THE ROYAL WEDDING, -COOK UP THAT CORONATION CHICKEN!

My mum who was a young Military wife at the time of Queen Elizabeths Coronation , handed down this recipe to me.

The recipe was created by the English cooks Constance Spry and Rosemary Hume to celebrate the Coronation.

It is an excellent recipe, and I was horrified to find online the same recipe has been crucified and there are versions with dry chicken breasts, or even roasted chicken!

These recipes will in no way compare with baby chickens (poussin) slowly poached in wine/water, carrots herbs and peppercorns till they are cooked through, and are succulent and moist. Mixed then with the spicy cream of curry sauce, and served  with a rice salad  tossed with cucumber , herbs and peas, the dish is creamy and tasty and indeed fit for a Queen (or Prince and Princess!)

 Clare Arrigo’s Chicken Coronation

Serves 6 – 8

2 young roasting chickens (poussin)

water and wine (approximately 2 glasses) to cover

2 carrots

a bunch of fresh herbs such as sage, parsley, basil etc

salt, peppercorns

method

Cover the chicken, carrots, herbs and peppercorns in the water and wine and poach until tender, this should take about 40 minutes.  Allow to cool in the liquid, then joint the birds, removing bones and skin with care. Now prepare the Cream of Curry Sauce to mix with the chicken. 

Cream of curry sauce

1 tablespoon oil

50g (2oz) onion, finely chopped

1 dessertspoon curry powder

1 dessertspoon tomato paste (kunserva)

1 wine glass red wine

¾ wine glass water

Bay leaf, salt, pepper, sugar

2 lemon slices and the juice of 1 squeezed lemon

2 tablespoons apricot jam

400m (16 flu oz) good mayonnaise

3 tablespoons lightly whipped cream

a little extra cream

Heat oil, add onion, cook gently for 4 minutes, add curry powder and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add tomato paste, wine, water and bay leaf.

Bring to the boil, add salt, sugar to taste, pepper, lemon slices and lemon juice. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, then strain and cool.

When cool, add by degrees to the mayonnaise, adding the apricot jam and mixing in well. Adjust seasoning adding more lemon juice if necessary. Finish with the cream.

Serve this dish with a rice salad

Rice Salad to serve with chicken coronation

500g (1lb 4oz) long grain rice, boiled as instructed on packet

1 large cucumber, peeled, diced and put into a dish with 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 teaspoon salt, sprinkled on in that order and left for some time, say half an hour, then drained. (This makes the cucumber more digestible)

a handful of cooked peas

some chopped parsley, mint and basil

French dressing made with 1 teaspoon mustard, 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, pinch of salt, pepper and sugar, and a good lug of olive oil

Once the rice is cooked and still warm, mix in the French dressing. Add the prepared cucumber, peas and herbs. Mix and cool until ready to serve with the Chicken Coronation.

Try it for 19th May?Best Buy Dishes-April 2011 (10)

 

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ITS ASPARAGUS SEASON AGAIN!

IMG_7178Spring and all good things come out of the earth. For the past several years I have been buying my asparagus from Lucija Borg in Xaghra Gozo. Now her sons have come back from Australia and are marketing the asparagus (along with mange tout and herbs) in a big way.

I went to the Farmers market on Saturday, and found the asparagus stall straight away. They were selling both thicker and thin ones. I bought 4 bunches, and that evening we had fresh Asparagus with Hollandaise sauce – simply delicious.

The next day I prepared an Asparagus risotto for lunch, using our best MATTEI (Cap Corse in Corsica) vermouth.

Tomorrow I shall try asparagus frittata and if I can buy some fresh prawns I shall mix them with the asparagus to make a delightful pasta dish.

Here are the recipes I have tried successfully, do buy some asparagus and try these and indeed any other recipes you can think of (pass them on too!)

 

 

 

ASPARAGUS WITH CLASSIC HOLLANDAISE SAUCE

 

When freshly picked, you can’t do better than cook the fresh asparagus and serve them with a classic hollandaise sauce.

Prepare a bunch of Asparagus by snapping off the end ‘woody’ stems. Set aside. Bring a narrow pot of water to the boil.

