Saturday, May 26, 2012

Bread pudding (Pudina tal-hobz)

In our house, sometimes, there's so much bread that we could feed a small army. However, since no hungry army ever showed up, we end up wasting the bread and it is a pity.
In these times when people go hungry even in first world countries, food wasting is not something to be proud of.
So, I have been looking at almost whole loaf of bread and thinking what to do. Then it dawned on me, bread pudding!
Usually, this pudding is eaten in winter, but trust me, after you pop it in the fridge it can be a real treat on a hot summer day.
Thanking my mother in law for the recipe, I'm sharing it with all of you who stop by.


1 stale loaf of bread (or bread rolls, baguette, whatever makes up about 400 grams)
1 heaped cup of flour (plain or self-raising)
5 tbsp of sugar (I used Demerara sugar)
1 egg
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 heaped tbsp mixed spice
1 heaped tbsp cinnamon
handful of dried raisins
10-12 glacee cherries
about 2x5cm lemon, orange and mandarin peel, diced
handful of hazelnuts
10 dates, roughly chopped
4 tbsp candied peel
30 ml of brandy, whisky or bourbon (optional)
some butter for greasing the baking dish (if you're using non-stick dish, you can omit the butter)


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Tear the bread into chunks and soak in plenty of water for 15 minutes.
Squeeze out as much water as you can and put the bread into a mixing bowl. Knead well with your hands, so there are no lumps. Add the rest of the ingredients (in no particular order) and mix well with a wooden spoon until you have the consistency of a lumpy porridge.
Pour the mixture into a baking dish, level the top with a spoon and loosely cover the dish with foil.
Bake for 40 minutes like that and then remove the foil and return to the oven for additional 15-20 minutes, so the top gets little crust.
Let it completely cool in the baking dish before serving.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Cherry brandy clafoutis (Long live new and old friendships!)

As most of my readers already know, I am quitee fond of cooking...and trying out new recipes. Over a year ago one of my cousins added me to a cooking group on a social network and I have been sharing my recipes and taking note of new ones. All this with people I have never met, and there's a beauty to it. We do tend to help each other with advice, come up with an idea for a quick snack and whatnot.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the administrator of that group contacted me to tell me that I've got a surprise. Oh boy, what a nice surprise that was! A lady that (again) I never met, decided to send me a gift of a cook book, just because. No reason, no catch. What a lovely sentiment!

I promised the lady and the rest of the group members that I will make something and share it with them, so the first thing of course, was dessert. I love me my sweet thingies.

Now the recipe.

To serve 4:

200-250 fresh cherries, stoned and halved
2 tbsp cherry brandy
75 grams plain flour
55 grams light muscovado sugar
250 ml semi-skimmed milk
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
icing sugar to dust (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200C.
Divide the cherries equally among four 300ml ovenproof dishes, spreading them in an even layer. Drizzle the brandy over the cherries and set aside.
Sift the flour into a bowl and add the sugar.
In a jug, whisk the eggs, milk and vanilla, then whisk into the flour mixture to make smooth batter.
Divide the batter equally among the dishes, pouring slowly over the cherries.
Bake about 20 minutes or until lightly set and pale golden. 
Dust with icing sugar if you like and serve warm.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Salmon goujons

Just in case someone is wondering what on Earth goujons are, let me tell you, it is not something complicated. Goujons is just a posh word for breaded strips of chicken or fish. Not quite fish fingers, but something along the lines.
Lately, I've developed an appetite about salmon and I'm always on the lookout for new ways of preparing it. I mean come on, how many ways you can bake or grill it, eh? No, frying is out of question, I tried once and decided not to do that ever again. Salmon is oily enough as it is.

So, I won't drag you around the corners of my mind and the thoughts around, but I will give you the recipe.


