Maltese Almond Vegan Biskuttini with Aquafaba


For these traditional Maltese almond vegan biskuttini I use aquafaba instead of egg to bind them.  They are ideal for vegans and any for anyone who wishes to reduce some cholesterol.  I also eliminate refined sugar and used golden raisins blended to a pulp with some water as a sweetener.  You will not be able to taste or see the golden raisins.  Those around me approve of both taste and texture !

*This recipe is vegan, gluten free and diabetic friendly’

You will need:

300g ground almonds
200g golden raisins
30ml water
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon grated tangerine zest
4 tablespoons aquafaba [chick pea water]
2 tablespoons cornflour or rice flour
whole almonds to decorate the surface

Heat the oven to 170C.

Soak the golden raisins in the water preferably overnight but an hour is adequate.  Use a hand blender to puree the golden raisins until it looks like a smooth pulp.

Use an electric mixer and beat the aquafaba until it is stiff and looks like a meringue

In a large bowl place the ground almonds, lemon juice, citrus zest, corn flour or rice flour and vanilla.

Mix well and then add the golden raisin pulp.   Mix and finally fold in the aqua faba.  Mix well.  Then use your hands to bring the dough together.

Knead it slightly on a work surface dusted with a mix of ground almonds and cornflour or rice flour [which ever you are using].

Spray the baking tray with some cooking spray.  Cover a baking try with rice paper.

Shape small balls of the almond mixture with your hands. Place the almond balls on the rice paper on the baking sheet.

Place a whole almond on top of each cookie.

Bake for 15 minutes or until they are golden and crisp.  Allow them to cool completely, preferably overnight before removing them for the baking sheet.  If you like a harder consistency allow them to bake for a further 5 minutes.

Lea’s Tip:  If you do not have rice paper use baking paper and spray it with cooking spray.  They freeze well and keep for up to 3 months.

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


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Trade Enquiries:
Fry Light Baking Spray is available at Rimus Group

Other baking ingredients by Good Earth Distributors Ltd

The Food and Cookery of Malta and Gozo


Memories from Helen’s childhood during Good Food Everyday yesterday, Smash TV

Helen Caruana Galizia, a well known cookbook writer, spoke about memories of Maltese food during her childhood in Malta and trips to the Victory Kitchen.  We look forward to welcome Helen again to share more of her vast and well-researched knowledge of Maltese cuisine and ingredients over the next few weeks.

Helen’s new book, The Food and Cookery of Malta and Gozo, available from Midsea Books is the new edition of ‘Recipes from Malta’ by Helen and Anne Caruana Galizia published in 1976.


Good Food Everyday is aired in English every Friday at 4.10pm and 9pm on Smash TV.

Roasted fennel potatoes and chicken bites

Roast chicken breast and potatoes illumina.jpg

Roasted fennel potatoes and chicken bites, photo Illumina Media  [the food in this photo was prepared for a live audience on TV]

‘This one-pot roast with fennel potatoes and bite size boneless chicken pieces  can be prepared in 5 minutes, then roasted in the oven for 55 minutes making a fresh meal in an hour.   You can barely distinguish the chicken from the potatoes after they are cooked and they are also delicious served cold on toothpicks with drinks.   

In Malta roasted fennel potatoes are nearly a must for Sunday lunch.’

You will need:
500g medium size potatoes
500 g chicken breast
1 large purple onion
1 natural stock cube in 50 ml water
2 tablespoons fennel
4 tablespoons olive oil plus more to drizzle prebaking if desired
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
A few fresh marjoram leaves
Sea Salt and Freshly Crushed Pepper

Preheat oven to 200C.
Chop the onion into thin slices.
Lightly crush the fennel.
Cut the chicken breast into bite size pieces.
Wash the potatoes and chop them into bite size pieces skin on.
Add the chicken pieces, lemon zest and onion slices to the potatoes. Add the olive oil.
Use your hands to turn them over a few times so that all the pieces are coated in olive oil Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Prepare an ovenproof dish by brushing it lightly with olive oil.
Place the chicken, onions and potatoes into an ovenproof dish.
Pour the stock.
Scatter the fennel seeds and marjoram leaves on top.
Season again with more pepper.
Drizzle some more olive oil.
Roast at 200C for 40 minutes. Check and if the top is crispy enough for you lower the oven temperature to 180C for the last 15 minutes. (we like ours very crispy)
Allow to rest for 10 minutes uncovered before serving.