Make the Hollandaise sauce:

3 egg yolks

2 tablespoons wine vinegar

100g salted butter, cut into pieces

¼ level teaspoon salt

pinch pepper

 

Put the egg yolks and vinegar in a bowl and stir till they are well mixed. Place this bowl onto a pan of simmering water and heat gently stirring until the yolks thicken.

Add one piece of butter to the egg yolks and whisk over the gentle heat until the butter melts. Add the remaining butter a little at a time whisking continuously.

At the same time, plunge the asparagus upright into the pan of boiling water, and boil for 6 minutes or until the asparagus is cooked to the bite, drain and place in serving dish.

When all the butter has been added to the bowl over the gently simmering water, continue to whisk until you have a thick sauce. Remove from the heat, and add the salt and pepper. Serve warm with the cooked asparagus.

 

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asparagus topped with Hollandaise sauce

 

 

ASPARAGUS GRUYERE TART

 

A nice way to use asparagus which you can prepare beforehand.

 

Serves 4

 

1 sheet of pre-rolled puff pastry approx. 34cmx23cm

500g asparagus (on the thin side) woody ends  of stems cut off

150g Gruyère cheese, shredded

1-tablespoon olive oil

1 egg, beaten

Salt and pepper

 

Preheat oven to 200c/400f/gas 6

 

On a floured surface roll out the defrosted puff pastry. Place on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment (usually wrapping the pastry in the box), allowing a little paper to hang over. With a sharp knife, lightly score pastry dough 2cm (¾ inch) in from the edges to mark a rectangle taking care not to cut right through the pastry.

 

Using a fork pierce dough inside the border. Brush the border with a little beaten egg seasoned with salt and pepper. Chill the pastry for 15 minutes then bake until golden and puffed up, about 15 minutes.

 

Remove pastry shell from oven, and gently press the central area down with a spoon (so that the pastry has a high border.)

 

Now sprinkle the pastry shell with the Gruyere. Trim the bottoms of the asparagus spears to fit crosswise inside the tart shell. Arrange in a single layer over the Gruyere, alternating ends and tips. Brush with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until asparagus spears are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

 

 

NB you can also use some prepared hollandaise sauce instead of the cheese. Just add another beaten egg to the sauce, and fill the pastry shell with this mixture, topping with asparagus as above and baking until the asparagus is roasted, and the hollandaise has a golden brulé appearance.

 

NB The pastry case can be baked 1 day in advance, then cooled and stored in an airtight container.  Next day, fill pastry case and proceed with the rest of the recipe

 

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What about a pasta dish using the fresh asparagus?

 

PRAWN AND ASPARAGUS LINGUINE

Serves 4

 

  • 8 sticks of asparagus –  woody ends removed, and the rest ,chopped at an angle (3cm pieces)
  • 250 g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 cloves of garlic – finely chopped
  • Juice from a lemon
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • 2-4 red chillies (to suit you) – finely chopped
  • 400g king prawns
  • 400g dried linguine pasta
  • Good Glug of olive oil
  • Handful of fresh basil – chopped
  • Sprinkle of dried oregano
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

METHOD

Fill a saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Add in your pasta and cook for 10-12 minutes (see instructions.)

 

Whilst you pasta is cooking, put a large frying pan on medium heat and add in your olive oil. Throw in your tomatoes and fry for 4 minutes. Then add in the garlic, chilli, asparagus and prawns and cook for another 3 minutes.

Pour in the white wine and add the salt, pepper and oregano. Leave this to simmer for 3-5 minutes, until the sauce reduces and thickens.

Once cooked, drain the linguine and add to the sauce. Add the lemon juice and basil to your linguine and heat for 1 minute, before plating up!

 

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Or a risotto?

ASPARAGUS RISOTTO

Serves 4

 

500g asparagus, woody ends removed

850 ml chicken stock

Rock salt and freshly ground pepper

1 onion, peeled and very finely chopped

50g unsalted butter

3 tablespoons olive oil

250 g risotto rice

50ml vermouth – I used the MATTEI (of course) Vermouth from Cap Corse, Corsica!

150g Parmesan, freshly grated

 

Method

 

Heat your chicken stock

Cut the tips off the asparagus and keep to one side. Chop the tender parts of the stalks into approx. 2.5cm pieces.

