A taste of Liguria, Sunday Times today

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Most of us talk about Liguria in Italy, and think of the coast and of Cinque Terre.  But beyond the hills, behind La Spezia, there are many lovely places to see. This more isolated area has seen many changes in the last 20 years but still retains a lot of its authentic charm. The only access then…

Source: Sunday Times: A taste of Liguria

Have you tried Burrata yet? www.timesofmalta.com

‘Check out my Burrata recipes in today’s Sunday Times

Burrata is made up of a mix of fresh mozzarella and cream and originates in Puglia, Italy. A thin, but tough, mozzarella film encases the soft and creamy content and it is now flown to Malta directly from Puglia every day and can be found in most supermarkets. You can find it plain or smoked,…

Source: Have you tried Burrata yet?

Conchiglie Caprese

pasta caprese

‘the salad that originated in Capri is a classic and my pasta bake has the same ingredients.  It is lightly baked and then before it is served topped with more of the same fresh ingredients’

conchiglie caprese recipe 0

You will need:

500g Conchiglie (pasta shells)
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic
200g chopped canned tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato puree
3 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
a pinch of dried oregano
1/2 glass white wine
3 tablespoons grated mozzarella

Cook the pasta shells according to the instructions on the packet but reduce 2 minutes cooking time as the cooking process will carry on in the oven.

Prepare a simple tomato sauce by gently cooking the garlic in olive oil. Do not allow it to brown and add the canned tomatoes and carry on cooking on a gently heat. As soon as it reaches boiling point add the wine and reduce the heat. Stir and add the tomato puree and dried oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 5 minutes and turn off the heat.

Mix the sauce with the cooked pasta shells. Prepare a baking dish with baking spray.  Place the pasta and sauce in the dish and sprinkle the grated mozzarella on top.  Bake in a preheated oven at 190C for 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest before adding the rest of the ingredients.

After baking and just before serving:
150g vine-ripened cherry tomatoes, sliced
250g fresh boccone di mozzarella
A spoonful of fresh basil
a few arugula leaves, washed well and dried, chopped
a pinch of dried oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil
freshly ground black pepper to taste
a few drops good wine vinegar to drizzle

Scatter the rest of the ingredients on the surface and serve immediately.

Ingredients are available for home delivery

Quick savory Sicilian Frittelle di Ricotta

‘There is no other way but fried to get the crispiness so that you can appreciate the creaminess, flavor and lightness of the delicious sheep’s milk ricotta.

I had the pleasure to welcome Chef Seby Sorbello from Sicily just before Christmas and what a treat it was.  This is the first of his 6 recipes during his recent trip to Malta.’

You will need:

For the filling:
4 cups fresh sheep’s ricotta (simply ricotta, nothing else)

For the dipping batter (pastella):
2 cups (250g) “00” flour (white strong flour)
1 cup (200ml) lukewarm water
a pinch of sea salt

To coat:
2 cups (250g) plain breadcrumbs (otherwise you will overpower that delicious ricotta taste)

To fry:
300ml olive oil

Use a plastic spatula to mix the ricotta and blend it without making it into a puree.  Ricotta from sheep’s milk is creamy and breaks up very quickly.

Make the pastella (batter dip) by mixing the strong bread flour (’00’) with the lukewarm water and a pinch of salt.  Mix and use a handblender if necessary to make a very smooth paste.

Spread the breadcrumbs onto a large flat plate or tray.

Using 2 spoons shape quenelles out of the ricotta and dip into the batter.

Lift from the batter and drop gently onto the breadcrumbs.

Coat all over by rolling gently.  Leave to rest in the fridge for 15 minutes if you have time.

Heat up the olive oil and drop the fritters into the hot oil.  When the come to the surface they are cooked.  It took 4 minutes to turn into golden cripsy bites.  Place on kitchen towel to absorb the extra oil.  Leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

frittelle di ricotta by Chef Seby Sorbello

Fritelle di Ricotta by Chef Seby Sorbello as seen on TV, photography Ian Noel Pace

zappala

Vegan Baci, italian hazelnut kisses x

As seen on tv gluten free Baci with reduced sugar and reduced fat

As seen on tv gluten free home made italian chocolate kisses x Baci x with reduced sugar and reduced fat

Nearly every celebration finishes with Baci here, either the delicious ready bought ones all the way from Perugia or home made ones made with condensed milk.  This recipe still produces Baci with a marvelous taste but they contain no added sugar, no fats, no lactose or dairy products and they are vegan ‘

You will need:

2 packets gluten free plain biscuits
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
100g crushed hazelnuts
2 tablespoons ground hazelnuts
3 tablespoons agave
4 tablespoons coconut
2 tablespoons brandy/rum OR Aronia liquid concentrate
100ml coconut milk
200g chocolate with no added sugar [Valor]
50g whole hazelnuts

baci 2

Hazelnut italian kisses are a must at Christmas x Baci x As seen on TV
Photo: Roger Azzopardi

Crush the biscuits very finely.
In a bowl mix together the biscuits, cocoa powder, crushed hazelnuts, coconut, honey, rum and skimmed milk. Mix well.
Bind the mixture into very small balls. On top of every ball put a hazelnut.
Leave to set for 4 hours or overnight in the fridge before you cover using the melting chocolate.  Leave to set overnight in the fridge before serving.

