Friday, February 20, 2015

Traditional Maltese food for Lent and Easter - Links for Anna Sultana's recipes

Kung Hei Fat Choy!
Yesterday was the start of Chinese New Year.
It has a few weeks' worth of traditions to ensure you’ll have a great year. 
Remember… your behaviour on New Year’s Day sets the tone for the year.
No pressure.

Speaking of traditions for starting a new year…

Last Wednesday was Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent.
Forty days during which we’re supposed to basically make a few new year’s resolutions and actually do them - at least for forty days. 

The Catholic Church has a few ‘suggestions’ to get the ball rolling.
As with most religions, the hints affect what Catholics eat.
Basically it’s cutting back in general, and no meat on Friday.
In Malta fish such as lampuki, whitebait and salted cod were eaten during Lent.
Also stewed snails (bebbux), stuffed artichokes (qaqoċċ mimli) and fritters (zeppoli).

During the Holy Week bakers also bake apostles' bagel, a large round loaf with almonds on top (qagħqa tal-appostli). 

There are also seasonal variations to certain dishes, for example, adding fresh broad beans to kusksu (a vegetable and pasta dish).

The recipes are delicious, any time of the year.
Maltese are into self improvement, not self abuse.

Here are a few more of Ma’s Lenten dishes:

Lampuki and Qara' baghli biz-zalza pikkanti - Fish and Marrows with Piquant Sauce
Torta tal-Lampuki - Fish and Vegetable Pie
Baked Stuffed Lampuki - Baked Fish
Fried Lampuki - Fried Fish
Baccala alla Marinara - Baked Salt Cod
Bebbux bl-Arjoli  - Snails with Arjoli Sauce
Bebbux bl-Arjoli - Land Snails or Seafood with Hot Arjoli Sauce

Froga tat-Tarja - Spaghetti Omelette

Qaqocc Mimli - Stuffed Artichokes
Qaqocc Mimli - Stuffed Artichokes  II

Zeppoli ta' san Guzepp - Fried choux pastry with sweet ricotta filling and honey coating
Kwareżimal - Almond Biscotti
Torta tal-Ħaxu / Torta ta' l-Irkotta - Easy Maltese Ricotta Pie
Qassatat ta I-Irkotta - Small Ricotta Pies
Qassatat tal-Pizelli - Small Pies with Peas
Figolli - Traditional Maltese Easter Sweet with Royal Icing and Almond Filling (with and without eggs)

Karamelli (Julep sweets)
Pastizzi tal-Inċova (Anchovy cakes)
Qassatat tal-ħelu (sweet biscuits) 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Party on!! by Margaret Ullrich - Cosmopolitan Recipe

Yesterday was Canada Flag Day!!
Happy 50th birthday to our flag, eh!!

Today is also holiday for both sides of the border.
Happy Presidents' Day to my American visitors! 

In Canada the holiday goes by a few different names.
Family Day for most Canadians - Louis Riel Day for us in Manitoba.

Here the holiday was renamed in honour of Louis Riel, the Métis leader who is regarded as the Father of Manitoba.
There’s a ton of fun stuff happening at Festival du Voyageur this week to celebrate our province’s Métis roots.

What a jam packed week this is!
Last night we watched Saturday Night Live’s 40th Anniversary Special.
Great seeing our old favourites team up with the younger folks.
They all looked like they were having fun - even Kanye West, who showed his funnier side and went along with the Myers and Carvey’s Wayne’s World gag.

Tomorrow there’ll be pancakes for Mardi Gras.
After Ash Wednesday we’ll celebrate Chinese New Year by following a few traditions.
Can’t hurt and some are a lot of fun.
It’s nice to have a few reasons to celebrate when the weather’s so cold!

About a week ago I posted the recipe for Ma’s Lemon Cranberry Scones.
More about cranberries…
Yes, they are tart.
Cranberry juice is usually sweetened or blended with other fruit juices. 
Just so you know, cranberry juice cocktail, at a teaspoonful of sugar per ounce, is more sweetened than soda is.

Many cocktails are made with cranberry juice. 
One of the more famous is the Cosmopolitan.
Around 1987 John Caine brought the Cosmopolitan from Ohio to San Francisco.
The Cosmopolitan gained popularity in the 1990s, since it was frequently mentioned on the television program Sex and the City.  

Demeter Fragrance Library has created a cologne intended to smell like the cosmopolitan cocktail.

