Category Archives: recipes

Poached Pears in Red Wine Syrup

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I wanted to post this recipe in time for Easter. (I’m also preparing for Christmas!) If you’re celebrating with family and friends this could be an option for you whether you’re having some other pudding or not. If you are having a second for dessert I would suggest serving some kind of chocolate fudge pudding or chocolate fondant. Chocolate and pears are a great combination I promise you! I must tell you now that this is a combination of two recipes. J has been making these since I’ve known him, but recently I have found one in The National Trust Complete Traditional Recipe Book by Sarah Edington. It’s ideal for special occasions and gatherings or even a romantic supper for two. For mega impact prepare this with the largest freshest sweetest pears you can find. They mustn’t be too soft because they’ll just crumble on you as you heat them up with the syrup and wine. You can also prepare them a few days ahead of when you want to serve them and keep them for up to five days in the fridge. It’s also easy to scale up or down – you only need one pear per person! As a guide for 6 people you’ll need:

  • 500ml red wine
  • 110g caster sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground ginger
  • 6 large pears
  1. In a stainless-steel saucepan, one big enough to hold all the pears upright, pour the wine, sugar, cinnamon and ginger. Heat these very gently until all the sugar has dissolved in the liquid. Then bring this to the boil and simmer for around 5 minutes.
  2. Peel the pears with a good peeler as thinly as possible. Try not to remove a lot of flesh from the fruit, and leave the little stalk on the top, just because it will look nicer. Place the pears into the hot syrup and make sure you have enough so that the pears are completely immersed (it’s very important to pay attention not to burn yourself here), cover the pan and leave to simmer for around 15 to 20 minutes or until the pears are tender. They will also turn rich deep red in colour.
  3. Remove the pears from the pan using a slotted spoon and place each one in a bowl. Taste the syrup for sweetness and add a tablespoon or so of caster sugar. Boil the liquid quickly without covering the pan to allow the wine syrup to reduce.
  4. Some recipes tell you to let the syrup cool a little bit before you pour it on each individual pear. I, on the other hand prefer it hot (don’t ask me why but it’s so comforting) but this totally depends on your personal preference.

Just serve as is, plain, simple without any fuss. Happy Easter!

Rob x

Penne with Summer Vegetables.

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Perhaps it is too early to talk about summer, especially because I’m writing this on a chilly day. Early days indeed. It will soon be here. That’s what I keep telling myself. To me, summer is about long walks, blue sky, fresh good food and minimal time in the kitchen. That’s why I think of pasta as fast food – not necessarily the unhealthy kind either. Though it could easily be also! I must confess though that these days I prefer whole wheat pasta. I love white pasta too and wish I could eat it more often. I have discovered the half whole wheat half white type during these past few months and I like to keep this in stock in my pantry for a quick supper solution. Pasta recipes are so versatile that you can use whatever you like. This recipe serves up to 4 people, depending on how hungry you all are. The sauce is a bit spicy so adjust the chilli according to taste. I know that some people cannot eat chilli due to allergies, so substitute it with pepper instead. For this simple recipe you need:

  • 500g penne rigate
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons olive oil (not extra virgin)
  • 2 red onions, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed or finely chopped
  • 2 courgettes, diced
  • 1 green or red pepper, diced
  •  400g polpa di pomodoro (or chopped fresh tomatoes)
  • ½ teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste (concentrate)
  • pepper, to taste
  1. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.
  2. In a shallow pan, but big enough to hold the pasta for later, pour in the olive oil, and throw in a small piece of onion. When it starts to sizzle add the onions and garlic. After a few minutes add the courgettes and diced pepper. Toss the vegetables together and listen to the sound of the pan. Yummy.
  3. Then add the polpa di pomodoro, chilli flakes, paprika, brown sugar and tomato paste. If you have fresh tomatoes please use those instead. I rarely find good tomatoes where I live, even in summer, which is such a pity!
  4. Leave the sauce to simmer and taste it for seasoning. Add pepper if necessary. When the pasta is cooked to your liking, toss it well in the sauce. I find that penne rigate are one of the better kinds to use here. The sauce will adhere better to the pasta. But again – this is only a guide!

Grab a plate, help yourself and eat this preferably outside underneath the Sun. Enjoy!

Rob x

Snacks.

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These are only a few simple ideas. One of the most wonderful things to eat whenever I want to go back home without going to the airport is to make Ħobż biż-Żejt. It’s so easy: take one Ftira or two thick slices of Maltese sourdough bread, tomato concentrate, fresh sliced tomatoes of you can, canned tuna, olives, capers, anchovies (optional but I love them), lettuce, spring onions and loads of freshly ground black pepper. I make crusty baps to go with that; unfortunately I don’t find good sourdough where I live.

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If you don’t like the sound of this, though I still have to find one person who doesn’t, try making a panino with sliced fresh tomatoes, any kind of cheese you want, spring onions and mushrooms, pepper with a dash of extra virgin olive oil. Now imagine a terrace, fresh air, tea or coffee or whatever you fancy. You might also decide to indulge in something sweet. Summer is definitely in the air…

Enjoy!

Rob x

For lunch today…

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This is what I’m planning to have for lunch today. Sometimes I am really really good! I love salad and I don’t even need a complicated dressing to make me happy. Some extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of half a lemon is fine by me. Once in a while I like to add a little bacon for some saltiness and a little treat with mushrooms and an egg to keep me going. It’s fresh and speedy – just what I need during very busy days…Yum. You need lettuce, one chopped fresh tomato, one boiled egg, a couple of mushrooms fried gently with a little bacon and pepper and a dressing of extra virgin and lemon. For one.

Enjoy!

Rob x

Honey-glazed carrots.

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This is such a simple side dish which can be prepared in minutes, when you’re in a hurry or you need just one more thing for supper. J really likes it and although it’s not one of my favourites I can honestly say that I do need to eat veggies more often!

You just need to have at hand some carrots, usually one or two per person, a knob of butter (around 25g) and two tablespoons of honey. All you need to do is to wash and peel and chop the carrots. To avoid chopping you can even use baby carrots. (Fresh please – not from the tin.) Drop the butter in a very hot pan and tip the carrots in. Stir well and cook for around 10 minutes, depending on how al dente or not you like your vegetables to be. Finally add the honey and leave to bubble for another 5 minutes.

If you like you can season with salt and pepper but since this is meant to show off the sweetness of the carrots I wouldn’t suggest using too much. A quick and easy recipe – just what you need when you have guests at home…

A note for those who don’t like honey – you can also use some dark brown sugar in it’s place. Around 2 tablespoons will do.

Enjoy!

Rob x