Very quick Chinese: Beef Stir Fry

quick beef stir fry by felix cesare.jpg

Quick, so quick chinese stir fry, literally a home made take out.

‘a meal with an oriental influence is a welcome change once in a while.  This is the quickest Chinese style dish you can possibly prepare and believe me it does not taste any different to a take out.  For the best result I cut up the beef into very small pieces and cook it well before adding the other ingredients. Broccoli is abundant at the moment with nearly give-away prices in the market this week.’

For my quick Chinese style beef stir fry you will need:
1 tablespoon canola oil
500g  chopped beef (ask your butcher for a suitable cut for your stir fry)
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons cornflour
2 small cloves garlic, grated
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1 tablespoon sesame oil
a pinch of chili flakes (optional)
1/2 cup stock
1/2 head broccoli broken up into florets, lightly steamed
150g mushrooms

Mix together the soy sauce, cornflour, honey until the cornflour dissolves. Cut the beef into small strips. In a large saucepan heat up the oil
in a large pan and cook the beef strips well until they start to brown. Then lower the heat, add the garlic, ginger, chili flakes if you are using it. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. Add half the cooked mushrooms, cook for a minute then add the cornflour mix followed by the stock. Stir on low heat until it starts to thicken. If it is too thick add 2 tablespoons of water at a time until it is the right consistency. Then add the steamed broccoli and the rest of the mushrooms.
I served ours with steamed pak choi and rice. Drizzle a few drops of sesame oil before serving.
quick chinese stir fry felix

Tim Byres from Smoke in Dallas on ONE TV

Tim's BBQ rub on local pork

Tim’s BBQ rub on local pork

Anton and I cooked with Tim Byres at the residence of the USA Ambassador and to watch Tim making the rub click here . This was aired on ONE TV.

Thank you Tim

Thank you Tim

Tim’s special coffee and smoked paprika rub heightens the flavor of bbq meats. It is a winner and we enjoyed tasting various rubs sprinkled on slices of mozzarella and fresh vegetables.

With Anton and Tim, ONE TV

With Anton and Tim, as seen on ONE TV

For the rub you will need:

1\4 cup finely ground dark roast coffee
1\4 cup dark chili powder
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 tablespoons salt
1\4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cumin

To make the spice mix, measure out all the ingredients into a medium sized mixing bowl. Break down any clumps of paprika or brown sugar with gloved or clean dry hands and thoroughly incorporate all the ingredients into an even, well mixed blend.

Completely rub your steaks (enough for 4 large steaks) with the spice mix and leave some to season the plate before serving. Grill the seasoned steaks over an open flame until rare to medium rare, then remove from grill and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Kitchen of the residence of USA Ambassador, as seen on ONE TV

Kitchen of the residence of USA Ambassador, as seen on ONE TV

Photography Gino Galea

Corned Beef, Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Pulpetti [gluten free]

Pulpetti tal corned beef u pastard

I featured this recipe on TV this week. These pulpetti are oven baked and contain no added fats.

And you will need :

2 large sweet potatoes
Weigh the potatoes and add same weight cooked cauliflower
2 eggs
50g grated Maltese gbejna cheese or use a semi hard cheese such as feta
150g stone ground oats
1 large tin corned beef
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon fresh marjoram

a pinch of dried marjoram and dried parsley
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper if preferred

Cover a baking tray with baking paper and prepare  it with a non-stick cooking spray.

Cook the sweet potatoes with skin on in the microwave.  Allow to cool then peel and grate them.

Mix together the grated sweet potato, cooked cauliflower florets, grated gbejna cheese, parsley, hersb and corned beef.
Mix gently together but do not mash as it results in a better consistency.  Just break down with a fork.  Mix in 50g of the oats and if you have time cover the mixture with cling film and allow to rest for an hour in the fridge.
Form patties and cover with stoneground oats oats by spreading the oats on a sheet of baking paper and rolling the patties over the oats.
Place on a baking tray.
Preheat oven to 180 C. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

To make them child friendly, omit the gbejna cheese and form into small balls.   The process is the same and reduce baking time to 15 minutes.


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Trade Enquiries:

3 leaves corned beef by J Calleja Import Export Ltd

Fresh herbs, fruit and Vegetables:  Big Fresh Mosta, Oscar’s Fruit and Vegetables Paola, Barbuto [organic]


Cottage Pie


On the island we are starting to see the slow approach of fall. Summer lingers here for another month or so, but gone is the intense heat and heavy humidity.

