Tag Archives: Mediterranean cuisine

Soppa tal-Armla

Widow’s Soup

The quintessential rural staple for large families, soppa tal-armla is essentially a way to combine different available veg from the field and turn them into a hearty soup with the addition of poached egg and sheep cheese. This simple broth is extremely tasty and easy to make and has enough protein for a full meal

Ingredients:

1 Onion chopped

3 cloves Garlic minced

2 Carrots sliced

1 stick Celery sliced

1 large Potato cubed

1 Kohlrabi cubed

200g Cauliflower florets

200g Pumpkin cubed

1.5L Vegetable Stock

1tbsp Kunserva (tomato puree)

1 Tomato chopped

Peas and Broad Beans if available (I had peas)

Free range eggs

Fresh Ġbejniet (fresh sheep cheese)

Method:

On a low heat sweat the onion and garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil till translucent. Add carrots and celery and stir for a couple of minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables and dry cook for five minutes. Next goes the tomato puree and the chopped tomato. Barely cover with the stock and leave to simmer for 45 minutes.

Add the peas, eggs, cover and after five minutes the ġbejna. Keep covered for another ten minutes barely simmering. It is now ready to serve

Soppa tal-Armla

Stuffed Calamari

Klamari mimli il-forn

My favourite way of stuffing calamari is to create a little risotto using the tentacles and stuffing the body with this. Then I roast the whole thing in the oven until tender.

Ingredients:

2 Calamari about 1kg tentacles set aside and minced

1 small Onion minced

3 cloves Garlic minced

Half glass red Wine

200g risotto Rice

100g Peas

2 eggs whisked

350 ml Fish Stock

1/2 tsp Chili Flakes

1/2 tsp Turmeric

1 tsp Mild Curry

1 tbsp Marjoram

S&P

Method:

Heat oven to 220°C. Saute onion, garlic and tentacles in a little olive oil. Once sealed add rice and dry roast for two minutes. Add spices and herbs and mix for another minute. Add wine and deglaze with wooden spoon. Mix in stock gently and lower to a simmer. Add all the stock and peas and cover. After 15 minutes the stock should be absorbed and the rice cooked al dente. Allow to cool, mix in egg, adjust seasoning and stuff the squid with the risotto using a spoon. Make sure to press right to the bottom and fill to the top. Close the end using toothpicks. Put in a baking tray, sprinkle with sliced garlic, season with salt and pepper and drizzle liberally with olive oil. Place in hot oven. After 15 minutes add a generous helping of wine in the dish, and bake for another 30-45 minutes, basting occasionally until the skin is easily pierced with a fork.

Several variations can be used such as adding raisins and pine nuts, stewing in a tomato sauce instead of baking, the possibilities are endless 🙂

Ispanakli Yumurta: Turkish Eggs with Spinach

Spinach is a wonderful vegetable which I look forward to when the weather starts to cool. This is a dish I had tried many years ago when I was working with some Turkish chefs. Since it was for a sizeable amount of people it was baked in the oven but I later discovered that it can be swiftly cooked on a skillet.

Ispanakli Yumurta

It works well as a rich brunch or lunch. It is usually garnished with Aleppo pepper and cumin powder. Since I didn’t find Aleppo pepper I substituted a pinch of paprika and one of chilli flakes. I skipped the cumin. I also used spring onion instead of the traditional onion. It may be served with a dollop of yoghurt

Serves 2

Ingredients:

500g Spinach washed and drained
2       Free-range Eggs
2       Spring Onions chopped
2tbs Olive Oil
Pinch Paprika
Pinch Chilli Flakes
S&P

Method:

Heat oil in a heavy frying pan on medium heat. Add onion and toss till soft. Add spinach, season with salt and pepper and cover for 2 minutes till spinach wilts but is still bright green. Some like to add a knob of unsalted butter at this stage but I’m battling my waistline at the moment so I didn’t. Make two wells in the spinach and crack an egg in each of them. Cook until white sets but the yolk is still runny, about 3 minutes if covered. Garnish with cumin powder and Aleppo pepper, or in my case paprika and chilli flakes

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 🤯

Melange of Marrows with Quinoa

As we draw into autumn pumpkin and other members of the marrow family become more evident at the vegetable markets and greengrocers. This recipe is a take on a traditional Maltese autumn soup “Soppa tal- Qarghat” made from the different marrows; qagħra hamra (pumpkin), qagħra Tork (white pumpkin), qagħra baghli (courgettes) and qagħra twil (long marrow). Any combination may be used. Squash is fine as well but I prefer vegetables that have been grown locally as this is more sustainable.IMG_0012 White Marrow was not available at the market so I used what I found.

Ingredients:

Pumpkin, Marrows and Long Marrows in roughly equal quantities. In all 1.2 Kg

Leek                                                                                  1

Organic Quinoa                                                            100g

Cumin Powder                                                               2 tsp

1 small chili pepper

Olive oil                                                                          2 tbsp

Vegetable Stock                                                          500 ml

Method:

Wash and chop the leek.

Tip: To remove soil and compost from leek remove the two topmost layers and quarter lengthwise leaving the root. Rinse thoroughly under running water and dry with paper towels.

leek quartered

Easily chop into 1.5 cm  lengths.   IMG_0017

Heat oil in pot and gently fry the leeks. When they start to get translucent add the cumin and the chili and fry for one minute to release the flavour. Add the washed and chunkily chopped marrows to the pot and barely cover with the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for five minutes. Add Quinoa, cover and simmer for fifteen minutes. Leave to rest for another fifteen minutes during which most of the liquid will be absorbed.IMG_0024

I served this with grilled flat bread such as flour tortillas.

Ratatouille

Ratatouille

I made this traditional recipe  for some very special guests. I will introduce them in good time. Ratatouille is a stew of the vegetables that are so prevalent in the Mediterranean in the summertime; aubergines, courgettes and sweet peppers, which originated in Nice and has been adopted by the Provence region. The circumstances dictated that I prepare a copious amount of the stuff, roughly enough for twelve portions but it is easy enough to calculate how much you want to prepare. Just keep in mind that you need approximately an equal amount of all the vegetables, maybe slightly less tomatoes.

ratatouille

The secret of a good ratatouille is to cook the vegetables separately so each will taste truly of itself.
—Joël Robuchon, The Complete Robuchon
Ingredients
  • Aubergines                                      1Kg
  • Italian Zucchini                              1Kg
  • Green and Coloured Peppers  1 Kg
  • Onions                                               1 Kg
  • Tomatoes                                       900 g
  • Garlic                                       one head
  • Olive Oil                                         300 Ml
  • Basil                                             a bunch
  • Salt                                                      2 tsp
  • pepper                                           1/2 tsp

Method

Wash the vegetables and cut them into 2.5 cm cubes. Start sauteing the vegetables one by one on a high heat in a large skillet or wok. Start with the aubergines,IMG_9985

brown them in some of the oil and move them with a slotted spoon to a casserole dish or a large pot. Repeat the process with the courgettes, making sure there is enough oil as the aubergine absorbs a lot of oil. Repeat with the peppers and onions together.IMG_9992

If your skillet or wok is too small do them in batches so you can get enough heat. Once these vegetables are all in the pot add the tomatoes, peeledIMG_9993 Continue reading Ratatouille