To serve 2 persons

2 boneless, skineless salmon fillets (about 6cm wide) 
Some plain floor for coating
1 egg, beaten
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
zest of 1/2 lemon
2 generous handfuls of dry breadcrumbs
1 small handful of sesame seeds
1 small handful of pumpkin seeds
1 small handful of sunflower seeds
Some olive oil for greasing the dish


Preheat the oven to 200ÂșC
Set up a breading station by putting the flour on a shallow plate, then the beaten egg and the breadcrum mixture closest to the cooker.
Grease a baking dish with some olive oil.
Mix the breadcrumbs with the 3 kinds of seeds in a large dish and set aside.
Pat dry the salmon with a kitchen tissue, season with salt, pepper and lemon zest and cut 3 strips out of each fillet.
Roll the salmon strips into the flour, shake off excess. Then, dip into the beaten egg and at the end into the breadcrumb mixture. Place onto the baking dish and then continue with the rest of the strips.
Bake for 9-10 minutes, turning half way, until golden and crispy.

If you wish to add some more color, use 1 tsp of paprika into the bread mixture.
I used 'Panko' breadcrumbs that put the crunch in crunchy :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Koftas with yoghurt dip


1 kilo minced beef (or you can use any mince of your choice, lamb, turkey, chicken)
10 eggs
10 tablespoons olive oil (or any oil you like)
10 tablespoons flour
half litre (500 ml) of water
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
salt and ground black pepper to taste
little finely chopped parsley
1-2 cloves of garlic (very finely chopped or pressed)

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and let them stand 10-15 minutes.
Drop tablespoons of the mixture in hot oil. 

Note: You can deep fry them or you can put about an inch of oil in a frying pan and turn them with the help of 2 forks.

You can adjust the quantities given these measurements. For example, out of 200 grams meat and the rest of ingredients reduced to scale, you get 12 koftas. 


Yoghurt dip:

1 small tub (200 grams) Greek style yogurt
½ cucumber grated
1 clove pressed garlic
5-6 leaves of finely chopped mint
pinch of salt.

Mix together all ingredients and put in a bowl or individual bowls. 

Zucchini burgers

For 10 (small-ish) burgers you will need:

500 grams finely diced zucchini
2 tbsp olive oil
75 grams buffalo mozzarella
50 grams fresh breadcrumbs
2 cloves finely diced garlic
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 lightly beaten egg
some finely chopped parsley
50 grams grated Parmesan
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
little flour for dusting


Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius.

Heat the oil and lightly fry the diced zucchini about 5 minutes. You need texture, so do not over-fry them. Set on several sheets of kitchen paper to absorb the oil.
Add the zucchini into a mixing bowl and add the buffalo mozzarella. Break with the back of a wooden spoon.
Add the breadcrumbs, garlic and lemon zest and stir to combine. At the end, add the lightly beaten egg, Parmesan and parsley and season with pepper and salt.
With damp hands shape small burgers, dust them with little flour on both sides and put on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Bake for about 10 minutes on each side, or until golden.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Chicken schnitzel with grilled vegetables and messy Caprese salad


200g stale sourdough bread
50g Parmesan cheese, grated
6 sprigs thyme, leaves only
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves only
couple of chopped flat parsley leaves
Pinch of salt and some ground black pepper
2 chicken breast fillets
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk 
70g plain flour (seasoned with salt and pepper)
3-4 tbsp olive oil for frying
20g butter

Grilled vegetables:

1 medium aubergine (eggplant) thinly sliced
1 large zucchini sliced at angle
1 red capsicum
1 yellow capsicum 

For the Caprese salad:

Handful of cherry tomatoes sliced in half
3-4 bocconcini mozzarella
2-3 basil leaves, torn by hand, not chopped
dash of extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper


In a food processor put the stale bread torn in bite size pieces and add the grated Parmesan. Pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the herbs, season with little salt and black pepper and continue pulsing until you have nice, small breadcrumbs.
Take the filleted chicken breast, place on a chopping board in between 2 sheets of cling film and lightly pound with a meat mallet, to flatten it.
Place the seasoned flour on a flat plate. Whisk the egg and milk in a bowl with a fork and place the breadcrumbs mixture in a deeper dish.
Take a fillet, place in the flour and lightly coat on both sides. Shake the excess.
Nest, dip the fillet into the egg mixture, let it drain and then dip into the breadcrumb mix.
Fry on olive oil, about 3-4 minutes on each side. 
Just before the bottom side is done, reduce the heat, add the butter and let it brown.
Place the schnitzels on a plate lined with kitchen paper, to drain the excess oil.

