do not let them become powdery. 
Measure out 115g of the sugar and put half of it in a pan set over a moderate heat. 
Stir until the sugar melts; it will become crumbly to begin with, but don’t worry. Make sure it has all melted before you add the remaining half. Scrape the bottom and the sides of the pan as you go along. 
Cook the caramel until it turns a lovely golden brown. 
Add the nuts to the caramel, and stir them around for a few minutes until they are well coated. 
Pour the praline on to the baking-sheet and allow to cool, after which smash into small, rough chunks and set aside.
Whisk the egg whites until frothy then add the remaining 260g of the sugar, a little at a time, and continue whisking to form soft peaks. 
Separately, whisk the cream until thick and fold this into the meringue, followed by the praline chunks.
Line a loaf tin or terrine with cling film, leaving plenty of overhang. Spoon the nougat in and wrap the top in the overhanging cling film. Freeze for a minimum of six hours.
Cut into slices and serve.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Tuscan Potato Soup

This is a great soup just in time for the beginning of spring. There are variations in the ingredients used so i have added them in brackets.
Zuppa Toscana 

2 Italian sausages (remove from casing and crumble. Zalzett malti would also do!)
A few slices of pancetta
2 potatoes, cut in half lengthwise, and then cut into 1/4" slices
3/4 cup diced onions
1/4 cup finely chopped carrots
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cups kale leaves, cut in half, then sliced
chicken broth, one carton or about 1 ltr
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream (or you can also use about 4 tbs of Philadelphia cream cheese)
salt and pepper to taste

Put onions, carrots and celery in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat until onions are almost clear. Add garlic and potatoes  to the onions and cook an additional 1minute. Add chicken broth,and bring to a boil. .Add the sausage and bring to a simmer.Let simmer for about 5 mins or until sausage is cooked. Add kale and cream. Season.Simmer for about 5-10 minutes and serve.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Shrimp Pouches

This is an easy but impressive dish made using the basic crepe recipe that I posted some time ago. All you will need now is to make the filling. The recipe will fill about 12-18 crepes. You can use them as an appetizer or even as a main dish, served with a salad.

For the filling:
1 / 2 kg of shrimp (peeled)
250 grams of mascarpone
200 ml of cream
50 g of butter
1 tbs of extra virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1 glass of brandy
About 1 tbs of tomato puree
pinch of salt
1 bunch of fresh parsley
sweet paprika to taste

heat the olive oil with  the butter and crushed garlic clove.
Remove the garlic and add the shrimp
Cook for a few minuites , raise the heat,then sprinkle with the brandy and add the tomato paste.
Lower the heat, mix well and add the paprika.
Add the cream and stir, them add the mascarpone.
Add a pinch of salt and the chopped parsley.

Now fill the crepes:
Put a tablespoon of the mixture into a crepe
Gather the sides up and tie with string.(or you could even use a chive!)
Do this until all the filling is used.
Put in a baking dish and cook at about 180C for about 5-7 mins then serve immediately.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Migliaccio Napoletano

Migliaccio is a classic Neapolitan specialty, something I've never come across anywhere else. Its flavor is similar to pastiera di grano,another Neapolitan sweet, made with ricotta and grain,  And it's easy to make! It is traditionally made during carnival in Naples. It is rather calorific but worth the splurge!
250 gr semolina
1 lt milk
1 packet vanilla sugar
bit of butter
6 eggs
200 gr sugar
400 gr ricotta
lemon peel
orange peel
grated lemon peel
   pinch of salt
Put the milk in a pan and slowly sprinkle the semolina on it
Mix well
Put onto the fire and add the lemon and orange peel and a pinch of salt
Bring to a slow boil and remove the peel.
Keep stirring until cooked.
Add the butter.
When the butter melts, stir and let cool down.
In another bowl, mix the ricotta, vanilla sugar and the eggs.
Add the sugar and the lemon peel.
Beat well ( you can use an electric mixer here)
Add the well cooled semolina mixture and mix well.
Put into a well greased cake tin.
Cook at about 360F/180C until golden brown

