A Premier League Superstar stops by

John Arne Riise dropped by a couple of weeks ago.  He chatted about his career, how he planned to fill his free time in Malta and about what he could bring to Maltese football.  His tenure as Birkirkara Football Club’s Sporting Director was short lived as three days after our chat his resignation was announced.


Very endearing – his kids are with him always, tattooed over his arms

John mentioned that his stay at Birkirkara was a ‘stepping stone’ and his target is to become manager at a big club.



A likeable man - complex and thoughtful.  All the very best for many good things in his career and for the birth of his new baby in the summer, something he is very much looking forward to.  Here is a clip with is interview.  Music by Ramona Zammit Formosa [pianist] and Ruth Sammut Casingena [soprano]


And the fans ! waited to meet him and get his autograph.  He was extremely polite and patient, posing for endless photos which they will no doubt treasure for many years.

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Kindly observe copyright law and simple etiquette with regards to photos.  Credit for photos: Sean Azzopardi  If you wish to use any of the photos on this blog, kindly ask Lea Hogg for permission :)





Feta Cheese Dip


straciatella dip goodfoodeveryday

Feta Cheese Dip

‘Feta with fresh herbs, lots of mint and tomatoes is always one of the most favourite dips’


You will need:

300g Feta Cheese
150g tomatoes
2 spring onions
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1 teaspoon fresh chives
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon dried mint
4 sundried tomatoes
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon apple vinegar
a pinch of stevia
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Chop finely the tomatoes and spring onions. Prepare all the ingredients and mix them together just before serving.

Amazing flavors and a colourful centrepiece.

You will find more perfect dips by clicking here









Covid-19 Update by Professor Mark Brincat this week

I recommended on the eve of the airport opening here on the same tv show that we should be testing at the airports before they board or as soon as they land  in the departure lounge – and the advice was not taken.   The Minster of Tourism’s interview on BBC where we were told that there were ‘protocols in place’.  It turns out that protocols were not in place and the interviewers on BBC were very skeptical that our health system is robust enough.  Her interview raised eyebrows straight away.   We did not expect the mass party events happening and people insisting that these mass parties should go on.  Protection measures were not in place and they went against the advice of our Ministry of Health and the Superintendent of Public Health. ‘

Professor Mark Brincat

You can watch Professor Brincat’s interview via this link.

Earlier this month with Professor Mark Brincat and Warren Zahra prior to airport opening

mark brincat warren zahra lea


And here is Dr Vincent Marmara’s update during this week’s tv show.


New toy shop with a difference

I retraced my steps when I walked past a shop in St Paul’s Street Valletta on my way to a meeting in the City centre.  I was drawn to the traditional wooden toys and could see that the shop was re-created to look like Geppetto’s workshop.

bartolucci 7

On my way back to the car, I was curious to see more and stopped to see more.

bartolucci 9 c

The shop stocks toys by Bartolucci,  and the concept was built on the Pinocchio story  that was created in Italy.  Toys are handmade and include rocking horses, ballerinas, music boxes and many forms of Pinocchio, all bringing back memories of my childhood when most of our toys were made out of wood.

The shop itself called Id-Dinja tal-Ġugarelli, at number 48 St Paul Street looks like Geppettos workshop and all the toys add character and colour to bring the shop to life, creating a unique atmosphere and a great experience, even for a visit.

bartolucci 9 d

It is the brainchild of two female entrepreneurs, lawyer Alessia Psaila Zammit and teacher Christabelle Micallef. Alessia fell in love with the Bartolucci brand in 2005 when she discovered the shop based within steps from the Fontana di Trevi.

bartolucci 6

Since then, she visited several other stores around Italy and together with Christabelle, decided to establish the brand in Malta and re-create Gepetto’s workshop.

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Id-Dinja tal-Ġugarelli, is at number 48 St Paul Street, Valetta

Ginger Shots

A few times a week I replace my first early morning coffee with a ginger shot.  It is the only alternative to coffee that works for me first thing in the morning.

This recipes makes 6 shots.  Like everything else in moderation, not too much, but enough to give that boost of energy.  Its anti-inflamatory and I like the thought that it helps metabolism.  [one hopes 🙂 ]

ginger shot 2


You will need:

1 apple

2 lemons

5cm ginger root

1cm turmeric root [optional if you wish only]


  1. Wash all the ingredients and peel them if they’re not organic.
  2. Chop the ingredients and put everything through the juicer.
  3.  You can also use a blender and strain the juice through a sieve.


This recipe makes 6 ginger shots, not to exceed 1 per day.

My fruit and vegetables come from Vincent’s Eco Estate


Linguine with ricotta, lemon and lambs lettuce

This is a perfect light pasta dish for the summer prepared in the same amount of time it takes to cook the pasta


22. Quick Lemon Ricotta Linguine LGFE (Illumina Media)

You will need:

500g linguine
salt for pasta water

For the sauce:
1 cup reserved pasta water
150g lambs lettuce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
200g ricotta
75g parmesan
Lemon Pepper to season
To Serve: Freshly grated parmesan

Follow the instructions on the packet to cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water.

