Category Archives: Maltese Food

Stuffed Baked Aubergines

Baked Aubergines and Marrows (8213)

This week will be a stay-in week. Lucky you, I hear you say. Honestly, I would love to be out and about though, instead of being stuck with a very painful ear and throat infection that’s really making me lose both my patience and hours of precious sleep. I wasn’t even going to post anything for the next few days, but C&T really needs some love, care and attention right now, so here I am. I love being here, sharing recipes and cooking tips, and writing. Also I learn so much by reading comments and blogs by my favourite people. It’s totally worth being here. Even if half of my face is a mess and telling me to rest. Now.

However it’s going to be a rainy week they say, and what better excuse than to spend some time in the kitchen and bake. A very good friend of mine and her daughter gave me a couple of cake recipes which are the bomb. They are so good that I plan to share very soon. I just love it when people share their favourite recipes with me and in turn allow me to share them with you. I will give them a mention of course when I do just that, because that’s my style and I like to keep it that way. Come back for more later, but in the meantime onto today’s dish.

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Things I love about Malta #1

Traditional Sweet (9889)

These past few weeks have flown by like nothing, and I barely stopped for a break. It has been go go go from the get-go from the week before Easter until now – more like until I don’t-know-when-it-will-stop day. I’ll inform you if it happens. Besides that I can say that it’s all been good. The weather’s now getting better too. Hurrah for that! I’m also having a bit of a clear-out for this month. A good friend of mine is visiting us in 30 days she says: she’s counting down and I must clear the guest bedroom for her. That, my friends will resemble something out of the Exodus. I don’t dare think about it, as that room *is* the jungle. My mum suggested taking before and after photos. I, on the other hand, will stay away from that space as much as humanly possible.

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Baked Rice Revisited and Better Photos

Baked Rice Revisited (8362)

Among the most popular recipes you can find here on C&T is Baked Rice. Yes, it’s already up and has been up for quite some time now. The feedback has been so good – you cannot imagine how pleased I am at how it turned out. Although the photos on that post are decent, I still have a few more I want to show you just because they turned out better.

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Ricotta and Spinach Pie

Ricotta and Spinach Pie (8180)I would have liked to share with you loads of foodie and non-foodie photos I took over the past few months. However over the weekend I felt like baking a pie. I have written about my ricotta pie recipe quite a long time ago, and I felt quite torn about posting this recipe once more for fear of repeating myself too much. However I don’t think I made this for months, if not a year. My fondness for it has won hands down though, so I give it to you once more with some changes to the filling ingredients, and of course with a new set of pictures. I should add that the dishes of food that you see throughout this blog are eaten a few moments after those pictures are taken. The sweet things are generally shared, and what you see is what you get.

Ricotta and Spinach Pie (8171)This weekend was quite full on, with a day trip to Kent and a visit to Chartwell on Saturday. I then decided that Sunday was going to be all about some R&R, with some baking thrown in, just for kicks. Weekdays are usually left for the no-fuss stuff, so it’s nice to be able to spend an afternoon baking things which take a little bit more energy to make. J has been lovely as always and helped to iron roll out the pastry. Shortcrust gives me a headache sometimes (give me that elastic pizza dough anytime) but it’s worth the faff.

Ricotta and Spinach Pie (8172)Ricotta and Spinach Pie (8175)I can be a little OCD on this one but I prefer to use ounces for the pastry! I was taught that the basic rule of thumb for shortcrust is that the amount of flour should be twice as much (by weight) as the amount of fat.

  • 8 oz plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon of salt (optional)
  • 2 oz cold butter
  • 2 oz vegetable shortening
  • around 6 teaspoons cold water (the colder the better, especially if you have warm hands like me!)

Mix the flour, baking powder and butter in a bowl, using your thumbs and second and third fingers. Rub the butter into the flour for about 5 to 10 minutes, until it looks like breadcrumbs. The colder everything is the better. Add the water gradually as needed, remembering not to overwork the pastry. Wrap the finished product in cling film and set aside in the fridge until you need it. I like to keep it there for at least an hour, but I would say 30 minutes is enough.

