Sunday, 10 October 2010

Laħam Fuq il-Fwar (Steamed Meat)

(Image courtesy of Food Urichin and Where's My Pork Chop)

Look who's finally back from that whole business of organising a wedding, getting married, going off on a minimoon then crashing back to reality this week...Seriously, to everyone who sent their congratulations, I couldn't have asked for a better day, everything went smoothly. A special thanks has to go to the boys and girls at The Freemasons Arms who did a smashing job at cooking nearly 60 steaks to every one's different tastes, making sure everyone had enough to drink and looking after us in general since we took over the dining room and downstairs bar for an entire day! So back on to the important bit, the cooking.

After being invited to participate in Where's My Pork Chop? A concept by fellow food blogger Food Urchin, I decided to make Laħam Fuq il-Fwar, literally translated as Steamed Meat (you can find his write up here). It's not something I had often as a kid, (as Food Urchin discovered) because of the sheer amount of garlic and in my even in my recipe I cut it down from the amount my mum normally used and it was still a little too strong. So if you intend to cook this for yourself I highly recommend cutting it back further if you don't like your garlic too overpowering.

Like a lot of Maltese dishes, this can be a bit of a 2 in 1 meal, traditionally the meat is steamed over a pot of soup, usually Brodu (Maltese broth), where the broth is served as a first course, the potatoes fished out as served with the steamed meat as the main with bread.

Laħam Fuq il-Fwar (Steamed Meat)

Serves 2-3, roughly 310 cal per serving


600g lean beef escalopes, or very thin slices of rump steak
2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
100g bacon medallions
15g butter
1 tsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves
salt and pepper to taste


1. Bring a large pan of water to boil (better yet, broth rather than water), lower to the temperature to a gentle simmer.

2. Grease a heatproof soup plate (large enough to fit over the pan) with the olive oil, then layer the meat, garlic bacon and chopped parsley on top.

3. Dot the butter on top and season with the salt and pepper.

4. Cover with another plate or loosely with foil and steam over the water/broth for an hour and a half to two hours until the meat is tender.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Sorry about the hiatus

But I am getting married next week and have been inundated with work. So I promise when I have a spare hour to myself there will be a recipe for low GI breakfast muffins, a Maltese recipe for steamed beef, and an update on wedding food (after the wedding of course) and possible a review about the new Leon cookbook once I've finished reading it.

In the meantime, sit tight, normal programming will resume shortly.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Gluten and Dairy Free Lemon, Poppy-Seed and Cardamon Spiced cupcakes with a Lemon Drizzle

When it comes to baking, I'm more of a biscuit/fruit cake type person, and only really dig out the muffin cases if I'm making breakfast muffins. But tomorrow my work is having their summer party and as part of the whole "Summer Fete" theme, there's going to be a cupcake baking competition, with a few ladies from the Women's Institute judging.

So, for something very last minute (I wasn't going to enter in all honesty), and vaguely British Rajish I have made (gluten-free and dairy-free) Lemon, Poppy-Seed and Cardamon Spiced cupcakes with a Lemon Drizzle. So wish me luck tomorrow!

Lemon, Poppy-Seed and Cardamon Spiced cupcakes with a Lemon Drizzle
Makes 12 cup cakes


For the cakes:

100g Gluten-free plain flour (as mentioned previously, I find Doves Farm the best)
1 tsp baking powder
100g golden caster sugar
50g dairy free magarine, softened
2 large free range eggs
2 tbsp soy milk
juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon
4 green cardamon pods, seeds removed and ground to a fine powder
2 tbsp poppy seeds
a few drops of yellow food colouring (optional)

For the lemon drizzle:

50g icing sugar
1/2 tbsp golden caster sugar
juice of 1/2 a lemon

Method (for the cupcakes):

1. Line a muffin tray with paper muffin cases and preheat the fan forced oven to 190 degrees celsius.

2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cardamon and sugar.

3. Add the margarine, eggs, milk, lemon juice and zest and food colouring (if adding), whisk together until creamy, then fold in the poppy seeds.

4. Divide the mixture between the paper muffin cases and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until they're golden coloured and firm to the touch. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack.

Method (for the lemon drizzle):

1. In a small bowl, sift the icing sugar and caster sugar together.

2. Mix in the lemon juice until it forms a paste.

Method (to finish off):

1. While the cupcakes are still warm, prick a few small holes on top with a cocktail stick.

2. Drizzle the icing over the top of the cupcakes with a spoon and leave to finish cooling and for the icing to set.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Gluten-free yoghurt, pistachio, cranberry and orange blossom water cakes

Well, I say cakes, but these are half way between a cake and a scone - a bit of an experiment thanks to the yoghurt that the lovely people over at Total and Traffic Partners had sent me, if you remember from this post.