Reserve a cup of the pasta water when you drain the pasta.

Place the ricotta, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, half the pasta water and parmesan in a container. Add some lemon pepper. Use a hand blender to combine all the ingredients together until it forms a smooth paste.

Heat the rest of the olive oil on medium heat in a large flat saucepan. Add the blended ricotta mix. Add the linguine and stir gently then the pasta water little by little until the consistency of the sauce is creamy and coats the pasta. Add the lambs lettuce and garnish with more parmesan, lemon pepper and lemon segments. Serve immediately.

‘Lea’s tip: the starch contained in the pasta water produces a thick creamy consistency when added to the sauce without the addition of cream or butter. Omit adding salt to the sauce as the saltiness from the pasta water is usually sufficient.’

I use olive oil by Filippo Berio available at Rimus Trading Agency


Quick Date and vanilla ice cream

I cannot call this ice cream healthy but it is an effort to eliminate processed sugar and I use dates instead.  The flavour of the dates make it very special.   I have made this during live tv and it is very easy.  The time needed is to allow time for it to freeze before you whisk it and then of course it needs to be refrozen to turn into ice cream.  You may prefer the old fashioned Maltese ice cream or for something very healthy the Quick Banana Ice Cream

date vanilla ice cream


You will need:

410ml evaporated milk [not condensed]
250g dates
1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
a few drops of vanilla extract or a vanilla pod
100ml water

Chop up the dates into small pieces and put them in a large bowl.  Pour over the evaporated milk and add the vanilla.  Cover with cling film and place the bowl in the fridge overnight so that the dates have time to soak and soften.  [Alternatively you can heat the mixture up in a saucepan until the dates soften and allow to cool down before carrying on with the rest of the recipe]

Remove the date and milk mixutre from the fridge.  Place the powdered gelatin in a saucepan with the water on low heat and stir until the gelatin has completely dissolved.

Pour the gelatin mixture with the dates and milk and stir.  Cover the container and place in the freezer for a minimum of 3 hours.  Remove from the freezer and use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to beat the mixture until it doubles in volume.  Pour into a container and freeze again for a few hours or overnight before serving.

This recipe is gluten free.

My ingredients come from Lamb Brand and Nature Line



Roasted Eggplant Salad Dip

I prefer this dish served cold.  The Middle East left a strong influence on the way I prepare my food and the eggplants need to be roasted or placed on the bbq, then broken up roughly with a fork to make a paste before they are added to the other ingredients.

This can be served as a salad, a main or side or great as a dip.

It is also amazing simply spread on Maltese bread with the fresh tomatoes and mint used as a garnish.

This recipe is plant-based, gluten free, lactose free and diabetic friendly.

Kaponata salad 4

You will need:

4 large eggplants
8 large tomatoes, chopped
2 green peppers, deseeded and sliced
1 medium onion, peeled and finely sliced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried mint
a generous bunch of mint, roughly chopped, left raw
12 cherry tomatoes, chopped and left raw and keep aside to add before serving 
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Some fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon capers, optional, keep aside to add before serving
6 olives, chopped up, optional, keep aside to add before serving

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Arrange the whole aubergines on a dish covered with baking paper and place in the oven to cook for 40 minutes.

Allow to cool completely then peel off the skin and use a fork to make up the flesh. Season with salt and pepper.

Add a few drops of fresh lemon juice and keep aside.

In a large pan add two tablespoons of the olive oil and heat on a moderate setting.
Add the onions, large tomatoes, garlic, dried herbs, salt and pepper. Stir gently then lower the heat and cover. Allow to simmer until they are fully cooked.
Remove from heat.
Add the mashed up aubergine and half of the fresh mint, finely chopped up. Mix gently to avoid breaking up the rest of the vegetables.

Cover up and refrigerate.

Just before serving add the chopped cherry tomatoes, the rest of the olive oil, lemon juice and garnish with whole mint leaves.

If desired add the capers and olives or simply leave out.

kaponata salad 3
I use Filippo Berio Olive Oil at Rimus Group
My organic vegetables come from Vincent's Eco Estate



Life and Style Weekend Season 3 starts again and a focus on Chinese food

Chinese food is the most popular ethnic food all around the world.   This week we filmed the first Episode of Season 3 and it will be aired on Saturday.asian kingdom 2

Life and Style Weekend Series 3 starts on Sunday.  We meet Mike and his wife Jenny, proprietors of a chain of restaurants specialising in Cantonese Cuisine.

asian kingdom

Discover China and its people, Net TV Sunday at 5pm or you will be able to watch it online via Net on Demand

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Very Quick Mulberry [Cawsli] Cheesecake [gluten free]

I like this cheesecake, made with ricotta, because it is an all-in-one recipe and ever so easy to make.

