Iced Coffee at Home

Iced Coffee (9871)

One of the things both J and I wouldn’t live without is coffee. We’re not the typical coffee-obsessed persons – we have an Americano and a cappuccino in the morning with our breakfast, and an espresso after lunch. On rare occasions we have another espresso round about four, but that’s that.

Iced Coffee (9861)

One of the latest scientific studies says that drinking coffee in the morning isn’t optimal, but routines are hard to break. So here I conveniently set science aside (without taking away any merit) and adopt the Italian way: a cappuccino (and un cornetto al cioccolato) in the morning and an espresso (never a cappuccino) in the afternoon. If you’re ever in Italy and you prefer that beautiful frothy milky coffee stuff as your after-lunch fix, ignore the stern looks you’re going to get from your barista. Either that or lie to their faces. Or just smile.

Iced Coffee (9863)

Lately I went to a coffee chain (I know I know – don’t give me that look) with my mum and ordered an iced latte. I don’t usually drink iced coffees, but the incredible heat together with the high humidity that day was tremendous and I just couldn’t drink anything hot. So an iced coffee it was. I will tell you one thing: I was so disappointed. I think you know the drill. Too much ice, so little coffee and milk. Seriously I would have preferred a big glass of cold milk. It would have made so much more sense.

Iced Coffee (9865)

But I didn’t give up. Nope. On to the next day, which again featured a killer heat. Three in the afternoon and all I felt like doing is watch an episode of Stargate Universe and something cold. Let’s make ourselves an iced coffee, taking one step further, adding a shot of chocolate liqueur. We were at home after all.

Iced Coffee (9867)

We didn’t froth the milk or anything because we just couldn’t be bothered. It ended up being a simple straight up iced drink and though it isn’t something I have often, it was a welcome break in the heat. For 2.

  • 2 glasses
  • ice cubes, as many as you fancy
  • 2 strong Americano coffees, preferably made from an Italian blend (I get mine from C&M Borg in Malta.)
  • 2 shots chocolate liqueur
  • milk to taste

In two glasses of your choice, add as many ice cubes as you want – I wouldn’t add more that three. Remember, the more you add the more watery your drink will turn out to be.

Pour the hot coffees over the ice, one in each glass. Add a shot of chocolate liqueur, again in each glass and top with milk.

A simple and refreshing drink especially during those unbearable days, if cold coffee is your thing.

Iced Coffee (9869)

Enjoy!

Rob x

**Disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post. I have not received any payment from C&M Borg or any other company for any mention in this post. I have paid for the coffee myself because I am a regular client of theirs and I am not expecting any pat on the back for this mention.

I just like their coffee, and they always offered good service with a smile, and a lovely chat. I appreciate great customer service and anyone who gives it deserves a well done in my book.**

Autumn trees at Winkworth Arboretum and a Story

High Up (8286)

During the past few days I am spending most of my time sorting through some old photos (and other stuff). It just had to be done. I didn’t find any actual treasures but I came across good memories: more shots of that magical time when nature starts preparing for the cold winter. The one we call Autumn. They form part of a kind of set taken at Winkworth Arboretum which I published almost a year ago. I have no idea why I didn’t include them in an earlier post. As mentioned previously, I do tend to either forget about stuff, or I would have decided to let them fester a bit in my photo files.

FirstSight (8257)

I want to share a few that remain; I’m not happy with all of them however this post is not exclusively about the images. It’s also an ode to the season itself and the hope of better things to come, even though the leaves have started to fall. In the meantime here in Malta, some are hoping for cooler temperatures. Including yours truly.

Look at Me (8307)

Winkworth is one of our favourite places to be. The last time I visited this year was when the bluebells were in full bloom and it really rained. A lot. Well, not really a lot, but I’m a wuss and I hate walking in wet weather. I took a few pretty flower shots and went over to our car for shelter. I was done with all the mud. On my way back to the parking lot a  little girl appeared from no where (I really wanted her to be an angel actually) and she asked me in a sweet voice if she could share my umbrella. I said sure she could but looked behind me to check if her family was there. Her mum nodded and smiled, joined us and we walked together towards the exit. We exchanged names, pleasantries and of course our conversation ended with a now-what-do-you-say-to-the-kind-lady? and two sweet smiles. On the way back home, I saw a little girl with a pink polka-dot rain jacket waving at me like mad from a car. It was that little angel! Winkworth is full of surprises!

