Zurek Soup and the Malopolska region

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I loved  Lapanow in the hilly region of Malopolska and I often make Polish Zurek soup with our local Maltese Sausage.

You will need:

For the Rye sour
1/2 cup rye flour
1 cup boiled water at room temperature
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 bayleaf

For the soup
1 carrot, peeled amd chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove
1 potato, peeled and chopped
1 bayleaf
Juniper berries, 2 optional
Pinch of allspice
1 sausage, cut into slices
150g smoked bacon, cooked and cut
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 spoons sour cream
4 hard cooked eggs cut into 4 segments each

Making Rye Sour. Mix together rye flour and water, pour into a large container with room for it to grow in volume. Cover with a cloth and keep in a warm place for 3 days.

To make the soup. In a large pot bring the vegetables, spices, bayleaf and water to boil. Simmer for half an hoir on reduced heat. Add the sausage, return to boil, reduce heat and cook for another half an hour. Strain soup through a sieve and press the vegetables to get as much flavor as possible and add to the texture. Skim the fat off the stock.

Add the potatoes rye sour and sour cream to the soup, season and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until potatoes are done. Whisk and add the sliced sausage. Bring to boil. Remove from heat. Serve with half a hard cooked egg in each serving.

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Food and more glorious Polish food from the lovely hospitality lecturers in Malopolska! Thank you ladies !

Haluski from Poland and I love its simplicity …

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Visiting the heart of Poland made me curious about the cuisine.. my previous trip happened many years ago, another very brief trip, to Warsaw at that time. However the difference this time is that i loved the cuisine of the Malopolska region. It is fresh, no-nonense food, using local and seasonal ingredients with a taste of what you would expect all home cooking to be.

You will need :

200g bacon, sliced finely and cooked
1 tablespoons butter
1 onion, sliced, today i have used 6 spring onions instead
1 garlic cloves, grated
8 cups cabbage, shredded
500 g italian noodle egg pasta
1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
Salt and pepper to taste

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Cook egg noodles according to package directions, and while it is cooking, prepare the rest of ingredients.

While the noodles are cooking, melt butter in large deep pot over medium heat.

Add the onion, bacon, garlic and cabbage. Saute stirring occasionally until softened and just beginning to turn golden.

Stir in caraway seeds if using, then cover, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
Drain the noodles in a collander.
Add the cooked noodles to the other ingredients, season with salt and pepper, and stir well until noodles are heated though. Place in a serving bowl and spoon some sour cream on top of it. Garnish with chives or flat leaf parsley. I also added some more shredded uncooked cabbage on top, gives the overall dish a great texture.

Adjust seasoning if necessary and serve hot.

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Polish Rosol

I have just returned from Lapanow in Poland where the Festival of Broth takes place every year.

Rosol is a traditional clear Polish broth served with fine noodles or dumplings that are preferably home made.

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I had the opportunity to taste many versions made from old family recipes or those that are typically used in villages. Although very similar and using more or less the same ingredients, each soup had its own identity in appearance and flavor.

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Thr Polish are proud of their Broth. It is served at weddings, Christmas dinners, special occasions and also fed to someone who is ill and the healing properties must also come from the care and attention that has gone into the preparation of this broth.

I was given several similar recipes and you will need:

1 whole chicken
2 carrots, peel and cut into small cubes
Some chopped garlic
Flat leaf parsley
1 celery, cut into large pieces
½ leek, cut into large pieces
1 whole onion, delicately charred on a skillet
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 dried bay leaves
cooked angel hair noodles, to serve
fresh parsley, to serve
salt and pepper

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Place the chicken in a large soup pot and cover with 2 litres of cold water. Bring the water to boil, skim very well, then lower the heat and simmer for another hour.

Add the carrot, parsley, celery, leek and onion to the soup, with some salt, peppercorns and bay leaves. Simmer over low heat for an additional hour.

Remove meat and vegetables, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Strain the soup.
Remove some of the fat floatimg at the top.
Serve with cooked angel hair pasta, chopped carrots and fresh parsley.

