Category Archives: Assemblage

Meatloaf

Meatloaf (6836)Happy Woman’s Day to all you hardworking ladies out there! I’ve been wanting to post this for ages, but other recipes, thoughts, musings and other tasks have grown and surpassed it for some time. But here it finally is, and about time too – it’s one of my favourites and this is a good reminder that I must make it again. This recipe undeniably always brings me to one of my dear friends in Michigan, who makes a beautiful meatloaf. Good times!

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Mock Pizza with Spring Onions and Eggs

Mock Pizza with Spring Onions and Eggs (8437)

I don’t know whether I’m going to give Mr. Daniel Young a fit if/when he reads this! Let me start by apologizing profusely if I did, but this mock of a pizza is something I quickly whip up when I’m either in a hurry or when I have run errands all morning and just want to chill out when I return home. Better than grabbing some greasy concoction from anywhere I say. These days I admit I would make soup or the traditional Maltese minestra (a richer version of the Italian minestrone) which fills me up until dinner time, as long as I have made it beforehand. When I slack on the prep, or when only pizza will do – without the time it takes to make a decent dough, I make this or anything similar. Before I go on, as I very often do I have recently posted an updated version of my proper pizza recipe here, so give it a go if you have some time to spare today.

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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.

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Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary (6904)

Fact is I’m not much of a drinker. I do enjoy a glass of red with dinner sometimes and I am also partial to some port or brandy in the colder months. Yes I’m getting old. This is a first for me, in that today I’m giving you a cocktail recipe. From what I have read, there are, apparently two schools of thought on Bloody Mary: the love it or hate it. I would like to propose another: the occasional one a.k.a. it’s-good-for-brunch. I won’t go into whether it can cure a hangover or not. I haven’t tried that, and I wouldn’t want you to, but hey I’m not your mum…but don’t get sloshed! No, I’m not lecturing you.

It’s very very really salty, but it’s fantastic for a brunch party any time of the year. I was once told a story (true or not I have no idea) about a host inviting a so-called-friend for brunch simply because this person mixed the most delicious Bloody Mary ever! One thing I can tell you for sure is that I wouldn’t have liked to be this friend, but I would have liked one of these. Happy Holidays!

  • 45 ml vodka
  • 150ml tomato juice
  • 15ml fresh lemon juice
  • pinch celery salt
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • freshly ground pepper
  • celery stick
  • lemon wedge as garnish

Fill a tall glass with ice. Pour in the tomato juice and lemon juice. Add the vodka, celery salt, Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces. Give everything a stir, then add the pepper. Garnish with a lemon wedge, a celery stick and a stirrer if needed. And you’re done.

I hope to give you one more recipe in the next post before taking a break. So hold on for one more! Enjoy the holidays and Happy Christmas!

Rob x

Spiced Lasagna with Spinach and Ricotta

Lasagna-(6411)

I love a good lasagna. To eat that is. Well, let’s say that unless J is at home and can help me with lifting the heavy pans I don’t enjoy it. What I also don’t enjoy is the washing up of all those pots and pans. Even now as I’m writing this, my wrists are not happy and every time I write one word I have to stop and wish my carpal tunnel away. My frustration could also be a result of taking loads of pictures with this one and in my kitchen cooking and carrying a heavy-ish camera don’t always go together.

Look, not all cooking is a breeze and sometimes a challenge is good for the soul. Not to sound too dramatic, this is an easy dish, but it takes some time to prepare. You might be asking me “is there anything you like here?” Of course there is. I have extra portions for the next day, and it will taste even better tomorrow. Just give yourself a couple of hours for prep time and assembly and you’ll be OK. I admit I don’t make this as often as I would like, but when I do I remind myself that I should, and what better way to welcome the winter months! And the kitchen is smelling lovely! I also have a vegetarian one lurking in my files which I must not forget…

Please be aware there are quite a few photos in this post. I just thought they would be of help. Thank you for being ever so patient with me as always.

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala or mixed spice
  • ¼ chilli flakes (optional)
  • ¼ curry powder (optional)
  • 250g bacon, chopped
  • 2 shots red vermouth
  • 500g minced beef, preferably lean
  • 500g passata di pomodoro
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • around 250ml water

For the ricotta mixture:

  • 500g ricotta
  • 500g frozen spinach, thawed; you could also steam fresh baby spinach, and set it aside to cool
  • 100g fresh parsley or basil, roughly chopped
  • around 6 tablespoons milk, or enough just to thin the mixture a little bit
  • salt and pepper, to taste*
  • 2 large eggs, beaten

For the bechamel sauce:

  • 25g butter
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons plain flour
  • 1 litre semi-skimmed milk

You also need around 700g to 900g lasagna sheets (around 30 sheets), depending on the size of the dish you want to use.

To prepare the sauce place a large pan preferably with a heavy base on medium heat and pour in the olive oil. Chop the onion, crush the garlic and tip in the pan, together with the spices, and stir occasionally. Once the onions have softened and turned opaque add the bacon and the vermouth and let it cook through.

Add the lean minced beef and cook until brown. Pour the passata and sugar in with the beef mixture, stir, add the water, give everything a good stir once more, cover and let it simmer for around 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8639)

For the ricotta mixture, I would advise you to remove as much of the spinach water as you can. To do this, simply thaw on a sieve on top of a bowl and squash the spinach downwards with your hands or a spoon.

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8643)

Place the spinach in a medium mixing bowl, together with the ricotta, fresh parsley, milk, add salt and pepper, give everything a good mix and now is the time to taste. When you’re happy with the seasoning, add the beaten eggs, stir and set aside.

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8646)

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8673)

To assemble the lasagne, pour a thin layer of sauce, enough to cover the bottom of the dish. Then build the lasagna alternating as many lasagna sheets as you can fit in one layer (I can fit 6 in mine), then a layer of sauce, another layer of lasagna sheets, a layer of ricotta mixture, a layer of lasagna sheets and start the process again, until you get almost to the top.

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8674)

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8676)

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8679)

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8680)

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8683)

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8685)

Preheat the oven to 180ºC and set everything aside to prepare the bechamel. In a small heavy-based saucepan make a roux, by melting the butter, adding the flour and stir vigorously until you get a golden paste, around 6 minutes will do the trick. As you whisk, gradually add the milk, a little at a time. Whisk to avoid any lumps and once in a while scrape the bottom sides of the pan so that nothing sticks to it. Whisk in all the milk until you get a nice velvety sauce. Add salt and pepper and some grated nutmeg.

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8652)

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8655)

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8656)

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8657)

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8661)

Pour over the top of the assembled lasagna and bake for 1 hour.

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8691)

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8698)

Leave to stand for 15 minutes and serve to 6-8 hungry people! Enjoy with a glass of red.

Lasagna with Ricotta and Spinach (8700)

I hope you enjoyed the recipe and the photos. If you decide to try this over the holidays let me know! I always appreciate feedback.

Happy Holidays!

Rob x