Tag: Meridiana

Spinach and Chèvre Sandwich & my London book launch at the Maltese embassy

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

Malta, Berlin, London – three countries in less than 24 hours! The pace of my traveling fit the mood, vibrant and exciting, I didn’t want to rest. I arrived in England at noon, had at a scrumptious lunch at Ottolenghi Spitalfields and a chat with chef Sami Tamimi. To charge my batteries, I finished my meal with a double espresso and a luscious piece of Guinness chocolate cake with Bailey’s frosting. London looked bright and sunny as I stepped out onto the streets and I felt ready for my third book launch event, on the roof terrace of the High Commission of Malta in the English capital.

To make my travels feel even sweeter, I got to stay at the luxuriously relaxing Corinthia Hotel London. Right between St. James’s Park and the Thames, the location couldn’t have been better. I could walk to my event at the Maltese embassy and to my book signing at the Tate bookstore the next day. Before the festivities started, I had enough time to enjoy the amenities and comfort of the house, and especially the most beautiful marble bathroom I ever happened to see. It was marble heaven and I felt like a princess as I dressed up for my big night.

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

Unfortunately, the pretty lace dress that I had bought for this festive occasion didn’t really fit London’s weather conditions – it was freezing cold as I opened the door to the terrace of the High Commission of Malta. I wrapped myself in a warm coat most of the time, which I only took off quickly for the photographers and an interview. The jump in temperature between summery Malta and England’s rather rough climate was too painful. However, the stunning view over roof tops, church spires, and The London Eye made all of us forget about the weather. We just stood there, high up under the Maltese flag, astonished by London’s beautiful sunset, dramatically framed by the darkest clouds. We were lucky, not a single drop of rain fell onto the delicious looking buffet prepared by Kitty Coles (thank you so much, my dear) or into our glasses, filled with Meridiana‘s finest wines, poured by my book tour mate and Meridiana‘s best man, Karl Chetcuti.

I have to thank a few very special people who made this unforgettable night happen: His Excellency Norman Hamilton, High Commissioner of Malta, Nerissa Sultana, Political and Communications Officer, and their fantastic team at the embassy. Thank you for sharing the High Commission’s roof terrace with us, thank you for all your help and support, for all the time to exchange ideas for this event. Thank you Emma Cook from Prestel for helping me organize this special evening.

The speeches of the High Commissioner and of Andrew Hansen, Managing Director of Prestel Publishing London, both touched my heart, and then it was my turn to welcome our guests. It was too dark and windy to follow our manuscripts, our microphone decided to stop working, but that didn’t do our celebrations any harm. It felt like a scene from Peter Pan, high up over London’s roof tops, the air filled with laughter, glasses filled with good wine, and lots of delicious food on our plates. But unlike the book or movie, we didn’t need our imagination, it was all real.

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

Before we drove back to the airport, we enjoyed a sandwich that was so good that I decided to re-create it at home and share it with you: spinach and ripe chèvre in carrozza (meaning in a carriage). This sandwich is similar to french toast, however, it’s a savoury treat, lusciously filled and hearty. The combination of winter greens and ripe cheese was fantastic. I have an in carrozza sandwich recipe in my book, which I adore, but there are so many ways to fill two slices of bread!

Thank you London! xx

At the event, I was interviewed by Rita for her Share Food with Sainsbury’s Magazine radio show, you can listen to our chat here. To see all the pictures of the event in London taken by the amazing photographer Agnese Sanvito, click here. And here are the pictures of our book signing tour at Tate, Waterstones, and Foleys.

All the pictures of the launch are by Agnese Sanvito.

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch-2

Spinach and Chèvre Sandwich

Makes 2 sandwiches

spinach leaves, a large handful, about 140g / 5 ounces
fine sea salt
ground pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
ripe chèvre, about 60g / 2 ounces
organic eggs 2 (mine were quite small)
milk 3 tablespoons
plain flour 2 to 3 tablespoons
soft white bread 4 slices
butter, about 1 tablespoon
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar

In a large pot, bring salted water to the boil and blanch the spinach for 1 minute. Rinse with cold water, drain, and let cool for a few minutes. Using your hands, squeeze out most of the liquid and chop roughly. On a large plate, crumble the spinach and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste.

