Quick Foccacia made with yoghurt

This week I made a quick foccacia during our show.

You do not even need to measure your flour and yoghurt, simply add yoghurt and work it into the flour by mixing and without rubbing in. I prefer to use my hands. I also added some dried oregano and sea salt but you can also simply leave them out.

Foccacia made with yoghurt

Foccacia made with yoghurt

You will need:

450g self raising flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
400 ml yoghurt mixed with water (I use equal amounts of water and yoghurt)

And for the topping:

1 spoon Olive Oil
1 spoon capers
Fresh basil leaves
Cherry Tomatoes, chopped into squares
Some sundried tomatoes
a few anchovies
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
More dried oregano to lightly dust

Preheat the oven to 220C. Brush a baking tray lightly with olive oil.

Sieve the flour into a large bowl, add the salt and oregano.
Make a well in the centre and pour in most of the yoghurt.
With your hand stiff and your fingers spread out like a claw, start mixing the flour into the yoghurt using a circular motion. Add the remaining yoghurt and keep mixing like this until you have soft dough. Do not knead it but work it very gently to bring it together.
Transfer to a floured surface and place on the baking dish. Spread it out by patting it gently with your fingers. Brush the top with some more olive oil.
Make dimples all over with your fingertips on the top of the dough.
Push a small piece of olive, caper, sun dried tomato and basil leaf into each dimple.
Then drizzle over the olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper, Sprinkle some dried oregano.

No yeast Focaccia ready for the oven

No yeast Focaccia ready for the oven

Bake in the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes at 220 C until the bread is nice and golden on the top and bottom.

Foccacia ready to go !

Foccacia ready to go !

When the focaccia is cooked but still hot, brush just a little more olive oil over the top and allow to cool slightly before serving. I topped with more cherry tomatoes.

Making the most of this weather as we approach our mild winter    Photo Benny Scerri

Making the most of this weather as we approach our mild winter
Photo Benny Scerri

Roasted Grapes

Local grapes are coming towards the end of their season now and for a change I like roasted grapes as a side with my meat and fish dishes. You will need:

Grapes, at the end of their season here are delicious roasted as a side

Grapes, at the end of their season here are delicious roasted as a side

You will need:

200g white seedless grapes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and Pepper
1 spoon chopped fresh mint

Preheat oven to 200 C.
Combine all ingredients and toss until all the grapes are coated. Leave the fresh mint aside for garnish.

Place in a hot oven to roast for half an hour and shake the tray during the cooking process so that the grapes are evenly cooked.

We served ours with roast pork

Preparing delicious local pork for our roast

Preparing delicious local pork for our roaast

In love with spices – timesofmalta.com

Source: In love with spices – timesofmalta.com

A collection of Vivek Singh’s amazing recipes in the Sunday Times of Malta today.

Vivek Singh's Salmon Carapaccio,  Photo: The Cinnamon Club. London

Vivek Singh’s Salmon Carapaccio Photo The Cinnamon Club. London

Veronica’s pumpkin and bacon muffins

Veronica's Pumpkin Cheddar and Bacon Muffins

Veronica’s Pumpkin Cheddar and Bacon Muffins Photography Ian Noel Pace

Pumpkin feast is celebrated in a beautiful village up North during the month of October every year. Veronica from Manikata was our tv guest this week and this is her recipe for Pumpkin muffins with cheddar and bacon. They were delicious and you will need:

80ml olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
250g pumpkin cut into very small cubes
100g grated cheddar
150g white gbejna (if you are not on the islands, use a semi hard white goats cheese)
100g bacon
2 eggs
300ml semi skimmed or skimmed milk
375g self raising flour
Salt and pepper to season if desired

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan and saute the chopped onion and crushed garlic. Stir and cook on moderate heat until they soften. Add the chopped bacon and cook for 5 minutes. Add the chopped pumpkin. Cook for another 5 minutes and remove from heat.

