Archive for the ‘News & Recipes’ Category

Pork fillet in puff pastry

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

It’s all about luck in this world. Why is it that some domesticated animals share our bed while others get stuck in the mud? It’s the story of the dog and the pig. The former nowadays even have their own trimming parlours – and if the owner is one Paris Hilton, then the dog will have a diamond studded collar. Not so the pig. Apart from the movie “Babe”, pigs have always had it tough, labelled as the dirtiest animal on earth (remember Rasher in the Beano?).
And it’s ironic really, because it was the very first animal to be domesticated – way before the dog, even before the cow come to that. The pig, thanks to its very flexible character, was domesticated as early as 5000BC, from the wild boar, somewhere in the Near East.
And that was when pork came to be on the kitchen menus, and in such varieties: it could be cooked, cured or smoked. Pigs were also clever with their noses – leading early man (and woman) to those priceless delicacy of underground fungus called truffles. Moreover their hide was used for shields and shoes and their bones for tools. Really, all considered we should have pig monuments all over in recognition of their contribution to humanity. Perhaps that is Why George Orwell in Animal Farm gave them the top-most position of power.

Pork in Malta has always been a bit of a speciality. D.H. Lawrence, the twentieth century English author, who came to Malta in 1920 remarked that Maltese bacon was excellent. According to Pippa Mattei, in her book “25 Years in a Maltese Kitchen”, he was so taken to it that: “when staying in a villa outside Taormina in Sicily, he wrote to a Maltese friend asking him to send some Maltese salted butter and some of that good Maltese bacon, because Italy was suffering from depravation after the first world war.” One wonders what he would have said to this scrumptious pork fillet rolled in puff pastry.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 pork fillet
  • 1 puff pastry
  • 150 grams blue cheese
  • 100 grams feta cheese
  • 1 tartufo paste
  • butter
  • 1 onion
  • 1 egg
  • fresh cream
  • flour

Serves 2

Preparation time: 30 min

Cooking time: 20 min

 

 

Method:

Heat the oil in a large frying-pan, add butter and cook the fillets over moderate heat until they are lightly browned in order to seal the meat. Remove from the frying-pan and drain on absorbent paper.
To make the stuffing mix the onion, blue cheese, tartufo paste and feta cheese with some olive oil in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Roll out the pastry thinly on a floured surface. Place the pork fillet in centre of the pastry and spread the stuffing mixture over it. Fold over the edge of the pastry and roll it over. Seal the edges with some the egg, and use the remaining egg to glaze the pastry. Bake in oven at 200C for 20 min. Serve warm.
For the sauce, heat some butter in a pan, then add the remaining feta cheese and blue cheese and top up with a glass of white wine. Leave to simmer for a few minutes. Pour on top of the parcelled fillet.

Christmas Turkey

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

If you think about it, Christmas is all about making wishes. Children write letters to Santa with their wish lists for presents, while adults make wishes to bump into other adults under the mistletoe.
And if that’s not enough we’ve even planted wishing traditions in the Christmas nosh. Take the Christmas pudding (also called plum pudding although it contains no plums at all). This is traditionally stirred from east to west in honour of the 3 wise men and each family member gives the pudding a stir and makes a secret wish. Sometimes a euro piece is stirred into the pudding bringing luck to the finder on Christmas day, as long as it’s not swallowed, of course.
And then there is the turkey wishbone, which is said to bring good luck to the person who comes away with the largest piece of bone in a little tug of war for two. Again, the winner gets a wish.

