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

Quick banana muffins and I speak with Dr Keith Ayoob

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Quick Banana Muffins 

The Mediterranean Diet is without doubt the most sustainable diet in the world right now. I spoke this week with Dr Keith Ayoob about the use of Stevia as a sweetener and the benefits of a Mediterranean Diet in relation to memory as well as general health.
Click here to listen to the podcast which is in English with a brief introduction in Maltese.

And for these delicious all-in-one banana muffins with stevia to replace sugar you will need:

2 ripe bananas
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Grated rind of 1/4 lemon
3 tablespoons stevia
1 tablespoon oats
100g coconut
3 eggs
200g self raising flour
125 ml yoghurt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
A few drops good vanilla essence
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Mash the banana and lemon juice, add the eggs and yoghurt and mix well. Add the vanilla, grated lemon rind and nutmeg. Then the Stevia and mix well. Sieve the self raising flour into a separate container. Add the oats, bicarbonate of soda and coconut. Prepare the muffin cases in a baking mould. Pour the batter and do not fill to the top as these muffins rise ! Mix the dry ingredients into the banana mix and gently fold in with a metal spoon. Do not over mix.. Pour the batter into the muffin cases and bake for 15 minutes in a preheated oven at 160C.

And for the recipe in Maltese click here

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I love the streets of Bormla where i base myself every Friday at Radio Kottoner 98 FM 

The Ambassador of The United States on Thanksgiving

You are able to listen to the Ambassador of the United States by clicking here. From the Three Cities this week, Her Excellency speaks about thanksgiving, local scenery, childhood memories and more.

We capture the essence of being an American on a Mediterranean island blessed with so much.

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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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Pork Peperonata

Pork Pepperonata Goodfoodeveryday by George Vassallo

Pork Peperonata, this photo was taken by George Aquilina during a live tv programme

‘I cook this simple and aromatic pork dish with a half a head of garlic for flavor. The peperonata is an easy dish to make, economical and very colourful if you use as many colours of pepppers that you can find’ 

You will need:

500g pork fillet cut into steaks
a sprig or rosemary
half a head of garlic but adjust to your taste. i do not serve the garlic but use it for flavor only
Freshly ground black pepper sprinkled on the pork
A touch of sea salt
Olive Oil

Sprinkle the pork pieces with freshly ground black pepper and rosemary and lay on a dish. Add the head of garlic, cover and let the flavors seep through the mean in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
Remove from the fridge. Heat some olive oil in a heavy pan, add the pork, add the garlic and cook on both sides until it is fully cooked. Keep aside.

While the pork is cooking start preparing the peperonata and you will need:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 red bell peppers, seeded, sliced into 2 long strips
2 yellow bell peppers, seeded, sliced into long strips
2 orange or green bell peppers, seeded, sliced into long strips
1 large onion, sliced into slim half moon shapes
1 garlic clove, grated
1 tablespoon dried oregano
500g tinned tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup fresh herbs of your choice, leaves torn roughly
A squeeze of fresh lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind

Heat olive oil in a large pan on medium high heat.
Add the onions, stir.
Add the peppers and stir well to combine with the onions. Add the garlic.
Sauté for 5 minutes stirring often.
The peppers should be left with a little crunch however cook them more if you prefer.
Sprinkle a little salt over everything and dried oregano. Cook for 1 minute and stir.
Add the tinned tomatoes, and cook for 10 minutes. Add the pork and cook for 5 minutes,
Turn off the heat.
Grind some black pepper over everything.
Squeeze a little lemon juice and top with grated lemon zest.  The peperonata can be served hot or cold.

My pork comes from Majjal Ta Malta, vegetables by Big Fresh, spices and dried herbs by Schwartz

Happy Labor Day USA and chocolate banana cookies

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We commemorated Labor Day in the newspaper with a photo of Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley and US Ambassador to Libya Safira Deborah at a function to raise breast cancer awareness. Almost 250,000 new cases are expected in the US this year.

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And with a cup of tea this afternooon, tiny bite size chocolate and banana cookies covered with melted chocolate. They have reduced butter and sugar conent by half and I replaced half the measurement of butter in the recipe with equal weight of banana. If you decide to use butter only you will get a more delicate texture but the banana creates a really moreish flavor and demser texture and they are delicious. These here are not glutenfree but in you want glutenfree cookies simply replace swap the flour with the same weight of ground almonds and of course add the ground almonds in the recipe below.

And for 30 mini cookies you will need:

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100g butter
100g chopped ripe banana
100g caster sugar
Few drops vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
150g sieved flour
50g cocoa powder
125g ground almonds
1 egg

For the top: 100g dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 180C.
Line two oven sheets with baking paper.
Place the softened butter and chopped up banana in a bowl and I used a hand held beater at medium speed until it reaches a smooth consistency.
Stir in the sugar, vanilla, salt and cocoa powder. Add the egg. Beat lightly. And the flour bit by bit and mix in using a metal spoon. When you have added all the flour, add the ground almonds. Mix until it forms into a dough. Place in a piping bag. I used no nozzle and i piped spirals the same size onto a lined tray.
Bake for 12 minutes.
Leave to cool and remove from baking paper.
Melt the chocolate for a minute at a time in the microwave.
Add one teaspoon of oil to the chocolate to achieve a glossy finish.
Dip one cookie at a time and leave to cool.
As it is hot on the island still, i placed them in the fridge for 30 minutes to help the chocolate solidify quickly.

