Tag: tomato

Buffalo Mozzarella, Cuore Di Bue Tomato and Mint Salad

Buffalo Mozzarella, Tomato + Mint Salad

When I saw these beautiful Cuore Di Bue Tomatoes in the vegetable department of my local organic shop I had to buy them. I know these tomatoes from Malta where farmers sell them from their vegetable trucks at every street corner in the towns. These mobile shops are piled high with ripe, colourful fruits  and vegetables from the island, surrounded by women chatting and exchanging the latest gossip while waiting to have their vegetables weighed. Many of them have been going to the same farmer for years and I gladly follow this tradition. Whenever I’m there I buy my groceries from my vegetable man, Leli, twice a week he parks his truck under pink oleander trees in the middle of Msida. He is one of the most friendly, calm and humble people I know, he doesn’t talk much but he always has a little smile on his face. Before we leave the island at the end of our holidays, we visit him one last time to say good-bye, I never know who is more sad, him or us!

Back to the Cuore Di Bue Tomatoes, I buy and eat them in bulk when I’m Malta. Their taste is far away from most of the tomatoes you can buy in the cities, they are strong and sweet, very intense, they taste like real tomatoes! Their name comes from their shape and size which is similar to an ox heart but I thought that the Italian name, Cuore Di Bue sounds a bit nicer than Oxheart Tomatoes!

I had a buffalo mozzarella in my fridge which had to be used soon, a quick salad mixed with my beautiful tomatoes was the first idea that came into my mind. I still love this Italian classic which can be a delicious starter or snack when it’s made with good quality ingredients. Unfortunately, lots of restaurants offer it made with tasteless tomatoes and mozzarella, which has damaged its image a little over the years. Buffalo milk however creates a very strong mozzarella which is great for this salad, to add a green taste as strong as this cheese, I replaced the traditionally used basil with mint. Our salad for 2 was ready within seconds, 125g / 4.5 ounces of buffalo mozzarella roughly torn into bite sized pieces mixed with 2 ripe Cuore Di Bue tomatoes sliced thinly and a few leaves from my mint plant. The dressing was as easy, 3 tablespoons of olive oil whisked with 2 tablespoons of Balsamico vinegar, salt and pepper.

Buffalo Mozzarella, Tomato + Mint Salad

 

Buffalo Mozzarella, Tomato + Mint Salad

Spaghetti with Crisp Bacon, Tomatoes and Fennel Seeds

Bacon Fennel Tomato Pasta

A fruity tomato sauce with spaghetti together with a glass of red wine can never go wrong. To add some crisp bacon and fennel seeds makes it even better! I don’t even remember all the different variations on tomato sauces I’ve made in my life but this one is really good, and quick to prepare. For days I’ve been wanting to make a Sauce Bolognese but I never found the time as it needs to cook for an hour. This one here is meaty as well but only needs 10 minutes on the cooker. The bacon (I used lots of it!) makes it hearty and the aromatic spice adds a Mediterranean touch to it.

For 2 people I used 100g / 3.5 ounces of bacon, cut into little cubes and fried until golden and crunchy. I fried 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds, 2 cloves of garlic (crushed) and 1 small dried chili together with the meat for about 2 minutes before I added 400g / 14 ounces of tinned tomatoes (crushed), 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, salt and pepper. The sauce simmered on medium temperature for 8 minutes while the spaghetti (200g / 7 ounces ) cooked in lots of salted water until they were al dente.

If you prefer a vegetarian sauce just leave out the bacon and add a bit more olive oil to fry the fennel seeds, I make that sometimes and it’s great, too.

Bacon Fennel Tomato Pasta

 

Bacon Fennel Tomato Pasta

The taste of Summer in my Mediterranean Sandwich

Maltese Sandwich

Maltese sausage, tomatoes, capers, olives, basil, red onions, garlic and olive oil on Maltese Ftira bread – as soon as I started to make this sandwich the sun came out, literally! You can’t really put more of the taste of summer into a sandwich than in this one. In Malta, this is a local hero, the famous Ftira, enjoyed by everyone on this island. It’s a celebration of their specialities combining quite a few different tastes, all strong and honest, and creating one of the best sandwiches you can imagine.

I made it last weekend when I had all the ingredients at hand, freshly delivered from Malta by Emma. I fried the coarse Maltese sausage with its strong coriander flavour until golden brown, without its skin and cut in half. It looked a bit like a burger stuffed with herbs. You can also use Salsiccia as it’s made with similar spices and herbs as well. I recommend a white bread with a nice crust but soft on the inside to soak the  juices and olive oil like the Maltese bread I used. I cut a few cherry tomatoes, half a red onion, 4 green olives, 1 dried tomato and a few basil leaves into slices and piled everything carefully onto a slice of bread drizzled with olive oil. I finished it off with 1 crushed clove of garlic and a few capers and closed it with another slice of bread. When I took a bite, I was on my favourite island in the Mediterranean again!

