Friday, June 27, 2014

Summer, More or Less by Margaret Ullrich


Summer 2014 just isn’t enough after the winter we’ve gone through in Winnipeg.
All we’ve had so far is rain and cool weather in Winnipeg.
It’s actually been warmer in Churchill, where the polar bears and whales are.
Sure, the plants and mosquitos here are loving all the rain.
But I am neither a plant nor a mosquito.

The second lilac tree is a thing of beauty.
It’s more than made up for the lack of flowers on our first lilac.
The third lilac - between the two purple lilacs - looks like it will produce a bumper crop of lovely white flowers next month.


Two years ago I wrote a series of posts about when Paul and I, living in a trailer, moved from College Point, New York to Vancouver, British Columbia.
Exactly forty-two years ago we were stuck behind the service station in Kingston, New York, waiting for our car to be repaired after we had been blown off the highway.

According to that post I was tossing away stuff in 1972 and in 2012.
I’m still watching Love It or List It and the Canadian show, Property Brothers.
So, I’m tossing away stuff this year, too.  So it goes.

There’s been flooding east, south and west of Manitoba.
Staycations seem to be the safest thing to do this year.
Last year I was enjoying traveling, but this year I'm just not interested.
Maybe it’s the crazy weather… maybe I’m just getting old.
Well, getting old beats the alternative.


On June 24 The Good, The Bad And The Ugly star Eli Wallach died at 98.
He had appeared in quite a variety of roles over his long career, but that's the character most people remember.
Although he was born in Brooklyn, he attended the University of Texas at Austin because the tuition was $30 a year.
That’s where he learned to ride horses, which was useful in his westerns.
Funny how things can work out in life.

On June 25 it was the fifth anniversary of the passing of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett, so the folks on ET couldn't give a salute to someone who had been an actor for over 60 years.
As Gilda Radner, who died a little over twenty-five years ago, would have said...
It's always something.


About tonight’s new moon in Cancer…
According to the folks at astrology.com:
You may feel overly emotional as Neptune forms a trine to the new Moon… still, you can turn this energy into a positive by investing in your goals with fresh ideas, letting your intuition and hunches guide you along the way. 
Otherwise you may lose perspective and make decisions based on misinformation. 

If you reduce distractions and spend time alone, you'll receive inspiration that will help you in all your endeavours. 
Because Cancer is a sign focused on the most personal aspects of your family and home life, you'll want to ensure you do all you can to make your home environment as comfortable and secure as possible. 
The foundation you build will help during the next full Moon in Capricorn on July 14.
Hope it stops raining by then.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Anna Sultana’s Lemon Ricotta Cake, Maltese Style


I’m always surprised at which recipes become popular.
Right now Carmela Soprano's Ricotta - Pineapple Pie is a top favourite.
But, after a while, folks can want something other than pineapple.
Yes, really.

A light ricotta pie is still perfect for summer.
Just like lemonade is a summer favourite.

So what could be better than Ma's Lemon Ricotta Cake?
Carmela's Ricotta - Pineapple Pie may have been good enough to bribe a teacher.
But I think Ma’s Lemon Ricotta Cake would work on a judge.
Not that Ma ever had to influence one. 
But she could with this cake.

Hints:

Remove the cake from the oven when the centre is still slightly soft.  
It is best served warm or at room temperature. 
When the cake is refrigerated the centre becomes firm.
But it will still be good.


                        Lemon Ricotta Cake

Serves 8
Preheat the oven to 325º

Spread over the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan or a springform pan
1 Tablespoon butter, softened
Line bottom of pan with parchment paper.

In a small bowl combine
6 ounces blanched almonds, ground
1/4 Cup flour

Remove the zest from 
3 lemons
Chop the zest finely and set aside.

Separate, placing the yolks in a cup and the whites in a medium mixer bowl
4 eggs
Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form and set aside.

In a large mixer bowl place
6 ounces butter, room temperature
1 Cup sugar
Beat until light and fluffy.
Add the 4 egg yolks. 
Continue beating until well combined.

Add
3/4 Cup ricotta cheese
the lemon zest
1/4 Cup lemon juice
Beat until smooth.
Fold in the almond-flour mixture.
Gently fold the whites into the cake mixture.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.

Bake 45 minutes until lightly browned.
The filling should still be slightly soft in the centre.
Remove cake from oven and allow to cool in the pan.

