Kawlata Stew with Buckwheat


Kawlata Stew with Buckwheat.  This photo was taken during a live tv show by Marconia Schembri

Traditionally a thick soup, I use smoked ham hock and the same ingredients to make this Kawlata stew and serve it with buckwheat.

You will need:

1 smoked ham hock [xikel], cut into 3 chunks
3 rashers bacon, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
small piece of shredded cabbage (optional)
1/4 medium cauliflower
1 zucchini
100g carrots
250g chopped pumpkin
1 kohlrabi [gibra], peeled and chopped
200g buckwheat
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tomato chopped
1 large potato, peeled and chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
200g mixed beans, cooked
Bay leaf
Olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon fresh turmeric root, grated
Parsley to garnish (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, a drizzle of freshly squeezed lemon and a bit of freshly grated lemon zest

Immerse the smoked ham hock pieces in water in a large pot and add a bay leaf. Cook over high heat until the water starts to boil, then simmer for 1 hour. Remove from heat and allow the ham hock pieces to cool down. Remove the outer skin and excess fat and chop into small bite size pieces. Keep aside.

Use a large ovenproof pot to sweat the onion in a drizzle of olive oil, add the garlic and bacon. Cook for a few minutes and stir then add the other vegetables and bay leaf. Cook on high heat and stir. Add the chopped tomatoes. Add the herbs. Use the stock from boiling the ham hock to add liquid to the vegetables. Add a ladle at a time, not to much. Add the cooked beans. Cook on high heat and then mix in the buckwheat. Remove from heat. Break up some piece of ham hock and serve on top.
Season. Remove and leave to rest covered for 5 to 10 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

Kawlata stew with ham hock.jpg

Kawlata Stew with Buckwheat.  This photo was taken during a live tv show by marconia Schembri

My ham hock comes from Ta Ciancu Butcher in Zejtun, vegetables and fresh herbs by Big Fresh Mosta, buckwheat  by Dr Peak’s Free From and dried herbs and spices by Schwartz.


Kale parcels of pork

kale meat balls felix cesare

Served on brown rice these kale parcels are steamed in an infusion of fresh turmeric  and delicate aromatic spices

‘I make parcels of kale stuffed with very lean ground pork and steam them in an infusion of  fresh turmeric and delicate aromatic spices.  What can I add?  just expect amazing textures and flavors…’

You will need:

250g pork mince
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 onion, finely chopped and cooked
1 tablespoon fresh herbs, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon provence herbs
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
a pinch of ground cloves
30g oats
a pinch of lemon zest
1 egg
salt and pepper
1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Kale leaves
Brown rice to serve

Mix the pork, lemon zest, onion, garlic, herbs, egg, herbs, oats and all the ingredients together to make a consistent mixture.  Leave to rest for an hour if you can in the fridge so that the oats absorb all the liquid.  Roll into small balls.

Remove the center stalk from the kale and cut the leaves into long strips.  Steam for a few minutes in a steamer until they are barely soft.  Do not over do it.

Immediately wrap the balls into the kale leaves making small parcels and tuck in the loose end underneath.  Prepare a steamer with water and add pieces of fresh turmeric, 2 whole cloves, a few leaves of fresh marjoram, a cinnamon stick and a garlic clove and allow the steam from this infusion to cook the kale parcels for 20 minutes.

I served my kale parcels on a bed of brown rice.  Drizzle with some olive oil before serving.
kale meat balls felix cesare 2
My ingredients are available from maltasupermarket.com

Ftira with Pulled Pork

Delicious Maltese #ftira with traditional kunserva, giardinera and pulled pork as seen on TV

Delicious Maltese #ftira with traditional kunserva, gardinera and pulled pork as seen on TV, photos Ian Noel Pace

We have what is probably one of the best sourdough breads in the world. The small old fashioned bakeries are still active and alive and the hub of nearly every village and town.

Old village bakery in the heart of a Mediterranean village

Old village bakery in the heart of a Mediterranean village

Fermented slowly the bread is crunchy and crusty with the inside, moist, light and an overall flavor that is unique.

Crusty and crunchy with the softest of interiors, Maltese bread, freshly baked a few times a day

Crusty and crunchy with the softest of interiors, Maltese bread, freshly baked a few times a day

For my recipe I use ftira flat loaf topped with sesame seed. Traditionally these loaves are dipped in olive oil and lightly spread with tomato paste with an optional addition is tuna.

