Jasmine rice with chicken and broccoli

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I get cravings from time to time for Oriental flavors and this quick dish is one of my favorites, ideal for those who do not usually cook oriental style meals at home. Always stock your store cupboard with a bottle of soy suave and sesame oil, necessities…. 🙂 You will need:

500g minced chicken
1 head broccoli, cut into florets, immersed in hot water for 20 seconds and drain
1 large clove garlic, grated
1/2 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 spoon good oil
200g jasmine rice
Toasted coconut flakes for garnish
Drizzle of sesame oil
Drizzle of light soy sauce

Cook the rice according to the instructions on the pack. drain and keep aside.

Heat oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally until onion is soft. Add mince and the other ingredients except the sesame and soy sauce. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up mince and lower heat just before it starts getting crispy. Drizzle some light soy sauce. Add the rice and stir gently but thoroughly. Remove from heat. Drizzle with sesame oil.
Top with toasted coconut flakes and serve.

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A warm salad of red rice, zucchini and basil

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I loved this salad and I am enjoying experiments with red rice. With more of a bite than regular rice, this is my kind of food !

For this salad you will need:

200g red rice
4 zucchini chopped up
A handful of fresh basil
2 spoons olive oil
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
Half an onion
1/4 of a small cabbage, finely shredded
Half a cucumber, chopped up with skin on
Juice of half a lemon
Grated rind of a lemon

Cook the rice as per instructions on the pack. Rinse it firms and cook in water with a touch of salt. I left mine soaking for an hour before I cooked it.

Fry the onion in a touch of oil. Add half the fresh basil chopped up and the cucumber. Stir in the dried basil. Toss and remove from heat. Mix the vegetables with the rice. Finally add the lemon rind and the lemon juice followed by a drizzle of olive oil. Mix in the raw shredded cabbage and toss.

Garnish with some lemon zest and some fresh basil leaves. We ate this salad warm but it is also delicious cold served the next day.

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And in Maltese on INEWS

And this is Pumpkin month…

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Pumpkin month is here. So much choice and variety and at the end of this month we will see them adorned with lights, made into decorative carvings and used in all recipes imaginable, from soups to risottos and also desserts.

And we start our pumpkin bonanza of useful recipes here on the blog today using this very versatile ingredient. Here is a recipe for risotto that features in Smart Supermarket Magazine this month.

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And they are prepared …

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… to be delivered

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And transformed, my favorite one last year was Angryface !

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A delicious plate of risotto featured in Smart Supermarket magazine this month.

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If you are on the island do remember pumpkin feast in Manikata on Saturday 26th !

Black History Month in today’s paper and beans and rice for supper …

I featured Black History Month in the newspaper today as it is being commemorated by the US Embassy with a varied program including some exhibitions and a concert by gospel singer Joyce Yuille who is making a special visit to the island.
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I was so pleased to receive a detailed history about the origins of African American food from Jueseppi Baker and it brought back good memories of the wonderful teatime treats I was offered during my visit to the residence of the US Ambassador HE Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley just before Thanksgiving.

I am very familiar with eating African American cuisine especially while I was living in South London but I have not seriously attempted to cook it so far. This is going to change though and I am scheduled to make Mrs Flo’s Sweet Potato Pie and other delicious specialities from HE the US Ambassador’s childhood that I featured in the newspaper for Thanksgiving in November.

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Today I am sharing with you my recipe for Beans and Rice which we had for supper yesterday. And how delicious it was! This is true Soul Food, warms your heart and leaves you purring with contentment …. The leftovers were delicious as a cold salad at lunchtime today. The addition of local bacon gave it an incredible flavor. I still believe that the island has the best pork ever….

You will need :

500 g Rice, I used Uncle Ben’s
1 Onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans Red Kidney Beans, drained and washed
A handful of parsley, half finely chopped and have torn into small pieces to garnish the dish
A drizzle of olive oil
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
8 rashers bacon, finely chopped
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes

SautĂ© the onion and garlic in a drizzle of olive oil. Add the bacon. add the rice and stir. Add water according to the instructions on the packet. Add the bay leaves and let the rice cook. Add the rest of the herbs and spices before the rice is fully cooked and stir. When the rice is cooked, stir in the kidney beans and finely chopped parsley. Spoon onto a serving dish and garnish with the rest of the parsley….

And Black History Month is featured in today’s newspaper on the island…

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Quick and easy sticky chilli ribs

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I find with this marinade that you do not need to leave it overnight, if you have forgotten to prepare something for tonight or are not organized enough, two hours with this one is enough to bring out all the delicious flavors.I serve this with a huge dish of egg fried rice to satisfy all those hungry appetites and extra baked potatoes, especially a big hit with the boys

You will need:

For the marinade: mix all these ingredients together
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup BBQ sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes, optional
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup dark soy sauce
2 teaspoons fresh minced ginger
2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
2 teaspoons smoked paprika

2 racks park spare ribs, serves 2 to 4 persons depending on appetites.