Tip: ‘Scatter some pieces of Maltese Sausage meat before you add the fennel seeds for more amazing flavors’

My fresh herbs and vegetables come from Big Fresh, chicken and Maltese Sausage from Falzon Butcher, fennel seeds by Schwartz, natural stock cubes by Kallo at Good Earth and kitchenware by Tescoma.

Renato’s Kwarezimal

For the recipe of Renato’s mini kwarezimal click here , in Maltese click here and for the recipe in English click here

kwarezimal credit ian noel pace 9g

Kwarezimal, photography Ian Noel Pace

‘Each family seems to have their own Kwarezimal recipe and although I use Helen and Anne Caruana Galizia’s recipe as this is the one that mum  used, I love Renato’s version, passed to him by his father who owned a confectionery in Old Mint Street, Valletta in the 50s. You can watch Renato making Kwarezimal by clicking here.  These are my favorite Maltese sweets’

Preparing our ingredients

Lightly kneaded, the Kwarezimal is an all-in-one easy recipe

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Ready for the oven

In no time at all, they are ready to eat. Can’t think of anything better with a cup of coffee.

Maltese Carnival Prinjolata

prinjolata main masks

Renato’s Prinjolata for Maltese Carnival Week at Karrot & Ko Photography Ian Noel Pace

‘The feast before the fast is with us again and you can watch my good friend Renato Briffa make traditional Prinjolata from an old recipe passed on to him by his dad who owned a well know confectionery in Old Mint Street Valletta between 1956 and 1987. ‘

And to make his prinjolata you will need:
625g flour
200g butter
2 teaspoons baking powder
a few drops of a good vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon
250g sugar
150g water

Rub in the butter into the flour and add the baking powder, vanilla and lemon zeat.
Mix the sugar with the water until it dissolves.
Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and mix well until it forms a dough.
Form the pastry into a long sausage shape and bake in the oven at 190C for 15 to 20 minutes. Watch it, do not let it burn.
Leave to cool and using a sharp knife slice them into biscotti shapes.

For the butter cream you will need:
900 g Butter
1200g icing sugar
6 drops vanilla

Beat together in a electric mixer until it becomes a smooth butter icing

You will also need:
200g chopped dark chocolate
150g candied peel
100g roasted almonds chopped up

Mix the pastry biscotti with the butter cream and all the rest of the ingredients,
When all the ingredients are combined form the cake in the shape that you prefer.   Renato builds a mountain but you can also use a circular pudding basin.

Now you will need to prepare an Italian meringue with :
850g sugar
285 g egg white

Place the sugar in a sauce pan and just add enough water until all the sugar can soak,
Mix with a wooden spoon.
As soon as it comes to boil add e egg whites and whisk with an e,extricating beater until it reaches the hard ball stage. I do this by using a sugar thermometer which is clearly marked ‘hard ball stage’ so it’s very easy this way. Add the egg whites and mix at low speed for 3 minutes.

Cover the cake generously with the meringue and it will set and slightly

You will also need:
200g dark melted chocolate
100g glacé cherries, halved
100g pinenuts

Decorate the Carnival cake by drizzling melted dark chocolate all over and pressing the halved cherries all around … Sprinkle pine nuts all over…

My flour comes fromSt Georges Brand and pine nuts from Good Earth Distriburtors

Maltese Sesame Biscuits with olive oil

qaghaq logo.jpg

This photo was taken by Marconia during a live tv show.

I adjusted Renato Briffa’s recipe to make these traditional biscuits using olive oil and they have no added refined sugar and no eggs, no butter or lard.’