Allow the mixture to cook.
Sift the flour and add the salt and pepper if you are using it.
Add the grated cheeses and leave aside 3 spoonfuls to garnish the top.
In a separate container stir the milk, eggs and olive oil.
Add the cooled down bacon and pumpkin mix to the flour and mix gently to ensure that the pieces are covered with a light film of flour.
Add the cheese, gently mix and finally the liquids.
Spoon the mixture into paper cases in a muffin tin. Top each muffin with the grated cheese mix. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until they are golden brown at 190C. This makes 8 large muffins or 16 small ones.
Thank you Veronica !

Fresh Fruit and Vegetables from #Manikata Farmers

Fresh Fruit and Vegetables from #Manikata Farmers Photography Ian Noel Pace

Photos Ian Noel Pace

Cinnamon Club comes to Malta

A busy kitchen with so much going on, colourful ingredients, the aroma, combination of flavors and textures in each dish, a masterpiece, effortlessly put together by Vivek Singh and his team from the Cinnamon Club yesterday. Follow us for more very soon.

Vivek Singh in #Malta this week

Vivek Singh in #Malta this week

Minty Favetta dip and Regatta Day

Favetta Dip

Minty Favetta Dip

A public holiday with much celebration, a regatta, Victory Day and and the feast of ‘Marija Bambina

It is hot and humid, very humid and at around 7 pm local time we start to feel a gentle and welcome breeze. I love the heat but the high level of humidity makes the day uncomfortable unless you are enjoying a day at the beach.

My favetta [yellow split beans] dip today is very simple, much lighter than hummus as it contains no tahini but I blend it with plain yoghurt and a generous amount of fresh mint and serve it with yellow and red cherry tomatoes instead of bread. I use skewers, allow one per person, so that tomatoes can be dipped with ease. And with a glass of ice cold white wine this was just perfect.

You will need:
1 tablespoon olive oil , plus some for drizzling
1 small garlic clove, just for flavor, I did not want an overpowering garlic taste
150g favetta beans
60ml plain yoghurt
A handful of fresh mint leaves
a pinch of dried mint
Salt and freshly ground pepper and crushed red peppercorns to season

Soak the favetta in cold water for a couple of hours or overnight in the fridge. Drain the water and rinse.

Cook in plenty water in a pot and if you wish to speed up the cooking process add some bicarbonate of soda, not too much as it will leave an aftertaste, just a generous pinch.

The favetta beans will soften up very quickly and when they reach a mushy stage take them off the heat. I found that I had to add water during the cooking process and it is important not to allow the pan to dry up. The beans absorb a lot of the water and you will not need to strain them again. Allow to cool.

Use a fork to mash them up. I like a bit of texture in the dip and prefer not to use an electic blender for the beans but I do use it to blend the garlic cloves together with the fresh and dry mint, olive oil and yoghurt. Mix with the favetta puree using a metal spoon. Refridgerate for an hour and drizzle with olive oil, garnish with more mint and red pepper corns.

I served with yellow and red cherry tomatoes cut in half and skewers

Regatta Day 2015 #Malta

Regatta Day 2015 #Malta

Creamy Cauilflower Soup with Pesto Calabrese and tear & share soda bread

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with no cream, potatoes or butter

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with no cream, potatoes or butter

Creamy without the need to add cream or butter, or even potatoes, cauliflower manages to produce the same creaminess at only 25 calories per 100g. I used my new crockpot again to make this soup. I find it so convenient to allow it to just cook slowly while I am out and return to a healthy meal.

For the low fat creamy cauliflower soup you will need:
4 small cloves or 2 giant ones, peeled and crushed
1 cauliflower, trimmed and remove core
1/2 a white onion
4 cups water and all natural vegetable cube
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
parsley to garnish

Chop the cauliflower into chunks. Place in the crockpot with the garlic, add the olive oil and vegetable stock. Season with salt and turn on the slow cooker. It requires 4 hours on a slow temperature.

Allow to cool and blend. If it is too thick add some water.
Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed.

For the Pesto Calabrese you will need:
I make a large batch and use it for a pasta dish the next day.