Sprinkle with icing sugar.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Easter biscuits

Yum...these were delicious! Again, thanks to The Telegraph, UK I found another delicious recipe and just in time for easter.
                                                        Easter biscuits Photo: LAURA HYND

70g plain flour
250gms unsalted butter, diced
125gms golden caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
biscuit cutters 
Sift the flour and half a teaspoon of salt into a bowl and set aside. Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl, using a wooden spoon or a mixer, until well combined and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and mix well, then work in the flour. Once the mixture comes together as a dough, dust your hands with flour and wrap it in cling film. Chill for an hour (or up to a few days if more convenient) or freeze for up to a month. This dough can otherwise be tricky to work, especially in hot weather or a warm kitchen.
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Roll out the dough using plenty of flour (it is quite sticky) to 3-4mm thick. Cut out the biscuits with your chosen cutters and lay them on two baking sheets lined with parchment. Make holes towards the top of each with a skewer for threading through the ribbon. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until pale gold. Cool on a wire rack, re-forming the ribbon holes with the skewer.

To decorate
700g white sugarpaste
colour paste in the colours you would like to use.
250g packet royal icing
silver balls
6m coloured ribbon for hanging

Divide the sugarpaste into three and place in separate polythene bags. Use the colours on two pieces and leave one white
On a clean work surface dusted with icing sugar, roll out the  sugarpaste to about 2mm thick. Cut out with the cutters matching the shapes
Make the royal icing according to the packet instructions, divide into colours  and put into piping bags.
Pipe a little royal icing on to the biscuit and use to stick on the sugarpaste shape. Make a hole in the sugarpaste in the same place as that on the biscuit for the ribbon. Add silver balls for decoration.
Allow the sugarpaste and icing to set overnight. Cut the ribbon into 25cm lengths and thread through each biscuit.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Raspberry Vodka Chocolate and Coffee cocktail

I don't think i have ever posted a recipe for a cocktail. First time for everything! Here is an interesting one if found using raspberry vodka. I guess you could use any type of berry flavoured vodka and match the fruit to it! This is a coffee, chocolate raspberry creamy drink....mmmmm.....
You can drink an espresso while making it (or maybe after!)

2 oz Stolichnaya Razberi
1/2 oz Chambord
1/2 oz white creme de cacao
1 oz espresso
Chocolate syrup
2 to 3 fresh raspberries

Combine Stolichnaya Razberi, Chambord, creme de cacao and espresso in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Drizzle chocolate syrup around the inside rim of a chilled martini glass. Strain drink into martini glass. Garnish with floating raspberries.
Recipe from Az Central

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Figolli - Get ready for Easter!

Figolli are Traditional Maltese almond Pastries baked for Easter. They consist of pastry figures filled with a ground almond mixture and covered with royal and glace icing. The traditional shapes are men, women, fish, lamb and baskets but nowadays you can also find heart shape, butterflies, rabbits and cars. The human shapes usually have paper faces stuck on to the icing.  They are decorated with glace icing and royal icing and finished off with a chocolate egg stuck in the middle.

My Grandma had metal forms that she would use to cut out the forms, or even bake the forms in. They were made by a local metal worker and could be bought at the market or some specialty stores. I don't think it is possible to buy them any more but I still have a couple of them and they allow you to make the Figolli almost like a small low pie.