Dust top with 
Confectioners' sugar
Serve warm or at room temperature.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Anna Sultana’s Corned Beef Pie, Maltese Style


The recipe for Tourtiere Pie reminded me of another of Ma’s meat pie recipes.
Ma served Corned Beef Pie a few times year, usually at the end of the month.
Ma said it was created when fresh food was hard to get during WW II.
That’s why the recipe uses canned corned beef.
When Ma made it we knew it was time to get a History lesson along with dinner.

If you’re thinking of using fresh corned beef… don’t.
At least not if you’re about to serve it to someone Maltese whose Ma made it.
For someone who grew up with the original recipe, using fresh corned beef instead of canned makes a really huge difference.

Don’t believe substituting fresh ingredients can make that big a difference?
Let me give you an example.
Are you familiar with the old TV program The King of Queens?
On one episode Doug’s Mom, who had retired and moved out of Queens, brought her homemade lemon bars when she visited Doug and Carrie.
At first Doug was really happy to have an old favourite dessert.
But Mrs. Heffernan used lemon juice from her own lemons instead of the bottled stuff Doug had had all his life.
Mrs. H thought Doug would be thrilled at having the fresh juice.
He wasn’t.
Learn from that.

This pie is great hot.
But you can also chill it and pack it for a picnic.
Ma did that, too, so I know it’s okay.
She also chilled and packed timpana for picnics.
They're way better than sandwiches.


Hints:

You can also add 2 slices bacon, diced, when you fry the onion.
Some people prefer a can of peas and carrots, drained, instead of just peas.
Ma used plain peas, and so do I.
It just doesn’t seem right to see carrots in it.


                        Corned Beef Pie

In a dutch oven place
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
Fry the onion over medium heat for about 2 minutes, until soft.
Add
1 can corned beef, chopped
1 can sweet peas, drained
1 potato, diced
1 teaspoon curry
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Continue cooking, stirring to combine the ingredients, about 5 minutes. 

When the meat is almost done cooking, preheat oven to 400º F

Roll out
400 g flaky or puff pastry
Line the bottom and sides of a baking dish with 3/4 of the pastry.
Pour in the meat mixture.
Cover the top with the remaining pastry.
Brush the top of the pastry with
1 beaten egg (or milk)
Prick the top pastry with a fork so steam can escape. 
Bake for 40 minutes.
Let cool for about 10 minutes before slicing.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

French Canadian Tourtiere Pie by Margaret Ullrich

Summer is just zipping along.
On June 24, folks in Quebec will be celebrating the holiday Saint Jean Baptiste Day.
According to the Jesuits, the first celebrations occurred on the banks of the Saint Lawrence River in 1636, with a bonfire and five cannon shots.

It’s now celebrated with parades, bonfires, fireworks, feasting, drinking, musical concerts, flag waving, patriotic speeches and contests.
And Tourtiere Pie.

Winnipeg has a very strong French community across the river in St. Boniface.
So, when we moved to Winnipeg in 1975, we heard about  Saint Jean Baptiste Day.
One of our new neighbours gave me a Tourtiere Pie recipe.

Wanting to take part in the local festivities - and, as any other Maltese, eager to learn a new meat pie recipe - I decided to try it.
I invited some friends to come and celebrate.
And that’s a nice Canadian thing to do.


                        Tourtiere Pie

In a dutch oven combine
1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 pound lean ground pork
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 Cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon sage

Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until mixture boils. 
Reduce heat and simmer until meat is cooked, about 5 minutes.

When the meat is almost done cooking, preheat oven to 425º F

Roll out
400 g flaky or puff pastry
Line the bottom and sides of a baking dish with 3/4 of the pastry.
Pour in the meat mixture.
Cover the top with the remaining pastry.
Brush the top of the pastry with
1 beaten egg (or milk)
Prick the top pastry with a fork so steam can escape. 
Cover edges of pie with strips of aluminum foil.
Bake for 20 minutes. 
Remove foil and return to oven. 
Bake an additional 20 minutes until golden brown. 
Let cool for about 10 minutes before slicing.


Tourtiere Pie is a delicious meat pie recipe.
But to be honest, I prefer Ma’s Timpana recipe.
As I once said
Maltese cooking is heavy on simple carbs. 
Maltese go beyond simple into downright retarded.

Well, I’m Maltese, not French.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Anna Sultana’s Strawberry Rhubarb Pie


The rhubarb made a perfect pie for Father’s Day.
Well, actually, it couldn’t take all the credit.
The strawberries did help.