With thanks to the local action group of Dolina Raby

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Today’s paper

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Three traditional Maltese Soups

Some very simple recipes for traditional soups made with fresh local fresh vegetables, every day meals in Malta

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Widow’s Soup [Soppa tal Armla]

1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 kohlrabi, peeled and chopped
1 cup broad beans
2 celery sticks, sliced
1 cup peas
½ or a small cauliflower cut into bite size pieces
½ cup chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish
GbejMaltese cheese), allow one per person
Stock – enough to cover vegetables (chicken or vegetable)
1 ½ tbsp tomato paste
Salt & pepper to taste

Peel, rinse and chop the onions
Dice the cauliflower tomatoes and potatoes into bite-sized florets and cubes respectively
Sauté the chopped onions and after a couple of minutes add the cauliflower, potatoes, peas & beans. Fry until golden in colour
Add the vegetable stock (half the pot) and simmer for approximately 45 minutes
Add more water if needed to cover the vegetables together with the diced tomatoes and cook for 20 minutes more. Into the simmering soup, gently poach the eggs and add the fresh cheeses. Simmer for a further 5 minutes, season and serve with 2 thick slices of fresh sourdough bread

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Kawlata Soup with Ham Hock

250g pumpkin
1 kohl rabi [gidra]
1 stock cube
4 carrots
Half a cabbage
Half a cauiflower
Celery
4 small potatoes
2 onions
2 pieces ham hock [xikel] or pork sausage

Soak the hock overnight. If you’re using sausages, these should be fresh pork sausages.
Cover the gammon or sausages with water and bring to the boil. Remove any scum. Add the vegetables. Simmer gently until the meat is done.

If you wish, you can remove the meat/sausages after it has cooked. (You can have this meat with some bread and fresh vegetables as a sandwich). Some people also like to add some small macaroni beads (or barley) in the soup, then they cook for some 15 minutes more. This will make the soup even more tasty.

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Minestra

84g cauliflower
84g carrots
84g pumpkin
56g white onions
28g celery stick
21g tomato paste
56g small pasta
50g split peas
One teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1250ml water and 1 stock cube or stock pot

Slice and wash all the vegetables.
Fry the onions, till tender.
Add all vegetables except the pasta.
Add the water, bring to the boil, and simmer till vegetables are cooked.
Add the Pasta. The soup should be very thick.

Lea’s Good Food Everyday airs on Smash TV and you can can follow the page on facebook

Trade Enquiries:

Oxo stock pots and cubes by Premier Foods at George Borg Ltd telephone 21 472 177

Fresh vegetables by Big Fresh Mosta, Oscar’s Fruit and Vegetables Paola and Barbuto [organic]

A royal visit this weekend

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The island has been preparing for a visit from the Duchess of Cambridge.

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But yesterday changes were announced and this weekend Prince William is due to visit a tiny island in the heart of the Mediterranean to celebrate Independence Day

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And as there is no better Ambassador for British Cooking than Delia Smith, here is one of my favourites for the occasion.

The old fashioned roll is quick and easy to make.

You will need :
110g self-raising flour
1 level teaspoon baking powder
50g soft butter
2 eggs
110g caster sugar, plus a little extra
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the filling and topping:
3-4 tablespoons jam, I use my own strawberry jam
Icing sugar to dust when finished

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Pre-heat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6

Sift the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl

Add the butter, eggs, caster sugar and vanilla extract, and use an electric whisk mix to a smooth creamy consistency for about one minute.

Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared tin with the back of a spoon

Bake it near the centre of the oven for 14–15 minutes or until it feels springy in the centre.

Prepare a damp tea towel spread out on a flat surface then on top of the tea towel you place a sheet of baking parchment that’s about 2.5cm larger than the tin.

Sprinkle caster sugar all over the paper.

As soon as the Swiss roll is cooked, lift it out holding the sides of the liner and turn it onto the paper immediately.

Gently strip off the liner, take a sharp knife and trim 3mm from all round the cake. This will make it much neater and help to prevent it from cracking.

Cover with a clean damp tea towel and leave for a couple of minutes, then remove the damp cloth and spread the cake with jam.

