Chickpeanut dip with freshly pressed olive oil


After years of living in the Middle East, i feel that the authentic hummus bi tahini is the only dip that qualifies to be called hummus in my book. A few mashed chickpeas are not hummus and i have even seen dips that look more like guacamole referred to as hummus, simply because chickpeas happen to be an ingredient. An injustice to the queen of dips.

You may be curious about the platter and use of local ingredients. You can see my chickpeanut dip, then going clockwise, fresly cut raw french beans and cucumber in a glass, bambinella fresh arugula from our garden, the Mayor’s capers from his village, vine tomatoes and fresh sodt goats cheese, olives and similar to water crackers are the local galletti and these are flavored with sea salt amd cracked pepper.

But i do love to mix chickpeas in a variety of dips. The have the right consistency to bind other ingredients together without imparting a strong flavor. And i particularly love this one which I am preparing for a light lunch today with iced teas and a bit of sunshine. For some reason this year at the end of July, the weather is still extremely pleasant, not uncomfortably hot.

And for the Chickpeanut dip you will need :

1/2 cup unsalted peanuts (soaked in water for 2 hours)
1/2 cup cooked or canned chickpeas
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon paprika
1 small garlic clove
1/4 cup water
extra virigin olive oil and I am lucky to have one pressed this week from olives in oir garden
Sea salt

[If you are using dried chickpeas, the first thing you have to do is soak them. Place chickpeas in a large bowl and cover completely with cold water. Allow to soak overnight, about 12 hours. A teaspoon of baking soda can be added to help soften them up and it does not change their nutritional value. Drain and transfer to a large cooking pot, cover with water twice the amount of chickpeas and bring to a boil. Cover and allow to simmer for approximately one hour. Do a taste test at this point to make sure they are tender enough for your liking. Once chickpeas are cooled they are ready to be used]

Otherwise use canned chickpeas!

Drain the chickpeas and peanuts. Place all ingredients with the exception of olive oil in a food processor and blend. i have left mine with bits in it today, not completely smooth, more texture. Season according to taste. Add some virgin olive oil until the consistency is right for you. Everyone has their own preferences and there is no right or wromg, just as you prefer. I do love the peanut flavor with the fresh vegetables.


Bambinella in a Pine Crust


What is Bambinella you may ask if you do not live here? It is a fruit native to the island in the height of the summer. You will need to come and visit to try 🙂

Bambinella [Pyrus Communis] from the Rose family are mini bite-size crispy pears. The flavor is sweet and the texture is very similar to the large Asian yellow pears. Imagine then the most beautiful rosy color blended into a mix of buttercup and bright green hues, all in this tiny fruit, a luxury of flavor, colour and texture in one bite.

I use this beautiful fruit in today’s recipe. This is not a traditional tart but the bambinella is left in its natural state and rests on a yoghurt cream adapted from Prue Leith’s recipe in a pine crust made with olive oil.

It is like having fruit and yoghurt with a bit of a ‘plus treat’!

Fruit and yoghurt with a touch of cream and a cookie assembled as a tart and this will make a marvellous dessert even if you are having guests for dinner. Yet it is a healther than usual dessert and has the appeareance of what we associate with ‘naughty’ rather than healthy !

For the pine crust you will need:

800g flour
100 ml olive oil (if you are looking for a very ‘short’ and rich pastry, substitute this with 400g butter)
100g butter
2 level spoons sugar or use Stevia equivalent
Pinch of salt
Few Drops freshly squeezed lemon
Cold water
2 eggs
50g pine nuts
(These quantities will give you the equivalent to line 2 tart dishes x 8 inches and make this bake)


Sift the flour. Rub the fats into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Add rhe sugar or equivalent and a pinch of salt.
Add the eggs, mix in and then the few drops of lemon juice.
Add cold water, a spoonful at a time until the dough comes together and is the right consistency.
Leave in the fridge for half an hour.
Open out on a floured surface using a rolling pin.
Prepare yoir tart dish, very sparsely buttered. Lay the pastry on top of it and bake blind see instructions here for an easy method.

Yoghurt Cream adapted from Prue Leith’s original recipe
125 ml double cream whipped up until stiff
150ml Greek Yoghurt, if you are on the island use local
1spoon honey or 1spoon sugar or equivalent quantity Stevia
A few drops good vanilla extract

Whip up the double cream.
Add the yoghurt, sugar or alternative and finally the vanilla and mix gently until consistent.
Spoon onto the cooled down pie crust.


Assembling the tart with bambinella and pine nuts
Depending on the size of your tin, 6 to 10 bambinella fruit, cut in half. Seeds scooped out.
1 spoon toasted pine nuts
A sprinkle of icing sugar, I use Bianca Neve which stays put even after refridgeration.

Dip the fruit in lime or lemon juice to prevent discoloration.
Arrange the scooped out bambinella fruit on the tart
sprinkle some toasted pine nuts.
Very sparsely dust with icing sugar.

Our special guest in the food segment on Indigo this week was Parliamentary Secretary, the Honourable Roderick Galdes and you will be able to view this episode on Monday at 17.40. Vetinarary Surgeon Dr Oliver Frendo who heads the Pig Cooperative also joins me to prepare some local food. You can see the Bambinella I used for this tart in the photo. The programme is presented by Claudette Abela Baldacchino


Strawberry Sundae Tart


Summers remind me of strawberries and cream and mine are immersed into a chocolate pastry cream in a crust of chocolate. I am making the pastry cream without eggs as it seems more popular these days. This pie can also be gluten free merely by substituting the flour in the crust with gluten free flour (I used Doves usually for this crust when i need it to be gluten free) and also omit the layer of crushed wafers that i used on top of the crust. This recipe is for a 10 inch tart dish.