Blanch the asparagus tips for 2 minutes, then blanch the stalks for about 3 minutes. In a blender, pulse the stalks with a ladle of the stock.

 

In a heavy saucepan, cook the onion in half the butter and the oil over a low heat for about 6 minutes until soft. Add the rice and cook gently, stirring for 2 minutes to coat the rice with the oil. Start to add the hot stock, ladle by ladle, stirring constantly, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. Continue until the rice is al dente, usually about 20 minutes, add the stalk puree, vermouth, asparagus tips, the rest of the butter, and the Parmesan.

Stir to combine and season. Serve with more Parmesan.

 

 

And this, the Queen of cream soups;

 

CREAM OF ASPARAGUS SOUP

450g (1 lb) fresh green or white asparagus

1 white onion, finely chopped

3 sprigs fresh parsley

800ml (1 ½ pints) chicken stock, or water and chicken stock cubes)

35g ( 1 ½ oz ) butter

25g (1 oz) flour

large pinch grated nutmeg

 

Liaison

2 egg yolks

100ml ( ¼ pint) fresh cream

Garnish

Fried bread croutons

 

Method

Prepare asparagus by breaking off their woody bottoms.

Cut off tops for garnish and set aside.

Chop the stalks and put into a pot with the chopped onion and chopped parsley. Add the chicken stock and cover pan. Simmer for 15 minutes until asparagus is tender.

 

Put into blender and blend till smooth, and return soup to the pot. In another small saucepan, melt the butter and then add the flour to this, stir till smooth for a minute then remove from heat and press this through a fine sieve into the soup. Blend smoothly and bring the soup to the boil, stirring constantly, then simmer for a few minutes. Adjust seasoning if necessary and add a sprinkle of grated nutmeg.

 

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan cook the reserved tips for about 5 minutes in some water until tender. Place a few asparagus tips into each soup plate and add the liquid to your soup.

 

To make the liaison, mix the egg yolks and cream well. Add a few spoonfuls of hot soup and mix well before straining into the soup through the fine sieve, stirring all the time. Mix well and heat up without allowing it to boil.

 

Serve soup in soup plates garnish with cooked asparagus tips and some fried bread croutons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

FIGOLLI TIME AGAIN!

Just enough time to make the Maltese Easter biscuits , FIGOLLI, follow my time tested recipe and delight yourselves and your loved ones!

 

Pippa and Lexy’s Figolli Recipe

You will need:

An assortment of metal Figolli cutters, shapes such as: fish, heart, basket, lamb, butterfly etc.

Piping equipment

Baking trays and cooling racks

Cake boards to place them on when ready (either gold or silver ones, or normal boards covered in baking foil)

Easter egg halves to place on the Figolli

Food colouring: red, green, yellow and blue to colour the glacé icing, or chocolate covering if you prefer

Coloured and/or silver edible balls, to decorate

 

Note – We find the best way to make the Figolli is in stages. First make the biscuit dough, roll it out and cut the shapes. Prepare the almond filling and assemble the biscuits. Then place them on the baking trays and bake them. Finally allow to cool on racks. Then decorate, first by covering in glacé icing or chocolate, and finally with royal icing.

Stage One

For three to four Figolli you will need:

350 g (14oz) plain flour

175g (7oz) sugar

175g (7oz) margarine or butter

Grated rind of one lemon and one orange

2 egg yolks (keep the whites for the almond filling and glacé icing. Keep them separate, you need one white for the almond filling and the other for the royal icing).

A little cold water if necessary

Method – Mix flour and sugar in a bowl, add the margarine or butter cut up into pieces and mix altogether until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the grated rinds and then the egg yolks. Mix well until it becomes a fairly soft but firm dough, only adding water if necessary. Set aside.

Filling

175g (7oz) blanched almonds ground in a processor

80g (3oz) sugar

A little fresh lemon juice

1 egg white

1 teaspoon orange blossom water (Ilma Żahar)

Mix the ground almonds with the sugar, lemon juice, egg white and blossom water. Mix very well by hand or in a processor. Set aside.