Fiona Adam Steps (8259)

Johann (8323)

This is J taking his time on one shot. As it should be mind you. Bless him. I don’t have this sort of patience…OK…I just don’t have any, and you will understand me if your partner in life is an avid photographer. I’m the one who gets antsy if we’re on a walk and we stop for more than ten minutes just to take a nice picture. There is method in his madness, as they say, and I do get mad at him if he overtakes the time limit that I have in my mind. Unjustly so, poor thing. Unjustly so. With regards to the photo itself, I could have framed it much better. What bothered while trying to figure it out was the extra brightness coming from the sky. The Sun was out only for a few minutes; the rest of the morning was pretty grey but not really gloomy. So the sky was a bright grey for most of the time. So I opted to show more grass, which looks better.

Redness (8345)

I have to say that these last two are the ones I like best. The intensity of the colours helps. J always tells me that this was the best place for good autumnal photos nearest to Guildford. And the boy is obviously right.

Autumn Leaves (8273)

Happy Autumn or Fall, depending where you live. Schools are open again but here it’s still summer, at least for me!

For much better images taken at Winkworth visit J’s photography blog.  And his Flickr photostream. Trust me. You will thank me if you click.

Rob x

Around Hever

Walking through the Woods (8136)

Today I decided to share with you some shots which I took during a walk around Hever and Hever Castle. You must forgive me when I say that this week I just feel like reminiscing about that green and pleasant land in which I have lived for quite a while. I consider this blog not only to be a sort of cooking diary, but also to me it’s a journal of what I am up to in life, consisting of one also out of the kitchen. It’s so good for my soul to look back through old photos and posts and learn from my past experiences. So for today and perhaps also for next week (on that I have yet to decide) you will find some pictures that have been sitting still for a couple of years I think, just waiting to be written about on here. They have been very patient indeed, but now it’s finally their time, after waiting a few more months for some light processing. I do let them mush around, poor things, but I never neglect old photos. Promise.

The Wood (8134)

You won’t see any photos of the Castle itself as we decided to go for a long walk around the beautiful Kent surroundings. It wasn’t a particularly warm day but I remember we enjoyed the walk tremendously. Woods in general give me the creeps. They just freak me out for some reason, perhaps it’s because of the sense of being enclosed in something. I do suffer from sporadic bouts of claustrophobia. Still I was very happy here. The walk offered a mixture of everything, and the views were truly magical.

Victoria Plums (0398)

The highlight for me was a little table we found beside the path next to a cottage, with fresh Victoria plums for sale for a pound. So charming, and what a lovely snack to take for the walk. Seriously, it was the best thing ever. J only felt like having one of two, although I suspect he wanted me to enjoy the bag of fruit myself as I kept going on and on and on about how wonderful the whole buying-stuff-from-a-table-with-no one-around-and-putting-the money-into-a-tin-box was! Typical me. I find these things very captivating – don’t ask me why. And these are the things I am missing right now.

Lone Mushroom (8135)

Saying Hello (8127)

I don’t like to take loads of time for photos, but I remember myself stopping hoping to take a few of these big guys, or rather gals. No success. They were super friendly, and don’t you love the fact that they are exactly like those you see on dairy cartons?  The cow in the middle came over to say hello by the fence or course (thank goodness for that) and obviously, almost instantly I merely forgot one little detail; the one where I had my camera with me. The cuteness of the animal overtook the machine. Me, myself and my absent-mindedness. No words…really…no words.