Cut the chèvre into thin slices, leave out 4 slices for the topping, and crumble the remaining cheese over the spinach.

In a shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread the flour on a flat plate.

Divide the spinach-chèvre mixture between 2 slices of bread, leaving a thin border around the edges. Top each with a second slice of bread and press the sandwiches together. Dip both sides of each sandwich in the flour until lightly coated. Carefully dip each sandwich in the egg-milk mixture, repeat until all the liquid is soaked up—mind that the filling stays inside.

In a large, heavy pan, heat the butter over medium heat and cook the sandwiches, turning and pressing down on them gently with a spatula, for a few minutes or until crisp and golden brown. Lay the remaining chèvre slices on top of the warm sandwiches and sprinkle with crushed pepper. Cut the sandwiches in half and serve immediately.

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch-2

 

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch-3

 

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch-4

 

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

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Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

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Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen London Book Launch

 

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Spinach Chèvre Sandwich In Carrozza

A Mediterranean Ħobż biż-Żejt sandwich and the most emotional book launch in Malta

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

So many emotions, tears and laughter, lots of food and wine, family and friends – I had the best time in Malta and enjoyed every moment of my second book launch event. Our plane landed late on our little island the Mediterranean, it was past midnight when I stepped out into Malta’s humid air. However, it wasn’t too late for a chat in the kitchen and a large piece of the island’s famous lampuki pie (only in season during September and October). I slept like a stone that night which was good, as the next days were packed with excitement.

My mother arrived a day before us, so we had a date, early in the morning. My man and I went up to Valletta to meet her for breakfast and then we went on a mission. The three of us drove to Sliema, to Daniela Bonello’s gorgeous shop Liu Jo, to find a dress for my first TV interview. I had no idea how this premiere would turn out, so I wanted to look pretty at least, in case I made a fool of myself. We had fun and found my new favourite dress, it’s cut perfectly and still allows me to eat as much as I want – an ideal dress in my eyes. Afterwards, we had enough time for a short dip in the clear blue sea and a drink to celebrate our reunion at our beloved beach bar, at Exiles. Knowing what was soon to come, we enjoyed the calm before the storm, before books and drinks had to be picked up for the big event on the following day, before phone calls and last minute decisions had to be made; and so the afternoon flew by.

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

The evening turned into a far bigger (and more excessive) feast than expected, we met family and friends at Chris’ Legligin Wine BarWe ate Maltese tapas, drank local wine, and then at the end, late at night, Chris sang a song for us to celebrate the Eat In My Kitchen book. There was a moment that I’ll never forget, I looked into my mama’s eyes and both of us couldn’t stop smiling. It might not have been responsible to indulge in the pleasures of this long night a day before a book launch, but it would have been a sin to miss it. Although we all felt a bit rough the next morning, no one had any regrets.

The good thing about a busy event day is that there isn’t really enough time to be nervous and think about what’s going on. I got up, dressed up, drove to the TVM station, and started the interview before I even noticed that we were live on air. It was all over after just a few minutes and I found myself surprised, happy, and relieved in front of the TVM building. Thank you Ben Camilleri for inviting me to Twelve to 3! You can watch my interview here.

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

When we packed the car with all the things you need at a book launch (a lot!), we noticed that we didn’t really think about where my mama would sit. Both of us dressed up in pretty dresses, we squeezed ourselves onto the front seat of our wobbly jeep (my mother says this car feels like a boat) and arrived safely in front of the impressive gates of the stunning Villa Bologna. Jasper de Trafford and his lovely mother Charlotte were so kind to share the baroque gardens of their beautiful villa with us for our special night. Villa Bologna is one of these places that feels unreal when you see it for the first time. It’s too beautiful, too special, too out of this world, it’s simply too perfect to be true. I fell in love with the building, but even more so with its gardens. To have been able to celebrate my Malta book launch right there, is a great gift, it’s a precious memory that I’ll never forget in my whole life. Thank you Jasper and Charlotte!