Now roll out some of your dough onto a floured surface, to 0.5 cm (two sixteenths of an inch) thick. Carefully place your chosen metal shape on the rolled out dough and cut two identical shapes. Take two or three tablespoons of the prepared almond filling and spread this onto the inner part of one of the shapes, flattening it slightly. Now carefully brush the circumference of this shape with beaten egg, milk or water, and put the other identical shape over this, pressing down the edges you have moistened. When this is ready, carefully lift the double shape with a gateau or pie lifter if you have one, or an angled spatula, and place on a non-stick baking tray.

Pre-heat your oven to moderate (180˚C/ 350˚F, gas mark 4) and bake your Figolli for approximately 20 minutes until they are golden brown. Remove from oven and allow them to cool before placing them on cooling racks to get completely cold.

Stage 2

Glacé Icing

400g (1 lb) icing sugar, sifted

50 ml (2 fluid oz) water

Juice of one lemon

Mix all the above ingredients together. When smooth and thick divide into four bowls. Now choose your four colours and put drops of different colours in different bowls, to create pastel shades more in keeping with Easter themes. Do this little by little, as once mixed the colour spreads and you do not want your colours too bright.

Now, with the help of a pastry brush or a spatula, spread one of the glacé icings over a baked and cooled Figolla. Cover each Figolla with a different coloured icing and when all done, place your Easter egg halves exactly in the middle of the shape, pressing down to secure. Leave to cool and set.

If you prefer to cover your Figolli with chocolate, simply melt the chocolate covering over simmering water, and spread over Figolli. You need 100g (4oz) chocolate per Figolla

When the glacé icing or chocolate has dried you can carefully place your Figolli onto the cake boards. You are now ready for the next stage.

Stage 3

Royal Icing

1 egg white (set aside previously)

225g (8oz) icing sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon lemon juice

½ teaspoon glycerine

Whisk the egg white until slightly frothy. Beat in about a quarter of the icing sugar with a wooden spoon, then, using a whisk, add the sugar gradually, beating well after each addition, until about three quarters has been added.

Beat in the lemon juice and continue beating for about 10 minutes until the icing is smooth, glossy and white. Beat in the remaining sugar and the glycerine to the required consistency ( when a wooden spoon placed upright in the icing falls slowly to one side, do not over beat).

Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and leave sometime to allow bubbles to rise to the surface (a few hours or overnight)

With your piping equipment, fit the large star nozzle in the piping bag, fill with your royal icing and with a steady hand, pipe stars all around the outer circumference of your Figolli in such a way that this icing not only decorates the edges, but attaches the Figolli to the boards they are placed on. You can now decorate the Figolli with more piped icing to mark out eyes, ears, flowers etc. Immediately add all the coloured balls onto this icing anyway you fancy.

You now need to leave the Figolli overnight to allow the piped icing to harden. When this is done, carefully cover the Figolli with transparent paper or slide into clear plastic food bags, tie with thin ribbon and your Easter gifts are ready for giving and eating.

 

 

 

 

ANYONE FOR FISH&CHIPS???

There’s much to say about a good fish & Chips, real comfort food, more than that, cheap, tasty and so so good, garnish with mayo, ketchup, salt and pepper, vinegar!

This is my recipe, follow carefully and you want go wrong. Timing is perfect.

 

THE PERFECT FISH AND CHIPS WITH MUSHY PEAS

Serves 4

225g flour, plus extra for dusting

290 ml beer, cold

3 heaped teaspoons baking powder

900 potatoes, peeled and sliced into chips

 

for the mushy peas

1 knob butter

4 handfuls podded peas

1 small handful fresh mint, leaves picked and chopped

1 squeeze lemon juice

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

 

sunflower oil, for deep frying

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

400 g white fish fillets , I used fillets of PAGEL and wild Sea Bass

 

to make your mushy peas, put the butter in a pan with the peas and chopped mint. Put a lid on top and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. You can either mush the peas up in a food processor, or you can mash them by hand until they are stodgy and thick. Keep warm while you cook your fish and chips.

 

Pour the sunflower oil into your deep fat fryer or a large frying pan and heat it to 190c/375f. mix the salt and pepper together and season the fish fillets on both sides. This will help to remove any excess water, making the fish really meaty. Whisk the flour, beer and baking powder together until nice and shiny. The texture should be like semi-whipped cream (ie it should stick to whatever you’re coating). Dust each fish fillet in a little of the extra flour, then dip into the batter and allow any excess to drip off. Holding one end, lower the fish into the oil one by one, carefully so you don’t get splashed – it will depend on the size of your fryer how many fish you can do at once. Cook for 4 minutes or so until the batter is golden and crisp.