Traditionally #ftira with tuna

Traditionally #ftira with tuna

I replaced tuna with slow cooked pulled pork during our tv programme, a very delicious result.

Ftira with pulled pork as seen on ONE TV

Ftira with pulled pork as seen on ONE TV

You will need:

1 Ftira
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
100g gardiniera
100g cherry tomatoes, halved and I use a mix of red and yellow ones
a few mint leaves
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
20g olives, sliced
150g pulled pork which I prepared in my crockpot, see recipe follows:

To make the pulled pork in a slow cooker, you will need:

1 kilo shoulder of pork
1/4 onion
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper
150ml bbq sauce [home made or shop bought
1 clove garlic
250ml water

Place all the ingredients in the slow cooker and cook for 6 hours on medium heat or overnight on slow heat.  Use a fork to shred.

To assemble the ftira:

Place the olive oil in a flat plate. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cut the ftira in half and dip the cut surface into the olive oil. Spread with tomato puree. Top with pulled pork, then the giardinera, fresh tomatoes, olives and finally mint leaves. Serve.

Lea’s Good Food Everyday airs on Smash TV and you can follow on facebook 

#ftira with pulled pork

#ftira with pulled pork

Photography Ian Noel Pace during a live tv show

Trade Enquiries:  Majjal ta’ Malta Telephone 21 236 340

Tinned Tomato Preserves by X-tra at Rimus Group



A good pot of Chili, a taste of Texas in the Med

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I met Chef Tim Byres a few weeks ago and I followed his Texan tip and added espresso to my chili. You have to try it. The depth of flavor that the espresso adds to the chili is incredible. I use cannellini beans instead of kidney to blend in with the pale colour of pork.

pork #chili

pork #chili

You will need:

75g bacon, finely chopped
500g minced lean pork
1/2 spoon good vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 to 2 fresh chili peppers, finely chopped, depending on how hot you like your chili
4 cloves garlic, grated
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon chili powder
a pinch of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 stock cube
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
500ml tinned tomatoes
500g canellini beans
1 glass white wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Salt if desired

To serve: on tv we served our chili with rice, with a baked potato, tacos and Angry Birds Gluten Free Crisps topped with mature cheddar and with guacamole and yoghurt

Chili in a baked potato as seen on ONE TV

Chili in a baked potato as seen on ONE TV

Simply use a slow cooker to make your chilli so effortlessly or

chili pot

Saute the onion and garlic and add the bacon. Cook it for a few minutes and then add all the spices and espresso coffee. Stir and cook on moderate heat for a minute. Add the minced pork and cook well. Finally add the tomatoes, stock cube and wine and cook for 45 minutes on moderate heat. Finally add the canellini beans. Cook for 5 minutes and turn off the heat. Allow to rest for 10 minutes cover on before serving.

For the recipe in Maltese click here

Texan Chili on ONE TV

Texan Chili on ONE TV

Photography Ian Noel Pace

Pork Belly with tahini and crackling


The secret of the best crackling is to simply scald the skin with boiling water. You will see it shrivel. If you are in a rush you do not need to do anything else and you will still get a perfect crackling.

The best pork can be found right here in the heart of the Mediterranean. Local pork is a premium grade product and i have visted many pig farms. The pigs are pampered and live happy lives getting a lot of individual attention. Their food is flavored with vanilla, they enjoy warm and clean conditions during the winter.

Today we cooked pork belly with the best crackling ever and you will need.

Pork belly
tahini paste
Olive oil
Boiling water

To make the best crackling, simply scald the skin with boiling water. You will see it shrivel up while you are pouring the water. If you are in a hurry as we were today, you do not need to score the skin nor to pat it dry, simply put it int the oven.

Before doing so, i rubbed the flesh with tahini. Do not put tahini on the skin but use olive oil to rub the skin lightly. Simply put in a roasting dish and place in the oven. Preheated at 200 C for 4 hours. Check it from time to time.

You cannot get better flavor then pork belly although I prefer slow cooked belly, at a lower temperature and for at least 7 hours, it simply slides off the bone this way.

But when you are short of time, this works very well.

and we made tahini and sesame seed potatoes again and served thm with the pork belly. so yumm…



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Slow cooked Roast Pork neck (bone-in) for Sunday Lunch !


Pork neck has no fat around the edge. It is the cut above the top shoulder and has a lot of marbling though the meat which keeps the roast so moist.

Pork is commonly used for Sunday roast here and rather than the boneless stuffed neck we see very often, I am leaving it whole, bone-in and the end result is wonderful as the bone also lends to flavoring the meat as it cooks slowly in the oven.