The night flew by far too quickly, as always when life feels so good that you could hug the whole world. There were only smiling faces around me, friends and family who are close to me, but also people who I’ve never met before who just seemed so happy to see their local culinary treasures in a book. I don’t know of another country where people support each other so genuinely. I felt so much love that night, so much excitement. When I held my speech – the most emotional of all my speeches so far – I felt my heart pumping like a race car, but at the same time it felt so good to be surrounded by all my loved ones. By my mama, who inspired me to write this book, by my man who goes through the roughest times with me no matter what obstacles we find in front of us, my Maltese mama Jenny who brought so much joy – and her son – into my life. Prestel UK’s PR executive, Emma Cook, who flew down from London to welcome our guests together with Peter Carbonaro, our dear friend who came straight from Ibiza to join our celebrations. Mr Cini, my salt man from Gozo and his wife Rose, their daughter Josephine and her family, they all came from Gozo just for this night. And then, when my salt family met my honey man, Arnold Grech, we witnessed one of the many highlights of this night. It was a moment that we’ll all never forget, two of Malta’s food ambassadors met in front of the historic setting of Villa Bologna. Mama, stuttering and in awe, said ‘this is like a Fellini movie’. I usually wouldn’t choose this word, but here it fits perfectly, this moment was epic.

Luckily, lots of pictures were taken by the great photographer Kris Micallef, thank you for catching all these unforgettable memories. The lights went off in the magical gardens of Villa Bologna, and then, just happiness, and a last glass of wine in Valletta at The Harbour Club before I said goodnight to my Malta, and went to bed.

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

When I decided to jump into my extensive book tour in Europe and in the US, I made a wise choice. I knew that I wouldn’t have enough time to cook the recipes from my book myself. In Malta, I had the helping hands from my dear friend Marina Fabic, I wouldn’t have managed this without her. She’s an angel and a fantastic chef, thank you for your belief, support, and help, my friend! Dani Vella, the young founder of Flora’s in Naxxar, baked the cakes for our event and she and her team made my creations look even prettier than in my book. You guys are amazing, thank you! There’s one recipe in the sweet chapter of my book, which isn’t my own, it’s Joanna Bonnici’s delicious Pudina. When I tried this local speciality at her house for the first time, I knew I’d need her Maltese bread pudding recipe if there was ever an Eat In My Kitchen book. I wrote a book, Joanna gave me her family recipe, and now we’re both in a book. Joanna is the sweetest mama, she’s a true inspiration in the kitchen, and the right person to talk to if you want to learn about Maltese cuisine.

I wanted my book launch events to be like a family feast, or like a relaxed dinner party with friends, with good food and lots of wine. And we managed so far. A great man and connoisseur, Karl Chetcuti from the Meridiana Wine Estate Malta, is the reason why we have exceptional wine at all of my book launch events. Karl, without you and your wine, my book tour wouldn’t taste as good and it wouldn’t be as much fun either. Thank you for supporting me and even traveling through Europe with us.

The event in Malta was the biggest of all of them, there were more than 120 people. As I saw our guestlist becoming longer and longer, I called for help. Brian Calleja from Island Caterers answered immediately and sent me Jesmond and his colleagues. From that moment, I didn’t have to worry about anything. They set up all we needed, served our dishes, and had the whole event under control until the last guests disappeared and silence returned to the gardens of Villa Bologna. Thank you!

And last but not least, a shout-out to Jo Caruana and Iggy Fenech, my fabulous PR team in Malta. You took care of this event, you spread the word about the Eat In My Kitchen book, and you’ve both done an amazing job. You can see, read, and watch many of the articles and interviews initiated by this power duo under Press.

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

And then the calm came back. On the last night before my mother left the island, we enjoyed an unforgettable dinner at Rita’s Lapsi View. We were the only guests sitting outside, as a chilled breeze blew over the cliffs. The view was too good and the silence out there too tempting to leave our table and go inside (which is also quite an experience, thanks to the restaurant’s original 60s interior, and hopefully it’ll never change!). The owner had to be waiter and chef that night, usually he’s neither, but he didn’t mind. He only asked my mother for help, to mix our Aperol Spritz, an offer that she gladly excepted. She went straight behind the bar and our chef started cooking.