If you’re the host of a Christmas lunch for twenty or so, your wish would probably be that the food you’ve just presented on the table is edible enough. It is a known fact that the majority of families in Europe will serve up a succulent roast turkey as the centre piece of their festive meal this Christmas. It will never be a game up for the turkeys, bless ‘tem.
But what goes on behind the scenes to get that turkey looking good on the Yuletide table? Ah. Mild panic, hysteria, stock which won’t reduce, vegetables which are over steamed, gravy which is overboiled and family members rowing furiously. A good idea would be to take it out on Henry VIII – he was after all the very man, the king, who came up with the stuffed turkey idea (or so the legend goes).
But this year, right at the point before lower lips start to wobble, Taste of Home shall come in, in the form of an angel from the heavens heralding the good news. Our stuffed turkey breast recipe is so easy to follow that you’ll be wishing that you’ll be hosting Christmas lunch everyday.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Turkey breast
  • 200g fresh mozzarella cheese finely chopped
  • 50 grams walnuts whole
  • olive oil
  • 1 pkt parma ham
  • 2 onions
  • 150 grams mushrooms
  • 1 fresh cream
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • white wine

Serves 4

Preparation time: 30 min

Cooking time: 45 min

Method:

For the sauce, sauté the finely chopped onions. Add the chopped mushrooms, glass of white wine and a teaspoon of tomato paste and the fresh cream. Simmer for 10 min.
For the turkey, place the parma ham pieces on a stretch of cling film. Place the turkey breasts on top of the parma ham and beat the turkey slices until they are flat. Place the mozzarella on top of the turkey together with the whole walnuts. Carefully roll into a roulade. Place in oven at 170C for 30 min. Let rest for 15 minutes. Slice and serve with sauce.

Lamb Shanks with Mashed Potato

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Mary Sawyer was a young girl who lived in Massachusetts in the early 1800s. There was nothing particularly striking about her except that one day, at the suggestion of her brother, she took her pet lamb to school. A commotion naturally ensued, which ended up with the teacher writing a poem about it, which in turn became a very popular nursery rhyme.

A statue representing Mary’s Little Lamb stands in the town center of Sterling, Massachusettes and till today mere tots know about her and can sing to her tune. Yes, Mary’s lamb is probably the most popular lamb in the world, except perhaps for Dolly.
Back in 1996, Dolly was the world’s hello to cloning possibilities. The BBC dubbed her “the world’ most famous sheep”, named after the famously busty country western singer – Dolly Parton. Dolly the sheep sadly departed in 2003 but her remains are still exhibited at the Royal Museum of Scotland.

Surely you got the gist by now. It’s lamb talk today. Or perhaps we could say lamb fodder. Lamb has long been a staple of the Maltese kitchen and chef Mark Triganza has laid out a delicious dish of lamb shanks.
Mint is the main herb, and the star ingredient of this easy-to-prepare dish. This herb has been used in cuisines since time immemorial, for its medicinal value to treat stomach ache. But not only: you might recall that Pliny the Elder, the famous Roman writer who insisted that his students wear wreaths of mint round their head because he believed “that mint improved man’s mind”.
Now this was never a Maltese tradition, but perhaps it’s never too late to adopt it

Ingredients:

  • 4 lamb shanks
  • 6 large potatoes
  • 2 aubergines
  • 4 marrows
  • 4 carrots
  • 2 onions
  • 1 mint sauce
  • English mustard
  • olive oil
  • fresh rosemary
  • white wine

Serves 4

Preparation time: 15 min

Cooking time: 50 min

 

 

Method:

Prepare the mashed potato and put aside. Heat some oil in a pan. Place the lamb shanks in the pan. Add a rosemary twig. Leave on heat till lamb is sealed. In a separate dish, place the sliced onions, carrots, marrows and aubergines. Remove lamb from pan and place in dish with the vegetables. Add mint sauce to the remaining sauce in the pan and leave to simmer for a few minutes, also adding two glass of white wine. Pour over the lamb and vegetables. Place dish in oven at 180C for 50 min. Serve over a bed of mashed potatoes.

Quails with Honey

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

I’ve heard it’s all rumours’ is the latest album of that British indie rock band from Devon called, aptly, The Quails. Perhaps you haven’t heard of them yet, but there’s a chance you might soon enough. According to the “independent family-owned newspaper” issued in their hometown of Teignmouth: “The Quails are fast gaining a reputation as one of the most impressive bands to emerge recently”. Bless.