100ml olive oil
1/2 white onion, chopped
sea salt
2 red bell peppers, seeds removed, cut into chunks
2-3 fresh chili peppers, depending how spicy you like it, seeds remove and chopped
150 g ricotta
2 ripe tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and choppped
2 small red chillies, chopped
1 teaspoon oregano leaves
1 clove garlic, peeled (optional)
150g parmesan, grated
3 basil leaves, just for flavor, I like to retain an orange/red colour

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil, add the onion and sauté until the onion is soft.

Add the bell peppers, and cook for 10 minutes until everything is soft. Turn off the heat, taste and season.

Allow to cool, add the rest of the ingredients and blend until very smooth and creamy. If necessary add more water. Refrigerate until you need to use it.

For the tear and share soda bread you will need:

Tear and Share Soda Bread

Tear and Share Soda Bread

A little olive oil, for greasing
500g self raising flour
1 tablespoon semolina
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 rounded teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 spoons parmesan
Pinch of dried crushed chili seeds
Pinch of dried basil
250 ml yoghurt
a glass of cold water
some sesame seeds to sprinkle on top

I used a 23 cm springforn cake tin

Preheat the oven to 200C.
Brush the cake tin with the olive oil.

Sieve the flour. Mix the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda together in a large mixing bowl. Add the parmesan, chili flakes and dried basil.

Pour the yoghurt into the flour mixture and gently fold it in. Do not rub in. Add water as necessary until it forms a dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Place the semolina in your hands to prevent a lot of stickiness. Shape even balls and fill up the cake tin. Brush the surface with olive oil and scatter the sesame seeds on top.

Tear and Share Soda Bread

Tear and Share Soda Bread

Bake for 15 minutes, check them out and lower the temperature and carry on cooking for a bit longer if necessary.

Reheat the soup and pour into individual soup bowls. Add a teaspoon of Calabrian Pesto to each soup bowl then take a skewer and swirl it around. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with tear and share soda bread rolls.

Carob and dandelion fairies, close your eyes and make a wish #Malta  [photo Ian Noel Pace]

Close your eyes and make a wish #Malta [photo Ian Noel Pace]

So tender and moist crockpot pork that falls apart

Local pork is the best #Majjal ta Malta

Local pork is the best #Majjal ta Malta [Photo Ian Noel Pace]

There is nothing easier or more delicious than this dish.

Here pork is simply the best, the flavor, the texture and freshness is unmatched, certainly to that in any other part of the world I have been.

If you are a visitor on the island do not leave without trying local pork :)

Pulled pork is usually cooked on a barbecue but here is a simple version in a crockpot and I add the sugary ingredients to the sauce rather than the pork so that anyone who does not wish to consume too much sugar has a choice. Believe me the end result in mini burger buns which I will post very soon was as close to the bbq version as you can get.

For this simple recipe you will need:

Boneless, skinless pork shoulder #Majjal ta Malta

Boneless, skinless pork shoulder #Majjal ta Malta [Photo Ian Noel Pace]

1 boneless pork shoulder, ask your butcher to remove the skin too
half a tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 giant clove garlic or 2 small ones, grated
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
half a teaspoon instant espresso coffee powder
1 large onion

The whole point of using a slow cooker is to save time. For this recipe, all you need to do is lightly brush the inside of the crockpot with a little bit of olive oil. Drop the pork shoulder into it, then sprinkle all the other ingredients. The coffee heightens the flavor of the meat, you will not taste it when it is cooked.

Cover the crockpot and cook until the pork is fork tender, for around 8 hours on a regular setting. I like to do mine overnight or sometimes turn it on just before I leave in the morning and I am always so pleased have a fantastic meal to return to, prepared without much effort.

Turn off the slow cooker and place the pork to a cutting board. Using 2 forks, shred the meat into bite-sized pieces, discarding any large pieces of fat. Taste and season with salt if necessary.

Moist and succulent slow cooked pork shoulder

Moist and succulent slow cooked pork shoulder [Photo Gino Galea]

I served mine as it is with potatoes and we also filled some mini burgers and topped the pork with a home made barbecue sauce, all to be posted here very soon. Adding the bbq sauce as an option was welcomed by those who follow sugar free diets.

I just love my new crockpot as seen on ONE TV

I just love my new crockpot as seen on ONE TV [Photo Gino Galea]