I’ve eaten at Rita’s very often, and it’s always good, but this night’s dinner was outstanding: raw and grilled Maltese prawns, calamari and caponata, pasta rizzi (sea urchin), a whole St. Peters fish cooked to perfection, and freshly baked mqaret. It was a feast – another one. At the beginning of our extensive dinner, as we enjoyed the last sips of our drinks mixed by mama, looking into the golden sunset, our chef teased our appetite with a Maltese classic: the popular Ħobż biż-Żejt. Thick slices of Maltese sourdough bread spread with olive oil and kunserva, a concentrated, sweet tomato paste. The most basic version would be to season it with salt and pepper, at Rita‘s they add thin slices of raw red onion and fresh mint leaves. My mama almost went ecstatic, she was so impressed by the flavours and the simplicity of this local pleasure.

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

And this is the recipe I’ll share with you today. I mentioned last week that I’ll only be able to write about quick and easy creations while I’m on my book tour. I love to be on the road, I enjoy this adventure to the fullest, but when I have a few days at home, I can’t tell you how much I treasure some bread, cheese, and nibbles in my own kitchen. I just have to make my Maltese sandwich and all the beautiful memories of the craziest week in Malta come back. Ħobż biż-Żejt is great for breakfast, a delicious lunch snack, and a fantastic (and very easy) appetizer for your next dinner party.

You can see all the pictures of the book launch in Malta taken by Kris Micallef here.

Thank you Malta! xx

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch-3

Ħobż biż-Żejt

Serves 2

white rustic bread, 2 large, thick slices
olive oil, about 2 tablespoons
kunserva (tomato paste), about 1-2 tablespoons
flaky sea salt
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar
medium red onion, cut into very thin strips, 1/4
fresh mint leaves, a small handful

Drizzle the bread generously with olive oil, then spread with kunserva and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cut the bread in half and sprinkle with onion and mint. Serve and enjoy!

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

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Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

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Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

 

Eat In My Kitchen Malta Book Launch

German Apple Pancakes and my Berlin Book Launch Event

Eat In My Kitchen Book Launch in Berlin

The BOOK is out and I’ve done so many things for the first time in my life in the past three weeks that I’m still a little shellshocked. I’ve been on TV, which I never ever thought I’d be able to do and to say that I was nervous doesn’t even come close to the feelings that shook me up inside (thank you Ben for being such a patient host!). I held more speeches than in my entire life before the book came out. My natural styling and rather casual dress code of jeans and shirt got replaced by pretty dresses, uncomfortable shoes, and more make up. And I changed planes like buses in the past few days. Once (it feels like a long time ago) I was scared of flying, but I’ve seen so many airports recently, that I think my phobia gave up. Now, I’m back in Berlin, I have a little break to breath deeply and to get some rest before the craziness continues and takes me across the Atlantic, to New York.

In the next few weeks, I’ll share some impressions of my book launch events with you. We’ll start in Berlin, my home town, and then we’ll move on to Malta, London, New York, and Washington.

Berlin is my love, I’ve felt at home in this city since I first opened the door to my apartment almost 12 years ago. One of my favourite spots in this vibrant melting pot is the roof terrace of the stunning Hotel de Rome. It was around a year ago that I decided to have my first book launch event on this terrace. It’s a tranquil oasis, it allows you to enjoy the whole city with all its prettiness and construction chaos from afar, but most importantly, you’re right under Berlin’s clear blue sky. We were lucky, on that early evening on the 26th September, the temperature was mild and the sunset was golden. I couldn’t have asked for more.

The day before the event, in the early morning of a quiet Sunday, my family from Berlin and Malta – thank you Ursula, Alexandra, Emma, Julia, and Matt – joined me in my kitchen to help me bake the cakes for my event. I made a wise decision a few months ago, I only took care of the sweets for my event, the Hotel de Rome‘s fantastic chef, Jörg Behrend, and his team prepared the savoury recipes from my book. They did an amazing job, they actually managed to make me speechless. The food looked like the dishes in my book and tasted like the creations from my own kitchen.

Eat In My Kitchen Book Launch in Berlin

What I’ve learned during the past three book launches in Berlin, Malta, and London is that you can plan every single detail of an event, but you have to accept that it will be unbearably stressful in the last 20 minutes. During these minutes it may feel like it’s never going to work, but then, all of a sudden, in the last minute, everything falls into place. At 6pm sharp, our buffet was set up and Karl Chetcuti was ready to pour the glasses behind the table where he presented five delicious wines from the Meridiana Wine Estate MaltaCynthia Barcomi – who gave me a heart touching quote for the back of my German book – looked gorgeous in her pink dress and we were both ready (maybe she was a little more ready than me) to have a public talk about my book. My pulse was pumping, wine, food, and the view was enjoyed to the fullest by our guests, and our roof top party got going.