Coat and cover the pork ribs, cover and leave in the fridge for at least two hours.

Cook in a very hot oven at 200 C for 45 minutes to an hour and baste and turn over often.

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And for the special fried rice, all you need to do is cook the quantity of rice according to the instructions on your pack.
Finely chop up some onion and garlic, quantity according to your taste.
I always add sweet corn, chopped mushrooms and a chopped up omelette.
And any other ingredient that takes your fancy that is in your fridge or store cupboard.
Stir fry the onion and garlic. Ad the rice and other ingredients leaving the omelette to add last.
Some soy sauce and another stir.
And it’s ready to serve

All about Halloween in the heart of the Mediterranean …..

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Halloween is here and this is one of the carved pumpkins made by Reuben’s team !

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So what’s cooking today ? What do Reuben and his team have in store for Halloween ?

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Here is a peek view of what’s coming up today !

20131021-064859.jpg Reuben’s Halloween Risotto

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And have a look at Reuben’s Gluten Free Pumpkin and Coconut Soup

My Nutty Buttery Squash with no added butter

And if you are trick or treating, a very grown up candy with Coconut, Pistachio and Venezuelan Rio Caribe Chocolate and Local ‘Bone’ Cookies for Halloween following Renato Briffa’s recipe.

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And later today, I will be posting a Pumpkin Frangipan dessert I made with Joseph specially for Halloween…

And from the team, Halloween carvings and lanterns for the kids !

Using fresh local produce from the heart of the Mediterranean !

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Arancini for an al fresco lunch …..

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We are getting together with family visiting from abroad today to enjoy an al fresco lunch and I am making some Arancini to take with us.

They are quite time consuming to make but after a busy week, I enjoy the peace of a very early Sunday morning when everyone is still asleep and this is when I like being in the kitchen making something that requires a bit of effort.

There is no difficulty in preparing Arancini if you are organized with your ingredients but they require handling with care so I never attempt making them if I am in a rush.

These rice balls are sold in most cafes locally but there is nothing better than home cooking and you can vary the fillings and combinations, make some that are totally vegetarian or even make small bite size ones for canapés or a drinks party.

Arancina means a little orange in Italian; they look like oranges! but I have made two shapes today, some cone like shapes as they have a different filling. I am not sure how authentic my recipe is as I have adjusted it to make it as easy as possible but these arancini are delicious and rather than deep fry them, I shallow fry them lightly to give them a good color and seal the crust but finish them off in the oven. All you need is a good basic recipe and add what you like, either with the rice mix or as a filling… You can literally use any precooked risotto and you can fill the balls with Bolognaise, chicken, ham, cheese, spinach, tuna, virtually anything that appeals to you.

They can be served hot or cold, and today we will eat them with a simple salad as they will be a contribution to a selection of other cold dishes made by everyone. This recipe makes 6 large arancini.

    To make basic Arancini, you will need:

    1 cup rice, preferably Arborio
    3 cups chicken stock
    1/2 cup white wine
    2 tablespoons very finely chopped parsley
    2 eggs for rice mix
    3 eggs for coating rice balls before breadcrumbs
    1 cup grated cheese, I always like to include some Parmesan but a mix of what you have available is fine
    Maldon Salt and freshly ground pepper
    2 cups breadcrumbs
    Vegetable oil for frying

Preheat oven to 180 C

Bring the rice to a boil in saucepan over medium heat in the chicken stock. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the rice is cooked and has a creamy appearance. Stir to avoid sticking. Add the chopped parsley. Add in the grated cheese and two eggs.

Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and leave to cool completely.

Put the breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl.

Beat the 3 remaining eggs in a bowl.

Prepare fillings of your choice. For the first time and to keep things simple, I suggest that you cut up mozzarella cubes and mix them with some chopped fresh basil.

Bring the rice mixture and divide into 6 portions if you want large Arancini.

Form each portion into a ball and press your finger into the center of each rice ball

Insert a cube of mozzarella ensuring there is some basil then press the rice around the hole to fill to form a ball.

Roll the balls in the beaten egg and then in the breadcrumbs and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Loosely cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Be generous with the breadcrumbs so that the ball will retain its shape.

Heat 1/2 inch vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and fry each ball turning over to have an even crust.

Remove from pan and place on kitchen towel to absorb surplus oil.

Transfer to baking tray covered in parchment and bake in moderate oven for 49 minutes turning over for even color.

Traditionally these rice balls are deep fried but I think this is a healthier version with the same result.

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The Arancini ready for frying..