Maltese Sandwich

 

Maltese Sandwich

 

Maltese Sandwich

 

Maltese Sandwich

Hobz biz-Zejt u Tadam and more delicious Goods from the Maltese Rock

Malta

Today I will share some special food with you! I got a wonderful gift from Emma, my boyfriend’s sister who lives in Malta and came to visit us for a few days. She put a big smile on my face when she opened her bag and I saw all the nice food she brought for me (well, not just for me actually). Emma knows which food I love and miss so much from her home island in the Mediterranean, especially now that it’s been a few months since I was last there. Her gift reminded me of the taste and smell of this island which I got to know so well over the past years, during so many holiday trips and summers we spent there. Our family and friends, the food, the sea, so many memories connect me to this rock in the Mediterranean (this is what many Maltese affectionately call their home island).

This is a very personal introduction to Maltese food through my eyes and taste buds.

Whenever I’m in Malta, first thing in the morning I go to a wonderful traditional bakery, St. Josephs Bakery in Msida, to buy the most amazing white bread with the perfect crust. Every Maltese is proud of this bread and it’s famous for good reason. There are two different types of bread, the big loaf called Hobz Malti (Maltese Bread) and the round Ftira with a hole in the middle. Usually, I cut thick slices off the loaf, dip them in olive oil and spread the sweetest tomatoes and some crushed pepper on top which makes the Hobz biz-Zejt u Tadam (Maltese bread with oil and tomato). There is also a famous (and quick) beach version which is made with Kunserva, a concentrated tomato paste full of ripe Maltese tomatoes and some mint or basil in between two slices of this amazing bread. There’s nothing better than sitting on the beach after a long swim, this sandwich in your hands and your fingers staining with juicy tomatoes and olive oil – I love it!

Malta

Fruits and vegetables are heavenly in this sun kissed place, strong and honest in taste, ripe, with the flavours of a soil rich in clay. There’s not much water, but the sun and the ground make up for it. My taste buds are always disappointed when I’m back home and have to get used to the store bought quality again. Maltese sausage is another speciality I’m very fond of as it’s full of spices, the meat is coarse, its taste so strong that you can season a meal with it. Dairy products are limited, this rock isn’t really made for cows, but the Maltese make a strong cheese from goat milk which is called Gbejna, delicious tiny round cheeselets. There are two kinds, the hard one which is a bit salty, great for salad and pizza, and the soft one, milky and mild. On the photos you see the hard ones from Gozo, Malta’s sister island.

One of my favourite places is Busy Bee Confectionery where I get my daily dose of delicious cakes and pies. I love their sweet Mediterranean specialities like Cannoli, Cassata Siciliana and Ottijet (figure of 8 shaped tea time cookies with sesame seads). Unfortunately the Cannoli didn’t survive the flight very well so I can’t show them to you. On the savory side there is Qassata tal-Irkotta (a round short crust pie filled with ricotta), Pastizzi tal-Irkotta or tal-pizelli (puff pastry filled with ricotta or peas) and a huge Torta tal-Laham (Beef Pie), filled with tasty beef stew.

The colourful sweets are Perlini, filled with almonds, a traditional Maltese carnival treat.

Go visit and enjoy!

Malta

 

Malta

 

Malta

 

Malta

 

Malta

 

Malta

 

Cipollata with Raclette Crostini, the perfect Soup for a January Day

Cipollata

I remember when I was a child people used to make onion soup with a slice of white bread and grilled cheese on top. I liked the soup, I liked the melted cheese but I would have prefered the bread if it hadn’t been soaking in the soup getting soft and soggy. That was never my thing, I also don’t dip my cookie in tea or croissant in my cappuccino. I don’t like pastry pieces swimming about soaking up liquid, neither sweet nor savory. Each to their own but this is not for me.

However, the combination of onion soup, bread and cheese is great, especially in winter. It’s warming, a treat to the body, and it’s rich and feels like a real meal. I found peace with my bread very easily by just keeping it out of the soup, it stays crisp and crusty and I can still enjoy this hearty combination. My soup is bright red as I add tomatoes to the broth, a nice change to the snowy grey outside my window, and a little spicy because I cook dried chili with it. I mix the onions with thick strips of Tyrolean Prosciutto from Mr. Pizzinini in San Cassiano. The spices of the prosciutto fit perfectly to the soup as I also use clove, bay leaf and rosemary.

While the soup is bubbling in the pot for half an hour I put thick slices of white bread covered with Raclette cheese under the grill. This alone would have already put me in a very happy mood but together with the soup I must say I’m at peace with the world!

