Salad Tart

salad tart

‘And I used the ricotta and hazelnut crust  to make another salad tart.  Simply allow the crust to cool, crumble up 200g ricotta  and arrange it on the crust, top with a mix of finely chopped fresh herbs and chopped nuts and I used a mix of pistachios and hazelnuts  .  Then simple layer hard boiled eggs and tomatoes, a sprinkle of olive oil and some freshly ground black pepper and sea salt.  It makes such a lovely meal’

Date and Pistachio Filo Tart [Vegan]


Date Pistachio Filo Tart.  This photo was taken by George Aquilina during a live tv show

‘If you are looking for a change from mince pies, especially to serve at the end of a meal, this date and pistachio tart is perfect to end a festive meal.  You can serve it warm just as it is or with ice cream or custard’

You will need:

1/2 packet filo pastry
2 tablespoons olive oil
500g dates
juice of 6 oranges or mixed citrus [I used oranges, clementines, tangerines and a ruby grapefruit]
grated zest of 1 tangerine
150g ground almonds
a pinch of salt
a pinch of cinnamon
a pinch of mixed spice
Fresh grated nutmeg
100g pistachio nuts
1/2 tablespoon agave [for brushing the top of the tart after baking]

Place the dates in a large saucepan on moderate heat with the citrus juice.  Add the tangerine zest, pinch of salt, cinnamon, mixed spice, nutmeg and vanilla.  The dates will start to break down.  Stir until they turn into a mushy pulp.  Then remove from the heat. Stir and add the ground almonds.

Heat the oven to 200C.
Lightly brush a spring form cake tin [I used 20 cm square] with olive oil.
Line the bottom of the cake tin with a layer of filo and leave the pastry to overlap the edges of the tin.
Brush the filo lightly with olive oil and lay a second sheet on top.  Repeat with a third sheet.
On top of the pastry layers either place some almond flakes OR scatter 2 tablespoons of ground almonds.  This is to avoid a soggy bottom crust.
Then place all the date filling into the tart dish.
Use a spatula to flatten the top of the date mixture.  If you have enough pistachio nuts, scatter a few on top before covering the tart [optional]
Cover the filling with the overlapping pieces of filo.  Brush with olive oil and place some flaked almonds and sliced pistachios on top.
Lightly brush the top with olive oil and decorate the surface with halved pistachios and more flaked almonds..  Bake in preheated at 200C  for 25 minutes.
Brush lightly with agave before while it is still warm.


This photo was taken by George Aquilina during a live tv show.

For this recipe, I use agave, dates and nuts by Good Earth and citrus from Big Fresh in Mosta and spices by Schwartz via PJ Sutters

Anton’s Ricotta and Almond Tart

As seen on TV, a ricotta and almond tart I made on the show with Anton

As seen on TV, Anton’s ricotta and almond tart we made during the show

I adapted Anton’s‘s recipe with no added butter and no sugar and for the crust you will need:

250g plain flour
50g ricotta
25ml olive oil
1 egg
a few drops vanilla
grated rind of half a lemon

I use an loose bottomed tart dish of 23cm, for a larger dish, double the ingredients.

Make the pastry by rubbing in the ricotta and olive oil into the flour, as you would with butter. Add the vanilla and grated lemon zest. Add the egg and if necessary add a few drops of water until you form a dough. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge for an hour. Roll out on a floured surface. Wrap the pastry around the rolling pin and gentle drop it as you unfold it onto the greased tart dish. With the tips of your fingers, gently tap on the pastry to ease it into the mould. Take a fork and pierce the pastry all over. Bake blind and allow to cool.

For the filling you will need:

300g ricotta
50ml yoghurt
100g ground almonds
60g Stevia
50g candid peel
60g glace cherries
50g chopped almonds
2 eggs
grated zest of half a lemon
grated zest of half an orange
flaked almonds and some cherries to decorate the surface of the tart after baking

Preheat the oven to 160 C.

Place the ricotta and yoghurt in a large bowl. Mix until they bind together and you have a creamy consistency. Add the stevia, ground almonds and citrus zest, the candid peel and chopped glace cherries. Finally add the eggs.