 

Meanwhile, parboil your chips in salted boiling water for about 4 or 5 minutes until softened but still retaining their shape. Then drain them in a colander and leave to steam completely dry. While all the moisture has disappeared, fry them in the oil that the fish were cooked in at 180c/350f until golden and crisp. While the chips are frying, you can place the fish on a baking tray and put them in the oven for a few minutes at 180c/350f/gas4 to finish cooking. This way they will stay crisp while you finish cooking the chips. When they are done, drain them on kitchen paper. Season with salt, and serve with fish and mushy peas. (Alternatively, just fry your cut chips in hot oil for about 10 minutes).

Sprinkle with vinegar. Serve fish with wedges of lemon and mayonnaise and ketchup.

 

 

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The picture above has coleslaw which I also served, when Son Alex took the photo, the chips were still cooking!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BALTIC SEA CRUISE WITH M/S SERENADE OF THE SEAS MAY 2017

This must have been one of the most amazing things we have done. Cruising 1.600 nm visiting the baltic states, from Copenhagen to Riga, Tallinn, St Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm, Klaipeda and back to Copenhagen.

Christopher and Barbara Cassar Torreggiani , John and Carmen Cooper and John and myself, flew via Munich to Copenhagen. On arrival at First Hotel Twenty Seven, I realised I had misplaced my passport! I thought hard and remembered that some magazines had fallen out of my bag in the plane from Munich to Copenhagen and the passport must have been among them! So after dinner near the hotel with everybody more nervous then myself, John and I taxied back to the airport and went up to the info desk, after a phone call the person manning the desk, said “yes, we have it”. My what relief!

 

Wednesday 3rd May

Boarded ship Serenade of the Seas. In spite of the very large number of passengers boarding, everything was very well organised and we were on board in no time. Cabin 1088 was ours, roomy with sofa, tv balcony etc we knew we would be very comfortable. The man assigned to look after our cabin was NINO and all through the cruise he was most attentive and helpful!

At about 2.00pm the ship slipped it’s mooring, and we were off!!

 

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Our dinner was served in the dining room (rather than the buffet) and our table was looked after by MOHAMMET AND MOHOMAD!! The three course meal was very good, and while dining we could look outside and see a beautiful sunset!

 

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At dinner time the band struck up the music, and after dinner it was difficult to hold back and not take to the dance floor. We danced the night away, and then retired to our cabins exhausted but full of anticipation for the days ahead.

After very good nights sleep we feasted on a sumptuous breakfast which we enjoyed every morning of the cruise.

First day was at sea, which gave us time to explore the vast ship with every entertainment facility you could imagine, casino, theatre, cinema and different bars and lounges. Also indoor spa and outdoor pool, etc etc. I opted for a CUPCAKE DECORATING CLASS – cant see me out of the kitchen!!

 

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Our first port of call was RIGA in LATVIA.  We opted for the ‘TASTE OF RIGA TOUR’ while the others went off to do a ‘hop on hop off’

We were taken to the Riga market. Fish meat vegetables and all produce beautifully displayed. We bought our caviar and salmon roe there to take home to son Alex!

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We then proceeded to the old town and visited a cellar where we found magic chocolate and a chocolate drink which we all enjoyed. After that we went to a restaurant to have some samples of Latvian cuisine and beer.

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Back to the ship for dinner and dancing!

Once in our cabin, I was blessed that I had paid for access to the ships wifi as I could stream my music and use my social media while other had to do all their online connections in a cafe once ashore.

 

Next stop TALLINN, ESTONIA. Here we had some friends that had come to one of my cooking lessons back home, INDREK AND EVELYN LEPP. They met us ashore  and took us on a nice drive around an elegant part of Tallinn where we viewed the Presidents palace, the park etc. We then had an excellent lunch at a restaurant MON REPOS especially John’s bird pate, and me bouillabaisse!

 

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After lunch we proceeded to the town which we explored and took pictures of. We ended the day in a lovely cafe where we had the most delicious tart!

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Very sadly day ended and we took our leave of the Lepps, grateful to them for giving us such a nice day!