One summer, when my parents were visiting, I decided to bake a pie.
Ma had been curious about the rhubarb growing in our yard.
To be honest, so was Pop.
The rhubarb in my garden was a mystery to both of them.

Ma asked for a piece of raw rhubarb.
I warned her, but she insisted.
After spitting it out, she asked if I was going to add a lot of sugar.
When I said I was, she shook her head.
“Make it half and half with strawberries and use less sugar.”

So I did.
Ma and Pop tried the pie and liked it.
And so will you.


                        Strawberry Rhubarb Pie


Crumb Topping

In a bowl mix together
1/4 Cup brown sugar
1/2 Cup flour
1/4 Cup margarine
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


Pie Crust

In a 9 inch pie pan mix together
1 1/2 Cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar         
3/4 teaspoon salt

Beat together until creamy
1/2 Cup oil
3 Tablespoons cold milk
Add the oil / milk mixture to the flour mixture.
Pat the mixture to spread and fill the pie pan.

Preheat oven to 375°F 

Filling

In a small bowl combine
1 Cup sugar
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
pinch of salt

In a large bowl, toss together
3 Cups chopped rhubarb
3 Cups halved strawberries
Sprinkle the sugar/flour/cornstarch mixture over the fruit and toss to coat.
Pour the fruit into the prepared pie crust.
Top with
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
Sprinkle crumb topping over the fruit filling.
Bake for 45 minutes.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Nearer My God to Thee by Margaret Ullrich


A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I had started working on our garden.
It was a late start this year, after we'd had a very cold winter.
In the front yard the caragana has yellow flowers and the blue irises are in glory.

Our chokecherry finally bloomed.  
The flowers have blown off to make room for the fruit.

The peony shoots are looking good, but they don’t have a flower bud yet.
The five rhubarbs are ready for picking, to be used in a dessert this weekend.
Grass and white nancies survived the winter and look lush.
The alyssums add another nice touch of white.
The lilies and daisies hopefully will bloom when they should.
The grapevine that provides shade over our kitchen window is beginning to leaf.

We have three lilacs that flower in sequence along our back fence.
The lilac by the garage has only produced one blue flower.
We have our fingers crossed for the other two lilacs.
The back yard is in its blue phase - lilacs and chives - with a touch of pink provided by the half dozen bleeding heart shrubs.

Soft pink and pale lilac petunias will carry the colour throughout the summer.
They were finally planted on Wednesday.
I had to take a break because my sciatic nerve made it impossible to stand for any length of time after I had carried the seven stepping stones to our garden.
This winter they’ll just stay in the ground, and I’ll level them next Spring.


After seeing Lord Ronald Gower’s garden at Hammerfield Penshurst, Dorothy Frances Gurney wrote in his visitor’s book
The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God's Heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on Earth.

I had always thought that she was feeling a bit sore after working through a day of gardening when she wrote that little poem.
Gardening chores use muscles that had been taking it easy all winter.
Lugging around those round concrete stepping stones never used to bother me.
I guess I’ll have to take my age into account more when doing yard work.
The days of planting a dozen tomatoes, a couple of perennials and a few dozen annuals in a day or two are long gone.


Inspired by Love It or List ItI decided to pick up a few things for my home.
Don’t get excited.
I know that on the show they usually give Hilary a budget of a few thousand dollars.
I went to the dollar store and picked up placemats, fabric peonies, a soap dispenser and a pitcher that fits in our refrigerator’s door so it’s handy for cold water.
What can I say? I don’t have a budget of a few thousand dollars.
But then I wasn’t asking anyone to knock down walls or to replace all the plumbing.


About tonight’s full moon in Sagittarius…
Some folks call it a “Full Strawberry Moon”.
It’s also called a “Mead Moon”, “Rose Moon” and “Thunder Moon”.

According to the folks at astrology.com: 
Both Mercury and Neptune recently turned retrograde… this tends to cloud facts and offers unscrupulous people an opportunity to try to sway you toward their point of view. Watch that you don't allow your common sense to suffer, as you're likely to feel emotional and opinionated.  
Move out of your comfort zone and explore unfamiliar topics or places.

If you have a vision for your life and know exactly what you'd like to do, use this time to talk with people who can help you. 
All full Moons mark a culmination of any plans you set in motion during the previous new Moon, which was on May 28.


Move out of my comfort zone, eh?
Like what… drop by IKEA?
Okay… common sense must rule.
Just because I look, doesn’t mean I have to buy.