So, here’s the recipe for the drink, not the cologne.


3 parts lemon flavoured vodka
2 parts cranberry juice
1 part triple sec, such as Cointreau
1 part lime juice

Place all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice.
Shake well and double strain into a large cocktail glass.
Garnish with a lime wedge or lemon slice.

About Wednesday’s new moon in Aquarius…
According to the folks at

Do you feel as if you have one foot in your past and the other in your future? This unusual new Moon straddles a pair of signs occurring just as the Moon and Sun cross the cusp between Aquarius and Pisces. 
Anything you start now is strongly infused with memories, so take the best from what you've learned and apply it to your future. 
This is a tailor-made time for dreamers - no cynics allowed! Since Neptune weighs in, not everything will be clear. Faith trumps logic now, so let it guide you in your choices. 
Give your logical mind a rest and pay attention to your feelings and intuition.

This is the second lunation in Aquarius since January. This is the moment to make your wish list and set your goals for the next six months!
Be careful about anything you start under this influence. 

The Sun also swoops into intuitive Pisces, heightening psychic abilities, so any extravagant, outrageous plans you've laid out under this new Moon may have you balking within hours.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Anna Sultana’s Baked Alaska for Valentine’s Day

Guess what!
Valentine’s Day is on the day after tomorrow.
I know… We all had such great plans.
Just like we planned to do stuff for Christmas.
Then life got in the way.
You’ve got it… the big plans can’t be done.

Don’t panic.
Handle it like a birthday.
The dessert will make the meal.
It just has to be pretty.
Candles would help.

Go for the sizzle, not the steak.
Steak, yeah, that could work for the main course.
On a budget?  Serve burgers with a gravy and call it Salisbury Steak.

Back to the dessert…
Got some leftover cake, ice cream and egg whites?
Great - you can serve Baked Alaska.


You can do most of the work in advance.
You just have to do the browning a la blowtorch (or broiler) before serving.

Either a baked brownie or a spongecake would work best for this.
Also a pound cake, or a regular white or chocolate cake would do.
Even quicker - thick slices from the bottom of two cupcakes would work.

You could put the meringue in a piping bag with a plain tip to make a meringue "beehive" around each scoop of ice cream: start at the bottom of the cake and pipe a ring of meringue around the ice cream so that it completely covers the cake edge.
Continue to pipe meringue around the ice cream, making sure you completely cover the ice cream.
Finish with a small circle at the top.

Or you could scoop and plaster the meringue on the ice cream and cake.
Don't smooth it - the meringue tips will get a nice browned effect.

If you have a small blow torch, turn your torch to a medium low setting, and use it to brown the outside of the meringues instead of using the broiler.

You could add a squiggle of chocolate or raspberry sauce on each plate.
Or not.

                        Baked Alaska

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Using a 3 inch round glass, cut 2 circles out of the cake, and place them on the foil.
Leaving a small margin of cake all the way around, place a scoop of ice cream (any flavour) in the centre of each piece of cake.
Place the cake and ice cream in the freezer and freeze for at least 4 hours.

The meringue

Place in a medium mixer bowl
3 egg whites
Beat at medium speed until stiff peaks are formed.
Add gradually, beating constantly
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
With mixer on high speed, beat egg white / sugar mixture for 5 minutes, until the meringue forms very stiff peaks.

Remove the cake / ice cream bases from the freezer.
Cover one cake / ice cream with half of the meringue. 
Repeat with remaining meringue on the other cake / ice cream.
Return them to the freezer until ready to serve (see above in hints).

Just before serving

Turn your oven to broil.
Remove the pan holding the meringue-covered desserts from the freezer.
Place the baking sheet under the broiler.
Be sure to leave the door open and keep an eye on them.
You only need about 30 to 45 seconds for the meringues to turn brown.

Remove the pan from the oven.
Place one meringue in the centre of each plate, relax and serve.

Don't disagree when told how hard it must've been to make such a unique dessert.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Anna Sultana’s Lemon Cranberry Scones

We’ve been having cloudy skies recently.
Whenever it’s cloudy I crave lemon.
Especially in winter.

Along with craving lemon, I like extra servings of carbs during winter.
A few years ago I posted the recipe for Ma's Orange Cranberry Scones.

A lemon recipe I missed posting was Ma’s Lemon Cranberry Scones.
Time to fix that.