I use garlic, lemon zest, crushed fennel and coriander seeds to add extra flavour to the pork. You will need:

Neck End pork cut
2 onions
2 carrots
4 large garlic cloves
A mix of fresh herbs and I use basil and rosemary, but use herbs that you like
2 bay leaves
100 ml hot water mixed with Kallo all natural stock cube
Salt and pepper
Fresh parsley
Juice of a lemon
Grated rind of a lemon
Olive oil

Preparation time is 10 minutes, cooking time slow and long.
Rub the pork with a mix if lemon juice and olive oil.
Crush the coriander seeds and rub then all over the pork.
On the surface spread the lemon zest and finely chopped parsley.
Cover and place in the fridge overnight.
Prepare a roasting tray, cover with aluminum foil and grease lightly with some olive oil.
Roughly chop the vegetables. Mix with olive oil and the roughly chopped vegetables. Add the fennel seeds and toss.
Add sea sat and freshly ground pepper.
Take the pork out of the frige and place it over the vegetables and herbs.
Cover securely with tin foil and place in a pre heated oven at 150C for 4 1/2 hours. Uncover the dis for the last half an hour and increase the temperature to 220C.
Allow to rest before carving to serve.
I like to make extra roast potatoes and seasonal vegetables.

On a cold day in February in the heart of the Mediterranean, I wish you a peaceful Sunday!

For the recipe in Maltese, click here



Pork Meatballs with haricot beans in tomato sauce


This dish has great flavors, great textures. I used gluten free oats to coat/bind the meatballs rather than bread crumbs or flour. I tend to use oats now for this purpose and for giving a bit of texture for example to dishes like these ricotta stuffed zucchini .

The sauce is with fresh tomatoes and red wine. Smoked paprika in the mince and herbs with a touch of chili in the sauce. I used dried haricot beans, simply soak overnight, rinse and mine took 35 minites to cook. The cookimg time depends on the bean and how long it has been packaged, so taste the beans after half an hour of cooking to check on their tenderness. Do not overcook them.


You will need :

For the http://www.majjaltamalta.com/ meatballs
500g fresh pork mince
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, lightly crushed
1 1/2 cups oats
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 spoon parsley, finely chopped
Seasoning with salt and pepper
1 egg
Baking paper

Preheat oven to 200C


Combine all ingredients together only using 1/2 cup oats.
Form small meatballs
Scatter the rest of the oats on a clean surface and roll the meatballs in them.
Place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper
Bake for half an hour in a hot oven.

For the sauce
1 kg tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 onion
1 giant clove garlic or 4 small ones
A spoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon Dried Mixed Herbs
1/4 teaspoon chili powder ( leave out if you do not enjoy a hint of spicy 🙂
250 ml good red wine
Seasoning of salt and pepper

Parsley for garnish
200g haricot or navy beans
Bay leaf for cooking the beans. (See instructions at the top of this post to cook dried haricot beans. If you don’t have time use a
canned beans)


Heat the oil on medium heat and add all the ingredients together without the wine
Cook through. Add the wine, cook for half an hour on low heat until the onion softens. Do not allow to dry and add some water if necessary. Turn off heat. Allow to cool. Blend until smooth. Return to heat. Add the haricot beans but leave some aside for garnish.

Add the meatballs. Transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with the rest of the beans and parsley.
Serve. Left overs are great the next day as the meatballs soak in all the flavors from the sauce but the appearance is more mushy.


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

Its drizzling outside, I feel the humidity as I make breakfast in a frame

This week’s paper


Its the ‘in-between stage’ now when you feel hot from wearing too many layers and then perhaps a bit chilly. These days I like a cooked breakfast especially at weekends as it keeps me going all day.

This is more of a healthy fry-up and I make an effort to use as little oil as possible.

I assemble a frame with some oven fries using toothpicks to hold it together while the egg cooks. I also use the same method with local sausage. This is made with coriander seeds, garlic and parsley and I love it. Normally you would need to deskin a sausage and mash up the meat but my friendly butcher Carmel sells it as sausage meat by weight.

And with a thin slice of grilled ham and lots of fresh arugula from the garden this morning, this is a simple breakfast that looks and tastes divine.