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, March 16, 2010

Lemon and Polenta Cake

Half of my family have decided to go wheat free so this recipe from The Telegraph seemed like an interesting way to make a cake without using flour. It is nice and lemony and also suitable for those on a gluten free diet. If you are not sure what polenta is, it is ground corn meal, commonly used in Italy and other European countries.
                                                                              Photo: CHRISTOPHER JONES
6oz/175g unsalted butter, softened
8oz/225g caster sugar
7oz/200g ground almonds
3 large eggs
Zest of 4 whole lemons and juice of 1
4oz/115g polenta
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 325F/160C/gas mark 3. Line an 8” (20cm) tin with baking parchment.
Put all the ingredients in a food processor and whizz to a smooth batter.
Spoon into the lined tin and bake for 45-50 minutes, until a skewer pushed into the centre comes out with no uncooked batter on it. Cool in the tin.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Braised Rabbit with wine and herbs

An article from Good is all about the way rabbit is the new chicken, and talks about how rabbits are easier to breed, raise and tasty to eat. Rabbits are often pets so some people may cringe at the thought of eating them, but they are good and actually healthy too. I have also eaten barbequed rabbit - it has to be well marinated - and rabbit with spaghetti in a tomato and wine sauce with peas. Really good!
Read the article, than make up your mind. I'd be interested in reading any comments you may have.
I have also posted the recipe.
Chef Chris Kronner’s Easy Home Rabbit Recipe: Braised Rabbit with White Wine and Herbs. 
1 rabbit
1 onion
1 small head of fennel
3-4 garlic cloves
1-2 parsnips
1-2 carrots
1 cup white wine
2 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
peppercorn and parsley to taste.

If you haven’t got your own rabbits, bring home a fryer from your local farmer’s market or butcher and then cut the entire rabbit in half with a cleaver. Next, season both pieces with salt and pepper and allow to rest for several hours.

Give the meat a light sear in the pan. You can use oil or butter, or, if you are feeling more ambitious, first render the fat encasing the kidneys and use that as your cooking oil.

Next, remove the rabbit and add the onion, garlic, parsnip, and carrots. Sauté the veggies and then add the fennel, two sprigs of thyme, two bay leaves, and peppercorn and parsley. Wrap herbs in cheesecloth. Put the seared rabbit back in on top of the vegetables and then add enough chicken stock and 1 cup of white wine to covers the rabbit.

Cover and put in oven at 350° for 90 minutes. Serve over wide egg noodles, toasted bread, or roasted potatoes. Braised kale or chard are optional side dishes.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Pumpkin Ravioli

There's this small restaurant not too far from where I live which has the most delicious pumpkin ravioli. They are served with a sauce of browned butter and sage...delicious.
This is as close as I could come to their recipe:

For the dough:
2 cups “oo” flour
2 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks lightly beaten
warm water, about ½ cup
salt to taste

For the Filling:
1 cup cubed pumpkin, roasted - you can also use butternut squash
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

For the Dough:
Sift the flour into a bowl. Make a well in the center, and add the eggs and salt. Add water as you knead the dough. Knead for 5-10 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic.
Wrap in plastic wrap, and let it rest in the fridge for 2 hours.

Meanwhile, make filling by simply roasting the cubed pumpkin in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until fork tender. Mash the squash with a fork and mix in the cheese and nutmeg.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface to be 1/8” thick. You can also use a past machine. Cut even circles with a circular mold (an upside-down glass works fine). Place a small mound of the filling in the middle of the ravioli. Brush one side with water, fold over, and press down with the tines of a fork to seal the ravioli. Let dry for about 30 minutes on a tray lined with parchment.

Cook in boiling water until done - they usually all float on top when ready. Serve with browned butter and sage.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sun Dried Tomatoes

In the Mediterranean, it is not uncommon to see tomatoes drying on the flat roof tops. The abundance of tomatoes, and also the many home grown ones, makes it an easy way to use up all that years crop. The method was easy, chop in half, put in a baking tray , cover with netting (so the birds won't eat them) and leave on the hot flat roof to dry. When dry, put in a jar, season and cover with olive oil.