Anyway if they do make it big one day, remember that you first heard about them in this space. And actually a close look at these rock boys, smallish, plumpish, with chubby cheeks and spiky quiffs, sort of remind one of quails – the bird version. They too are small, plump although of course unlike the rockers, come with brown plumage and a short tail.

Taste of Home has sparked off this new year with a lovely delicious recipe of quails wrapped in rashers of streaky bacon.
At just about 200 grammes each quail is one of the smallest game birds. A key advantage is that, being so small, they cook quickly. However their size also means that preparation can be fiddly, which is why it is best if they are purchased part-boned, with the rib cage and breast bone removed, so as to minimize preparation time.

Quails are richer in flavour than chicken but are comparatively mild for a game species. They pick up flavours from marinades quickly, so one has to be especially careful of marinades that are high in salt, and which is why Chef Mark Triganza opted for a touch of honey in the marinade.
Since you can find quails on the menus of the world’s best restaurants, this recipe will make your kitchen and dining room the “in place” to be. And there is no question about it, it will fast gain you a reputation as one of the most impressive, err, hosts, to emerge recently.

Ingredients:

  • 4 quails
  • 8 bacon rashers
  • 3 onions
  • 2 lemon
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 4 bay leaves
  • honey
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • a glass of red wine
  • 2 oranges

Serves 4

Preparation time: 20 min

Cooking time:40 min

 

 

Method:

Juice two oranges and add a tablespoon of honey to the juice of an orange. Stir in some orange zest. Slice the lemons in half and stuff the quails. Brush the quails with the honey and orange mixture. Spread the bacon rashers in a dish and put quails on the bacon. Place a bay leaf on each quail. Spread the sliced onions and garlic over the quails. Season. Pour remaining orange and honey sauce over the quails. Add the olive oil and a glass of red wine. Cover dish in foil and place in over at 180 C for 40 minutes.

Baked Fresh Fish

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

According to new research from the University of North Carolina, mothers who want bright little children should eat fish regularly during pregnancy, as it makes their babies brainier.

Children aged 15 months were tested for their understanding of words and those with mothers who ate fish more than once a week scored 7 per cent higher than those who ate no fish. Similar patterns were seen in tests on social activity and language development. Children who ate fish once a week before their first birthday also scored higher.

So, armed with this data, fish is a definite must in any kitchen. Moreover, in these days of headlines of global-warming, carbon footprints and runaway food costs. sustainability is a buzz word. As eco-warriors, journalists and foodies are giving ever more advice and opinion on what we should be eating, drinking and thinking, fish always tops the health food list.

On the one hand, fish require no fossil fuels to rear them, and perhaps the only fuel used is for transport, namely for the fishing boats and the vans to take said fish to their markets.

And on the other hand, fish is high in protein and, in some species like mackerel and sardines, rich in the omega 3 oils that we are told are so good for us. These fatty acids help to prevent heart disease and may help to prevent mild depression and to improve problems like dyslexia. Eating protein on a regular basis also helps to ward off the dreaded obesity.

The thing is fish needn’t be a daunting task to cook. As Chef Mark Triganza shows in this week’s recipe, it’s easy peasy. Why, even your little Einstein sprogs can do it – provided you’ve eaten fish when they were in the bun. Enjoy.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Dentici steaks
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 100gr black olives
  • 3 lemons
  • 2 glasses white wine
  • 200gr cherry tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • fresh basil chopped
  • fresh mint chopped
  • fresh parsley chopped

Serves 4

Preparation time: 10 min

Cooking time: 35 min

 

 

Method:

Place fish in a dish. Add the sliced onions and the chopped garlic. Add olive oil and fresh mint, basil and parsley. Pour some olive oil and fresh mint, basil, and parsley chopped. Season and add the juice of a lemon. Flip the fish over so both sides absorb the sauce. Add olives and the quartered cherry tomatoes. Pour a glass of white wine and cover. Place in oven at 190C for 35min.