Category Archives: Mediterranean food

Lampuki fried in Breadcrumbs

Traditionally, lampuki are fried in flour or semolina. Today I tried using a mixture of breadcrumbs and semolina with lovely crunchy results

Lampuka mogħqlija

Basically it’s very simple. Dip lampuki fillets in a half half seasoned semolina breadcrumb mixture and shake off excess. Heat vegetable oil (about 1-2 mm) in a heavy based pan and add a large smashed clove of garlic. When the garlic starts sizzling properly add the fillets skin side down and leave for a couple of minutes until the skin develops a nice colour. It’s difficult to specify a time as it depends on the size of the fish but normally, when the skin looks nice and crunchy it will be about three quarters cooked and only needs another minute or two on the other side. This can be served with salad, caponata or a tomato caper sauce with thin round chips 😋

Of course I didn’t let the heads and bones go to waste and made a lovely Aljotta or fish soup, but that’s another story…

PS Oh dear! Had a case of late night malnutrition and put the leftover lampuki fillet on a slice of Maltese bread rubbed with ripe summer tomato, drizzled with olive oil and topped with kapunata. Mmm mind blowing 🤯

Bastard Risotto

I hate wasting food!

Sometimes, when I’m at the supermarket, I get tempted to buy a chicken from the rotisserie. I’m sure everyone does sometimes. You can eat your fill with a nice salad, make chicken mayo sandwiches with the leftovers and then… there’s the carcass! Instead of throwing it away this can make a lovely broth or stock with minimal effort. Just stick it in a pot with any juices it came with, add roughly chopped celery, carrot, onion and a teaspoon of salt and barely cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1.5- 2 hours. Check for seasoning and if it’s too bland add a chicken stock pot but it should be tasty enough on its own. You can freeze this, make a nice soup or a lovely risotto.

I called this bastard risotto as I added some unlikely oriental flavours to a traditionally Italian recipe. In Italy I’d probably be put in stocks and pelted with tomatoes. But hey, I’m out of saffron!

Serves 2

Ingredients:

For the stock

1 carcass Roast Chicken

1 medium Onion halved

1 medium Carrot roughly sliced

2 stalks Celery roughly sliced

1 tsp. Salt

1.5 L Water

1 Bayleaf

For the Risotto

1 cup (250g) Arborio or Carnaroli Rice

2 cups (500ml) Stock

1 medium Onion finely chopped

3 sweet thin Spanish Peppers sliced

1 tsp Turmeric

1 tsp Cumin

1 dash Cayenne Pepper

1tbsp EV Olive Oil

1/2 Cup Parmeggiano grated

1tsp Butter

2tbsp Parsley finely chopped

Method:

Put the stock ingredients in a pot, bring to the boil and simmer for one and a half hours or longer. Test for seasoning and strain. This can be prepared beforehand and refrigerated or frozen.

Gently warm a tablespoon of olive oil in a wide shallow pan. Add onion and peppers and sweat till soft, about 10 minutes. Add the rice, stir and toast for a couple of minutes, stir in the spices for a further minute and start adding the stock. When it seems to be getting dry add more stock. After about 16 minutes add butter, cheese and parsley and stir. Check for doneness. It shouldn’t be too dry but nice and creamy

PS. For a more classic risotto you may omit the spices and add a pinch of saffron to the stock

Spaghetti Cuttlefish (sepia, siċċ)

Spaghetti Cuttlefish

What I love about Sicily is that when you go for a stroll by the sea you encounter a bewildering variety of delicious, yet simple, food offerings. Using just a few but fresh and tasty ingredients they combine them in the best ways possible to titillate your senses as you sit by the sea and enjoy its fruits

More known for the Sugo Nero di Sepia, Cuttlefish is also very tasty without the ink. Inspired by the ingenious simplicity of Sicilian cuisine this recipe starts off with the cuttlefish sautéed with garlic, chilli and olive oil, deglazed with white wine and simmered with tomatoes and a touch of capers.

If you want to make Sugo Nero add the ink sacs from the cuttlefish

Ingredients:

Cuttlefish 500g cut in 1cm squares. You can ask fishmonger to clean cuttlefish and save the ink if using. If doing yourself make sure to remove the cartilage and innards

Garlic 2 cloves crushed

Chilli Flakes 1/2 tsp

Olive Oil 1tbsp

White Wine glass

Tomatoes 3 chopped. I used very ripe beef tomatoes but long cherry tomatoes cut in half are good as well

Capers 1tbsp preferably Maltese

Marjoram 1tbsp

Spaghetti or Linguine 500g

Method:

Heat olive oil on medium high heat and add garlic and chilli for 1 minute. Add cuttlefish for about 5 minutes until the translucent bits turn white then add the wine. This might flame a bit don’t panic! Turn down heat add tomatoes and capers and a dash of water. Cover and simmer until tender about 20-30 minutes. If it gets dry add water from pasta, if it’s too liquidy take off lid and turn up heat towards end of cooking. Meanwhile cook spaghetti al dente in lots of well-salted water. Drain and mix in the pan

Open Ftira with Seared Tuna and Chickpea Salad

Due to the circumstances I have been availing myself more of the ambulatory services that prowl the streets of Mosta. Every morning the bread van brings its freshly and traditionally baked bread from Qormi at 10.45 on the dot. I bought some lovely ftira this morning.

Today I also chanced a mobile fishmonger who had some nice fresh tuna for sale. It is the season for wild tuna. My first thought was to make ħobż biż-żejt with fresh tuna. This would also have been lovely, with a mix of kunserva, tuna, butter beans, olives, capers, tomatoes and olive oil but I had that not so long ago so instead made a simple chickpea salad with tomatoes, spring onions, basil and a balsamic vinaigrette.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

250g Fresh Tuna

1 Ftira

1 Chilli chopped

1 Clove Garlic chopped

Few mint leaves

1 Tomato cut in half

Olive Oil

S+P

For the Salad

1 Can Chickpeas drained and rinsed

3 Tomatoes Chopped

1 Spring Onion sliced

6 Basil Leaves thorn roughly

Balsamic Vinegar

Olive Oil

S+P

Method

In a plate place garlic, mint, chilli and a tablespoon olive oil and set aside

In a bowl mix the chickpeas, tomatoes, basil and spring onion. Add 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper.

Season the tuna and add a tablespoon of olive oil making sure it is smeared on both sides. Heat a heavy-based frying pan on high heat and sear for one minute on each side. Place in the chilli and garlic mixture and allow to rest.

Meanwhile cut the ftira in half, rub half the tomato on each side until red and drizzle with olive oil. Spoon on some of the salad and the thinly sliced tuna.

Roast Mediterranean Vegetables

With an invitation to a sail tomorrow my contribution will be roast Mediterranean vegetables. These are a perfect accompaniment to freshly caught fish (optimistic!) but also can be eaten with fresh bread, pasta, rice or couscous (more realistic).

IMG_0146

Serves 6-8  

Duration Prep 20min, Cooking 1 hour (approx)

Ingredients:

Aubergine 1

Courgette 3

Peppers 4

Tomatoes 2 (optional)

Onion 1

Garlic 1 large clove

Chili 1 small

Olive oil 4 tbsp

Salt and Pepper

Method:

Wash and prepare vegetables into bite sized chunks. Place into a roasting pan, add garlic and chili, salt and pepper and drizzle olive oil generously.IMG_0138

Place into a very hot oven 200°- 220°C and leave until the vegetables start to brown    (around an hour depending on oven).

IMG_0145