Vegetable Soup with fresh herbs and tulbaghia

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This is a light soup with no oil and instead of garlic and onion I once again use Tulbaghia which grows prolifically here, but this time no petals, just the stalks which look like fresh chives. Posh garlic has become a firm favorite of mine at the moment. It is available in most garden centers here and looks very decorative on a kitchen table.

You will need

200g mixed pulses (barley, favetta, lentils, split peas and barley, I used the packet that is conveniently packaged as ‘soup mix’

2 liters water
1 tin chopped tomatoes
4 marrows, chopped up
100g pumpkin, chopped up
Tulbaghia, 2 spoons chopped up
a handful of parsley chopped up
a handful of local rocket chopped up
salt and pepper to season if desired

Soak the pulses in water overnight. Drain, rinse and then cover in water and bring to a boil. Simmer for an hour. Add the chopped tulbaghia, marrows, tinned tomatoes and bring to boil again. Simmer for another half an hour. Turn off the heat. At this stage I like to refrigerate it and serve it the following day. When you are ready to serve, heat again then add the chopped parsley and rocket. Stir to mix in. Season and serve.

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And the rambling countryside on the island with terraced fields and pumpkins on flat rooftops … almost surreal.

Green Beans, simply cooked our way …

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Green beans, locally grown and so simply cooked but delicious. For the recipe visit Littlerock

Butter beans with garlic, parsley and tulbaghia

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This butter bean dish is very popular as an appetizer on the island. I also like it served as a side with grilled fresh fish or meats. As well as using garlic which is one of the main ingredients, I have also used tulbaghia which has a lot of flavor and leaves no bad breath!, also used in a recipe here. The flowers are also edible but do remember just a few, do not overdo it.

And for the butter beans with garlic and parsley you will need :

200g dried Butterbeans
4 medium cloves garlic, peeled
a handful of parsley leaves
5 tablespoons good olive oil, adjust according to preference
A squeeze of lemon juice
Salt and Pepper
6 strands tulbaghia

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Soak the dried butter beans overnight.
Rinse a few times and drain off the excess water.
Immerse in cold water in a saucepan.
Once the water starts to boil, simmer for 45 minutes.
Remove from heat and drain the water.
Chop the fresh parsley. Add to butter beans. Mix gently.
Chop the fresh garlic and 6 strands of tulbaghia. Keep flowers aside.
Add to butter beans and mix in gently.
Add the olive oil.
Season with salt and pepper.
Decorate with some tulbaghia petals.
This dish can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days.

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Simply Mediterranean, a weekday breakfast

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Simplicity is always best and nothing better than seasonal fruit in the morning mixed with fresh local yoghurt. If it is too tart for you add a teaspoon of honey or carob syrup.

Pomegranates with ruby red seeds, so full of antioxidants and vitamins, in season now and amazing as they are, with very little preparation and time required.

Pumpkin harvest and a pie

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Today was a special day in the North of the island, a celebration of pumpkin harvest. And I am told that 700 pumpkin pies were baked this week to prepare for the festivities of today.

These pumpkin pies here are not the sweet American versions we see popular around this time and at Thanksgiving. I have been wishing to make one for the last couple of years and was waiting for someone’s personal recipe. I know Simone makes a great one but I never got a chance to jot it down.

And yesterday during my Saturday baking session I was delighted to meet Elizabeth, one of my readers and Radio One followers and she shared her family recipe with me.

For the Sesame seed crust you will need:

800g plain flour
A pinch of salt
125g butter
125ml olive oil
2 eggs
25g sesame seed.
cold water to bind

1 egg for pastry egg wash

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Sift the flour and add the salt. Add the chopped up bits of butter and rub in. Mix. Add the olive oil and rub in. Add the eggs, in eat a time and if necessary add cold water, a spin each time to bind the dough. Knead in the sesame seeds. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 1/2 hour.

For Elizabeth’s filling you will need :

1 kilo partially boiled pumpkin, cut into cubes
1 medium onion, chopped up
1 garlic clove, chopped up
12 olives, destoned, chopped
25g raisins
25g anchovies
169g canned tuna
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
Rice
1/2 spoon good oil
1 spoon chopped parsley

Heat up the oil and sauté the onion and garlic. Add the pumpkin and cook on low heat. Add the rice, cook for two minutes and mix in the anchovies and olives. Cook for 20 minutes on low heat until the pumpkin softens up. Do not let the mixture dry up and add more water if necessary, a few spoonfuls at a time.

Take out pastry from fridge. Roll it out on a clean floured surface.

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Grease a deep pie dish. Roll the pastry round the rolling pin and drop into the pie dish. Press it in gently. Trim it. Scatter a spoon of raw rice onto the bottom of the pie dish so that the pastry remains crispy as the raw rice will absorb any liquid.

Spoon the filling into the dish. Flatten. Cover with pastry.
Beat an egg and brush on some egg wash onto the exposed pastry parts.
Bake at 160 C for an hour, the first 30 minutes on the bottom shelf so that the bottom of the pie cooks to a crispy texture, otherwise it will end up being soggy. Transfer to middle shelf after half an hour.

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Elizabeth yesterday enjoying a glass of wine and some hot potato bites with rosemary and balsamic.
Thank you for the recipe :). She tells me that some people add hard boiled eggs …

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Penne with Aubergines and Fresh Herbs

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So simple and straighforward, everyone loves this dish. It is one of our recipes from the Mid Morning Show. I always add dried mint whenever i use fresh mint, just a touch, it seems to bring out more of a rounded flavor and gives the overall taste more depth without the addition of too many flavors.

You will need :

1 regular size eggplant, cut into cubes
2 cans of chopped tomatoes or 8 fresh ones, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 spoon good oil
1 large clove garlic, grated
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
1/2teaspoon dried mint
Salt and freshly ground pepper to season
Fresh curd cheese for scattering on the top but if not available use 50g ricotta crumbled up

Heat the oil in the saucepan. Saute the eggplant cubes. When they are cooked add the grated garlic, dried mint and tomatoes. Season and leave to cook covered on low heat for 15 minutes. Add the tomato paste. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the fresh herbs.
Cook the penne in a pan according to instructions on the packet. Drain.
Add the pasta to the sauce and plate.
Garnish with fresh mint leaves and scatter the curd cheese (gbejna) or crumbled ricotta.
Serve.

20141026-062422.jpg Getting ready for Halloween, The festival of pumpkins in Manikata today and I feature Mid Morning Show and our food programme every Wednesday on 92.7 FM.

And for the recipe in Maltese click here :)

Wild Arugula and Barley Salad

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The leaves of wild arugula [Diplotaxis tenuifolia] that grows prolifically on the island are sharp and tangy and the edible flowers of this crop delicately sweet with honey undertones.

It makes excellent salads and I am told that the leaves were boiled, strained and the infusion used to help digestion.

And to make my lunch today’ I have used:

Two handfuls of wild rocket.
50g cooked barley (I soaked a full packet overnight and boiled it for an hour)
Sea Salt
1 tablespoon good olive oil
A squeeze of lemon
15g Hard Goats cheese, coarsely grated

Remove the leaves from the stalks of the wild rocket. Wash and drain it.
Sprinkle a layer of goats cheese into a salad bowl, then the leaves and barley.
Drizzle with olive oil and season with a touch of sea salt.
Garnish with a few wild rocket flowers.
Serve.

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