Category Archives: Summer

Quick Lentil Salad

Lentil Salad with Rice (9929)

Before I start writing a post for this blog, I also browse through my old photos as well as the more recent ones. There’s always a throwback in there which for some reason has either escaped my noticing it, or has lost its turn to be replaced in line with a new recipe or an exciting book review. There’s nothing I like best other than to spend my winter afternoons and early evenings in my study, reading or writing and sipping hot chocolate. In summer I just can’t get my mind to concentrate much. Aprile dolce dormire, the Italians say, dolce dormire roughly meaning a sweet sleep. So while C&T HQ keeps on working on the writing, recipes and other miscellaneous photos, I can spend some time sorting through my archives.

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Image and link to the recipe: Beef Burger

Burger with Grilled Peppers (9936)I don’t know about you but we haven’t used the BBQ in this house yet. I bet you guys are cooking up a storm and grilling to your heart’s content, but I’m doing nothing of the sort. I’m cooking yes, but only because we have to eat, but during these hot days there’s no enjoyment to be found in the kitchen.

Continue reading Image and link to the recipe: Beef Burger

Peach and Chickpea Curry with Noodles

Peach and Chickpea Curry (9137)

I have been meaning to post this recipe for quite a while and I guess there’s no time like the present. It was almost not going to happen, and as I’m writing this it didn’t happen yet. The people upstairs are blasting away at the wall installing their aircon, and now I’ve got Celine Dion blasting in my ears in turn. Thank goodness for noise-reducing headphones! There’s a solution for everything…well, almost. But now I’m back in the game baby and it feels good.

This morning has been rough. I woke up in a tizzy (is that expression still used today?) after taking for ever to sleep, downed some hot chocolate (not a good idea in this heat) before I changed into something other than my pyjamas to visit my mum. A few trips to the grocery store, veggie truck and other errands, and I was knackered. So if you see a typo or two today, please be kind!

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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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Lunch

Lunch (7968)We just had a late-ish lunch, and this is what I had. See? I *can* be good…sometimes. When I took the picture I didn’t add any dressing. I totally forgot about it. When we’re having salad I usually throw everything in one big bowl, mix and we help ourselves, but lately I have been prepping the veggies in different containers and we then add what we want at the table. I know that it might appear a bit of a faff, and I confess that sometimes it is, but for days like today, when I had some time to myself in the kitchen, I decided that in the long run (well, for today and tomorrow at least) it’s easier to keep the veggies separate. Storing them in the fridge separately will keep them fresher for longer and will give me the freedom to use them as they are for cooking if I choose to.

Today my salad had lettuce, watercress, baby spinach, plum tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of tuna chunks, 2 strips of anchovies, Kalamata olives, chickpeas, an egg and some basil on top. For the dressing, I had some ranch today but I usually prefer a simple concoction of EVOO, lemon and a pinch of pepper. It’s Summer. Finally.

Rob x

Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry-Muffins-(6541)A very good friend of mine always asks me for more muffin recipes. I get this. Unlike cakes, my personal preference if I were to choose (I don’t think so), muffins are charming little things. Even though I may have a muffin with my coffee when out running errands, I prefer homemade ones. Somehow shop-bought ones seem too big, too out there if you know what I mean.

Sometime ago I was invited to a YSL event at a local store. In one corner the ladies prepared a spread of pretty little cupcakes, which seem to be all the rage nowadays. To me they looked more inviting than all the expensive stuff in the shop. They were good, a bit on the small side, but good nonetheless. One would argue that you cannot look sophisticated while devouring a large chunk of cake! I went home and I wanted to bake something in between.

Homebaked muffins will be smaller than the huge things you might get at the store but don’t let that deter you. You can make the mixture in five minutes flat and they are so convenient when you have people round for afternoon tea. All you need is coffee! Blueberries are great here, but you can use whatever you want…strawberries, raspberries, or perhaps a mixture of both. Makes 12.

  • 250g plain flour
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 120g unsalted butter, softened almost melted
  • 120g golden caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 100ml milk, preferably full-fat
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 180g blueberries

Line a 12-hole muffin tray with muffin cases and preheat the oven to 190ºC.

In a large bowl, sift the flour and baking powder together and set aside.

In another bowl, beat the butter together with the sugar, eggs, milk, lemon zest and juice till everything is just combined.

Fold in the flour mixture gently into the wet ingredients preferably with a spatula. Tip in the blueberries, and don’t overmix. A lumpy batter is exactly what you want here!

Using an ice-cream scoop, distribute the mixture evenly in the tray and bake for approximately 15 to 18 minutes. They should be ready by then but always check by inserting a skewer in the middle of one muffin just to be sure.

Place them on a cookie rack to cool, and eat them when they are slightly warm on the same day. They should keep in an airtight container until the next day – good excuse to invite a good friend for tea. Enjoy!

Rob x

(Adapted from River Cottage Handbook No. 8: Cakes, Pam Corbin, Bloomsbury, 2011.)

Sweet and Sour Leeks with Ricotta and Chilli

Sweet and Sour Leeks with Ricotta from Takes 5 (7556)Before I write anything else I have this to say: to all those working in bakeries and kitchens, hats off to you! You are my heroes! Now, I would be lying if I told you we didn’t bake anything in the last two weeks (I baked once in the past 14 days)! I did promise myself not to, until it cools down a bit. I kinda like this weather though (I hate the heat – there I said it, but please don’t hate *me*) because my fridge is stocked with as many fruit and veggies as it can hold. And after running errands all morning I bought a seasoned roast chicken because I just couldn’t face the stove. I have plenty of leftovers and will make some salad wraps for dinner later today. Nice and easy. But…

Sweet and Sour Leeks with Ricotta (7557)The reality is I cannot avoid cooking a hot meal for too long and I don’t think I can handle eating cold salads everyday for however long this heatwave is going to last. So I came across this recipe which I really really like: something new from Takes 5 by James Tanner. It’s a book I have liked ever since it was published three years ago I believe, well worth the money. I have cooked from it time and time again, and some of the recipes have become part of my off-the-cuff list of dishes. Not to mention what a lovely person James is: apart from being a great chef (we all know that), his heart is in the right place. James’ new book is finally out now, and here at C&T we are very happy about it. Until our copy arrives and we will wait eagerly by the door just in case the doorbell is not working properly and we miss it, we made this recipe with minor changes* which we had with grilled steak.

Sweet and Sour Leeks with Ricotta (7547)Sweet and Sour Leeks with Ricotta (7548)

  • 4 leeks, washed and cut into 1cm pieces* (James uses baby leeks)
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar*
  • 3 tablespoons golden caster sugar*
  • 450ml water
  • 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • 200g ricotta
  • pinch of salt*
  • splash of extra virgin olive oil*

Sweet and Sour Leeks with Ricotta (7550)Sweet and Sour Leeks with Ricotta (7551)

In a large pan, pour in the vinegar, sugar and water. Bring to the boil and add the chopped leeks. Bring to the boil once more, then cover the pan and simmer for around 10 minutes, or until the leeks turn soft. Remove the leeks from the pan and drain (you don’t need the liquid).

Turn the grill on to high. Using the sharpest knife you have (taking care it doesn’t go on your fingers) cut the already chopped pieces of leeks in half and place them on a baking tray or tin. Top them with the dried chilli and chunks of ricotta. Grill for 5 minutes until the ricotta turns a little golden.

Sweet and Sour Leeks with Ricotta (7558)

I will try this with some glazed ham, when the weather’s cooler. Enjoy!

Rob x

(Adapted from Takes 5 by James Tanner, Kyle Cathie Limited, 2010.)