Cottage Pie is one of my family’s favorite meals in the fall and winter months, comfort food that does not make you feel too guilty.

In old cookbooks it is shepherds pie which is made with lamb and I found out that the pie dish was also lined with mashed potatoes with the meat sandwiched in between two layers of mash.

I use very little butter as and no added oil.

You will need :

1 onion
1 carrot
1clove garlic finely chopped
500 grams good beef mince
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire Sauce
2 tablespoons
1 teaspoon mixed dried herbs
Two bay leaves
2 cups stock
1/2 cup wine
2 tablespoons Bisto
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

5 large potatoes
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 cup skimmed milk, add more if necessary
Mature cheddar chesse, quantity as desired
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Peel and chop the onion and carrot.

In a non stick pan cook the minced beef then add the chopped onion, carrot and garlic and carry on cooking until everything is soft but not browned.

Add the stock,bay leaves and wine and simmer on low to medium heat until the liquid reduces by about half.

Add the Worcestershire Sauce and dried herbs and stir.

Finally add the Bisto granules and the sauce will thicken.

Season with a very little salt and freshly ground pepper. Remove bay leaves. Scatter the choped parsley on top. Spoon into a non stick ovenproof dish and allow to cool before you top up with mashed potatoes.

Peel the potatoes, chop into quarters and place in a medium saucepan with cold water just covering the potatoes. Add a little salt to the water and bring to the boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. When the potatoes are cooked, drain and place back on the heat for a few seconds to let any extra water evaporate. Mash the potatoes with the butter and add the skimmed milk. Season.

Preheat the oven to 190°Cor gas mark 5.


Spoon or pipe the mashed potato over the mince. Sprinkle grated mature cheddar cheese on top if desired and bake for 20 minutes or until the potato is golden and the pie is heated through.


Homemade Burgers


Making burgers from scratch allows you to put exactly what you like into your burgers. Lean meat that is still juicy and moist after it is cooked and the best way to do this is to ask your Butcher to help you with your choice. You can also opt for the less traditional burgers and use ground rabbit or veal.

Hamburgers are associated with food that is not healthy but this is not necessarily so especially when they are homemade. Here additional ingredients purely for flavor rather than for bulk.

To avoid sogginess toast the bun and arrange the lettuce under the burger. Use a serrated knife to cut tomatoes, drain out all juices and seeds.

For 4 burgers you will need:
4 burger buns and you can find a fresh variety from the in-house baker in the store
1 tablespoon vegetable oil for cooking

Condiments and extras: American type, grain or dijon mustard, ketchup, red onions, fried eggs, picked cucumbers, coleslaw, mayonnaise, bacon, lettuce, cucumber, cheddar, blue cheese

For Beef Burgers

1 small onion, finely chopped
400g Ground Beef
2 sprigs parsley, finely choppd
Sea Salt, fresh ground pepper
1 egg
3 galletti crushed
3 burger buns


For Pork Burgers
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon fresh chili, deseeded and chopped
400g pork mince
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 egg
salt and freshly ground pepper


For Maltese Sausage Burgers
200g Maltese sausage meat
200g lean ground pork
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 hard white gbejna grated
1 egg
4 galletti


For Chicken Burgers
1 egg
1 small onion, grated
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 spoons dry breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
salt and freshly ground pepper
400g lean ground chicken
1 tablespoon tahini



* in the oven at 180C for 20 minutes turning them once after 10 minutes.
* the traditional way on a bbq.
* Here we use a griddle pan also available from the store. Wipe the pan with vegetable oil using a kitchen towel and heat up the pan to maximum heat.
In a pan, saute the onion until soft. Remove, place on kitchen towel to absorb oil. Finely crush the galletti in a food processor.
Put all ingredients in a large bowl and mix.
Divide the mixture into 4. Wet your hands and form patties about 2 cm thick.
Cook your burgers, they usually take 3 minutes each side. Make sure that pork and chicken is cooked through.
Prepare the buns by halving and toasting them.
Slide your cooked burger onto your buns and stack up the extras according to your preference.

Osso Bucco in Brodo

As the weather gets warmer each day, I like to make soups before it is too hot to enjoy them. The traditional vegetable broth is delicious and I am told that one of the most important ingredients not to miss is plenty of celery and it is a dark green variety with thinner stems than what I have been used to. The fresh locally grown vegetables are a joy to cook with.

I am using Osso Bucco steaks which give the soup a wonderful flavor. There is nothing more delectable than eating the marrow out of the hole in the bone with the broth ….