Sweet Things by the Path (8119)

Sweet Things by the Path (8146)

Apparently I’m not the only one who forgets things. While stopping for a well-deserved lunch (recipe will be on a future post) I noticed a walking stick leaning on a wooden fence, almost totally hidden in the berry bushes. There was no one around at the time, so I assumed a walker left it behind a mere hours before we passed by. There were no cobwebs or insects neither on the stick itself, nor anywhere around it. After lunch I took a couple of shots, not aiming towards any sort of perfection mind you. I found the situation amusing, and once in a while I still wonder whether someone actually went back for it.Picnic Pasta (8117)

Lost around Hever (8124)

Lost around Hever (8121)

We saw this towards the end of our walk. I wasn’t going to post this but here it is, just for kicks. The cleanliness of the place explained on one simple notice! I’m not surprised. Could this be a solution on this little island?!

No Flytipping (8149)

Hope you liked these few photos as much as I loved taking them. See you all very soon. Enjoy!

Rob x

Pear and Chocolate Pudding

Pear and Chocolate Pudding (9407)

This blog should be called Chocolate and Thyme or something on those lines. Seriously. I just ran through all the chocolate entries: the amount of recipes and photos that include the marvellous ingredient is almost absurd. And I could still refer to it as C&T as I do sometimes! It would be an easy change. I wouldn’t even feel that guilty about it. I know of very few people who dislike chocolate – and here I mean, chocolate as a whole. If there are more out there please leave me a message, and give this chocoholic your I-don’t-like-chocolate list of reasons, and perhaps a few pointers on how you manage your waistline.

Even though I love a good challenge, baking complicated desserts when you have friends or family over for supper is out of the question. You want to be cool, calm and collected when you have people round your kitchen. This recipe and other versions of it, is a staple – well, at least back in Surrey, and I hope to make it often enough in my sunny Maltese kitchen.

Pear and Chocolate Pudding (9409)

Now, if you would rather avoid tinned fruit, (in this case we have pears) I warn you that possibly this could not be for you, although I would suggest you give it a try. At least once. Just go for the ones in juice not syrup. I was not a big fan either but I’m now convinced. I recently bought some fresh pears from the veggie market and I was so disappointed with the texture. This is foolproof and pantry ready when you have the genius idea to invite people over on a whim. It happens, and when it does it can be one of the best highlights of the week. There’s something homely about this recipe – I would even dare to add the word ‘old-fashioned‘ as in coziness, without any contempt, especially because it reminds me of an upside-down cake. Add simplicity and Nigella to the mix and I’m sold. Simplicity aside, I wouldn’t attempt this during the summer months, and believe me – in Malta it’s still summer, but I look forward to any kind of temperature drop to bake this!

  • 2 x 415g cans pear halves or quarters, in juice
  • 150g plain flour
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • 150g butter, softened plus a bit more for greasing the pan
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk, to make the batter slightly runnier if you see you need it

For the chocolate sauce:

  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon of soft butter

Grease a 22cm ovenproof dish and preheat the oven to 180C/Gas mark 6. You can either go with pyrex or ceramic, but I wouldn’t suggest using a non-stick tin here.

Pour the pears through a sieve and arrange the halves or quarters on the base of your dish. In a medium-sized mixing bowl sieve the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder.

In another bowl, cream the soft butter together with the caster sugar, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla extract, then add the flour mixture to the lot. If the mixture apprears lumpy, try adding a tablespoon or two of milk. Always remember not to overmix. You want the pudding to be soft.

Pour the pudding batter over the pears and bake for around 35 to 40 minutes. When a skewer or knife is inserted in the middle you will get a slight squidginess, for want of a better word. Do not panic. This is the way it should end up, and the pudding will continue to cook for sometime anyway, even when you take it out of the oven.

To make the chocolate sauce simple melt the chocolate and soft butter together in a bowl over simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl isn’t touching the water. Occasionally give this a mix with a wooden spoon until the chocolate has totally melted.

Serve the pudding as warm as you can, slicing it between 6 people with a generous helping of chocolate sauce on top of each individual bowls.

Heaven. Enjoy!

One year ago: Sweet Potato Pasta Bake

Two years ago: Spice Cake

Three years ago: Oven-baked Potatoes with Mushrooms and Herbs

Rob x

(Recipe roughly adapted from Nigella Express, Chatto and Windus, 2007.)