For the grilled vegetables, arrange the sliced veggies into a bowl and add some salt and little olive oil. Let them stand until the griddle pan is getting heated.
Lightly brush the pan with some olive oil and arrange the vegetables on it. Grill for about 4-5 minutes on each side.

Caprese salad:

Mix the torn mozzarella and tomatoes in a bowl. Add some torn basil, a sash of extra virgin olive oil and little freshly ground black pepper. Toss lightly, so the mozzarella and tomatoes are nicely covered with the oil.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Let them eat cake!

For a couple of years I have been hearing about this stunningly beautiful setting of a particular restaurant and a caffe. However, after looking at their price list, I won't be going there any time soon. I find the notion of paying € 6.00 for a slice of cake utterly ridiculous. No slice of cake is worth that much, even if the owner of the restaurant is of noble birth.
I don't really read newspapers, I admit, I only buy them on Sundays, and this past Sunday, there was lovely surprise in a form of a food magazine together with the newspaper.
Surprise, surprise, Baroness Muffy shared 3 of her cake recipes with everyone who bought the newspaper that day!
I told you that no cake is worth those 6.00. (Photo borrowed from Trip Advisor. Told y'all that I haven't been there).

So, I decided to try, guess which one of Muffy's cakes?! The Chocolate Layer Cake, of course!
Here's what you will need for about 8-12 slices, depending how big or huge you want to cut them.

Cake ingredients:
225 grams unsalted butter
225 grams caster sugar
4 eggs
175 grams self-raising flour
55 grams cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder

Buttercream frosting:
200 grams unsalted butter
350 grams icing sugar
150 grams dark chocolate


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a 20cm cake tin with a little butter and then baking parchment.
In a bowl beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs. 

Sift the cocoa, flour and baking powder and fold into the butter mixture. Spoon into the baking tin and bake 45-50 minutes until soft and springy.
Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Slice the cake horizontally into 2 layers ready for frosting.

For the frosting:

Melt the chocolate over a pot of boiling water. Stir in the butter and allow to cool before adding the sugar. Stir occasionally until the mixture is a thick spreading consistency.
Use half of the mixture to spread on the base of one sponge and use the rest to cover and decorate the cake.

As you can see, I decided to add my own twist to the decoration and went little enthusiastic with the cream. The strawberries are there just because I think that there's nothing better than strawberries, chocolate and cream in one place :)
Although it is indeed a good cake, I repeat, one slice is not worth €6.00, considering that with that money you will gather the ingredients for the whole cake... and feed between 8-12 people with it!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Work in progress

Sorry about the is a work in progress :)

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Sometime, somewhere, I had read that muffins are just ugly cupcakes. Strongly believing that (almost) everyone is entitled to their opinion, I disagree with that statement and claim that muffins and cupcakes are cousins.

Speaking of cousins, brings me fond memories of my cousins and my grandma Stefana. She had this little cottage and there was meadow behind where we used to run and pick flowers. Ah, memories! The reason I'm ranting about muffins and my grandma in a same place has a point, I promise. You see, it is thanks to my grandma (may she rest in peace) that I discovered poppy seed. She was visiting and one day, she took me to see a cousin of hers. I was probably 6 or 7 at that time. As the custom goes in the ole' country, when guests arrive, you start taking out food and piling it on the table. Among the piles of food, there was something I hadn't seen before. It was poppy seed cake and I fell in love with the taste!

I haven't been quite successful in trying to reproduce that particular flavour, but that's probably due to the fact that I never tried. However, my mom can do that with closed eyes.

Recently, while shopping in a health food store (yeah, I do know where they sell healthy stuff), I took a small pack of poppy seeds. I don't know why I did it, but nonetheless, I got it.

So, today I'm sitting bored out of my wits and hating the pile of clothes that needs to be ironed and suddenly I remembered the poppy seeds. Off to the lab and experiments! So, here's the result, fluffy, flavoursome and just as intended.
Lemon & Poppy seed muffins

For 4 BIG muffins, you will need:

75 grams sugar
1 large egg
155 grams flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
60 ml plain yogurt
15 grams poppy seeds
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbsp olive oil
5-6 tbsp milk


Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Combine the wet ingredients with a whisk and add to the dry ingredients. Mix just enough to combine. Divide the bater equally among 4 large muffin cases and bake 20-25 minutes.