You will need:

300g flour
100ml olive oil
1 tablespoon baking powder
A few drops of a good vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon
Zest of 2 tangerines OR instead of mixed citrus use the zest of 1 lime
110g sugar or the equivalent in stevia
75ml water
Pinch of ground aniseed and a few drops of anisette
50 g sesame seeds, use the amount that you prefer

Mix the olive oil into the sifted flour using a into the flour.
Add the baking powder, vanilla and citrus zest.
Mix the water,aniseed, anisettte and sugar or steiva in a separate container.
Mix everything together and form the dough.
Allow to rest for an hour in the fridge.
Cut the dough into 20 equal portions, weigh them so that the cookies are the same size.
If you prefer a smaller size cookie, divide the dough into 40 pieces.
Roll each portion on a piece of baking paper covered in sesame seeds.
It is traditional to form the dough into an ‘8’ shape but you can also form them into rings.
Place on a baking dish covered with baking paper.
Bake at 160 C for 25 minutes.
Allow to cool and harden before removing them from the baking sheet.
Place on a wire rack and allow them to dry up for a couple of days before serving. I left my in the oven to cool overnight.

‘If you are new to Maltese qaghaq, do not expect a cookie crumble texture nor that of shortcake, these are hard rusks, the best dunking biscuits  I have come across 🙂 ‘

qaghaq biz zejt taz zebbuga 2

Pre-baking, Photo Ian Noel Pace taken during a live tv show

The texture should be dry and hard and to achieve this you need to allow them to cook for a longer period of time and then to dry out for at least a daybefore serving.  I turn my oven off and leave them in the oven overnight.   In an airtight container, they will last for a few weeks.

I use sesame seeds by Schwartz, liquid vanilla essence by Foster Clarke at Ix Xirja, Stevia by Tate and Lyle at Ix Xirja, flour, baking powder by St Georges Brand, limes by Big Fresh.

Fresh Maltese gbejna with figs

Fresh Maltese Gbejna and Figs goodfoodeveryday

Simplicity is always best and this dessert takes advantage of the freshness of local ingredients, combining flavors with amazing results without any need of cooking.  I believe there is too much focus these days on food styling with flavors often forgotten. Fresh gbejna comes immersed in water and has a short shelf life.  It can be used in both savory and sweet dishes. 

For this recipe you will need:

1 fresh soft gbejna per portion
1 ripe fig
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon grated zest of a lime
Some lightly toasted chopped pistachio nuts to garnish

To assemble. Cut the gbejna horizontally in half.  Wash the figs and cut a small cross in the centre of the fig.  Place  a gbejna in the bottom of a glass.  Slightly squeeze the fig to open up and expose some of the flesh.  Place on top of the gbejna.   Drizzle with honey and top with the grated lime zest and lightly toasted almond flakes.

Tip: For a vegan option, use firm tofu.  Dice into small pieces and use maple syrup instead on honey.  Place the tofu pieces in a container with the maple syrup and a pinch of nutmeg. Cover.  Refrigerate for 2 hours.  Then follow the recipe above simply replacing the gbejna with tofu and the honey with maple syrup.

I use fresh gbejna from Alexandra Spagnol at Farmers Market, honey by 3 leaves, lime and fresh fruit and vegetables from Big Fresh and pistachio nuts by Good Earth.

St Martin’s Cake with chestnut flour

St Martins cake by george.jpg

As seen on tv, St Martin’s loaf.  This photo was taken during a live tv show by George Aquilina

The cake gets better after a few days and what is it like? …moist, soft sweet dates and bits of textured figs and be generous with the citrus zest.  It contains no refined sugger and no butter, fats or oils

You will need:

250g dates, chopped
200ml warm water
200g self raising flour
4 eggs
200g mixed hazelnuts and walnuts, chopped
200g dried figs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon mixed spice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
grated rind of an orange
Grated rind of a lemon
Grated rind of a tangerine
Juice of one orange, strained

Use a 23cm cake tin or similar.

Soak the dates in the lukewarm water.
Grease the baking tin and if you are using a frame, prepared the dish covered with a baking sheet and place the frame on top of it,
Add the figs, citrus rind, orange juice and eggs. Mix and add the spices. Finally add the sifted flour and baking powder and stir in using a metal spoon.
Bake in a preheated oven at 170C for half an hour. check with a skewer before taking it out.


Allow to cook and remove from frame.
Will last for 10 days in an airtight container and the flavor will improve.

My self raising flour, fruit and nuts comes from St Georges Brand, chestnut flour by Le Farine Magiche at P J Sutters, eggs, citrus and other fruits by Big Fresh, a variety of dried fruit with no added sugar and dry figs and flat fig discs by FIT FIT at J Calleja Import Export Ltd