The lack of flat roofs here, leads to the option of baking the tomatoes:
Wash, pat dry and half the  tomatoes. If they are larger, quarter them.
Cover a baking sheet or casserole with olive oil and arrange tomatoes cut-side up. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and if you like to, with garlic, dried and/or fresh herbs (like thyme, oregano).
Dry in the preheated oven at 100 degrees Celsius (210 degrees F) for 4-6 hours. Times and temperature may vary  based on your oven, the size of the tomatoes and of course your preference. Just try and find out what works best for you.
Keep in a jar with olive oil  and they last for weeks

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Court Bouillon

What is a “court bouillon?”

The literal French translation is a short broth. Well, that’s basically what it is. It is a cooking technique that is slowly being forgotten in today’s world where the molecular chef gets all the attention with the newest gadgets and progressive methods. A court bouillon is a simple cooking liquid seasoned with aromatics and used to poach fish, seafood, or vegetables.

The recipe for a basic court bouillon is as follows:

1 tbsp butter
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large celery rib, chopped
3 cups water
1 cup water
1/2 lemon
1 tbsp blk peppercorns
1 tbsp salt
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic

Sweat the vegetables in the butter over medium heat in a medium sauce pot for approximately 5 minutes, making sure they do not brown. Add all the other ingredients and bring to a boil. Drop to a simmer and cook for a few minutes. At this point, you are ready to poach whatever is on your menu. You can also strain it and use as a broth base.
This of course is the recipe for a basic court bouillon. You can add any aromatic flavor that you wish depending on what the desired outcome is. For example if you wish to give your court bouillon an Asian accent, add lemongrass, star anise, coriander, or vanilla beans.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Octopus Salad

So many people cringe at the thought of eating octopus...buy why!!! If cooked properly the taste is amazing. And don't some people eat snails??!!! Octopus was abundant in Malta, and sometimes friends would catch a nice fat one ready to be cooked! I know that in other places, fresh octopus may be difficult to find but you can also use a frozen one, just make sure it is thawed before you start this recipe!
For some interesting reading check out this article on how to cook an octopus.
Clean the octopus well by turning it inside out and removing the entrails and stomach sac. Discard these items, then turn it right side out and locate the beak in the middle of the tentacle and cut it off. Wash the octopus well to rinse out any undesirable pieces left behind. If you don't want to do all this, have the fish monger clean and prepare them for you to take home.

So now you have a nice clean octopus and are ready to make the salad!

1 fresh octopus ( 1300g)
1 bulb fennel  (or 3-4 celery stalks)
 a small bunch of parsley
Juice of 1 lemon, 

2 cloves garlic, crushed (or more!)
5 tbs olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper


Put the octopus, head down, tentacles up, in a large pot with a lid. Place the pot on a stove with the lowest heat setting possible. Do not add any water! The octopus will release a deep red juice pretty soon and that will be enough.Put lid on. Cook for around 1 1/4 hours (never under an hour, a larger octopus may need up to 1 3/4 hours). Try not to open the lid before at least an hour is over. You can check if done (again, don’t do this too early) with a knife: insert it where a tentacle joins the head. It should be very soft and feel like cutting through butter. When done, remove from the pot and let cool till you can handle it. Discard the juice in the pot.
Chop the octopus in bite-size chunks. Slice the fennel into small pieces. Chop the parsley finely. Mix the octopus, fennel, parsley, garlic,the  lemon juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Let sit in the fridge for at least an hour. Adjust taste right before serving (more lemon juice might be necessary).
You can also add some kalamata olives, some mint, well, try the dish then you can add extras yourself.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Chocolate Macaroons

I have chocolate on my mind! This is a yummy recipe I  found from the telegraph which always has the greatest recipes. Adapted from  The Fairtrade Everyday Cookbook, Dorling Kindersley, available from Telegraph Books

Photos: Yuki Sugiura
100g (3½oz) dark chocolate
150g (5½oz) ground almonds
150g (5½oz) caster sugar
1 tbsp dark cocoa powder
3 large  egg whites

