Fortifying food with fresh ginger

Fresh ginger is one of the most widely used spices in both eastern and western cuisines and is known for its medicinal properties. I like its versatility as it blends well with breakfast cereals and savory or sweet dishes. It can be pickled, made into tea, gingerbread, cakes, sweets and beer. If…

Source Sunday Times: Fortifying food with fresh ginger


Triple Ginger Orange Muffins


Ginger orange muffins, no refined sugar and butter free.  Photo taken during a live tv show by Marconia Schembri

‘A very quick, all-in-one method, these muffins can be prepared and baked in 20 minutes from start to finish.  I used a mix of grated fresh ginger, ginger powder and crystallized ginger which resulted in the most rounded ginger flavor laced with orange and drizz;ed with melted dark sugar-free chocolate and more crystallized ginger pieces.  These are the best muffins for a cold January, the ginger will give you instant warmth’.

You will need:

250g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
50ml olive oil
50ml yoghurt [if you don’t like yoghurt used a plant-based milk]
4 tablespoons stevia
4 tablespoons agave or honey
3 eggs
1 tablespoon ginger powder
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1 tablespoon crystallized ginger
zest of an orange
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon apple organic vinegar
a pinch of salt

After baking:  150g dark melted chocolate and more crystallized ginger


Healthier Ginger orange muffins, photo taken by Marconia Schembri during a live tv show.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Sift the self raising flour and baking powder twice. Place in the bowl of an electric mixer.

Crop the crystallized ginger into very small pieces.  Add to the mixing bowl together with all the other ingredients.  Whisk everything for a minute on high speed.

Line a muffin tin with muffin cases and immediately fill the muffin cases.  Scatter some more crystallized ginger pieces on top.  Bake for 15 minutes [depending on size and up to 25 minutes for giant muffins].

Remove from oven.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave or over a bain marie.  Add a couple of drops of olive oil and drizzle the chocolate over the muffins.  Scatter a few small pieces of crystallized ginger and allow the chocolate to harden up.

Prepare your cup of tea !


The magical silent city of Mdina on an island blessed with so much.  Photo Marconia Schembri.


I use crystallized ginger by Good Earth, ginger powder by Schwartz, fresh ginger and orange by Big Fresh, sugar free chocolate by Valor, Stevia by Hermesetas and flour by St George’s Brand.

Vegan Gingerbread

vegan gingerbread.jpg

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

‘I replace eggs with a mix of aquafaba and sparkling all natural organic drink by Whole Earth.   I usually use agave for this recipe but on tv I used golden syrup to give the audience a cheaper option.  This gingerbread is delicious with a combination of ginger powder, chopped crystalized ginger and grated fresh ginger and of course the fizzy ginger drink ‘

You will need:

350g agave [on tv I used golden syrup]
50g smooth peanut butter by Whole Earth
250g self raising flour
100g spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
3 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
1 tablespoon apple organic vinegar
the seeds from a vanilla pod
3/4 teaspoon mixed spice
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon cornflour
200ml all natural organic fizzy ginger drink by Whole Earth
12 tablespoons aquafaba (chick pea water)

Preheat oven to 170C.

Place the agave (or golden syrup) in a saucepan together with the peanut butter on gentle heat until the peanut butter melts.  Turn off the heat and add the apple organic vinegar.

Sift the self raising flour and spelt flour twice.  Add the cornflour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger powder, mixed spice, vanilla, crystallized ginger, grated fresh ginger and mix.

Use an electric mixer to whisk the aqua faba or chick pea water. [Simply use a can of chickpeas and drain the chickpea water. In the can I used, there were exactly 12 tablespoons of chickpea water]. It took 5 minutes on full speed in my Kitchenaid mixer and it depends on the power of your mixer. You need to whisk it until it forms peaks and if you turn the bowl upside down it should stay where it is.

Pour the warm agave and peanut butter mix into the flour mixture and stir. Add the fizzy drink, a little at a time and stir then add all the aqua faba and fold in. Do not over-mix and immediately pour the mix into an ovenproof tray prepared with non stick oven spray.

Bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes. Allow to cool completely before slicing.

I use sparkling organic fizzy ginger drink by Whole Earth, smooth peanut butter by Whole Earth, crystallized ginger and spelt flour by Good Earth, self raising flour and cornflour by St Georges Brand, salt, ginger powder, mixed spice and vanilla by Schwartz and apple organic vinegar by Fiorentini both via P J Sutters, golden syrup by Tate and Lyle and chick pea water by Happy Chef at ix Xirja, fresh ginger by Big Fresh.

Ginger Crescent Cookies for Christmas


Light textured ginger crescents , another straightforward easy recipe that I baked today …

You will need:

2 cups butter
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
3 teaspoons ginger powder
A few drops vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
2 eggs
4 1/2 cups flour

For coating:
2 cups Icing sugar
2 teaspoons ginger

If you wish to decorate:

100g white chocolate buttons
Golden and bronze sprinkles, gold sugar


Preheat oven to 180C
Cream the butter and icing sugar. Add the eggs and mix until consistent.
Stir in flour, spices, vanilla and mix in. Bring the dough together.
Place in the fridge for half an hour.
Form balls. For a crescent shape by pressing your thumb in the middle.
Place about 1 inch apart on oven dish covered with baking paper.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Roll warm cookies in icing sugar mixed with the rest of the ginger.
Cool on wire rack.
Roll in icing sugar again.

