Fresh Herb Soup with Turmeric Rice and Soft Maltese Gbejna [gluten free, diabetic friendly]

fresh herb soup with turmeric vegetable rice 2

‘Fresh herbs are abundant this month.  And with the exception of fresh mint, basil and parsley many of us worry about what to do with big bundles of fresh oregano, tarragon, marjoram and thyme.  Antida gave me a large basket of mixed herbs from her garden this week which also  included ‘English’ curly parsley and purple basil.  I wanted to make the most of them while they were fresh and use fresh herbs as a main ingredient, rather than as a garnish, nearly an afterthought.  I also used organic seasonal vegetables that are delivered to my door every Thursday from Barbuto in Sicily, 60 miles away from us.

The fertile volcanic soil of Sicily make it an agricultural dream and it is comforting to know that the produce is pesticide-free with no artificial additives to enhance it.

The soup is a puree of lightly cooked fresh herbs and organic vegetables topped with a quick rice stir fry of the same finely diced vegetables that are in the puree and to give a nutritional boost as well as enhance the color and flavors I add fresh turmeric root.  If this is not available, use turmeric powder.  The contrast in the texture of the same ingredients in the puree and stir fry bring out different flavors it makes a great meal in itself, with no second courses required.   To make it more local I finished off the soup with  soft Maltese Gbejna Cheese and a garnish of fresh herbs.  I could not eat enough of it !’

fresh herbs goodfoodeveryday

Herbs from Antida’s garden.  All my photos are taken during a live tv show

For the pureed organic vegetable soup will need:
[Serves 4]

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion
1 natural garlic and herb stock cube and 1 litre of water
2 courgettes
2 light green marrows
1 potato
2 carrots
1 pak choi
100g mixed fresh herbs of your choice
a pinch of dried mixed herbs
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Salt and Pepper

Barbuto veg 2

Fruit and vegetables in Barbuto’s organic box this week.  For the soup, choose vegetables of your choice or use seasonal vegetables

For the Turmeric Rice Stir Fry you will need:

1 tablespoon olive oil
150g cooked basmati rice
1/2 onion
1 courgette, diced
1 marrow, diced
1 carrot, diced
6 fresh broad beans, peeled
1 teaspoon grated fresh turmeric root or 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

To finish: 1/2 fresh gbejna per portion, cut horizontally, fresh herbs and a drizzle of olive oil [if gbejna is not available use feta or ricotta]

For the Soup
Heat the olive oil in a large pot and add the roughly chopped onion and vegetables. Stir and cook on low heat for 5-10 minutes. Then add the stock cube, the roughly chopped fresh mixed herbs and the pinch of dried herbs and cook for another 5 minutes on low heat, then add the water. Bring to a boil then simmer on low heat for around 10 -15 minutes until the vegetables soften. Do not overcook. Season with salt and pepper then use a hand blender to puree to a smooth consistency.

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For the Turmeric Rice
Heat the oil in wok over medium heat. Add the diced onion and vegetables and cook for about 5-10 minutes, stirring constantly until they cook through. Do not overcook. Add the cooked basmati rice and mix everything together very well. Cook until it is heated through for around another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Top with the fresh broad beans.

To serve the soup:
Slice the gbejna cheese horizontally into 2 and allow one slice per portion.
Gently reheat the pureed soup if necessary. Use a ladel to fill individual soup bowls. Spoon some of the turmeric rice on top, then arrange the slice of gbejna cheese and garnish with fresh herbs. Drizzle a few drops of olive oil and serve immediately.
fresh herb soup with turmeric vegetable rice

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

Trade Enquiries:
Basmati Rice by Grandi at J Calleja Ltd
Kallo Stock Cubes at Good Earth
Fresh Herbs by Big Fresh Mosta
Fresh Organic Vegetables by Barbuto in Sicily

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

Cooking with borage in today’s Sunday Times

I was delighted to find borage in my organic box delivery recently and I put it to good use. Borage (fidloqqom) is also known as starflower and is easily recognisable by its edible, bright blue flowers with five pointed petals. It attracts pollinators and acts as a natural fertiliser as it…

Source Sunday Times: Cooking with borage

Lea’s new book  Good Food Everyday is available via Midsea Books and major bookshops in Malta and Gozo.

I use borage from Barbuto Sicily and Big Fresh in Mosta

Apple Cardamon Loaf

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Apple Cardamon Cake as seen on tv, photo M R Lowell

‘I made this cake during the show a few weeks ago and used local belludja apples from  Antida‘s garden which are very tart and make wonderful jams.  You can make a plain apple loaf but the crushed cardamon seeds make it extra special. I think cardamon is under-used and it blends well with most fresh fruits. As well as having some amazing health benefits, it blends well with most fruits.  This summer, I mixed cardamon with coffee to make some great bbq rubs and marinades.

