Thursday, June 24, 2010

some ramblings... diet etc..

I've been trying to not only eat healthy, seasonal food at the moment, but am also on a mission to lose weight. In the past 3 weeks I've lose 2 kilos, even though the past 3 weeks includes (more than just) a few nights on the town (i.e. pissed + munchies), a wedding, and a week in Rome!

Mum got this “diet” from a dietician, which is based on eating rather than starving oneself. I like this! I can have carbs (i honestly feel so weak if i don't eat 'em!) and I'm not opposed to losing weight slowly but healthily. Basically this diet limits your protein, starchy foods, dairy, fat and fruit, whilst you can supplement all of the above with as many veggies (and “non sweet fruit” like pumpkin, tomatoes, zucchini, aubergine etc) as your heart desires. Summer in Malta is fantastic for this diet! :D

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Roast Beetroot, pumpkin and feta/haloumi cheese salad

This is one of my favourite salads ever. Tasted a very similar one at a friend's house, and completely fell in love. Went to the market the very next day to try and recreate it, and it's my “staple” salad to bring to friend's houses and family do's, as everyone seems to love it as much as I do. It's ideal when beetroot is in season, however if you use tinned baby beets or wedges (not slices) it still works well.

Remember to roast the pumpkin and (if you're using fresh) beetroot at least a couple of hours before, as well as cooking the onions. They need to be completely cool before assembling the salad.

I need to make a point and say that if a salad doesn't include iceberg lettuce, it's already a winner for me. I'm REALLY not a big fan of iceberg in anything except as the Thais/Vietnamese have it (they use it as a handheld "cup" for spring rolls etc to catch sauce.. an edible serviette if you like). I'm a HUGE fan of other leaves though, any leaves at all, baby (and regular!) rocket, lamb's lettuce (mache/valeriana), baby spinach, oak lettuce, watercress... This salad works well with the peppery tastiness of rocket and lamb's lettuce, however please feel free to use any tender dark green leaves whatsoever.

Spaghetti Vongole e Langoustini

On the way home from the beach the other day, we stopped at the fish shop. They had clams (Vongole) and I thought I'd love to try cooking them. I'd never cooked with them before, but spaghetti vongole is one of my favourite dishes, and i figured “how hard can it be”? The answer is “bloody easyl” by the way :D they also had langoustine (like baby lobsters), so we bought 2 per person, however as tasty as they were, I don't think they were needed. Next time I will either make a “frutto di mare” or just use some clams alone.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pasta with Zucchini, Porcini and Shrimps

Pasta with Zucchini, Porcini mushrooms and shrimps.

This idea came to me when my dad and I were deciding what to have for dinner. Had Zucchini, plenty of them to use, and wanted to empty out the freezer also, and had Prawns. I'd also spied a jar of porcini mushrooms in the cupboard teeheehee... and so it was born!

Monday, June 21, 2010


I feel the need to mention that in no way do I think that my versions of recipes are the "only" way to make them. Feel free to adapt them to your own tastes, this is definitely something I do to pretty much everything I make.

Salt pans at Delimara, in the south of Malta - gathering salt-water by the hightech way of "waves crashing over the rocks" and drying it by the supertech way of "sun drying". Been done the same way for millennia, and hopefully will never stop.
If you go into your average Maltese woman's house, she will have her recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation, and it is "their" and also "Maltese" tradition, no matter how they might differ. I have tasted so many absolutely delicious but completely different versions of the "same" thing. I cannot discount any as not being the true traditional ones, however I am very adamant that some things should be a certain way (at least basic ingredients, and some specific methods) if they are to be called traditional.

Baba Ganoush

Mmmm love love eggplant, and love love tahini, so naturally was really happy to find Rick Stein's book contained a recipe for this, one of my favourite dips.

My adaptation involved a little more garlic, lemon and olive oil than the original recipe (anyone who knows me takes this for granted :P).
add some good extra virgin olive oil to garnish

When making it, it's important not to burn the eggplant as it will taste like smoke nor leave it too raw as it will be bland.


My first attempt at Tzatziki and Baba Ganoush (post to follow) were inspired when I decided I'm bored with Philadelphia as a dip base, especially in summer. Apart from being really high in fat, it really doesn't go with the typical Mediterranean diet. Don't get me wrong, I love my sweet chilli and blue cheese dips, but I find them more of a wintery thing....

Found these recipes in Rick Stein's "Meditteranean Escapes" book. I absolutely love him, his shows are an inspiration and he's truly a chef after my own heart, one who is less about being a pompous arse, and more about being a true lover of food. I slightly adapted them (i omitted spring onions from the Tzatziki for example).

Tzatziki - traditionally from Corfu

nom nom!  i love how fresh this looks and tastes.

This is great to serve alongside some freshly bbq'd chicken or lamb and pita :)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Hobz Biz-Zejt u Tadam

I am somewhat surprised when I realise how few Maltese people know how to make proper, traditional Maltese Hobz biz-Zejt u Tadam (translated literally to bread with oil and tomatoes). Sure, Kunserva is great, but it is NOT an ingredient in Hobz Biz Zejt when tomatoes are in season! That's "Hobz Bil Kunserva" and was traditionally only made in winter when fresh tomatoes were not available. Nowadays, Kunserva has crept into an "all year round" staple, and I have no issues with it.  In fact, Kunserva is one of the few things i'd pack into my suitcase when heading back to Australia.  It's delicious, sweet and packs a real tomato punch! fantastic!  However Hobz biz-zejt is made with fresh tomatoes and is simply to die for! I've decided to take pics of what I had for lunch today to show you how it used to be done. Maltese friends, please try this at least once. The tomatoes are ripe and beautiful at this time of year, and for the next few months!

I found out recently that it's ideally made with a day old  hobza, but I usually make it with fresh bread anyway. 

Kapunata Maltija (Maltese Kapunata)

Kapunata is pretty obviously the Maltese version of the Sicilian “Caponata”, which is in turn similar to the French Ratatouille and probably some Spanish dish also! Traditional Kapunata dictates that all the vegetables are shallow fried separately in olive oil before they are combined and simmered with tomatoes, however my Dad makes a delicious low fat version of it, and gave me the general directions on how to make it (in the typical Maltese way – throw “some” of that and “a bit” of that, and “heaps” of the other :P) Of course I adapted it to my own liking, here it is!