A culmination of any plans you set in motion during the previous new Moon.
Well, the garden is done.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Father's Day, Then and Now by Margaret Ullrich


Back in 2006 I wrote this Father's Day piece when I was a co-host on the radio show ‘2000 & Counting’.
2000 was a show geared to seniors, so my pieces were heavy on strolling down memory lane.  
This story got a chuckle from the other hosts and the staff then.
I hope it will get the same today…
I also hope all you Dads will have a great Father's Day!

      
     People talk about how Christmas has changed over the years.  Well, I think Father's Day has changed even more than Christmas has.
     In the fifties, Father's Day was pretty simple.  It was a snap to shop for Dads.  Moms were hard.  There were so many different toilet waters.  Lipstick colours changed every year.  One year Lucille Ball Red was popular.  The next year every lady was wearing Flaming Fuchsia.  
     I mean, how was an elementary school kid supposed to know what to get?  
   
     Dads were easy.  They always needed a pair of socks or another tie.  There WAS something about an Aqua Velva man.  The bottles of blue water came in a variety of sizes and they were all cheap.  If you had to soften Dad up for the report card that was coming, you could splurge on  Old Spice or English Leather for a few pennies more.

     If you'd blown all your money for Mother's Day - an easy thing to do - you could get another tube of Brylcreme.  Those little dabs went fast and Dad always needed more so he could look debonaire and Mom could run her fingers through his hair.  

     Keeping the family car spiffy has always been a Dad's job.  Remember when they were unwrapping their presents in the movie A Christmas Story?  Dad Darren McGavin was thrilled to get a tin of Simonize for his car.  
     It was big.  It was heavy.  It was cheap.  

     That was the Golden Age for Dads gifts.  But now?  Let's just say that Dads are getting to be as big a problem as Moms are, gift-wise.


     I always thought of men as being rough and ready in their grooming needs.  I raised a son.  He once took a bath, answered nature's call, then went straight to drying everything - and I mean everything - with the bath towel.  He thought cutting out a small step would save some time.  At least that was his explanation when I asked him about the skid marks on the yellow towel.  

     Now men have discovered their inner Alan Alda.  They know about brands like Nivea.  Soap on a rope has lost its oomph.  Blades and a can of Barbasol just won't cut it anymore.  Guys have discovered grooming sets: shower gels, body washes, face scrubs, after shave balms and a post shave soother that the nice sales clerk swore will control his beard's growth.  You know, the same crap and sales pitches they've been throwing at women for years.  

     And for the guy who's really into his feminine side, there are events like the Papa-razzi Package at the Fairmont Hotel in Vancouver.  The 36 hour getaway includes an hour-long massage, a facial, foot care, a souvenir shaving kit and a round of golf.  The package costs $2,165 plus taxes and airfare if you don't happen to live in Vancouver.  Hey, femininity never came cheap. 

     Tools have always been popular gifts.  Something is always getting lost or broken, right?  Time was when, after being showered with a 32 piece wrench set, a 14 piece clamp set and a 65 piece screwdriver set, every Dad was ready, willing and eager to wrench, clamp and screw any and everything in the house.  

     Fellows, I was wondering… if a man receives a 205 piece drill and screwdriving set (consisting of screw driving bits, nut driving bits, spade bits, high speed drill bits, hole saws, masonry drill bits, sanding drums and a countersink which, I've been told, are ideal to use on wood, metal, plastic, brick, mortar and concrete) would he really use them all or just stick to a half dozen favourite pieces?  You know, the way we women use the same favourite spoons and pans in the kitchen.  Sometimes wretched excess is just, well, excessive.

     Speaking of the kitchen, a Dad's cooking used to be basic.  Raw meat plus fire equaled hard small hockey pucks served with ketchup and relish in a bun.  Raw onion slices were added for the July first weekend.  Up to now the most exciting thing I'd ever seen a man do at the barbecue was to stick a can of beer up a chicken's butt so it could stand and roast.  It looked almost patriotic.  

     Dads made simple basic food.  And healthy.  No E coli bacteria could ever survive a Dad's barbecue.  

     Now folks are dropping like flies because Dads have discovered cuisine.  Ketchup and mustard have disappeared.  Guys who flunked Geography and can't find their way to their in-laws across town without a CAA triptik are now into Japanese, Mexican and Thai recipes.  