The baci you see in the photos are from our live tv show which runs for 2 1/2 hours every afternoon.  Nothing is staged and all the food is prepared from scratch, everything you see is made in real time with the participation of a live audience.    If you make these baci allowing the time required for the filling and then the chocolate to set, your hand chocolates will be even more beautiful 🙂

Macaroni Amatriciana

Macaroni #Amatriciana

Macaroni #Amatriciana

I love traditional Italian pasta dishes and for Amatriciana you will need:

Macaroni or pasta of your choice, allow 75g -120 per portion, depending on appetites

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
120 g guanciale
A pinch of chili
1/4 cup white wine
1 can (450 g) tomatoes and juice, crushed
Pinch of sugar or stevia
freshly grated pecorino
A salt and freshly ground pepper
I use fresh basil for garnish

Add the pasta to a large pot of salted water and cook until still slightly firm to bite. This usually takes about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain when cooked.

Saute the finely chopped onion and garlic on medium heat in the olive oil. Stir continuously so that it does not brown. Cut up the pancetta or guanciale into small cubes and add together with a pinch of chili.. If you like it very spicy add more if you wish but traditionally it should only have a hint of heat !
Add the chopped tomatoes and pinch of sugar and wine and leave the sauce to thicken on a low to medium heat for 15 minutes.
Season with a very little sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Pour over cooked drained pasta and garnish with fresh basil leaves and freshly grated pecorino cheese. If you do not have this, use Parmesan.

Serve immediately.

Beautiful Xghajra   Photo Benny Scerri

Beautiful Xghajra Photo Benny Scerri

I love Ricotta Gnudi

Ricotta Gnudi as seen on ONE TV

Ricotta Gnudi as seen on tv. 

Light, made so very quickly, gnudi are a firm favorite of mine at the moment. They are light balls of ricotta coated with a very thin layer of semolina and this is the type of dish that makes you look like you have spent ages preparing, yet nothing could be easier.

You will need:

500g ricotta
75g grated hard cheese
freshly ground pepper
1 egg
a pinch of fresh nutmeg
freshly ground pepper

During today’s programme I also added a large handful of chopped kale, parsley and basil [optional]

You will also need around 200g of semolina to roll the gnudi in [you only need a very thin film so most of this semolina will not be used

Place the ricotta in a bowl with all the other ingredients. Mash everything up and then cover your work surface with baking paper. Prepare a large dish or tray also lined with baking paper.

Take a teaspoon of the ricotta mix and roll it in the semolina on the work surface. Place each ball gently on the dish or tray. Repeat the process until you have used the mixture up. Place the gnudi in the fridge for at least an hour. I have made these on tv and cooked them after 20 minutes of preparation and they still hold together however best to refrigerate them for a longer period of time.

Boil a large pot with plenty salted water. Shake the extra semolina off the balls and drop into the boiling water. When they float to the top they are ready and lift them up gently one by one and place in a colander over a large pot. They are ready in 3 to 4 minutes. Do not overcook, as soon as they float to the top, remove them from the hot water.

Simple gnudi recipe as seen on ONE TV

Simple gnudi recipe as seen on ONE TV

In the meantime prepare the sauce of your choice. Here I used an onion, two cloves garlic, 12 fresh tomatoes, a spoon of tomato paste, half a glass of red wine, some dried oregano and seasoned with salt and pepper. A traditional fresh tomato sauce although I have made them using a different variety of sauces and you can find another recipe here with sage and walnut. For this tomato sauce, I place everything in a pan all together, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to cool slightly. Whizz with a hand blender. Add more tomato paste if you prefer.

Plate the gnudi and cover with tomato sauce. Garnish with fresh flat leaf parsley

Photography Ian Noel Pace during a live tv show.

My eggs and fresh herbs come from Big Fresh, Mosta, cheese from P J Sutters and semolina from St Georges Brand

 

Parsley Bulgar Salad

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Bulgar wheat in all sizes is one of my most favorite ingredients right now. And mixed with flat leaf parsley and other vegetables, it always makes a wonderful salad.

You will need:

4 cups chopped tomato
1 cup chopped parsley
1 cup uncooked bulgur, here I use fine, soaked for 1 hours and water drained out
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon mixed spice
1/4 teaspoon dried mint
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients, leaving the oil out. Toss. Stir in oil and mix. It is really lovely :). You can substitute the tomato with butternut squash cooked the the oven skin on. It is so delicious too !

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An imprint left from coating biscuit rings in sesame seeds prior to baking .

Featured on  I News

 

And this is Pumpkin month…

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Pumpkin month is here. So much choice and variety and at the end of this month we will see them adorned with lights, made into decorative carvings and used in all recipes imaginable, from soups to risottos and also desserts.

And we start our pumpkin bonanza of useful recipes here on the blog today using this very versatile ingredient. Here is a recipe for risotto that features in Smart Supermarket Magazine this month.

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And they are prepared …

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… to be delivered

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And transformed, my favorite one last year was Angryface !

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A delicious plate of risotto featured in Smart Supermarket magazine this month.

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If you are on the island do remember pumpkin feast in Manikata on Saturday 26th !

Home from Home, Casa Planeta

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From Sicily, see my trip this week to the vineyards of one of the greatest wine-making families at Casa Planeta on Mediterranean News everyday this week.
And here is the recipe of the day on today’s INews