To decorate:
Melt the white chocolate.
Put a small drop of chocolate on to of the crescent.
Scatter sprinkles before the chocolate cools.



A mildly hot chutney …


A long weekend is with us as the island prepares for the feast of St Paul’s Shipwreck on Monday.

You may think I exaggerate when i say that we have glorious weather at the beginning of February but it is true that today we have another marvelous day, clear cloudless skies and we are already starting to enjoy longer days, glorious bright days in the heart of the Mediterranean.

And with a fridge stocked with vegetables that need to be used, I am making a chutney today. Something to take to mum in a jar when I visit this weekend… not a very spicy chutney but it is laced with finely chopped fresh red chilis as I like both the visual effect and the delicately spicy flavor with the sweetness.

The base is zucchini, onions and apple and it is pectin free with no artificial additives. I also add fresh ginger and it is really lovely served with a cheese plate, as an accompaniment to a curry or simply with cold meats. Because of the fresh chili, this chutney needs to be stored in the fridge. If you prefer to store it in your cupboard, omit the fresh chilis and simply add some flaked chilies to suit your taste. I would allow 1 level tablespoon per 500g of fruit and vegetable content but adjust according to your preference.


You will need :

700g zucchini
200g onion
600g apple, peels and soaked in lemon juice and water
1/4 cup cider vinegar
5 lemons, squeezed
1 kg sugar
4 tablespoons fresh minced ginger
2 cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons fresh chopped chili
2 teaspoons Sea Salt

Pulse all the ingredients in a blender with the exception of the salt, sugar, fresh chili, cider vinegar and lemons. Do not liquidizer or purée, you simply want a pulp worth a lot of texture (as if the fruit and vegetables have been grated coarsely)

Place into a huge saucepan and pour half the lemon juice and all the cider vinegar and stir.

Place on high heat and stir constantly. Cook until the fruit and vegetables are soft with a bite.

Strain through a colander and keep the liquid. Return to a saucepan with the rest of the lemon juice. Add the salt and bring to boil again. Add all the sugar all at once. Stir until it starts to boil and keep at rolling boil for 20 minutes. Do the saucer test and if it is the right consistency turn off the heat. I like to cool jams and chutneys rapidly otherwise the will keep cooking and loose the color.

I add the chili at the end before storing the chutney in sterilized jars. Remember that if you are using fresh chilis you will need to store it in the fridge.

If you decide to add flaked chili instead of fresh, bottle it while it is still hot. You may want to check out this new method that I was shown a few months ago for sterilizing jars …

A glorious preserve using local fruits … Greengage Ginger Jam


Bright yellow and beautiful laced with tiny spears of fresh rosemary and it has retained its color, quite hard to achieve but finally achievable! A perfect end result.

I cut greengage yesterday from a friend’s garden and I am using half to make a chutney with ginger and rosemary fresh from my mother this afternoon and with the other half I am processing whole greengages In syrup with sprigs of fresh mint.


For the chutney you will need:

1 kilo greengage
1/2 kilo apple, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 kg sugar
1 piece large root ginger, 2 tablespoons chopped, the rest whole
3 spoons fresh rosemary sprigs.
Juice of 4 lemons
Zest of one lemon

Place the apple, lemon and zest in a large pot, cover and cook until soft and mushy

Stir when necessary to ensure that it does not stick

Add the greengage, chopped up with skin on, grated ginger and the rest of the ginger root cut into large chunks as you are putting them there for flavor only and will remove them once the chutney has cooled down

Bring to a steady boil and the fruit should be cooked by now. Add the rosemary spears.

Add the sugar and bring to a boil again stirring constantly.

Once it is on a rolling boil keep like this for 20 minutes.

Turn off heat. Remove the large pieces of ginger.

Spoon into sterilized jars while it is hot.
Glorious tasty chutney ideal with cheese or cold meats….mmmm…

A secret room with a view !

Melon Chili Ginger Chutney… and a new way for sterilizing !


I am into making preserves, jams and chutneys at the moment. The abundance of fruits on this small island inspire me, their ripeness and freshness, straight from the tree into the pan. It’s like preserving the freshness for the winter when the local variety will no longer be available. I like cutting my own fruit…. I love being outdoors, the clear blue skies and fresh sea breeze and I also look forward to the blistering sun at midday when everyone swelters and sweats but it does not affect me and I remain surprisingly cool….. I think that shows how much how I really love it ! I have no problem being in the heat during siesta time. This is a paradise on earth …..

So a new discovery yesterday, quite a delicious one. The local melons were so cheap at the vegetable market and I cut the last few apples left on the trees and started making this chutney straight away… capturing the freshness for the winter months when I will dream and long for the heat of the summer to return.