This recipe also works well with rhubarb and pears but make sure that the fruit is ripe and ready to eat.  I added some sparkling organic apple drink by Whole Earth for lightness of texture.’

You will need:

200g self raising flour
150g soft butter at room temperature
200g sugar [on tv I used stevia]
50 g ground almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon crushed cardamon seeds
1 vanilla pod
grated zest of an orange
a pinch of salt

1/4 cup Organic Apple sparkling drink 
250g belludja apples [or use cooking apples if not available]
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Finely slice the apples, skin on and squeeze a few drops of lemon juice.
Preparing a loaf tin with baking spray.
Sift the self raising flour twice into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add all the other ingredients except for the apples, lemon juice and fizzy apple drink and mix on full speed for one minute. Use a large metal spoon to fold in the fizzy apple drink little by little until you have a dropping consistency. Pour half the batter into the loaf tin and arrange a think layer of sliced apples on top. Pour the rest of the batter and overlap the thin apple slices on the top. Bake for 40 minutes. Allow to cool before slicing.

apple-cardamon-cake

Apple Cardamon Loaf, soft delicious and perfect with a cup of tea.  Photo M R Lowell

Other baking recipes with  Whole Earth Organic Sparkling Drinks available via Good Earth Distributors:
Cranberry and Coconut Muffins,  Vegan Gingerbread

Belludja apples are available at Big Fresh in Mosta
Good Food Everyday airs daily on Smash TV

Organic Borage Pesto with Linguine and Spiralised Vegetable Noodles

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Linguine with Organic Borage Pesto, photo taken by George Aquilina during a live tv show

‘I am always pleased to find borage in our organic box from Sicily by Barbuto. I have made several dishes using borage recently and this pesto is also delicious and freezes well. Cook the leaves in the same way as you would cook spinach. The hairy leaves become smooth and tender’

For the pesto you will need:

1/4 cup blanched almonds
4 cloves garlic
4 cups cooked borage leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup parmegian
1/8 teaspoon grated lemon zest
salt and pepper

Dry roast the almonds in a hot and dry pan on high heat. Toss and remove from heat. Allow to cool.

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it is a consistent paste. Season and add water if necessary to adjust to a consistency of your choice.

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the pack. Drain and toss the pasta with the borage pesto. Serve immediately

On tv, I also made spiralised courgettes, cucumbers and carrots. The taste of cucumber blends particularly well with that of borage. Place the spiralised noodles in a large bowl and immerse them in boiling water for a minute. Drain and then toss with the borage pesto. Serve immediately.

zucchini-and-carrot-spaghetti-with-borage-pesto

Zucchini and Carrot Spaghetti with Borage Pesto, photo taken by George Aquilina during a live tv show

I use organic borage by Barbuto, blanched almonds by Good Earth and my spiralizer and kitchenware come from Tescoma.

How much fresher can it get? I visit a local chicken farm !

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I visited Katy at her poultry farm this week and I meet her wonderful family.

I am left speechless by her drive and ability. This is an amazing family who against all odds have reached achievement brought about by a lifetime of dedication, sheer hard work and the benevolence of new funding.
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I am honored to know them, salt of the earth, hardworking and resourceful, the world should be full of people like them. This is my first of a series of visits and I have started to feature them in today’s paper.

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We will be able to see the transparancy of the food chain in local produce. How can you compare food that is so fresh, where the source is known, the process vetted and where you can be assured of cleanliness. As well as being well managed, the place is pristine.

And speaking about chicken, we are having some boneless chicken legs on the bbq today.

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I have marinated them in orange juice from the last of the Sevilles, now at the very end of their season, a bit of olive oil, fresh rosemary and tulbaghia also known as posh garlic from the garden, sea salt and freshly ground pepper and i cannot wait for this evening.

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I love the combination of orange and poultry and if you do not have a bbq try my baked Chicken with Caramelized Oranges . I make this often using very similar ingredients.

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And with the end of citrus season, comes my last batch of marmalade, a mix this week of sevilles and lemon. The result is fantastic, more like a jelly with absolutely no pectin, gelatin or setting agents, all natural but with a lot of sugar too. Instead of cutting the rind into slivers, I have used a flower plunge cutter and I am thrilled with the result to share with you at some point this week.

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Next on my list is a jam of fig using Stevia. Figs are so naturally sweet and rarely need any pectin and I think they make a wonderful jam with stevia. But of course sugar is a preservative and I will have to storie it in the fridge..

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I sense the excitement in the kids as Katy and the family prepare for the celebratory opening of the new building next week and It seems to be a double celebration for them as I drive away through the village also in the swing of preparations for the feast of the village patron saint which falls on the same weekend.

And from the glorious heart of the Mediterranean, I wish you a wonderful Saturday!

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