 

After dinner that night as we were on our way to St. Petersburg, I could not resist the temptation to sit on our balcony and admire the night sky. – Magical!

 

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Sunday 7th May

Sailed into St. Petersburg for a two day stop. The six of us had organised a private tour. After the usual clearing of customs (Russia!) we were met by our driver and guide OXANA. Off we went to tour this beautiful city.

 

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After viewing several landmarks Peter and Paul’s fortress and cathedaral and St. Isaac’s etc  we asked Oxana to take us to a good restaurant, which indeed she did!

We settled for GOGOL in Malaya Morskaya str. White tablecloths and all. I had a delicious Borscht  followed by an excellent beef Stroganoff. John had a plate of blinis with caviar etc.

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waiting for lunch!!

 

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Oxana

 

 

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In the afternoon we did paid our visit to THE HERMITAGE. unfortunately it was a holiday there, so the museum was teeming with noisy schoolchildren and other visitors. Pity as there are so many treasures to see there!

 

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So back to the boat for the night. Dinner followed by an amazing show with Russian dancing etc!

 

Next day through customs (again!) Oxana took us to the FABERGE´ museum (where Barbara CT had suggested) Wonderful ornately decorated eggs, made for the Czars and their wives.

 

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Once that visit was over, we went onto the church of the Spilled blood, so called as a Czar was killed and left in his own blood on the spot where the church was. The whole church is decorated with mosaics – amazing!

 

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Today, lunch was at ASKANELI in Karavannaya st. Delicious meal, I had this amazing pastry that was filled with melting cheese and a raw egg, which you mixed into the cheese so you had a sort of scrambled egg!

 

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To end off (and because Barbara had missed her dessert the day before!), we dug into the most delicious 8 TIERED HONEY CAKE – MEDOVIK- how delicious! – On my return to Malta I was determined to reproduce this cake which I did for a photoshoot for an article I wrote in GOURMET magazine which comes out on Sunday 25th June (along with other recipes picked up on our cruise!)

 

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My MEDOVIK!!

 

That evening we sailed out of St. Petersburg.

On to HELSINKI ,cold now, hats and scarves weather. Visited church in the rock, bought iceberg tumblers for daughter Emma.

Walked down to the market.

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After a nice buffet lunch nearby, we went back to the Serenade of the Seas, by now it was snowing!!

Another nice evening on the ship. went to see La La Land in the cinema.

 

Daughter Emma had told me, whatever you do, when sailing into Stockholm make sure you get up early and go on deck to enjoy the slow entry to the city through the Archipelago,  thousands of islands that the ship sails through (about 2 hours).

So this Wednesday morning, John and I were up with the sun at 4.30am and onto the deck. The experience was simply amazing, sun rising on sea as calm as a lake, the ship, slowly but surely wending its way through this maze of islands.

 

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This morning we opted for breakfast on our balcony so we could continue to admire the passing landscape.

 

9.30 we disembarked (unfortunately without Barbara, she had developed a cold). There was Kate Wiberg (Miller) waiting for us waving the Maltese flag! Anyway into her 7 seater and off we went. Grand tour of this wonderful city. Lunchtime came and we went to the food halls (temporary site) Friend Erik Nordlander came to join us, and we had a Delicious lunch.

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A street in Stockholm with the ship in the background!

After the town and some shopping Kate took us back to the ship when it began to snow gently.- Magical Stockholm – vowed to return someday!

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On the way out, after the snowfall.

In spite of the busy day, we managed to dance till midnight (Carmen surprised by Johns energy!!) then retired to bed to dream of wonderful Stockholm!

Next stop we called at Klaipeda. We didn’t get off the boat but enjoyed massages and such like luxuries that one finds on a cruise liner. Next day was ‘at sea’.

 

Saturday early morning, returned to ‘wonderful wonderful Copenhagen’ smooth disembarkation and taxi to First Hotel Twenty Seven again, this time de luxe rooms – excellent.

