Friday, July 23, 2010

A bolognese/ragu based sauce for spaghetti (and baked rice the next day!)

Just like many people, bolognese sauce reminds me of being a kid, it's still the ultimate comfort food dinner for me. It instantly sends me back to being little, with my sister and 3 or 4 cousins, and mum and/or one of my aunts serving up steaming spaghetti loaded with sauce and cheese. Learning how to eat spaghetti with just a fork was like graduating, I remember the pride I felt when mum stopped cutting up the spaghetti because I'd learnt to twirl it deftly around my fork without dropping the pasta everywhere :)

Bolognese is also what started my cooking adventures apparently. At the age of 3, I was at my Aunt's house, and she was making bolognese. I looked at her in shock at one point, and started telling her that "my mummy makes it like this" and went on to explain what she was doing "wrong" and how she should make it. Needless to say she was very amused, and reminds me of this often hehehe...

The recipe I'm about to give is by no means a traditional bolognese. Apparently the original bolognese doesn't even have tomatoes or garlic in it, and uses heaps of milk and even funghi porcini! So I suppose a "ragu" or "meat based pasta sauce" is the better term.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes! :D

Made these for a tea party on saturday :D

I'd never made cupcakes successfully before, there would always be something that would spoil them... but this time i was determined to make deliciousness! :D My sister's been going on and on (and on and on ad nauseum) about the Hummingbird Bakery in London so I thought i'd try their recipe for Red Velvet Cupcakes, which is something I've wanted to make ever since seeing it on True blood (don't ask me which season or episode, but it was a while ago).

The lurid red colour of the cake, which is essentially a lightly chocolate flavoured vanilla cake appeals to me, makes it a little more "WOO" than a regular cupcake. I don't really have the patience for finicky decorations, so a cake that's a decoration in itself is ideal! ^_^

Fettucini with Bottarga, artichoke hearts and grouper

I went to Rome at the start of June this year, and apart from friends and sightseeing, of course food was a huge part of it! :)

Went out one night to Via del Portico d'Ottavia, to a Kosher restaurant in the old Jewish Ghetto. Their speciality is fried things, and our starters were amazing!

Had zucchini flowers filled with fish, in batter, as well as other random and delicious fried veggies... nom!

My main course was fish (grouper) and zucchini flower pasta, however someone else had egg pasta with artichoke hearts and bottarga.. and it sounded amazing! Inspired by this, I thought i'd make egg pasta with grouper, bottarga and artichoke hearts (The artichoke hearts were lovingly collected by my parents when they were in season, then frozen in batches to make awesome pasta and risotto - respek!)

Found some nice fresh grouper steaks - 2 were plenty for a pasta dish for 4 - they are a little pricey and really you can use any nice white fish, but Grouper (or Cerna in Maltese) is awesome. so milky and delicious! :D

must say, it did look better before i stirred it in.  but the taste was sublime!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Ok - For all the non-Malteasers out there - Fenkata can be translated to a meal (with a large group of people) where Rabbit is consumed in large quantities, mostly out. Only in Maltese could one have a word for something like that :)

From what I know, the origins of the Fenkata was that the Maltese were not allowed to eat rabbits when the knights ruled the island, whilst the knights used to hunt them and eat them at will. They were allowed to during "Imnajra" (more info on that awesomely bizarre feast here) though, and they used to make the most of it. I like to think that it was our Maltese "what? you say we can't have it? well screw you! we're not only going to have it but it will be a Maltese tradition from now on" attitude that gave birth to such a tradition :D

There were a few steps I took before the fenkata;
- Ordered 2 rabbits from a good farmer, we have one living 3 doors away so that was easy enough :) we ordered them the week before, she killed them in the morning and brought them to us skinned (but whole) that afternoon. Dad was kind enough to chop them up into bits for me :)
- Ask someone you KNOW makes awesome rabbit for their version of the fenkata. I asked my nanna :)
- Invite 4-5 people per rabbit you order - Fenkata is meant to be loud, filling and fun.

All the above steps are very important! :)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Where oh where can good coffee be?

Been thinking heaps about Melbourne today, and mostly because about 90% of the coffees i've bought in Malta are so damned shit! Milk boiling hot, coffee not strong enough, they have no idea how to steam it without obliterating it, they just add cold milk to hot and re-heat it, again and again, etc... etc..

Anyway I had a few places in Melbourne that I loved going to, but I think my favourite was Ray's Cafe on Victoria St in Brunswick. It's pretty much always full, serves delicious breakfast/brunch style food with a middle eastern/mediterranean twist, their poached eggs are always runny in the middle.. and their coffee is awesome :)

If you're ever on Sydney rd, there are plenty of places to have a great coffee, but Ray's is awesome.  Located off Sydney road :) 

Here is a pic of the last coffee I had from there, in mid May. Went out with Anji (my mate and ex-assistant/bitch) for a leisurely brunch. it was awesome, almost as awesome as she is :)

Anyway there are a couple of places that have decent coffee in Malta - I can think of a handful only: Actually before i start i should say that you can pretty much consistently get a decent espresso here. Don't bother asking for a double cos half the places give you a lungo (GHEY!) But yeah... decent caffe lattes are very hard to come by. Decent coffee (generally) at  "Mint" near the Gelateria in Sliema - run by a Kiwi and his Maltese partner. Cafe Ole (near muddy waters in St Julians) used to make a great one, I wonder if it's still that good. Had a decent one at Coffee garden on republic st in valletta. aaaaaaand there's the end of the list for me.

If anyone knows of places that make a GOOD coffee in Malta, please please do tell!

It needs to be the perfect temperature, very warm, but not hot, creamy on top, not foamy, strong, and nicely presented :) Ideally not served in those ridiculous glass things with handles, but either in an old fashioned tumbler (at least for a caffe latte), or in a proper cup (as above).

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

10 minute fresh tomato pasta sauce

Got home from the beach the other day and was starving, so whipped up this sauce. It was just me so i guess this is enough sauce for one (if you like heaps of sauce and not as much pasta as I did) however you could just adjust the quantities easily. You can go to the trouble of blanching and peeling the tomatoes, and deseeding them, but like I said i was bloody hungry and on a mission to prepare the sauce and have it done by the time the water boiled and pasta was cooked.