Cranberries are too nutritious to just be served as a side dish during the holidays.
Raw cranberries have vitamin C, fibre and manganese.
About the holidays…
After the big day fresh cranberries are usually on sale.
When you get home you can put them in a bag and freeze them.
They will keep up to nine months and can be used in recipes without thawing.

Raw cranberries are said to help the cardiovascular and immune systems.
Some say they also can help prevent urinary tract infections.
Others say they don’t have that much of an effect.
But they can’t hurt and they do have nutrients.


Chill your ingredients and equipment so that your scones will be light and fluffy.
If you don’t have cranberries, blueberries or raisins will also work.

Brushing the tops of the scones with the lemon glaze before baking will give them a crisp golden top.

If you don’t want the lemon glaze, you can ice the scones.
Combine in a small bowl
!/4 Cup confectioners’ sugar
3 Tablespoons lemon juice or water (more or less)
Drizzle over the scones.

If you don't want either the glaze or the icing, no problem.

                           Lemon Cranberry Scones
grease a large cookie pan         
preheat oven to 375º F      
bake 20 minutes
Yield: 12 Scones

In a measuring cup beat together
2 Tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Set aside.  It will be used for the glaze just before baking.

In a large bowl, mix together
3 Cups flour
1 Cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt

Cut in 
3/4 Cup unsalted butter, diced

1/2 Cup chilled half and half cream
1 Cup cranberries (fresh, frozen or dried)
1/2 Cup coarsely chopped pecans (optional)
Toss with a fork until the dough comes together.
You can add more cream if the dough is dry.

Gather the dough into a ball and divide in half.
Knead one piece about 6 times and place it on the cookie pan.
Shape into a circle and flatten. 
Cut into 6 wedges.
Repeat with the second had of the dough.

Brush the tops with the lemon glaze.
Sprinkle with 
1/4 Cup dark brown sugar (optional)

Bake 20 minutes, until golden brown and a tester comes out clean.
Serve warm with butter, jam and tea
or clotted cream (in the dairy section of most supermarkets)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Wishing You a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Life is never measured 
by the years you have lived,
but by the love you have shared,
and the people whose hearts you have touched.

Wishing you a day filled with all you hold dear.
Thank you for visiting!!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Anna Sultana's Monkey Bread Sticky Buns

Just so you know, this is not a dessert for packing in a lunch box.
But it is just perfect for for sharing during a small get together.
And, since the recipe makes two pans of buns, there’s also a fresh looking dessert for the next time you have the gang over.
How cool is that!

If you’d like to see a few Monkey Bread variations try these:

If you’d like a more rolled up look, try


If you prefer nutmeg or allspice or a spice mix, substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons of the spice of your choice for the zest and cinnamon in the original recipe.

If you want to have this recipe for breakfast the next day it’s easy.
After you have placed the small balls in the pans, wrap the pan tightly with plastic wrap, then place it in the fridge overnight. 
In the morning take the pan out and let the dough finish rising before baking.

For a lighter icing you can combine in a small bowl
!/4 Cup confectioners’ sugar
3 Tablespoons lemon juice or water (more or less)
Drizzle over sticky buns.

If you don't want the icing, skip it.

                        Monkey Balls

Grease 2 9-inch spring form round pans and set aside.
Place the oven rack in the medium low position.

In a medium bowl combine
3 1/4 Cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl mix together
1 Cup milk, warm (around 110º F)
1/3 Cup water, warm (around 110º F)
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 Cup sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
Gradually stir the flour / salt into the liquid ingredients. 
Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead about 10 minutes. 
Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a greased bowl.
Rotate the dough around to grease all of the surfaces.
Cover the bowl with a damp towel and leave it in a warm place for 1 hour.
The dough should be doubled in size.

On a floured surface roll the dough into a rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick. 
Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into about 60 pieces.
Roll each piece of dough into a ball. 

                        Monkey Bread Sticky Buns

Combine in a small bowl
1 102 gram (4 ounce) package vanilla instant pudding
1 teaspoon lemon or orange zest
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Toss each ball in the pudding mixture.
Place half of the balls in each prepared pan.
Drizzle each pan with half of
1/4 Cup butter, melted

Cover the pan with a damp towel and leave it in a warm place for 1 hour.
The balls should be doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 350º F
Bake 40 minutes until the top is golden brown. 
Remove them from the oven and cool 5 minutes.
Remove the cakes from the pans and place them on large plates.