It was the first time that I held a speech about my Eat In My Kitchen book, the first time that I stepped out into the spot light to talk about the process of working on this book. I couldn’t have been more thankful for Cynthia guiding me through these exciting minutes, though this new experience, like a sister. My voice and knees were shaking, but my heart was full of joy. The first sip of Meridiana‘s crisp Astarte white wine after our talk was maybe one of the best sips I ever tasted in my life. I felt relieved.

I want to thank all my guests who came to celebrate with us. I’ll never forget the amazing support I keep getting from Türkan, Jörg and the whole Hotel de Rome family, from Karl and Meridiana, from all my family and friends who are there for me no matter how crazy my life is at the moment. Thank you! I want to thank Jules Villbrandt for taking all these beautiful pictures, through your captures I can relive that day again and again. Prestel Publishing, and especially Pia Werner who came from Munich for our celebration, thank you for working on this book together with me.

You might have realized that I sneaked in a few pictures from my own kitchen. I can’t write on this blog without sharing a recipe with you, it feels strange. So I decided to come up with very, very simple recipes while I’m on the Eat In My Kitchen book tour, recipes that fit into my tight schedule and that also have a connection to each country we celebrate in. Today’s recipe is a childhood classic of mine: German apple pancakes. They aren’t light or fluffy, these are thick, dense, eggy German pancakes, rich and filling. And – following my family tradition – they have to be topped with sliced sour apples and lots of cinnamon sugar. Enjoy!

You can see all the pictures of the book launch in Berlin taken by Jules Villbrandt here.

Eat In My Kitchen Book Launch in Berlin

 

Eat In My Kitchen Book Launch in Berlin

German Apple Pancakes

Serves 2

plain flour 130g / 1 cup
ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon, plus 1/2 teaspoon for the topping
milk 240ml / 1 cup
organic eggs 3
granulated sugar 2 tablespoons, plus 2 tablespoons for the topping
a pinch of salt
firm sour apples, peeled, cored, and sliced, 1-2
butter, about 3 tablespoons

Sieve together the flour and 1/4 teaspoon of the cinnamon.

In the large bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the milk, eggs, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and salt for about 1 minutes. Add the flour mixture, gradually, and continue whisking  until well combined. There shouldn’t be any traces of flour left.

For the topping, combine the remaining sugar and cinnamon.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large, heavy or non-stick pan over high temperature. Reduce the heat to medium, pour in half the batter, arrange half the sliced apples on top. Cook for about 2 1/2-3 minutes until golden at the bottom and just set on top, mind that it doesn’t get too dark. Flip the pancake onto a large lid, add 1/2 tablespoon of the butter to the pan, and let the pancake slide off the lid into the pan. Cook on the other side for about 2 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar to taste. Enjoy immediately, the pancake tastes best when it’s warm.

Add 1 tablespoon of the butter to the pan and bake the 2nd pancake in the same way, adding the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter before you flip the pancake. Sprinkle with sugar and enjoy.

Eat In My Kitchen Book Launch in Berlin

 

Eat In My Kitchen Book Launch in Berlin

 

Eat In My Kitchen Book Launch in Berlin

 

Eat In My Kitchen Book Launch in Berlin

 

Eat In My Kitchen Book Launch in Berlin

 

Eat In My Kitchen Book Launch in Berlin

 

Eat In My Kitchen Book Launch in Berlin

 

Eat In My Kitchen Book Launch in Berlin

 

Eat In My Kitchen Book Launch in Berlin

 

Eat In My Kitchen Book Launch in Berlin

 

Eat In My Kitchen Book Launch in Berlin

 

Eat In My Kitchen Book Launch in Berlin

 

 

Eat In My Kitchen Book Launch in Berlin

 

Eat In My Kitchen Book Launch in Berlin

 

Eat In My Kitchen Book Launch in Berlin

 

Eat In My Kitchen Book Launch in Berlin

 

Eat In My Kitchen Book Launch in Berlin