I could have sworn I posted this curry recipe before. But as it happened I was browsing C&T earlier today and realised that I didn’t. It has been some time since my last one and I still have to get back into the gist of things. We are really busy at the moment, with a move to Malta coming up shortly in just a few weeks at my end. I am still getting used to the idea, not to mention preparing myself for the killer summer months ahead. Unfortunately I don’t have many summer recipes lined up, and this move threw me more than I could have ever imagined. So please forgive me if you see a few typos scattered here and there. I’m too distracted and preoccupied these days, which is not a good thing. (Seven years in Surrey flew by in an instant but what an experience it was!) I don’t feel organised at all and I’m trying to schedule as many posts, photos and recipes as I can. What I must do though is to take an August break. But more on that in future posts.
As I look out the window this afternoon, the sky is grey and so gloomy. Unbelievable. I won’t complain but boy we need the Sun, and soon! (Hopefully the weather will give us a break by the time this is published.) What do I do then to bring some sunshine in? I cook. This.
It’s very very easy. To me pasta is a healthier version of fast food. Did you know that four portions of sweet and sour pork from a takeaway have around 36g of salt? So why not make this instead? It’s really child’s play. You can even throw in some spring greens or some young baby spinach instead of the courgette, and some honey for extra sweetness.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or crushed
- 1 small onion, very finely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon chilli flakes
- pinch of salt
- 1 courgette, cut into cubes
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- shot of white vermouth
- 200g large frozen prawns
- 1 large tomato, cut into cubes
- juice of half a lemon
- 250g dried linguine
Fill a pasta pan with water and wait for it to boil.
In the meantime, place a large shallow pan on the heat and leave it to heat up properly. Pour in the olive oil (not extra virgin – it would be a waste) and on a gentle heat add the garlic, onion, chilli flakes, salt and stir.
Add the courgette, red pepper, give everything a stir or two and wait till the veggies are softened but still have a bite to them. If you prefer cook them for a few more minutes. Pour in a shot of white vermouth and let it bubble away.
Cook the linguine according to packet instructions; they usually take 7-9 minutes to cook through.
Now it’s time to add the prawns to the sauce. When these are done add the lemon juice and the tomato. Add a little pepper.
When the pasta is cooked al dente, drain and tip it into the sauce (that’s why you need a large pan), and mix everything well.
Serve immediately into 2-3 serving bowls and eat away.
A fresh weekday dinner great for Spring, preferably eaten in a garden or terrace. Enjoy!
A few weeks ago a very kind friend gave me some runner beans. Shame on me I didn’t know exactly what they were! I know it’s stupid. I can see you rolling your eyes. In my defense though, I never really seen them, or ate them, neither here nor in Malta. (I could have been living on Mars…) On the rock (what we *Maltese*, not *Maltesers* please, sometimes affectionately call our little island) you can get broad beans, known as ful, almost everywhere. Many like to eat them raw, shelled of course, with their outer coating removed. There’s something therapeutic about doing all this while watching your favourite tv show. (Like CSI perhaps?) In Malta you can find them cooked in minestra (a variant of the Italian minestrone), simply cooked with garlic and tomatoes, or in our famous bigilla, a tasty concoction which has cooked beans as the base ingredient, crushed, to which you add olive oil, garlic, chilli if you like spice and any herb you fancy. Anne and Helen Caruana Galizia suggest using either marjoram or mint – the latter grows like you wouldn’t believe in Malta. (See The Food and Cookery of Malta, Pax, 1999.)
We were talking about runner beans…? Yes. So I didn’t know what to do with them. J kept telling me that they don’t need to be shelled, but I would’t listen. I did eventually though and after doing some quiet research (quiet because he didn’t see me, ha!) I simply washed them, sliced them diagonally, sort of diamond-shaped, finally chopped an onion, squashed two cloves of garlic, chopped some chorizo and some fresh parsley, lightly cooked everything up in a pan and bam, it’s ready.
In the meantime I had a couple of rainbow trout in the oven and there you have a great meal on the table in 30 minutes. The same method and ingredients can also be used with any kind of green vegetable. Kale is fantastic and full of good things, and broccoli too. You won’t have any excuse not to eat your veg or 5-a-day. Enjoy!
I have been wanting to incorporate more fish in my diet for quite some time. So for the past few weeks I have been having fish for dinner on quite a regular basis. I have forgotten how much I love fish. I was never a very fussy eater, even as a child, or so my family tells me. I did not have a taste for vegetables and goodness knows how my mum managed to give me those, but I do think that on the whole I was good. I remember my grandma cooking lunch for us one day. On the menu: lampuki. (Maltese people are crazy about fish and I am one of them!) So my nan gave me a lampuka, gently fried in some oil and butter. I ate it with my hands to make sure I didn’t swallow any bones. (Xewk in Maltese – nice word! Though that happens to me every time…ugh.) The fish tasted of the sea. She was so impressed (my nan that is, not the fish) that she turned to my mum and said: “look at the skill!” I felt so proud. Sounds silly I know, but it’s the honest truth. I must have been around six years old at the time. Now I’m in my thirties and that memory has stuck with me. Food is almost always associated with memories, whatever our age. Lately I heard that many people in Malta have been having trouble finding lampuki this summer. Which brings me to ask are we just selling quality food to restaurants and leaving households without decent fresh local fare? (Also gone are the days when we could get those lovely, juicy, crinkly, beautiful tomatoes which we simply ate with good crusty Maltese sourdough bread and plenty of olive oil, salt and pepper. Such a shame.)
The taste of the Mediterranean is easily replicated at home, not to worry. You need the freshest fish you can get hold of: I used rainbow trout and last week I bought sea bass. Also the lovely James Tanner recommends sea bream because it’s in season at this time of year. I asked him how to cook the trout. In a tweet he suggested pan frying it and finish with capers, lemon, parsley and butter. Then I had a little setback – I had some capers preserved in salt from Malta but as in some things in life realised at the last minute that I had finished them. So instead I placed the fish on some roughly chopped onions in kitchen foil and cooked everything al cartoccio. To shop for fresh fish, look for nice clear eyes. The recipe (for 2) goes something like this:
- 2 sea bass, trout or any fish you might like (gutted and cleaned by your lovely fishmonger)
- 1 big onion, roughly chopped
- 4 lemon slices
- salt and pepper
- 4 tablespoons white vermouth (not dry, or white wine)
- 2 tablespoons butter (one on each fish; not margarine please)
- 2 tablespoons cream (optional, but makes for a better sauce)
- a scattering of olive oil on each fish
- This is easy. Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4. Get two big pieces of kitchen foil cut into two big squares and place them on a large baking dish.
- In each of piece of foil put: half the chopped onion, 2 lemon slices, salt and pepper, 2 tablespoons on vermouth or wine, 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon cream (you can leave this out) and some olive oil. You could also scatter some herbs. I love mine with fresh parsley, but other herbs such as tarragon, marjoram or dill are all good.
- Different fish require different cooking times. For the first time in years I have decided to switch off the fan in my convection oven. The sea bass took around 25 minutes to cook and the rainbow trout took 20 minutes; it is smaller in size.
I was a very happy lady when it was ready, and just in case you’re asking – yes, I did eat this with my hands! Enjoy!
When I have less time to cook or when the weather is miserable, or both, there’s nothing I love best than some inside grilling. So I open all the windows in my tiny kitchen, close the door, heat up the grill pan and switch on the extractor.
I coat two pieces of salmon with a tiny bit of olive oil, tarragon, add salt and pepper for seasoning and on the pan it goes.
I served with some seasoned pre-boiled potatoes which are also grilled, and salad. Eat up and enjoy!