Cipollata

Cipollata

A Winter Soup with Onion, Tomatoes and Tyrolean Prosciutto and Raclette Crostini

For 4 people you need

For the crostini, cut a loaf of white bread into thick slices, cover with grated Raclette cheese (100g / 3.5 ounces of cheese should be enough for 4 people) and put under the grill until golden brown. Sprinkle with crushed pepper.

For the Soup

onions, cut in half and then into thin slices, 500g / 18 ounces
a piece of Tyrolean Prosciutto, cut into thick strips, 120g / 4 ounces
tinned tomatoes, chopped, 400g / 14 ounces
broth 1000ml
cloves 3
1 clove of garlic
bay leaf 1
rosemary, 1 sprig
sugar 1 tablespoon
salt and pepper
olive oil for frying

Heat a little oil in a large pot and fry the prosciutto until crisp. Take it out, add some more oil and fry the onions with the sugar for around 10 minutes until soft. Add the tomatoes, broth, spices and cook for 30 minutes on medium heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve together with the grilled Raclette crostini.

Cipollata

A trusted companion, my beloved Quiche

Quiche

This recipe has been with me for a very long time. I think I cooked it for the first time nearly twenty years ago. And since then it has made lots of people very happy (including myself). My time trusted companion is a quiche with a wonderful crisp and buttery short crust base and a simple but perfect filling of leek, tomatoes and thyme. What I also like about it is that the egg and cream filling isn’t as high and heavy as in many other versions of this famous French dish. There is still something light about mine.

In past years I tried out different fillings with spinach or broccoli but I still prefer the combination of leek and tomatoes. The taste is just perfect. I once  lined the base with slices of pear and crumbled Stilton over it for a party, very nice too and perfect finger food.

Quiche

Quiche

Usually I double the amount and make two quiches, one to eat warm straight away, the other to eat cold the next day. I can’t say which I prefer as the different flavours come through very strongly when the quiche has cooled down.

For one quiche you need a 27cm / 10.5″ baking dish or tart pan. I use spelt flour type 630 (but you can use any other plain flour) and organic eggs.

For the short crust base

flour 250g / 8.5 ounces
butter, cold 125g / 4.5 ounces
egg, organic 1
salt 1 teaspoon

Combine the flour with the salt and cut the butter with a knife into the flour until there are just little pieces of butter left. Continue with your fingers and work the butter into the flour until combined (there shouldn’t be any lumps of butter left). Add the egg and continue mixing with the hook of your mixer until you have a crumbly mixture. Form a disc, wrap in cling film and put in the freezer for 10 minutes.

For the filling

leek, medium size, sliced, 1
tomato, cut into cubes, 1
thyme, leaves of a few sprigs
eggs, organic, 3
heavy cream 125ml
crème fraiche or sour cream 125ml
salt 1 heaping teaspoon
pepper
nutmeg, best freshly grated, a generous amount

Set your oven to 210°C / 410°F.

Mix  the eggs with the heavy cream, crème fraiche, salt, pepper, nutmeg and thyme.

Roll out the dough between cling film and line your baking dish with the flat pastry. Prick it with a fork and blind-bake in the hot oven for 10 minutes.  Take your baking dish out of the oven and set the temperature down to 175°C / 350°F.

Spread the leek slices and tomato cubes over your pre-baked pastry base and pour the egg / cream mixture over. Put the quiche carefully on a baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes or until golden. Let it cool for about 10 minutes before you eat.

Bon appétit!

Quiche

Tomato, Leek and Cream Cheese Bagel

Today has been a busy day so we are going to keep it simple and make some sandwiches. I love trying out new variations as there are so many great things one can place between two slices of bread  – or, in our case today, in a bagel.

Even though my bagels are really good (my recipe will follow soon), I must admit the true star of this snack is the filling of sour cream cheese together with spicy chilli, fried leek rings and fresh slices of tomato. Some salt and pepper on top and you have a most satisfying meal.

When I make bagels I bake them in bigger batches because it is very convenient to have a few of them in the freezer and you just have to warm them up in the oven for a few minutes whenever you feel like. For our sandwiches today I prepare two bagels which I had baked with spelt flour (my favorite flour). But four thick slices of any other nice, fresh white bread will work as well. While the bagels are defrosting in the oven, I gently fry thinly sliced leek (a thumb length piece) in some butter and cut a fresh chili pepper (4 cm) in very thin slices as well. Then I spread the cold cream cheese on the warm bagels, layer this with thinly sliced tomatoes (I use four cherry tomatoes) and scatter the leek and chili on top. Seasoned with some sea salt and pepper, this makes you feel like you never want to eat anything else ever again!

Tomato + Leek Bagle