Sweets from the Mediterranean Region

To see what’s been happening on the island this week click here

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My guests during today’s cooking segment on Claudette’s programme on One TV this afternoon are His Excellency the Ambassador of Greece and Renato Briffa. These are the recipes of the dishes we will be speaking about.

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Karythopita is particularly nice and light. Syrup is added on after it is baked but I usually cut the cake into rectangular shapes and just dip the surface into the syrup and this way the cake is syrupy as its meant to be but retains its soft and moist freshness…

The quantity is for a tray cake. Half the quantities if you are using a regular cake tin.

You will need:

300g butter
180g sugar
8 eggs separated
4 tablespoons brandy
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
300g self raising flour
400g walnuts, roughly chopped

And for the syrup, mix all these ingredients together on moderate heat and bring to a rolling boil fi 5 minutes .
310g sugar
150 ml water
150ml orange juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup honey

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Separate the eggs.
Add the egg yolks and combine.
Add the cinnamon and brandy and mix.
Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they are stiff.
Fold into the cake mix alternating with flour u till combined.
Bake in a tray at least 5 cm deep for 40 minutes at 180 C.
Cut into squares or diamonds.
Dip the surface into he hot syrup.
Garnish with walnuts.

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And if you like this recipe, you may also like my other Greek pastries and kourabiedes recipe

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Home made baklava with all the goodness of fresh produce20131102-072624.jpg

Cashew kourabiedes dipped in white chocolate and topped with chopped cashews20131102-072720.jpg

I top orange, cinnamon and mint in cups with a Greek Yoghurt Mousse….. 20131102-072733.jpg

And Melomakaroma …..20131102-082122.jpg

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Glorious flavors of July … Caper Pesto

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Home grown mint and parsley cut just five minutes before blending with a bit of lemon juice and last season’s preserved capers given to me by the Mayor yesterday, to make the most heavenly caper pesto. These are the flavors that I love, and it is indeed one of the best things life has to offer to be able to eat such fresh food.

We are now approacing the middle of a Mediterranean summer. Although many people tell me that it is too hot, this is perfect for me. The sunshine gets me strength both mentally and physically. Hell for me would be a cool place with dim lighting. The sunshine gives me energy as does the vibrancy of the colorful environment, the light on the island is amazing and one of the reasons why I think that photographs are so appealing even those from a regular ipad with no special lenses. We see a rose colored world here without any need of the specs !

Caper season is here and the yield from our garden was less than last year but we can harvest some more after an interval of a week. It is hard to believe that a flower so delicate and beautiful produced a fruit that is quite undistinctive in appeareance while it is still on the tree, but after preservation in brine and salt, the fruit comes to life again, both in flavor and color as it takes on the hue of green olives and the flavor that is an acquired taste to most becomes alive. Not to us islanders though as it is a flavor we have known all our life.

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I had a great cooking session with the Mayor this week and with the produce from his village, here is a recipe for caper pesto.

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2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 cups capers
1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 cup chopped fresh mint, leaves picked
1 cup flaked almonds
12 tablespoons really good extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 lemon squeezed
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino cheese,

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Roughly chop the garlic, capers, parsley and herbs and put them into a bowl. Add all the other ingredients. Blitz with a hand blender or in the food mixer. Balance the flavours with freshly ground black pepper, a bit of salt and maybe a sweetener of your choice if you find it too tart (sugar, stevia, honey, the tip of a teaspoon is enough)

This recipe is vegetarian, vegan and gluten free.

And on last Monday’s show, the Mayor and I on local food ….

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And in this week’s paper with Claudette Abela Baldacchino

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Carob Syrup from the heart of the Mediterranean!

Good Food Everyday:

Mayor David Schembri was my guest on the cooking segment for Indigo on One TV yesterday. The Mayor brought with him some newly harvested carob from the village of Qrendi. I have reblogged last year’s post when when I made carob syrup as I had a few requests last evening. This is an old time favorite making a comeback. Have a wonderful day !

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Originally posted on Good Food Everyday:

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I get excited when I stumble on old recipes and look forward to trying them out in my kitchen. Today I am making a cake from a really old recipe but it requires carob syrup, a rather unusual ingredient. Although it is available on the island, I decide to make it myself. Is this a good idea?

Carob is gluten free, nut free, dairy free and caffeine free and the tree is native to the Mediterranean region. It is a great source of vitamins and is rich in protein, iron and calcium.

For the syrup, you will need:

2 kilos carob
2 kilos water ( I like weighing my water but if using a measuring jug it’s 2 liters)
4 kilos sugar
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla or less according to your preference
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Rinse the pods several times in water.

Roast them but do…

View original 109 more words

How to make Mediterranean Carob Syrup

Good Food Everyday:

At your request, Carob Syrup from the heart of the Mediterranean !

Originally posted on Good Food Everyday:

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I get excited when I stumble on old recipes and look forward to trying them out in my kitchen. Today I am making am making Carob Syrup. Although you can buy it ready made, nothing beats the flavor of home made. I very often detect a burtn tast in the ready made jars….