Yogurt with Cucumber, Garlic and Dill

Cacik or Yoghurt with Cucumber Garlic and Dill (9560)

So I promised you I would be back in September. A little later than I had planned originally before J and I moved back to Malta, but better late-ish than never. I am so happy to be back with my blog. I missed writing and I missed cooking. I still miss it to a certain degree to be honest, because only yesterday we managed to set the kitchen up properly, so until then meals were modest and simple. Not that I regret that. The produce here is generally very good and the heat doesn’t make me that enthusiastic to be in front of the stove! I am still getting used to the markets and shops, and the best places to buy ingredients, so I’m finding planning meals to be one of the many little challenges since the big move. I won’t bore you with the details. All I can say is this: it was stressful and I can almost promise myself not to do it again. Ever. Almost! I cannot count how many times we did that and it becomes tougher every single time. Change can be a good thing though.

Having said that, I miss living in the UK. I recently got an email with an invite to a food fair in Woking. You might get my disappointment at not being able to go when I read that one of the guests at the fair was none other than Sabrina Ghayour. I am beyond disappointed actually; I would have so liked to meet her in person. I count myself lucky – I have met my share of legends during my years in Surrey, but I am still sad to have missed Sabrina.

To get myself reacquainted with C&T once again (it takes me ages to get into a good writing routine) I have this little gem, great for the warm Maltese weather, from Sabrina’s book Persiana. I wrote all about it earlier this year. This is the recipe for Cacik, a concoction between tzatziki and raita. The garlic and fresh dill really give it a nice kick. I found that grating the cucumber by hand rather than using a food processor makes all the difference in reducing the amount of water. (I grate carrots by hand when making carrot cake too. It makes such a difference in the cake batter.) Squeezing the excess water through a sieve also helps but trust me on this one.

**Before I give you the recipe I want to send all my kind and lovely readers a huge thank you through the blogosphere for putting up with my absence. I know I have not lost you and you cannot imagine what that means to me. Now before we get all emotional, enjoy!

  • 1 large cucumber, grated
  • 500ml Greek yogurt
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 25g fresh dill, both stalks and leaves finely chopped
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling over the dip

Grate the cucumber, preferably by hand. Don’t bother to peel it, just wash it thorougly and start grating away. Then squeeze it to remove and discard all the excess water.

Tip the cucumber in a large mixing bowl and add the yogurt.

Crush the garlic or chop it very finely, and add this to the yogurt mix. Chop the dill, set aside some of it for scattering on top if you want, and add the rest to the bowl. Mix everything together and taste for seasoning. Drizzle on the olive oil and strew the remaining dill over the dip.

Such an easy recipe to prepare for a gathering of friends and family, and it goes with almost anything. Enjoy!

One year ago: I am back…

Two years ago: Spice Cake.

Three years ago: Easy Breezy Pasta and Rice.

Rob x

(Recipe adapted from Sabrina Ghayour’s Persiana: Recipes from the Middle East and Beyond, Mitchell Beazley, 2014)

Fusilli with Mandarins and Basil

Mandarin and Yoghurt Fusilli (9088)

Before coming across this recipe in Jack Monroe‘s book, I would never have thought of pairing pasta with mandarins. (There’s no need to tell you again how much I like Jack’s book. You can read all about it in a previous post.) I was almost about to say that I never had anything sweet with pasta. Then I remembered I actually did! I’m getting older…

Mandarin and Yoghurt Fusilli (9081)

Apart from not spending too many of your precious pennies, this recipe is ideal for those balmy summer months when everyone, including myself, would rather be relaxing than spending hours in the kitchen. There is some cooking involved of course, but nothing too major. All you need are some simple ingredients, a few minutes of your time and you’ll have have summer on a plate.

Mandarin and Yoghurt Fusilli (9086)

You can find tinned mandarins in supermarkets, but if you prefer you could chop up the equivalent amount of peeled fresh oranges. Though you’ll have to promise to keep me posted if you try it with fresh fruit. Come on, give it a go!