With one of the shorter edges of the cake nearest to you, make a small incision about 2.5cm from the edge, cutting right across the cake, not too deeply; this will help you when you start to roll.

Start to roll this 2.5cm piece over and away from you and continue to roll, holding the sugared paper behind the cake as you roll the whole thing up. When it’s completely rolled up, hold the paper around the cake for a few moments to help it ‘set’ in position, then transfer the cake to a wire cooling tray.

Dust with a little more caster sugar before serving.

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Her Majesty spent happy times on the island.

Prickly pears, the season nearly over …

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Prickly pear cactus plants this week are still heavy with fruit and it must be the most under-utilized fruit here. I am also guilty of not having made the most of them and i keep promising myself to try the paddles as an ingredient. The simpliest way to use them is by peeling them to extract their delicious sweet juice and if passed though a mouli you will get no bitterness from crushed seeds.

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On this month’s airline magazine, I featured more summer fruit.

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And if you have prickly pears in your garden, remember they are the last of the season, just for another week or so. Simply wear gloves and it is an effortless job. You will find recipes using prickly pears on this blog.

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(Prickly Pear Photo Emmanuel Croset)

Making the most of a buoyant harvest …. watermelon and mint

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Watermelon, mint and basil are all at their peak this month and Nina and Renny Desira who cultivate all sorts of varieties of unusual and common herbs in Zejtun shared many of their methods with me of mint and basil preservation for the winter when they are no longer so abundant. Nina picks fresh mint early in the morning and removes any damaged leaves and tough stems. She rinses the leaves well and pats them dry with a kitchen towel. She then chops them up and places two teaspoons in each compartment of an ice cube tray, tops it off with water and freezes it. When the ice cubes solidify, she stores them in an air tight freezer bag in the freezer and then adds cubes to soups, teas and dressings in the winter.

For the watermelon and feta starter you will need:

Half a watermelon cut up into even slices, deseeded and peeled
300g feta cheese
A handful of mint leaves, a spoonful chopped
Olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice
Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper

A round cutter

Mash up the feta cheese, add some pepper and a spoon of chopped fresh mint. Mix until consistent.

Place in a flat dish and spread to a thickness of 2cm

Use a cutter to cut a round of water melon. Without removing the watermelon disc from the cutter, use the cutter again to cut through a layer of feta cheese. push the watermelon dish out of the cutter gently so that you have two layers, the bottom feta layer topped with a disc of watermelon. Use a squeeze of lemon juice and olive oil as a dressing and garnish the plate with some fancy lettuce leaves.

And i learnt something new during my trip, that these delicate white flowers that we have in our garden are edible garlic chives or Chinese chives [Allium tuberosum, gau choy Chinese 韭菜; Japanese nira]. I will have to find a suitable recipe to try them out!

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Chickpea Crostata di Ricotta (with kale and sundried tomatoes)

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I am happiest when i am cooking in my kitchen, closed off with all the wonderful fresh ingredients that are easily available every day here.

Crostata di ricotta is usually sweet and is of  italian origin but my crostata is savory and the green and red bits of candied peel used in traditional crostata are replaced here with chopped sundried tomatoes and shredded kale. My favorite part of this dish is the crust, literally encrusted with whole roasted chickpeas. When you add nuts or grains to pastry, it is best to bind it with an egg as it strengthens the pastry and it will not break when you roll it out.

crostada chickpea crust

For the pastry you will need:
250g flour
50ml olive oil
Tip of a teaspoon of finely grated lemon rind
Pinch of Seasalt
3 large tablespoons Roasted Chickpeas (I used the shop bought ones)
1 egg
a few drops of water if necessary

8 inch loose bottom flan dish

 

Sift the flour. Add the cold butter cut up into pieces. Rub it into the flour until it is fine and consistent.
add the lemon zest and salt. Mix in. Add the egg and press together to form a dough. If necessary add a few drops of water, a little at a time.Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for half an hour. Grease the flan dish and roll oit the dough ojna floured surface. Roll it loosely round the rolling pin and ease onto the flan dish. Gently press it into the dish and cut the surplus. Pirece the pastry all over with a sharp fork. Bake blind in a preheated oven 160C for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and leave to cool before filling it.