And for one person you will need:


8 oven fries
1 egg
50g sausage meat
1 thin slice ham, grilled
a handful of fresh arugula
8 toothpicks
A piece of kitchen towel with touch of vegetable oil
Freshly ground pepper and sea salt


Trim the oven fries to more or less the same size
Assemble two frames and use toothpicks to hold the frame together.
Wipe a non stock pan with the oil on the kitchen towel.
Drop the two frames into pan.
Take the sausage meat and fill in the cavity of your frame and pat it down
Turn over the other frame and crack open an egg.
Turn over the sausage meat frame and cook for a few minutes.
Remove from the pan and place on kitchen towel to absorb any extra fats.
Gently pull out toothpicks.
Prepare your serving plate with lots of arugula and top with your ham slice.
Arrange the two frames on a plate, season and I love lots of freshly ground pepper on mine.
Serve. I so appreciate fresh food and the over fries have been a real treat today…

And yesterday afternoon I met with David Gonzalez, so gifted and talented, here on the island for the first time. What a treat to listen to anecdotes from the master storyteller himself! He spoke about his native New York, his project here and the admirable way he shares his talent … a warm welcome to David and inspite of his heavy workload I hope he will find some time to enjoy this wonderful island…


Negneg Farm with a plate of amazing penne, arugula and sausage


I have often written here that the island’s pork is one of the most superior in both texture and taste and I am sharing with you today my lunch of a simple but most delicious plate of pasta with arugula and local sausage that is made with coriander seeds, garlic and flat leaf parsley. If you do not live on the island use a continental type sausage or merguez and you will find the recipe at the end of this post.

And one day last week we drove to an isolated farm situated in the remote hills past the Tower of ‘Allis’ beyond the chapel of Santa Maria and up to an area known as that of ‘God and his Mother’ until we finally reached Negeg Farm where I met Leli, now 74, and his two sons George and Marco. I basked in the glow of their Mediterranean welcome. For many generations the family have dedicated their lives to tending sows and their litter.

And sadly the Negnegs now face a daily struggle for survival, barely making ends meet mainly because consumers are buying imported pork that is mass-produced and cheaper. But unknown to most it is not necessarily more economical.


How can you compare mass-produced meat to that of an animal bred conscientiously in humane conditions? Dr Oliver Frendo, a veterinary surgeon who manages the Co-Operative of Pig Breeders on the island accompanied me. He explained that mass-produced meat is sometimes plumped up with with saline of up to 40% of its weight.

The pigs at Negneg Farm live in extraordinarily clean and spacious pens with no evidence of faeces or filth. The pig smell noticeable when I arrived faded away within 10 minutes and I was no longer aware of it. The pigs’ food is flavored with vanilla and the Negnegs have taken measures to keep disease away. Leli keeps his pigs in separate pens according to their age and sex. The new borns are kept warm in comfort.


There is constant round-the-clock supervision and preventative medicine is practised. Leli tells me that the breeding cycle is continuous all through the year. Contrary to my expectations, these pigs have clear skin, with no open wounds as I had seen on a TV documentary of a farm in a country very far away from here.

The consumer needs to know the source of the pork they buy . They can choose local or perhaps they may prefer to buy imported pork. It is all about freedom of choice and consumers have the right to make their own choices.

I was saddened to leave Negeg Farm that day seeing Leli and his boys organising their weekly trip to the slaughterhouse, with a drop in their quota down by 50% over the last few years…..

And for penne with arugula and pork sausage, you will need :

Penne, allow 75 to 120g per portion depending on appetites, i use Barilla
Continental Sausages, allow 1 per person, skin removed chopped up
Cherry tomatoes, allow 5 to 8 per person, cut into quarters
Arugula, according to your preference, I used about 10 leaves per person, torn up not chopped
Whole dried chilis, allow 1 per 2 portions, cut up
Dried Oregano, allow 1/4 teaspoon for 2 portions
Dried flaked garlic, allow two flakes per portion, chopped up
1 spoon light single cream per two portions
6 spoons white or rose wine per two portions
Maldon Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper
Drizzle of olive oil
Freshly grated Grana Padano

Cook the pasta in plenty salted water, and follow the cooking time instructions on your pack.
In a saucepan, heat up a touch of olive oil and cook the sauce eat on gentle heat until browned together with the garlic flakes.
Add the chili, oregano and cook further.
Add the wine, cook and reduce.
Add the single light cream, just a touch, the dish should not appear creamy and cook further.
Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Drain the pasta.
Add the sauce and mix with the pasta.
Add the cherry tomatoes and arugula
Plate the pasta and top with a fresh light grating of Gran Padano.
Serve immediately.

And last week’s paper