Carob is gluten free, nut free, dairy free and caffeine free and the tree is native to the Mediterranean region. It is a great source of vitamins and is rich in protein, iron and calcium.

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For the syrup, you will need:

2 kilos carob
2 kilos water ( I like weighing my water but if using a measuring jug it’s 2 liters)
4 kilos sugar
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla or less according to your preference
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Rinse the pods several times in water.

Roast them but do not overdo it, I…

View original 110 more words

Fae’s special Chicken Salad

Fae Naderi who as many of you know is not only a wonderful person but she also has an amazing blog. She shared some recipes with me and I featured her gorgeous Chicken Salad on the Independent last Saturday. Thank so you much Fae for sharing !

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And during my weekly food segment on Claudette’s daytime chatshow, I host Elaine Mulcahy and she makes Argentinian Empanadas and Mayor David Schembri talks about local potatoes, capers and carob. All about it on my next blog post !

Ricotta and Artichoke Quiche in a Pistachio and Olive Oil Crust

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If you want to read all about the wonderful produce on the island and experience some of the local life here see my Note from the heart of the Mediterranean of today.

I am sharing with you now a recipe I created for Brilliant Baking Magazine, June issue.

For the pistachio crust click here for step by step instructions
the secret of blind baking

You will need:
800g flour
200 ml olive oil (if you are looking for a very ‘short’ and rich pastry, substitute this with 400g butter)
Pinch of salt
Few Drops freshly squeezed lemon
Cold water
2 eggs
100g pistachios. Roughly ground.
(These quantities will give you the equivalent to line 2 tart dishes and make this bake)

Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the salt and mix. Add the olive oil. Rub in the oil until you have a consistent texture. The feel of using oil is silkier, more satiny, less grainy than the rubbing in butter method. Grind the pistachios in a processor, not too finely. Add the pistachios add to the flour mixture. Add the egg and work it into the mix. Bind the dough by adding two spoons of cold water and repeating until you have the right consistency. Bring the dough together, knead lightly and leave in the fridge to rest for half an hour. Open up the dough with a rolling pin. Roll out until its smooth and consistent. Place neatly onto a tart dish that has been brushed with olive oil. Pat the pastry gently into place. Allow it to hang over the edge and trim it about 1/4 inch over the rim. Pierce it all over, neatly with a sharp fork. Return to the fridge for 15 minutes. Bake at 180C for 20 minutes. Take out and remove the access pastry by applying pressure from the rolling pin onto the edge of the tart dish. Remove the access pieces and return to the oven for another 5 minutes to crisp a bit more.

For the filling, you will need :

200g ricotta
3 eggs
Maldon Salt and freshly ground pepper
200g fresh cooked or canned Artichokes
Basil flowers or leaves

Mash the ricotta with a fork. Add the eggs. Beat until smooth. Pour into pie crust. Slice the artichokes and arrange them neatly on the surface. Bake in the oven at 180 C until lighly golden. Leave to cool for 5 minutes then arrange the edible basil flowers on top. Serve hot or cold.

And this is our garden tonight, a mild summer so far, mellow warm and not too hot, just perfection!
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Lets go Greek cookies … Kourabiedes, plain and rolled in nuts …

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When i cook I use whenever possible locally sourced ingredients. The produce we find on the island is marvellous, food that some others can only dream about. With regards to variety, I like to explore other cuisines in the Mediterranean region.

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And one of my favorites is Greek. I have many old family recipes passed on to me by a dear neighbour Maria during the years I lived in Cyprus.

I loved Cyprus with their bakeries brimming with gorgeous cakes and pastries and i now have the pleasure od featuring a new series in the local press press on Greek cuisine with the collaboration of His Excellency Alexandros Rallis, the longest standing ambassador on the island.

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He comes from a distinguished family and he has five prime ministers in his family, two from his mother’s side and three from his father’s side and on top of that Melina Mercouri his aunt.

This is a great recipe for Kourabiedes, one that never fails… It makes about 35 cookies

You will need :

1 cup soft butter
1/2 cup confectioners sugar plus extra sugar for dusting
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup ground almonds
Few drops vanilla extract
Few drops rose water if available
1/4 cup crushed walnuts
2 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
Tip of a teaspoon ground cloves, do not overdo it

Cream butter in a mixing bowl
Add the sugar
Continue creaming until light and fluffy
Add the ground almonds, lemon zest, vanilla extract, rose water, crushed walnuts and cloves,
Blend in flour gradually together with salt. Mix thoroughly until it forms a soft dough.
Shape into teaspoonful balls
Indent each ball in the middle with your thumb and form a crescent shape.
Place on ungreased baking sheet
Bake at 180 C for 10 to 15 minutes
Cover the bottom of a flat plate with icing sugar.
Place cookies on top and sprinkle with more icing sugar. Turn them over so that they are fully covered.
Shake off excess icing sugar and arrange on platter.
And you can also shape them into balls and roll them in your favorite nuts. i am using cashews here.

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These are of course less time consuming than the crescents amd although these are also delicious, my favorites remain the crescents….

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………………
Thie photo of the island in this post was taken by Ian Noel Pace