For the Chocolate Crust


You will need:

400g flour
100g cocoa powder
200g butter
2 eggs
Pinch of salt
100g sugar
1/2 packet wafers
Sieve the flour and cocoa into a large bowl
Chop up the butter, add to flour mix and rub in until it looks like fine breadcrumbs.
Add the salt and sugar and mix.
Add the eggs, a little at a time until a dough forms. If you need more liquid add cold water, a few drops at a time.
Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for at least half an hour.
Grease the tart dish lightly.
Sprinkle some flour and cocoa powder on a suitable surface. Make sure it is uniformly mixed. Roll out the pastry on a surface. This is quite a delicate pastry and breaks easily. Do not worry as you can patch it up.
Roll the pastry round the rolling pin and ease it gently into the tart dish. Gently pat into place tapping it all around. Patch up any tears. Trim of the excess dough. Pierce the pastry with a fork all over. I added a thin layer of crushed chocolate Loacker wafers and pushed the crumbs into the crust. This is optional and if you want a gluten free tart leave it out.
Place the tart dish in the freezer for half an hour.
Heat the oven to 150C
Bake for 20 minutes. Take out and allow to cool.

The Strawberries


500g fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
100g double cream
100g greek yoghurt and if you on the island, use local. It’s just as good and a fraction of the price.
I did not add any sugar to the cream if you would prefer it sweeter do. The sweetness of the strawberries and pastry cream was enough for us.
Cut a small piece off the tip of the strawberries so that they will stand on a plate.
Use a paring knife to hollow out a small hole in the centre of each strawberry

For the Chocolate Pastry Cream


1 large can light Evaporated Milk
500 ml water
200 g sugar
2 drops good vanilla extract
Separately, 100 g corn flour, 2 heaped spoons cocoa powder mixed in 150 g water

Gently heat the milk, water and sugar and bring to a gentle boil stirring with a wooden spoon.
Add the vanilla.
Add the corn flour mix and stir.
Remove from heat immediately as it starts to boil and carry on stirring.

Assembling and finishing it off


Pour the chocolate pastry cream into the completely cooled down tart crust. Keep the crust in the dish.
Immediately place the hollowed out strawberries near each other. Don’t worry if they are not the same size. I like it to look as nature was meant to be! Make sure that the pastry cream cools down and that the strawberries have set into the cream and they are not wobbly.
Beat the double cream and when it thickens add the yoghurt.
Fill a disposable piping bag with the mixture.
Snip only a small part of the tip off.
Fill up each strawberry with the cream and greek yoghurt mix.
Refrigerate before serving.


Vegetables al Cartoccio


For this recipe I use common ingredients typically found in every Mediterranean kitchen. The vegetables are baked in an airtight parcel in their own steam and juices with just a touch of olive oil capturing all the flavors found in fresh vegetables.

For two portions you will need:


2 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 potatoes, washed, skin on, thinly sliced
1 onion cut into chunks
1 eggplant cut into cubes, skin on
2 large tomatoes,sliced
100g ricotta, crumbled
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Parsley two spoonfuls, leaves unchopped
2 bay leaves
Olive oil to drizzle
1 tablespoon capers

Baking paper


Arrange the ingredients on a piece of baking paper folded into two around 8 inches by 10
I started with the potatoes, then the onions and garlic, then the tomatoes, eggplant and finally the capers, ricotta, herbs and seasoning.
Drizzle a few drops of olive oil.
bake at 180C for 40 minutes.
Take the parcels out of the oven.
Leave for two minutes before serving them as they are individually on plates.


I use vegetables by Big Fresh in Mosta, sheep’s ricotta by Zappala and spices by Schwartz, both at PJ Sutters

Sweets from the Mediterranean Region

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


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.


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


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



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.

Glorious flavors of July … Caper Pesto


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.


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.


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,


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 ….


And in this week’s paper with Claudette Abela Baldacchino


Carob Syrup from the heart of the Mediterranean!

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 !


Good Food Everyday


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 post 109 more words

How to make Mediterranean Carob Syrup

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

Good Food Everyday


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.


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 post 110 more words

Ricotta and Artichoke Quiche in a Pistachio and Olive Oil Crust


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!

Greek Kourabiedes

‘I have not yet met anyone who does not like these most amazing Greek cookies.  This recipe was passed on to me by  Maria, my dear neighbour in Limassol ..’

This recipe makes about 35 cookies

You will need :

200g butter
200g  sugar plus extra sugar for dusting
pinch of salt
150g ground almonds
Few drops vanilla extract
Few drops rose water (if not available use orange flower water)
100g crushed nuts of your choice
250g plain flour, sifted twice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
Tip of a teaspoon ground cloves, do not overdo it

Cream the soft butter in a mixing bowl until it is very white and creamy
Add the icing sugar
Continue creaming until very light in colour and texture and fluffy
Add the ground almonds, lemon zest, vanilla extract, rose water, crushed nuts and cloves
Blend in flour gradually together with a pinch of salt. Mix thoroughly until it forms a soft dough.
Shape into small balls
Indent each ball in the middle with your thumb and form a crescent shape.
Place on an ungreased baking sheet
Bake at 170 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.

Tip: The more you beat the butter, until it is fluffy and white, the lighter the texture of the cookie

I use flour and icing sugar by St Georges Brand, vanilla and baking powder by Foster Clark, ground cloves by Schwartz, lemons by Big Fresh, nuts by Good Earth, rose water available at GS Superstore