While the cakes are cooling, combine in a small mixer bowl
1/4 Cup cream cheese
1/4 Cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons milk
Drizzle half of the icing over each coffee cake.

Sprinkle over the top of the cakes (optional)
2 Tablespoons chopped toasted pecans or walnuts or almonds

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Living on the Edge by Margaret Ullrich - Pink Lady Recipe

Yep, I’ve been living on the edge for the past couple of weeks.
Don’t get excited.  I’m almost 65.
But for me this is being adventurous.

A few months ago our local grocery store chain, Safeway, started a promotion.
For every $10 spent on groceries (and just about anything else in the store), the clerk would give a stamp towards a Zwilling J.A. Henckels Five star product.
Henckels makes very sharp knives.

It brought back memories of when my Ma collected S&H green stamps.

If you didn't live through that 60s craze that rivalled the Beatles, I'll explain.
Back then folks received little green stamps when they went shopping.
They were also given fat little books with pages that each had fifty tiny rectangles.
The books also had messages like:
S&H Green Stamps are your discount for paying cash. It’s the best way for any merchant to say ’Thank you for your patronage’.

Okay… our Moms would’ve preferred getting decent discounts, but the stamps - and what they could be exchanged for - were better than nothing.

Our Moms - or more often us kids - had to lick and place the stamps in the spaces.
After a couple of weeks word spread to lightly dab the stamps on a moist sponge.
Much better than tasting that awful glue backing.
When we weren't filling the stamp books, we - and sometimes our Dads - would flip through the S&H green stamps catalogue and argue over what was the best thing to get for all our efforts.

After bringing home stamps that filled dozens of books and enduring subtle - and not so subtle - requests, our Moms would exchange the books for an appliance.
Or maybe for something for the family to enjoy.
And bring home more stamps so we could start filling another book.

Hurrah for the twenty-first century!
The self-sticking stamps are quite an improvement.
And we don't need books filled with stamps to get a prize.
The largest knives required 150 stamps.
The smaller ones only needed 70.
I’ve actually earned enough for two very sharp knives.
My sliced oranges have never looked prettier.

Okay… I would’ve preferred decent grocery discounts.
But the knives were an upgrade from the ones I’d bought back in the 70s.
Who knew they could make a knife with a razor sharp edge?

I feel like Paulie Cicero, played by Paul Sorvino, in the movie Goodfellas.
I can just imagine how finely Paulie, while he was in prison, could’ve shaved the garlic if he’d had one of these knives.
And he wouldn’t have argued with the price.
The knives were FREE!!
Yes, Paulie would've cracked a smile for that, I'm sure.
Okay… I'm sure he would’ve preferred decent grocery discounts, but still...

Yep, I’ve been living on the edge.

Back to the twenty-first century... Valentine’s Day is coming.
I recently posted the recipe for Lava Cakes, a perfect dessert for two.
The post also has links for six romantic dishes for two.
Starches and main course dishes and a lovely dessert.
But what’s a romantic meal without an equally romantic drink?

A Pink Lady sounds about right.
It’s pretty and it leaves you sober enough to actually enjoy the evening.
If you get my drift.

A bit of history about the Pink Lady…
Some say interior architect and society figure Elsie de Wolfe invented it.
There was an Ivan Caryll's 1911 Broadway musical with the same name.
More recently it was rumoured that Hollywood star and sex symbol Jayne Mansfield drank a Pink Lady before her meals.
Maybe she also had a few for Valentine's Day.


A creamier version, invented in the 1920s, adds sweet cream. 
In New Orleans this version was also known as Pink Shimmy. 
In some recipes the cream replaces the egg white.
Sometimes lemon juice is added as well.

Whatever you want in it... the ingredients are shaken over ice and, after straining it into a glass, the cocktail is garnished with a cherry.
Or not.

                        Pink Lady

2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce lemon juice (optional)
1/2 ounce grenadine
1 egg white
Shake ingredients very well with ice and strain into cocktail glass. 
Garnish with a cherry (optional).

About Tuesday’s full moon in Leo…
According to the folks at

An incredibly creative and romantic full Moon in Leo kicks the month off in style.
Aquarian ideals pull you toward friendship, while Leo's influence encourages you to stand out from the crowd.

Alrighty, then!!