For the ricotta filling:

  • 500g ricotta
  • 200g frozen peas
  • 300g baby spinach leaves, steamed in a pan with a couple of tablespoons of water
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 large egg

To prepare the filling, mix the ricotta, frozen peas, spinach, salt and pepper in a bowl, and taste. When the seasoning is as you like it, add the egg and give the ingredients one last light mix. When you are ready to assemble to pie, preheat the oven to 180ºC.

To assemble the pie, divide the pastry into two and roll it out on a clean and floured surface, a few inches larger in size than your pie dish. With the help of your rolling pin, lift the pastry and place it on the bottom of the dish. Fill the pastry with the ricotta mixture, then roll out the second piece of pastry and place this on the top. Secure the edges with your fingers. Prong with a knife, brush the top with preferably a beaten egg. Place in a preheated oven for around an hour, till it turns golden. It’s comfort food at it’s best.

Ricotta and Spinach Pie (8176)Ricotta and Spinach Pie (8177)Let it stand for a good 20 minutes before serving – it makes cutting it into slices easier and neater, especially for picnics, but don’t let this hold you back! Enjoy!

Rob x

Yogurt Pot Cake

Lemon and Yoghurt Cake (6556)

During a recent visit to Malta, I went through an old recipe file, still in storage. I wanted to find the very first cake I have ever baked. I flipped through the many sheets of neatly printed papers and there it was. Found it. You see, back in the days when I started to feel at home in the kitchen I was extremely methodical about keeping notes, writing and printing almost every recipe I tried. I had so much time on my hands, enough to feel really lonely…it was unbelievable. (My only regret is that I had no interest in blogging back then.) Alas, things have changed during the past few years and I have not been that good about organizing my notebooks. J came up with a strategy: there is a simple solution to all this, but to me it’s sounding more of a battle plan. So I am postponing what I should have done ages ago. Not good.

I digress so back to the cake. The precious paper (no rings here) contains a recipe for a “Yoghurt Cake”.  It has been ages since I made it so I won’t include it here; I might try it next week and take some pics. Right now I want to tell you about a similar bake, found in Nigellissima for another yogurt cake. Now I don’t know about you, but more often than not I tend to have a big pot of plain yogurt on the go in my fridge. I always get a 500g pot at the start of the week with the most basic, or rather, idealistic premise of a healthy breakfast. Of course, this plan goes completely awry by Wednesday, but not to worry: what remains of the pot goes into this cake. Well, 150 grams of it anyway!

When I bought Nigellissima, this was one of the recipes that caught my eye, and admittedly I thought that the savarin mould was irreplaceable. So this recipe was confined more towards the end of my list. However Nigella suggests using a 22/23cm springform pan, which I have; I just don’t like using it. So I used a normal non-stick round tin instead, which I still greased, and it worked well. (I always butter and flour non-stick pans when not using parchment paper.) A couple of weeks ago, I did get a savarin mould and I cannot wait to try it. I definitely will…very very soon…before my Maltese lemons run out. I’d better hurry! (If the lemons you have are not unwaxed, then don’t fret. Just rinse them with cold water, scrubbing them lightly as you go.*)

  • 150g plain yogurt
  • 150ml vegetable oil
  • 3 egg whites
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 250 golden caster sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • zest of ½ an unwaxed lemon*
  • 175g plain flour
  • 75g cornflour (or cornstarch)
  • 1 teaspoon icing sugar, for sprinkling on top of the cake before serving

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/gas mark 4 and grease the savarin mould or the tin of your choosing.

Whisk the egg whites till you get firm peaks and set aside.

In another bowl, tip in the egg yolks and add the yogurt and sugar, and whisk these well until airy.

Now, slowly add the vegetable oil while mixing the yogurt mixture; then add the lemon zest and vanilla extract.

Fold in the flour and the cornstarch in two or three batches, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl. When you have no lumps, stop mixing.

Gently fold the egg whites into the flour mixture. Keep it light. (It’s a bit like flicking and swishing a wand, if you’re a lovable show-off like Hermione.)

Tip the mixture into the greased cake tin or mould and bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Place it on a rack to cool. I would wait for another 15 to 20 minutes to remove it from the mould. Serve after sprinkling it with the icing sugar.

Enjoy! R xx

(This recipe is adapted from Nigellissima, Chatto & Windus, London, 2012.)