And for a taste of the vibrant life on the island click here!

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Gluten Free Coffee Toffee Cheesecake

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This is a gluten free sweet that combines the popularity of two of the best loved American desserts with an added Mediterranean twist of fresh figs. Blums coffee toffee tart brings nostalgia to many Americans and this is combined with a layer of baked New York cheesecake, two favorites with the addition of Mediterranean figs. It is suitable for anyone who follows a gluten free diet too. On our island we have two types of figs, some are pink inside and these are the sweeter yellow ones and taste of jam.

You will need:

For the no-bake topping

5 Doves Gluten free Chocolate Biscuits, crushed
100g Doves Gluten free Chocolate Rice Crispies
100g dark chocolate
1 teaspoon instant coffee
100g butter
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 large fig chopped up (or substitute with the fruit of your choice)

8″ spring form cake tin

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Melt the butter in the microwave, not too hot until just melted.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave, one minute at a time, mix in the oil and stir. This makes it more workable and gives it a glossy finish.

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Add to the crushed biscuits mixed with the rice crispies. Cut the fig and add it to the mixture.
Line the tin with cling film. Pour the mixture in and press down with a metal spoon. Refridgerate.

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For the cheescake base

4 eggs
250g ricotta
200g single cream

150g cornflour
150g sugar

1 fig
Few drops vanilla
1 teaspoon instant coffee

Beat the ricotta in a mixer on high speed until light and fluffy. Add the instant coffee. Turn the speed down to low, then add the eggs keep beating until combined and there are no lumps. Add the cream and the rest of the ingredients.

Pour the cheesecake into the springform tin.

Preheat oven to 180C. Remove the springform tin lined with pastry from the refrigerator, pour the cheese mixture into the tin.

Bake the cheesecake in the oven for 35 minutes. Then let the cheesecake cool in oven. Remove from tin and transfer to refrigerator to let it set overnight.

To assemble

50 g dark chocolate
1 spoon Butterscotch based syrup
Figs
icing sugar

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place the two layers of Chocolate base and Cheesecake near each other. Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave. Brush the chocolate layer with butterscotch syrup. Brush onto bottom of the cheesecake and immediately place the chocolate top layer over it. Decorate with sliced and whole figs. Dust with some icing sugar.

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Jam with fresh figs from the garden

Join us for a week on the island in the Heart of the Mediterranean by clicking here Di-ve News

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Here are some wonderful figs fresh from the garden this morning for my jam making.

You will need:

2 kg figs
1.8 kg sugar
Grated rind of 2 lemons
4 lemons squeezed

Wash the figs and remove any hard bits and bruising but keep skin on.

Place them in a large pot with the lemon juice, sugar and grated lemon rind. Bring to a boil on moderate heat.

Bring the figs to boil until they are a golden color and the jam reaches setting point. Stir in the honey and mix with wooden spoon.

I use the saucer method for testing the setting point. Place a saucer in the freezer and test the jam by putting a few drops on the cold plate. If the jam wrinkles when you push it with your finger, it has reach setting point. If it is still runny, return to heat, boil and retest. The best color is achieved when the jam is not over heated for a long period of time, but this is a matter of preference.

Now you will need to sterilize the jars. Rinse them in clean warm water and allow them to drip dry and place upside down on an rack in the oven at 150C for half an hour.

Pour the jam into the jars preferably through a funnel. I wear latex gloves to prevent contamination. I like to the jam into warm jars while it was still warm.

If you are going to store the jam, I suggest placing a disc of waxed baking paper onto the jam before covering with a lid.

You will need to store the jam in a cool dark place. This is a lovely thick jam. More like a compote or what they call an extra jam.

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A sort of frittata, vegetarian and gluten free … Fae’s Kuku !

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I featured Fae Naderi’s Kuku or Persian Frittata on last Saturday’s the Independent . I love Fae’s recipes, always original and so carefully put together.

Kükü is a Persian/Iranian dish similar to frittata. By comparison with frittata, kuku uses a smaller proportion of eggs to bind larger amounts of other ingredients, it has spices instead of cheese and is cooked on low heat or baked in the oven. This is a recipe passed on to me by my friend Fae Naderi from California.

1 cup parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 cup cilantro/coriander leaves finely chopped
1 cup garlic chives or chives finely chopped
1 Tbsp dried dill
2 cloves garlic crushed and minced extra finely
¾ tsp turmeric powder
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
5 large eggs
4 Tbsp oil divided

-Put the chopped herbs in a large bowl. Sprinkle/add garlic, turmeric, salt, pepper and toss well. Add eggs and beat with the herbs briefly to mix. (The key is not to over beat the eggs.)
-In a 25cm non-stick fry-pan (need a lid), add 3 Tbsp oil and heat on high. (The key is for the pan and oil to be hot.)
-Pour the egg mixture into the pan and quickly with a wooden spoon, smooth and flatten the top. As the eggs harden at the sides of the pan, push them slightly to allow soft egg mixture to flow to the sides (2 minutes). Lower heat to medium-low and put the lid on. When the egg mixture is somewhat set on the top/center…
If you want the kuku to be in one piece, put a large plate over the fry-pan and flip. Add 1 Tbsp oil to the pan and with a wide spatula, slide the kuku back into the pan.

Kuku is served with plain yoghurt.
And this is the link to Fae’s blog

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