For the sundried tomato, kale and ricotta filling You will need :

250g ricotta
1 egg
2 heaped spoons sundried tomatoes, chopped
2 heaped spoons kale, chopped
Pinch of Seasalt
1 spoon grated parmesan
Tip of a teaspoon finely grated lemon rind

Mash the ricotta and add the other ingredients. Treat it gently when you mix the ingredients in as you want to retain the white color of the ricotta. The filling of the finished product should be similar to the sweet version in appearance.Spoon the filling neatly into the crust, flatten it and bake at 160C for 15 minutes. Take it out of the oven and leave to cool slightly before serving. The filling does not have a high egg content as i believe it has a better texture and taste. If you cut it as soon as it is out of the oven it may crumble. Serve warm or this can be refrigerated and served cold. I used a few strands of chopped fresh kale to garnish.

blog gs

I shop at GS Superstore in Naxxar and online at maltasupermarket.com

Legendary seas and a Mediterranean fish supper

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The Mediterranean is made up of a variety of cultures integrated into one region which is defined by the Sea of so many legends and tales.

And a diverse cuisine that is sought after all around the world has been created from this integration based on the freshness of the produce in the region. See how the sun shines here nearly every day of the year and the long extended summers produce the best flavors that need very little cooking to keep the taste of freshness alive.

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And this month brings a fish that is very much part of the island’s heritage and the season opened with a blessing of fishing boats by the parish priest of a Southern fishing village.

Lampuki are more commonly known abroad as mahi mahi and dophinfish but nowadays the word mahi mahi is preferred to avoid confusion with dolphins (mammals) as they are not associated in any way. Here they are lampuki. The blueish outer skin glistens when they are fresh and on the bottom they are flecked with pale yellow. The flesh is firm and dense and can cope with stromger herbs and flavors.

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There are various ways of cooking them but we are having them simply fried today and serving them with the lovely variety of lettuces that come in all sorts of fancy shapes and sizes this month.

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For the fried lampuki you will need:

1 kg lampuki
a fresh lemon
Flour
Fresh Marjoram
Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper
Oil
Vinegar
Some olive oil to drizzle on top

Yoi can ask your fishmonger to clean your fish.
Start by removing thr head and tail.
Rinse the fish and cut it into portions.
Cover a flat dish with a layer of sifted flour
Add the salt and pepper and fresh marjoram
Heat the oil in a heavy pan.
Shallow fry the fish on both sides using low heat so that it cooks inside,
Sever with a slice of lemon. Drizzle a few drops of olive oil and vinegar.
Garnish with olives and capers.
Serve immediately.

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Thanks to Benny Scerri for some of the photos.

Ricotta gnudi with crisped sage

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It is not pasta and Gnudi are not gnocchi, but seem to belong to the same family. They are simply skinless ravioli, the filling without the shell but not quite gnocchi. This is enough to whet my appetite and I am making them today for our supper!

You will need :

1 cup fresh ricotta
1 cup grated Parmesan,
1 egg
Pinch grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives (optional) or 1 tablespoon dried
4 cups semolina
3 tablespoons butter
10 sage leaves

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a bowl
Mix until it is combined with the ricotta mixture, and roll into 1-inch balls.
Roll the ricotta mixture into balls and place in a bowl or dish that has 1/4 inch of the semolina sprinkled on the bottom.
Arrange the balls so that they are not touching each other or the sides.
When you have a layer, cover the balls completely with flour and begin another layer.
Finish by completely burying the ricotta balls and transfer to the fridge. Leave overnight.
In a skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Watch it carefully, and when the butter solids begin to brown and the butter is foamy (above), add the sage leaves. Just a few moments longer on the heat and the butter should turn a nutty brown color. Don’t overcook it to avoid introducing any bitter flavors.
Carefully transfer the gnudi to a pot of salted boiling water and cook until they float, about 1 minute.
They don’t need long at all, and the pasta coating can turn tough if they are in the water too long.
Remove them with a slotted spoon to drain, and serve with the brown butter and crisped sage leaves. Grate Parmesan over them, if desired.

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