They're lovely on their own, but even better with a dollop of cream or some jam. I've used the full fat yoghurt for these, but I'm sure it would work with the 0% fat yoghurt too.

Obviously it doesn't have to be gluten-free, you can use normal flour if you want, but if you do, cut down the yoghurt amount by 2 tablespoons.

Gluten-free yoghurt, pistachio, cranberry and orange blossom water cakes

Makes roughly 16 cakes depending on the size of cutter you use (I used a tumbler glass).

225g Gluten-free flour (I find the Doves Farm stuff to be the best)
1 tbsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground clove
60g unsalted butter
30g brown sugar
30g honey
40g chopped, unsalted pistachios
40g cranberries
2 tbsp orange blossom water
1 large egg
8 tbsp yoghurt


1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius, and lightly grease a baking tray with butter.

2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking soda.

3. Rub the butter into the flour mixture, until it has the texture of small breadcrumbs.

4. Mix in the spices, pistachios, sugar, honey, orange blossom water and cranberries.

5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and yoghurt, quickly mix this into the cake mix – it should become a slightly wet dough.

6. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until cracks and bubbles disappear. Roll out so it is about a 1.5cm thick.

7. With your cookie cutter (or in my case a tumbler), press out rounds in the dough. Roll up the excess dough, roll out again and continue making rounds until there is no dough left.

8. Place the tray in the hot oven for a couple of minutes to melt the butter a little, take it out and lay your rounds out on it, sprinkling them with a little flour.

9. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

10. Let them cool a little, then serve with cream and jam.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Bigilla (Maltese Broad Bean Dip)

With my trip back home to the old country last week my taste for Bigilla, a traditional Maltese broad bean dip, was reawakened. It's incredibly tasty and a great alternative to hummus, usually served with Maltese water crackers called Galletti or on toasted sour dough bread. In Malta, people will either make their own or buy it by weight from markets – though these days you'll find them in ready made up tubs in the local shops.

Bigilla usually has red chilli added to it for a fiery kick, though some prefer to leave the chilli out, while others will add Tabasco for extra heat. Here, I'm giving the recipe my mother gave me, her recipe calls for the tyoe of dried broad bean that has skins, but unfortunately I could only get the skinless ones. If you can get a hold of them with the skins, it will give the Bigilla the authentic brown colour rather the "white" colour of the version I have made here. Both are equally tasty, though there is an earthy depth to the skin-on version.

With this recipe you can make it in advance and serve it cold (it will keep in the fridge for a few days, just add a little extra oil to preserve it), or eat it warm.

Take note that the beans are soaked overnight, please allow time for this. As well as a cooking time of about 1.5 hours.

Bigilla (Maltese Broad Bean Dip)

250g Dried Broad Beans (available in most Middle Eastern shops)
2 – 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
salt and pepper
finely chopped chilli (optional, but highly recommended)

1. In a medium sized pan, soak the broad beans in cold water overnight.

2. Drain the broad beans and just cover with clean, fresh cold water and bring to boil over a medium heat.

3. Turn the heat down to the lowest setting and simmer for 1 - 1.5 hours. When the beans start going soft, mash with the back of a fork, keeping an eye on the water level, it shouldn't be sloppy, but a nice thick paste with a bit of texture from the broken up broad beans. Don't let it dry out!

4. Once all the broad beans have softened and mashed, gradually add the oil a tablespoon at a time, mixing in as you go. You want it to be smooth – too little oil will make it dry and floury, too much and you'll get a slick mess.

I was very lucky to receive a gift of Maltese olive oil made from
the remaining indigenous olives grown in Malta and have used it in my Bigilla.

5. Stir in the parsley and garlic, gradually add salt and pepper, tasting as you go. That's the key thing with Bigilla, is taste, taste, taste.

6. If you're adding chillis, again, do it gradually and taste as you go. In this version I have only added a heaped teaspoon worth of chilli to give it a little kick but keeping it mild. If I didn't have guests eating it, personally would have added another heaped teaspoon.

7. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of parsley on top – don't forget the crackers!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

That warm fuzzy feeling

Massive thanks to Gary from Roast Potato who made my Maltese roast potato recipe and blogged about it here:

Also others on Facebook and such who have been using my recipes, thank you, it really is appreciated.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

What to do with a month's supply of yoghurt...

This just turned up at my work today, thanks to the lovely people over at Total and Traffic Partners.

Though a couple have been bagged by a couple of work mates already! Now what to do with them? Yoghurt, rose and pistachio cake? A curry? A dark chocolate mousse (Thanks to my good friend Beth for the recipe)? Scoff the lot over breakfast...?

Ah the possibilities...