     While at the Liquor Commission, I picked up the freebie Flavours magazine.  On the cover it said Sassy sauces for your grilled goodies.  Uh, huh.  I don't know what my Dad would've thought of things like sorrel-spinach sauce.  On salmon, yet.  

     There was also an article about the joys of salt water.  According to the folks at Flavours, soaking food in brine is the key to a killer barbecue.  I don't know.  I remember one picnic forty years ago when the boat tipped over, everyone and everything fell out and everything got doused with good old salty Atlantic Ocean water.  No one thought that was anything worth repeating ever again.  

     Shish kebabs used to be simple.  Meat, onion, green pepper… meat, onion, green pepper… meat, onion, green pepper until you ran out of everything.  Well, now bamboo skewers aren't good enough anymore.  Oh, no.  One recipe in Flavours should earn a cook a Boy Scout badge.  

     Get this:  Peel fresh ginger and cut into several four inch long skewers.  Then carve the ginger on one end into a sharp point.  If your local grocer is out of long chunks of ginger, don't panic.  You can also do the same thing to lemongrass stalks.  

     Oh, pull-lease!!  If God meant us to spend our short summers carving little sticks He never would've made those nice clean bags of bamboo skewers.  Life - and a Manitoba summer - is way too short for that kind of nonsense.  
     
     There was a time when a bag of coal big enough to burn down a house could warm the cockles of a Dad's heart.  It could keep a fellow busy for a whole summer's worth of Sundays.  Now charcoal has some competition.  Have you been exposed to Mesquite Flavoured wood chips?  Our neighbour, Lou, really loves mesquite.  He chopped some chips up and sprinkled them on the salad.  Ok.  Lou isn't quite right in the head.  Last week he served up what he called grilled pizza.  Uh, huh.  Like we didn't notice the take out boxes stacked next to his recycling.  

     We have an old gas barbecue that chugs along with 11,000 BTUs.  It has been doing a dandy job of turning meat into blackened briquets for quite a few happy family gatherings.  Have you seen the new barbecues?  When did guys start pimping their grills?  The big selling feature for these monsters is how many BTUs are under the hood.  

     I checked the dictionary.  BTU means British Thermal Units.  Well, that was a big help.  I needed to get BTU into terms I could understand.  I looked around my house and found that my gas water heater has 30,000 BTUs.  The heater is plastered with little notes from Furnaceman.  Cheery messages like: Third degree burns can occur in six seconds when the water is 60º C.  Death is also possible.  

     Hmmm…  My water heater has 30,000 BTUs and it can get water hot enough to kill somebody.

     A Kalamazoo Bread Breaker Two Dual-Fuel grill with an infrared rotisserie cradle system and a side burner has a 154,000 BTU capacity.  It has a temperature gauge that reaches 1000º.  It also has nighttime grilling lights.  Why?  Would a middle-age hubby, after his 3 a.m. pee, get an uncontrollable urge to wander out to the Kalamazoo and grill a couple of turkeys?  

     According to the manufacturer, it's geared to the "Man cook with fire" market segment.  
  
     Middle-aged men, who normally think it's a hassle to reheat leftovers in a microwave, are gathering around these monster barbecues and acting like a bunch of teenage boys.  They're checking under the hood, twisting dials and rattling off phrases like Mounted smoker box… warming rack… hi-dome cooking lid… porcelain coated cooking grid… heat plates with the same slobbering enthusiasm most had for their first car.

     There are also barbecue accessories.  I'm not talking long handled forks and aprons that tell folks to kiss the cook.  

     The Centro food prep station is a buffet, cooler and more.  It can be connected to the barbecue to create a complete outdoor kitchen.  Hey, fellas!  There's a room that has all this stuff.  You're welcome to come and flex your cooking muscles all year round.  Sorry the oven only goes to 500º, but, we girls have been able to crank out complete holiday dinners in it.  it's called the kitchen.

     Maybe the Discovery Channel was trying to do a public service.  On Father's Day they had a special on the 1883 Krakatoa catastrophe.  When Krakatoa went kablooie, it produced an ash cloud.  The ashes and gases reached 1000º.  Most of the people in a 30 mile radius were killed by the extremely hot air which liquified their lungs.  
    
     Dads, if some fool gave you the Bread Breaker, think of Al Gore and take it back.
     The ozone layer will thank you.
     The environment will thank you!
     The lungs of everyone within 30 miles will thank you!!

     And, most important, the family's burgers and wieners will thank you!!!  