  • For the Filling
  • 100g (3½oz)  dark chocolate
  • 100ml (3½fl oz) double cream
  • 15g (½oz) unsalted butter, room temperature

Heat the oven to 140C/275F. Line two baking trays with non-stick baking parchment.
Break up the chocolate, put it into a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water and melt gently. Put aside until needed. Put the ground almonds, sugar and cocoa into a bowl and mix thoroughly.
Using an electric mixer or whisk, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Gradually whisk in the cocoa mixture. Gently fold in the melted chocolate using a metal spoon - the meringue mixture will collapse.
Put a heaped tablespoon of the mixture on to one of the prepared trays and gently spread to a round about 7cm (3¾in) across. Repeat with the rest of the mixture to form 16 rounds. Bake for an hour until firm. Leave to cool for a couple of minutes on the baking tray and when firm enough transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the filling: break up the bar of chocolate and put into a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until scalding hot but not boiling then pour over the chocolate. Leave for a minute then add the butter and stir gently until smooth.
Leave until cool then beat well with a wooden spoon until thick and fluffy. Sandwich pairs of macaroons together with plenty of the mousse filling. Leave for at least an hour before eating – they’re at their best the next day.
Store in an airtight container. Not suitable for freezing.
Best eaten the next day - if you can wait!!!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Swiss Cookies - Basler Brunsli

Basler Brunsli - Swiss cookies from Basle - A Swiss town which I  visited a couple of times when I lived in Switzerland. I love these type of cookies - they are so unpretentious and always delicious.I have used Amaretto di Saronno which is not the traditional way to make these cookies but I like the taste it gives.

Recipe adapted from, Küchengötter.de

50 g unsweetened cocoa powder
150 g dark chocolate
300 g ground almonds
200 g sugar
a pinch of salt
50 g flour
4 egg whites 
a generous shot Amaretto Di Saronno (about 3 tbsp)

Chop the chocolate and melt over a bain marie, stirring all the time. Make sure no water gets into the chocolate. Some people manage to melt the chocolate in a microwave but I always end up with a burnt mess! This will be used as the main mixing bowl so make sure it is large enough.
In another bowl, mix the almonds, cocoa powder, sugar, salt and flourIn yet another bowl.....Beat the egg whites until stiff and add to flour mixture.Separate into two balls, cover with cling film and put in the fridge for about 1/2 hrs.
Preheat oven to 220C/430F.
Roll out dough on a floured board to about 1/4" thick and cut into  shapes. Place on a parchment paper lined baking tray.
Some traditional recipes suggest letting them dry on the tray for a couple of hours before baking them.
Bake for about 6 mins, in the middle of the oven. Cookies should be crisp on the outside with a soft center. If you prefer crisp cookies then just bake a bit longer.

Cool and store in an airtight jar

Friday, March 5, 2010

Baked Ricotta Frittata

Ah, the wonders of the internet! I came across a wonderful author, martha rose shulman who has the most amazing recipes - and healthy ones too! This is one of my favourites. It is traditionally made on top of a stove but is just as good baked.
2 bs extra virgin olive oil
6 large or extra large eggs
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup fresh ricotta
3 tbs chopped fresh mint
1 garlic clove, minced or mashed in a mortar and pestle

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
Place the oil in a 2-quart baking dish or a 9-inch cast iron skillet. 
Rub the oil over the sides of the pan, and place in the oven. 
Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a large bowl. 
Whisk in the salt (about 1/2 teaspoon), pepper, ricotta, mint and garlic. 
Remove the baking dish from the oven and scrape in the egg mixture. 
Return to the oven, and bake 30 minutes or until lightly colored on the top and set.
Remove from the heat, and allow to sit for 10 minutes or longer before serving. 
Serve hot, or allow to cool and serve at room temperature.
Yield: Serves six.
Advance preparation: The frittata can be made several hours ahead and refrigerated.
Martha Rose Shulman can be reached at martha-rose-shulman.com.
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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.