Pour the filling into the pre baked crust. Top with cherries and flaked almonds. Allow to cook slowly if possible. On tv we had to increase the temperature to speed the cooking time and this resulted in a few overly browned flaked almonds. Allow to cook before serving. This pie is just delicious, thank you Anton for sharing

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Cooking with Lea, ONE TV with Anton B Dougall

Cooking with Lea, ONE TV with Anton B Dougall

Photography Gino Galea

Apple Cinnamon Pies

apple cinnamon pie.jpg

Apple Cinnamon Pie as an alternative to mince pies

I love apples, they are so versatile. This apple pie is ideal for those who do not enjoy mince pies or do not like dried fruit. Do make your own pastry as it makes a difference and this is a foolproof recipe; the elasticity of the consistency does not tear, is easy to manipulate and sticks together without an egg wash.

For a Cinnamon Pie Crust will need:

4 cups sifted plain flour
1 cup margarine
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
Pinch salt
2 spoons sugar
Cold Water

Rub the butter into the flour until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the spices, sugar and salt. Add cold water. As you can see I did not put a measurement as readers here come from all over the world and the water content required depends very much on the weather and environment of where you live. You start by adding three spoons, working into the dough and then add a spoon at a time until you get a perfectly formed dough. Do not over-knead. Bring the dough together and cover. Place in the fridge for at least half an hour.


In the meantime, make the filling.

6 to 10 apples thinly sliced, skin on, depending on how deep you want the pie
1/2 cup soft brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
(you can also reduce the sugar content and increase the honey)
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl

Cut the dough into two and roll out the first piece.
Grease a pie dish and line it with the rolled out dough.
Roll out the second piece and place on top of the filling .
Trim the edges then tuck in top edge of pastry under the lower piece. Press and flute.
bake in a preheated oven at 150 C for around 45 minutes but do check it from time to time.

Remove from oven. Dip a pastry brush into some melted butter and brush the surface very lightly. Dust with sifted icing sugar.

Serve alone, hot or cold or accompanied with cream or custard. This is simple home made food at it’s very best 🙂



Mincemeat with dark chocolate bits


I really like this mincemeat filling with dark chocolate pieces.  I use vegetable suet and this is mincemeat that you can use straight away without maturing.  You will need:

500g currants
500g raisins
500g sultanas
250g apples, peeled and cored
200g chopped almonds
1 lemon, juice and zest
100g vegetable suet
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2teaspoon nutmeg
100g Grated dark chocolate
Pinch of Salt
6 tablespoons brandy

Thoroughly mix everything well in a large bowl. You can use this mincemeat immediately without leaving to mature !


Pumpkin harvest and a pie


‘A traditional local pie associated with the northern village of Manikata and the town of Mosta’


For the Sesame seed crust you will need:

800g plain flour
A pinch of salt
125g butter
125ml olive oil
2 eggs
25g sesame seed.
cold water to bind

1 egg for pastry egg wash


Sift the flour and add the salt. Add the chopped up bits of butter and rub in. Mix. Add the olive oil and rub in. Add the eggs, in eat a time and if necessary add cold water, a spin each time to bind the dough. Knead in the sesame seeds. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 1/2 hour.

For Elizabeth’s filling you will need :

1 kilo partially boiled pumpkin, cut into cubes
1 medium onion, chopped up
1 garlic clove, chopped up
12 olives, stone removed, chopped
25g raisins
25g anchovies
169g canned tuna
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
200g rice
1/2 tablespoon good oil
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Heat up the oil and sauté the onion and garlic. Add the pumpkin and cook on low heat. Add the rice, cook for two minutes and mix in the anchovies and olives. Cook for 20 minutes on low heat until the pumpkin softens up. Do not let the mixture dry up and add more water if necessary, a few spoonfuls at a time.

Take out pastry from fridge. Roll it out on a clean floured surface.


Grease a deep pie dish. Roll the pastry round the rolling pin and drop into the pie dish. Press it in gently. Trim it. Scatter a spoon of raw rice onto the bottom of the pie dish so that the pastry remains crispy as the raw rice will absorb any liquid.

Spoon the filling into the dish. Flatten. Cover with pastry.
Beat an egg and brush on some egg wash onto the exposed pastry parts.
Bake at 160 C for an hour, the first 30 minutes on the bottom shelf so that the bottom of the pie cooks to a crispy texture, otherwise it will end up being soggy. Transfer to middle shelf after half an hour.