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Anna Sultana’s Chicken Piccata

Some folks don’t care for brunch type dishes, even on special days.
No problem.
Chicken Piccata is as easy and festive as Frittatas.
And, if you bought a four pound box of chicken breasts that was on sale, economical.


The recipe also works with chicken, as in Chicken Piccata.

Here’s a variation for Chicken Piccata.
Check out both and see which you’d prefer.
And don’t be afraid to buy a jar of capers.
Capers are  also an ingredient in the recipe for Spaghetti Puttanesca.


Hints:

If you don't have a meat pounder or mallet, just use a heavy plate or a hammer.
You might want to give the hammer a quick wash first.
Plastic wrap does tear sometimes... especially when it's being whacked.

Cook the number of cutlets at one time that will fit in the pan without crowding.
You want them to get nice and crisp, not soggy and glued together.


                        Chicken Piccata

On a plate spread
1/3 Cup flour

Cut and then split horizontally in half
2 skinless boneless chicken breasts
You should have 8 thin pieces of chicken.
Gently pound breasts with a mallet to a 1/4 inch thickness. 
Sprinkle the meat with
salt and pepper to taste
Dredge them in flour and shake off excess.

In a large frying pan place
2 Tablespoons butter 
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil 
Heat over medium high heat until it just starts to sizzle. 
Add 2 pieces of the dredged chicken.
Cook for 3 minutes on each side to brown the chicken. 
Remove from pan, place on a plate, and keep warm. 
Cook two more pieces of chicken and place on the plate. 
Add 
2 Tablespoons butter 
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil
Cook the remaining pieces of chicken and place on the plate. 

Remove pan from heat, and add 
1/3 Cup lemon juice 
1/2 Cup chicken broth
1 small can of tomato paste
1 jar of pickled artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
1/4 Cup capers, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon garlic 
1 Tablespoon basil
Stir to combine. 

Return pan to the stove and, scraping the brown bits from the pan, bring liquid mixture to a boil. 
Return all of the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. 
Remove chicken and artichoke hearts from pan. 

Add
2 Tablespoons butter
Whisk to thicken the sauce. 
Pour the sauce over the chicken.
Sprinkle with 
1/3 Cup fresh parsley, chopped

Serve with lemon wedges.
Rice and a salad would round out the meal.
And a bottle of wine would be nice, too.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Anna Sultana’s Frittatas (Easy eggs / brunch recipe)


Father’s Day is next week.
We’re living in the twenty-first century.
Some Moms are also the Dads in their families.
And they deserve to be honoured for everything they do.

Frittata is an Italian dish similar to an omelette or crustless quiche.
It has additional ingredients such as meats, cheeses, vegetables or pasta. 
Frittata means "egg-cake”.
Cake - perfect for a celebration!


Frittatas can be baked the night before and refrigerated. 
Just reheat in the microwave for a quick breakfast and enjoy your day.
Frittatas are also great as a snack or appetizer.


                        Frittatas

Chop enough to make
3/4 Cup zucchini
1/4 Cup red bell pepper
2 Tablespoons red onion

Shred enough to make
1 Cup Cheddar cheese 

Grease 12 muffin cups
Preheat to 350° F 

Place in medium bowl  
6 eggs
1/2 Cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Beat until blended. 
Add the chopped vegetables and shredded cheese.
Mix well. 
Spoon about 1/4 cup each into muffin cups.

Bake 20 to 22 minutes. 
Cool on rack 5 minutes. 
Remove from cups.
Serve warm.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Anna Sultana’s Farfalle Salad

She used farfalle (bow-tie pasta).

Farfalle aren’t served often enough.
They’re a little different, both in appearance and texture.
Something solid to bite into, and easy to pick up with a fork.
And the kids get a kick out of them.

Well, Ma served farfalle in a very nice salad.
Of course there’s a bit more to it than there is in Carmela’s recipe.
Ma’s recipe is more of a complete meal.
It’s just our Maltese way.


Hints:

If you’d prefer - or have on hand - a different pasta, such as elbow, no problem.

You can substitute 2 Cups halved cherry tomatoes or whole grape tomatoes for the chopped regular tomatoes.
You can also use mushrooms, or green pepper strips, or corn, or 1-inch asparagus pieces.  Or a mixture, if you’re trying to use up odds and ends.

Use your favourite Italian Dressing - store bought or homemade - as spicy or as mild as you like.