We had three lovely days in Copenhagen. Tivoli  gardens, met up with my friend also a food writer, EJA NILSSON who looked after us very well. We had a couple of light meals at ELS in Store Strandstraede.  Heard mass (long one with music much to Chris’s delight!) We had a lovely lunch at CAFE PETERSBORG and the most delicious tea and cakes at LA GLACE (100 years anniversary!) Did some shopping at Georg Jensen etc. We did a canal tour, and on the last day we went on a walking FOOD TOUR eu when we sampled goodies in the Food market, beer, Smorrebrod at AAMANNS DELI, Oster Farimagsgade, home made sweets, special hotdogs and back in the market some delicious marshmallow filled chocolates! A very good tour indeed.

Eja hosted us in her lovely home and we bade her farewell telling her to come to Malta where we would return her hospitality!

 

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FAREWELL EJA, FAREWELL THE WONDERFUL BALTIC SEA!!

FIGOLLI TIME AGAIN!

Pippa’s best Maltese figolli:

You will need:

An assortment of metal Figolli cutters, shapes such as: fish, heart, basket, lamb, butterfly etc.

Piping equipment

Baking trays and cooling racks

Cake boards to place them on when ready (either gold or silver ones, or normal boards covered in baking foil)

Easter egg halves to place on the Figolli

Food colouring: red, green, yellow and blue to colour the glacé icing, or chocolate covering if you prefer

Coloured and/or silver edible balls, to decorate

Note – I find the best way to make the Figolli is in stages. First make the biscuit dough, roll it out and cut the shapes. Prepare the almond filling and assemble the biscuits. Then place them on the baking trays and bake them. Finally allow to cool on racks. Then decorate, first by covering in glacé icing or chocolate, and finally with royal icing.

Stage One

For three to four Figolli you will need:

350 g (14oz) plain flour

175g (7oz) sugar

175g (7oz) margarine or butter

Grated rind of one lemon and one orange

2 egg yolks (keep the whites for the almond filling and glacé icing. Keep them separate, you need one white for the almond filling and the other for the royal icing).

A little cold water if necessary

Method – Mix flour and sugar in a bowl, add the margarine or butter cut up into pieces and mix altogether until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the grated rinds and then the egg yolks. Mix well until it becomes a fairly soft but firm dough, only adding water if necessary. Set aside.

Filling

175g (7oz) blanched almonds ground in a processor

80g (3oz) sugar

A little fresh lemon juice

1 egg white

1 teaspoon orange blossom water (Ilma Żahar)

Mix the ground almonds with the sugar, lemon juice, egg white and blossom water. Mix very well by hand or in a processor. Set aside.

Now roll out some of your dough onto a floured surface, to 0.5 cm (two sixteenths of an inch) thick. Carefully place your chosen metal shape on the rolled out dough and cut two identical shapes. Take two or three tablespoons of the prepared almond filling and spread this onto the inner part of one of the shapes, flattening it slightly. Now carefully brush the circumference of this shape with beaten egg, milk or water, and put the other identical shape over this, pressing down the edges you have moistened. When this is ready, carefully lift the double shape with a gateau or pie lifter if you have one, or an angled spatula, and place on a non-stick baking tray.

Pre-heat your oven to moderate (180˚C/ 350˚F, gas mark 4) and bake your Figolli for approximately 20 minutes until they are golden brown. Remove from oven and allow them to cool before placing them on cooling racks to get completely cold.

Stage 2

Glacé Icing

400g (1 lb) icing sugar, sifted

50 ml (2 fluid oz) water

Juice of one lemon

Mix all the above ingredients together. When smooth and thick divide into four bowls. Now choose your four colours and put drops of different colours in different bowls, to create pastel shades more in keeping with Easter themes. Do this little by little, as once mixed the colour spreads and you do not want your colours too bright.

Now, with the help of a pastry brush or a spatula, spread one of the glacé icings over a baked and cooled Figolla. Cover each Figolla with a different coloured icing and when all done, place your Easter egg halves exactly in the middle of the shape, pressing down to secure. Leave to cool and set.

If you prefer to cover your Figolli with chocolate, simply melt the chocolate covering over simmering water, and spread over Figolli. You need 100g (4oz) chocolate per Figolla

When the glacé icing or chocolate has dried you can carefully place your Figolli onto the cake boards. You are now ready for the next stage.

Stage 3

Royal Icing

1 egg white (set aside previously)

225g (8oz) icing sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon lemon juice

½ teaspoon glycerine

Whisk the egg white until slightly frothy. Beat in about a quarter of the icing sugar with a wooden spoon, then, using a whisk, add the sugar gradually, beating well after each addition, until about three quarters has been added.