My flour comes from St Georges Brand, sesame seeds from Schwartz and organic pumpkin from Barbuto in Sicily.

Chickpea Crostata di Ricotta (with kale and sundried tomatoes)


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.

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Nina Maria Rallis makes Galaktoboureko on One TV today !


For my feature in English on Ambassador Rallis and his family click here

Remember to tune in today to One TV at 17 40 to see Nina Maria Rallis, in the picture above with her mother Stella Rallis.

For Nina’s Galaktoboureko, you will need :

1 packet filo pastry

For the custard
1 cup fine semolina
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 liter of whole milk
4 eggs
3 tablespoons butter
2 drops vanilla
Plenty of orange zest (optional)
Melted butter for brushing the leaves

For the syrup
3 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups water
peel of one lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Oven dish 20cm square or equivalent

In a saucepan, place the milk, semolina, eggs, sugar and vanilla
Lower heat and stir constantly until the custard thickens
Once thickened remove from heat and add the butter
When the butter melts into the cream, stir until it is consistent
Add the orange zest if you are using this
If cream is very thick dilute with some water
Cover with cling film while you prepare the filo sheets, you need to work quite quickly before the cream solidifies
Grease well the bottom and sides of a baking dish
Spread half sheets of packing, well buttered onto the bottom and sides of the dish
Pour the custard
Spread the remaining sheets buttered one by one
Collect all sides of the leaves and fold them to the bottom
Divide the galaktobureko into pieces
Drizzle with butter
Bake in moderate a oven at 180 degrees until it browns for around 35 minutes

Simmer ingredients for the syrup
Cover, bring to a boil and skim the froth.
Pour onto the sweet as soon as it comes out of the oven

Above, the recipe in the newspaper earlier this month and below fun in the kitchen at One TV !


Vine Tomatoes on filo crust


Tomatoes are in season and locally grown spring onions are very cheap in the market at the moment. I am using the Greek filo pastry given to me by Mrs Rallis earlier this week when she came to record a programme with her daughter Nina Maria who made the most wonderful dessert that I will be sharing with you later this week. But for today this is the recipe for our delicious and light supper tonight.

When we lived in Cyprus I used filo very often in all sorts of ways and discovered
that you do not really need all that fat and butter which people associate with the preparation of filo. A light brushing of olive oil to the top layer for this dish does the trick.

You will need:

I packet filo pastry
4 vine tomatoes
1 Spring onion
A good Olive oil
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
Parsley and i also used fresh oregano

And here is the photo pre oven.


Wipe an ovenproof dish with some olive oil. Open the packet of filo pastry. Take out a layer at a time and scrunch it up loosely. Place on the dish. Repeat with a sheet at a time until you cover up the dish. Lightly brush the top with olive oil. Slice the tomatoes neatly and overlap on top of the pastry keeping the edges exposed. When you have covered up the dish, sprinkle the spring onions on top. Sprinkle some chopped parsley and fresh oregano. Bake in a preheated oven 180C for 10 minutes or until the pastry turns golden. Watch it as it burns easily.


Gluten free Banana Frangipan Tart with Genius !


I came across ready-made gluten free short crust pastry by Genius .
I am always skeptical about ready-made alternative diet products and wondered how close to the real thing the pastry is but this is perfect.

The trick is to thaw the pastry thoroughly and knead it alot until it is pliable before you cover your tart dish. I am using a gluten free filling too with no added butter or oil as I use yoghurt instead. The result is great as you can see.

The cooked pastry was crisp and produced a good finish.



For an 8-inch tart dish you will need:
1 packet Genius Gluten Free Shortcrust Pastry. Knead, roll out and cover the
bottom of the tart dish. Bake blind for 35 minutes at 170C.

For the filling:
2 bananas mashed up
300g ground almonds
3 eggs
A few drops vanilla extract
150g sugar
125 ml plain yoghurt
1/2 teaspoon gluten free baking soda

Mix everything together. Fill the cooked tart crust. Bake at 170 C for 15
Allow to cool before you remove from the tart dish. Decorate with flaked