You can add 2 Cups cooked chicken or pork strips or diced bacon just before serving.

If you’d like to prepare this salad in advance, don’t add the tomatoes and dressing until an hour before serving.

                        Farfalle Salad


16 servings, 1 cup each

Chop and keep the broccoli separate
broccoli florets - enough for 2 Cups
1 red pepper 
3 tomatoes

In a large pot place
4 quarts water
salt to taste
Bring to a boil.
Add
1 pound farfalle 
Cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is almost al dente.
Add
the broccoli florets 
Cook another 3 minutes.
Drain the pasta and broccoli and rinse with cold water.
Place in large bowl. 
Add 
the chopped red pepper and tomatoes 
1 Cup Italian Dressing 
Mix lightly.
Refrigerate 1 hour. 

Stir gently before serving.
Top with
1/2 Cup grated Parmesan cheese 

Serve immediately.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Anna Sultana’s Capellini Caprese

But a problem if you’d rather avoid eggs.
Why not cook up some Capellini Caprese instead?

Don’t let the word Capellini scare you away from this recipe.
In fourteenth century Italy a variety of long pasta shapes were created and they each had a local name.
Well, everyone needs a hobby.

Here are a few of their inventions:
Capellini ("thin hair") is a very thin variety of Italian pasta, in the form of long strands.
Capelli d'angelo ("angel hair pasta")  is an even thinner capellini. 
Vermicelli ("little worms") is round and similar to spaghetti.

As very light pastas, they are usually served in soups or with seafood or with other light sauces.
If you prefer them with a heavier sauce, that could work, too.

Hints:

Don’t have capellini?  No problem.  Use any thin pasta.
In a rush?  Pick up a cooked rotisserie chicken.

You can use 3 Cups halved grape or cherry tomatoes.
Two Cups cooked thin pork strips can be used instead of the chicken.
You can also add mushrooms, green pepper strips, corn and / or broccoli.

Use your favourite Italian Dressing - store bought or homemade - as spicy or as mild as you like.


                        Capellini Caprese

In a large pot place
4 quarts water
salt to taste
Bring to a boil.
Add
1 pound capellini  
Cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is al dente.
Drain the pasta well.

While the pasta is cooking, pour into a large non-stick skillet
3/4 Cup Italian Dressing (you can use more or less)
Heat on on medium-high heat.
Add 
1 onion, finely chopped 
2 cloves garlic, minced
Stirring constantly, cook 2 minutes.
Add
3 regular tomatoes, chopped
2 Cups cooked chicken, sliced in thin strips 
Cook 5 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally.
Add pasta to tomato mixture. 
Mix lightly.
Place pasta mixture in a large platter.

Sprinkle with
1 Cup mozzarella cheese, shredded 
1/3 Cup fresh basil, finely sliced

Capellini Caprese is also good cold.
Yes, it's nice to have it all ready in the fridge after enjoying a day out.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Anna Sultana’s Spaghetti alla Carbonara


Ah… June… summer.
Time to stay cool by cooking a few easy quick meals.
And, if they include spaghetti, so much the better.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara is not a Maltese recipe.
Nope, it’s a popular Italian recipe, created in the mid twentieth century.

Popular enough for us Maltese to hear about it.
And make a few of our own improvements.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara means "coal miner's spaghetti".
Another spaghetti dish with an interesting translation is Spaghetti Puttanesca.
Perfect for when gal pals gather.

Gotta love spaghetti recipes.
Something for everybody.

Hints:

If you’d prefer - or have on hand - a different pasta, such as vermicelli, no problem.

For a little variety you can add a cup or two of cooked peas, broccoli, mushrooms, or a mixture or other vegetables when you are reheating the pasta before serving.


                        Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Serves 4

In a large pot place
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil
Heat the oil and fry
4 ounces bacon, chopped (or guanciale or pancetta

Place in a large bowl
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 ounce grated Pecorino Romano
Beat well together.
Scrape the fried bacon and oil into the egg mixture.

In a large pot place
4 quarts water
salt to taste
Bring to a boil.
Add
1 pound spaghetti  
Cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is al dente.
Drain the pasta well.
Add it to the large bowl containing the beaten eggs.
Toss the pasta immediately and very quickly.
Pour the pasta back into the large pot.
Cook, stirring constantly, for a minute or two to cook the eggs.
Place the pasta on a large platter.

Garnish with
3 ounces grated Pecorino Romano
fresh pepper
Serve hot.