For two portions will need:


2 Osso Bucco Steaks
1 turnip, peel and chopped
2 zucchini chopped
2 carrots
2 large tomatoes, chopped
2 spoons tomato paste
Plenty of celery, chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 onions, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3 liters water
Sea Salt, freshly ground pepper

Clean, peel and cut the vegetables into cubes

Put them in a pot of cold water
Add the salt and tomato purée
Place the steaks on top (always start with the meat in cold water)
When it boils, turn down the head and simmer for an hour and a half
.Turn off the heat and leave to rest of 5 minutes before serving. We love eating ours with local sourdough bread.



Sunday lunch: Rib Eye Beef Tagliata, oregano potatoes and sautéed mushrooms


For the Steaks you will need

Depending on size and appetite, allow 150g to 300g of beef per person
Salt and Pepper

Always cook the steak from room temperature, never straight from the cooler.
Preheat pan by placing it on high heat.
Brush both sides of the steak lightly with olive oil.
Place steak on a very hot pan.
Turn it over and never cook a steak more than once on each side otherwise it will become tough.
I tend to season my steaks after they are cooked, especially when it is a good cut like this one as I want to make the most of its natural favors.
For my 300g steak, I cooked it 3 minutes on one side and 4 minutes on the other side and my guests have requested medium to nearly cooked all the way through.
Remove from heat and let it rest for 5 minutes. This is important.
I serve the steaks sliced at a diagonal angle against the grain with a fine serrated knife. I think it’s so much more appealing than a slab of cooked meat thrown on to a plate. However there is a time and a place for everything and I know most of the boys usually love their meat slabs left as they are, but after all this is Sunday lunch !


And for the Oregano Roasted Potatoes you will need


1 kg potatoes, washed and peeled
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
Juice of half a lemon

Preheat oven to 175C.
Cut potatoes into large chunks and place in a single layer in a large baking dish. Add the oregano, salt and pepper; olive oil and lemon juice and toss around using your hands or a wooden spoon to coat evenly. Do not use a metal spoon.
Bake for about an hour or until potatoes turn crispy. I love this recipe as they remain soft and mushy inside !

For the sautéed mushrooms you will need


250g mushrooms, chopped or sliced
2tablespoons olive oil
Herbs of your choice, today I am using finely chopped flat leaf parsley
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to season

It is important to use a large pan so the mushrooms are in a single layer and will brown. Otherwise they will steam instead and release all their juices and flavor.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Sauté the sliced mushrooms for 3 minutes until they start to brown. Add 1 tsp of herbs of your choice. Season and saute for another 2 minutes. Garnish and serve.


Home Made Pasta from the Maremma region in Tuscany for Sunday lunch…


This is another wonderful recipe from Marco and Fabio from Jessie’s Bar and I am making it for lunch today. We had it as a first course during the Accademia Della Cucina Italiana dinner last week. Fabio tells me that Pici were traditionally served with a stew of wild boar but I am using a good quality beef. If you are too busy to make the Pici, use a thick spaghetti and the delicious Ragu sauce…..

Mix 500g flour + 400ml water + 2 spoons olive oil to make a smooth but not wet dough.
Shape it into long straws let it to dry naturally for 6 hours
Cook the pici in a very large pot with lots of water and a tablespoon of thick sea salt.

For the Ragu you will need:

500gr minced meat (minced once only, needs to be course)
Vegetable broth
1 Shallot
1 Fennel bulb
2 Celery sticks
2 medium Carrots
2 glasses of red wine (best from the Sangiovese grape)
150g tomato puree
300g chopped canned tomatoes (polpa di pomodoro)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and pepper

Pass all the vegetables through a blender and put them in a pot with some olive oil. Do not puree, you still need texture. Fry to a light golden colour, then add the mince meat and lightly brown. Add the red wine and let it reduce for 10 minutes . Add the tomato puree and 2/3 glasses of the vegetable broth. Season and cook slowly for 1 1/2 hours. Leave it to rest overnight. Heat up and toss it with Pici.
Serve with freshly grated Parmegiano Regiano.

And here is a picture of the old Jessie’s Bar as it used to be before they were serving today’s wonderful Pici ! A haunt for the British military during and after the Second World War, it is for me an iconic landmark on the island… A place with a history that I hope will not be eclipsed completely and loose its charm.

I very much hope that it will retain some traces of its former identity ….

A bit of nostaligia above and yesterday’s Independent below…