Mandarin and Yoghurt Fusilli (9087)

**Before I leave please note there will be no posts for the month of August. It’s going to get really hectic around here, plus I also need a recharge. Please bear with me for now, but I’ll be back in September with some new photos and recipes. In the meantime, I’ll be on Twitter and Facebook if you need to message me. Thanks to all and have a wonderful summer!**

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons rapeseed oil
  • 250g fusilli
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, roughly chopped, and more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, and some more for serving
  • 250g drained weight tinned mandarins
  • 200ml natural yoghurt
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of white pepper
  • grated pecorino

Bring a pan of water to boil, adding a little salt to the water, and cook the fusilli or any other pasta of your choice as per packet instructions.

Heat up a shallow pan on medium and pour in the oil. Add the chopped onions to the pan. Add the drained mandarins, basil and parsley. Stir and let the onions cook for a few minutes. When the onions turn soft, remove the pan from the heat.

Pour in the yoghurt and give everything a whirl with a wooden spoon. Taste for seasoning. Add a pinch of salt and white pepper if necessary.

Drain the pasta, but reserve some of the pasta water. You may need it to thicken the sauce slightly if you prefer. Tip the pasta into the sauce and toss.

Serve immediately with some grated pecorino and more basil and parsley. For 2 hungry people.

A great summer lunch. Enjoy!

One year ago: Blueberry Muffins

Two years ago: Some more good reads…

Three years ago: Easy Cupcakes

Enjoy the rest of your summer and see you in September! (Please refer to my previous posts for updates.)

Rob x

(Recipe adapted from A Girl Called Jack, Penguin Books/Michael Joseph, 2014.)

Cinnamony French Toast

French Toast (8080)

I don’t know about you but I find that weekend mornings are great for a more relaxed breakfast. One of my very favourite breakfast treats is pancakes, absolutely winning hands down. That said, sometimes I dread doing the prep, even though there’s nothing complicated about it. So when I wake up with a pancake crave but don’t want the extra work I make French toast. There’s still some whisking involved but it’s much easier on the nerves I think! Nothing is more peaceful than waking up a little early and pottering around in the kitchen doing minimal work while everyone is still fast asleep.

French Toast (8086)

In general, I don’t do leisurely breakfasts. My mind goes into overdrive in the morning and I don’t have the patience to sit down except for coffee. Having said that, when the opportunity arises for a good meal I take it all in my stride. Even if it means taking some extra time to faff around. When there is actually time to do so, that is! But for me there’s something so attractive and simple about this recipe that makes the easy prep all worth while. And I love the way the sugar caramelizes around the bread and almost makes it crispy. Thinking about it makes me want it now.

I don’t have this every weekend, far from it! So please spare me the usual this-is-not-good-for-you speeches that I’m getting these days. All the recipes you see here are rarely repeated – it’s not because they’re not good, it’s because food blogging is what I do and it’s almost impossible for me to cook the same things over and over again after I’ve written about them. I would drown in my books if I did so. I do make this over and over again though, not every weekend, but close enough!

French Toast (8089)

The quantities given in this basic recipe are for 2 to 3 people, and you will have no problems in scaling it up. Having said that, I would advise you not to cook this when you have a large group of people coming over. You will be by the stove all morning if you do and instead of enjoying your friends as you should, you will only feel frustrated by the time they leave!

Don’t let this sway you away. A bit of solitary indulgence is good for you once in a while and in my book this also makes a perfect romantic breakfast for two.

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon soft brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons milk*
  • 6 slices white bread (day-old bread is even better)
  • knob unsalted butter
  • maple syrup, to serve**

Place a flat non-stick griddle or pan on the hob and wait for it to heat up. In the meantime, whisk the cinnamon, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and milk in a shallow bowl.

Drop the butter in the pan, let it melt and dip the bread into the eggy mixture and coat it on both sides. Leave the bread in the liquid a few moments. Eyeball it depending on the type of bread you’re using.

Place the bread on the griddle and cook until the bread turns a golden brown.

If you start running out of liquid, add some milk to the egg mixture.*
Repeat the process until all the bread is cooked.

I like to eat mine with maple or golden syrup, but you can serve them with honey, fruit and/or yoghurt.**

What a wonderful thing to wake up to! Enjoy!

One year ago: Blueberry Muffins

Two years ago: Stir-fry

Three years ago: Penne with Chorizo

Rob x

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