Beat in the lemon juice and continue beating for about 10 minutes until the icing is smooth, glossy and white. Beat in the remaining sugar and the glycerine to the required consistency ( when a wooden spoon placed upright in the icing falls slowly to one side, do not over beat).

Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and leave sometime to allow bubbles to rise to the surface (a few hours or overnight)

With your piping equipment, fit the large star nozzle in the piping bag, fill with your royal icing and with a steady hand, pipe stars all around the outer circumference of your Figolli in such a way that this icing not only decorates the edges, but attaches the Figolli to the boards they are placed on. You can now decorate the Figolli with more piped icing to mark out eyes, ears, flowers etc. Immediately add all the coloured balls onto this icing anyway you fancy.

You now need to leave the Figolli overnight to allow the piped icing to harden. When this is done, carefully cover the Figolli with transparent paper or slide into clear plastic food bags, tie with thin ribbon and your Easter gifts are ready for giving and eating.

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MARMALADE TIME

January is the time all the citrus fruit is at its best for picking for enjoying and for making marmalade. I have a tried and tested recipe handed down to me by my dear Aunty Cella.So follow this,

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THE BEST MALTESE ORANGES

 and you will have a years supply of tasty marmalade to spread on all your breakfast toasts!

Seville Orange Marmalade

Besides very freshly picked fruit you will need a large pot, a mouli légumes (sometimes called a passe rapide) or colander, a piece of muslin and string, some empty jam jars, a little brandy, waxed discs (of greaseproof paper), some pretty cotton material and matching ribbon and labels (optional).

Weigh oranges and lemons. Measure 600 g (11⁄2 lbs) sugar to every 400 g (1 lb) fruit

Measure 850 ml (11⁄2 pints) water to every 400 g (1 lb) fruit and then throw away 550 ml (1 pint)

(14 oranges and 2 lemons might weigh 1kilo 600 g (4 lbs), therefore you need 2kilos 400 g (6 lbs) sugar and 3 litres (51⁄4 pints) water).

In a very large pot, boil oranges and lemons in the measured water until very soft. When cool, take the fruit out of the water (leave the water in the pot), and cut the fruit into quarters. Scoop out the pith and pips that you put into a mouli légumes, or into a normal large colander, placed over a large bowl.

Chop all the skins nely and set aside. Press the pulp and pith through the mouli or colander, collecting the thick juice below. Put this and the shredded skins into the pot with the water. Do not throw away the dry pith and pips left behind in the mouli or colander, but gather them and tie them into a square of muslin which you secure with string and tie onto the handle of your pot so that the ‘bundle’ hangs down into the mixture in the pot (This helps add pectin to your mixture which makes the marmalade set.)

Put the pot onto a low flame and warm the mixture, adding the sugar when warm and stir constantly until the sugar melts.

Now bring the mixture to a ‘rolling’ boil and leave to boil like this for some time (maybe 3⁄4 of an hour), stirring now and again, removing the scum that may rise to the top and watching it like a hawk – you do not want it to boil over!

Now to test when the marmalade has set, put a little onto a very cold saucer (which you put into the freezer beforehand) and push the marmalade with your nger. If it crinkles and gels it is ready. You might have to test it several times until you are sure it is ready. Try not to miss gelling point as you can over boil.

Meanwhile, an easy way to sterilise the empty jam jars is to wash them in hot water and then put them in a very slow oven until dry and warm. Keep them there until your marmalade is ready.

Now, with the help of a medium sized jug, ll the warm jars with the marmalade. While still hot, put waxed discs (you can buy these ready or cut out circles with greaseproof paper), into a cup with some brandy and place the discs on top of the marmalade in each jar. Now either seal with the lids while hot or allow to get cold, when you are sure the marmalade has set (do not close them when warm).

• In the event of your marmalade not setting, do not panic, buy some fruit pectin in a sachet and boil the marmalade up again with this added. It will slightly alter the taste but it will be ne.

Now after all this hard work, have fun cutting out circles of pretty material to top your jars. Tie with matching ribbon, label with their date of making, and leave in a cool place.

 

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