I was advised to try a new way of sterilizing jars and lids this week and although more time consuming, it is I feel a much safer method for sterilization.

What you need to do is boil the jars and lids in a large caldron for 20 minutes, then using tongs take two sets of jars and lids, fill, cover immediately with lid and turn upside down down for a few minutes. Keep the water temperature on a low boil until you finish the process. It is true that this is a long process but I feel more satisfied with this method of sterilization somehow.

Here is the recipe for the Melon Chili Ginger Chutney. It has the same consistency as the traditional mango chutney and it is going to be a great accompaniment to curries, with poppadums, or simply served with a cheese platter or ploughmans lunch


You will need :

1 kg Apples, preferably cooking
1 kg Melon
6 limes, zest and juice
2 kg Sugar
3 teaspoons sea salt, I use Maldon
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger but you can add more if you prefer
Dried chili flakes, 1 used 3 teaspoons but adjust according to your taste

Chop up apples with skin on and pour the lime juice and mix well to prevent discoloration.
Cover and stew on low heat until soft and mushy,.
Break up with masher.
Peel the melon and chop.
Add to the apple mixture and cook until you can mash it up. Add the grated ginger.
I do not like a completely puréed look and leave some bits and chunks.
Add the sugar, stir and bring to a rolling boil for around 10 minutes. Do not overdo it as you want to retain a light color.
Use the saucer method for testing the setting point. Place a saucer in the freezer and test the chutney by putting a few drops on the cold plate. If it wrinkles when you push it with your finger, it has reach setting point. If it is still runny, return to heat, boil and retest.

Chop up the dried chili and use the quantity you are comfortable with. I used r teaspoons of while dried chilis and chopped them up. This makes it very spicy as we prefer spicy chutneys but it is best to put less and I increase it if you wish.

I usually calculate that each kilo of fruit yields 12 x 150 g jars. Sterilize jars as described above and fill.

The taste is fantastic. I enjoyed making it and look forward to sharing and eating it very soon….

Turning over the jars upside down for a few minutes after filling them


Jam Making Day ! Fig Jam and Zucchini Ginger Jam …

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What would you expect Paradise to be like ? I ask myself this question from time to time and wonder if it is similar to the tiny island in the Mediterranean where I now live. A heaven on earth, blissful, serene, surrounded by natural beauty…

The sun shines nearly everyday and it is hot, very hot at times, but I love the heat. We are surrounded by the sea and it is bluer than blue can be and life passes by, one day into the next and it is a dream. Plentiful fresh food, the freshest fish that can be eaten nearly underdone, a feast every day, good food every day….This is an island blessed with all the good things in life. How lucky can we be to find ourselves here ?

Fresh fruit is abundant, lots of it, fat ripe fruit bursting with flavor and goodness, just perfect, needing to be eaten on the day. All kinds of citrus, summer berries and plums…..the colors are sensational, the smells intoxicating.

This week marks my first visit to the main fruit market, somewhere isolated in the centre of the island. It is too tempting and I want to buy it all.

I can perhaps make some jams. My mother is a brilliant jam maker but i am quite clueless. She gives me a lot of advice and I decide to take the plunge. Inspite of my vast cooking experience, I am a little bit nervous when I hear about setting points and sterilization. This is going to be a learning curve for me.

My first attempt results in the strawberry jam I posted last week and now it looks like jams are becoming part of the weekly routine and yesterday I make two more jams.

I have all sorts of ideas I want to try out as these jams are divine, like I have not tasted before. It must be the goodness of the succulent Mediterranean fruits rooted in the earth of this paradise island, nurtured by the Mediterranean sun.

I am quite excited as there is something satisfying about knowing what has gone into every jar. No additives, nothing artificial, just pure fruit, and sugar laced with honey and whenever possible pectin that comes naturally from squeezed lemons. Here are my two recipes of the week and I hope you will enjoy making them as much as I have.

Fig Jam

You will need:

2 kg figs
1.8 kg sugar
4 spoons honey
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 140C 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.




Zucchini Ginger Jam

This is a wonderful consistency and color and is very good served along a strong cheese and some plain water biscuits.


2 kg zucchini, skin on, chopped
1.8 kg sugar
4 teaspoons pectin
4 squeezed lemons
4 spoons honey
Zest of 1 lemon
2 knobs fresh ginger, 1 left whole, the other peeled and grated

Place zucchini into a preserving pan with the lemon juice, then cook on a medium heat, stirring often, until the pieces are turning translucent and soft but do not let them get mushy. Add the sugar zest, pectin, grated ginger, whole ginger knob and stir. At the end of the cooking you will need to remove the knob of ginger. It is just for flavor.
Bring to a boil and stir. Simmer and keep a gentle steady boil until the jam reaches setting point. Mine took a good 45 minutes.

Pour the jam into sterilized jars and secure lids tightly.

It’s delicious, the color of honey. Serve with a selection of cheeses. Such a good consistency !