Escape Sunday Maltese Mulberry Cheesecake credit Shine Photography by Marconia

For the Quick Mulberry Cheesecake you will need:

300g Maltese mulberries (Ċawsli)
1kg ricotta
6 large eggs
2 tablespoons cornflour
200g caster sugar or equivalent in stevia
pinch of salt
grated zest of a lime or lemon


Preheat oven to 170°C and line a springform cake tin with baking parchment.

Beat the ricotta with an electric mixer and add the eggs one by one. Add the other ingredients and mix with the electric whisk until it starts to come together.

Use a 21cm-loose bottomed tart dish and prepare it with baking spray. Pour the batter into the tart tin and place the mulberries on top of the batter then bake it in the oven for 45 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave to cool completely in the oven. Chill before slicing and serving.

Lea’s tip: Wash the berries just before you use them. Do not soak in water but place them in a colander and gently splash them with water. Place them on a plate and cover with kitchen towel and leave in the fridge until you make your cheesecake.


I use non stick baking spray by Fryight available at Rimus Trading Agency


Ruggata – Old fashioned Maltese Almond Lemon Drink

I follow an old traditional recipe and use common almond essence.  This recipe came from those days when it was a necessity to be frugal in the kitchen.

Ruggata is very quick to make, contains a lot of sugar.  You can use stevia if you wish but it does not achieve exactly the same results.

This is a cordial and I know it seems like a lot of sugar [and it does contain a lot of sugar], but remember that you can store it as a cordial in the fridge, in the hot Maltese summer for about a month.  Then you can just add water when you need to use it.   And most important, is that dash of evaporated milk, just before serving for that old fashioned taste and of course cloudy colour.

For Maltese Ruggata you will need

2 litres of water
6 cloves
juice of 1 lemon
the rind of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon of almond essence
1 cinnamon stick
1 kilo sugar

And to finish off before serving, you will need a dash of evaporated milk.

Place the water into a large pot.  Add the cloves and the cinnamon stick, the almond essence, the lemon juice and the lemon rind.   Finally add the sugar.

Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and strain it by passing it through a sieve.   Allow it to cool completely.

Then transfer it to bottles and keep in the fridge until required.

To serve:   Place ice cubes in the glasses add some cordial, water and finish off with a dash of evaporated milk.   This changes the colour completely.  Add some lemon slices and serve.

And here is how to make it if you wish to watch it step by step


I use ingredients by Lamb Brand


Chickpeanut Dip


After years of living in the Middle East, I like my hummus to be authentic. I am seeing more dips called ‘hummus’, some even looking and tasting more of guacamole, an injustice to the queen of dips.

In this recipe, I combine chickpeas with peanuts  and serve it with fresh fruit, vegetables.

Chickpeas have a great consistency and they are so versatile as they are very mild in flavour. This one is perfect for this hot weekend instead of a light lunch or supper and my weekend treat.

For the Chickpeanut dip you will need :

1/2 cup unsalted peanuts (soaked in water for 2 hours)
1/2 cup cooked or canned chickpeas
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon paprika
1 small garlic clove
1/4 cup water
Olive oil
Sea salt

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Drain the chickpeas and peanuts. Place all ingredients with the exception of olive oil in a food processor and blend. i have left mine with bits in it today, not completely smooth, more texture. Season according to taste. Add some virgin olive oil until the consistency is right for you. Everyone has their own preferences and there is no right or wromg, just as you prefer. I do love the peanut flavor with the fresh vegetables.

[If you are using dried chickpeas, the first thing you have to do is soak them. Place chickpeas in a large bowl and cover completely with cold water. Allow to soak overnight, about 12 hours. A teaspoon of baking soda can be added to help soften them up and it does not change their nutritional value. Drain and transfer to a large cooking pot, cover with water twice the amount of chickpeas and bring to a boil. Cover and allow to simmer for approximately one hour. Do a taste test at this point to make sure they are tender enough for your liking. Once chickpeas are cooled they are ready to be used]

Otherwise use canned chickpeas!  This is what I tend to use most times as I find I never have enough time.

Click here for more healthy dips

I use Olive Oil by Filippo Berio at Rimus Group

My vegetables are from Vincent’s Eco Estate



Malta International Airport Opening after COVID-19 Lockdown

The topic of this week’s current affairs programme is the opening of the Malta International Airport and the easing of lockdown with Professor Mark Brincat, Warren Zahra representing the Hospitality Industry, Professor Colin Lawrence and Christian Hunt joining from London with risk assessments.

mark brincat warren zahra lea

‘The industry is very much looking forward to the airport opening and having the first arrivals into Malta.  The protocols are in place and I have worked very hard to ensure that people’s safety is paramount.  People come here to relax and enjoy their stay and we have worked to ensure that they can do that and keep safe at the same time’

Warren Zahra


‘I would liked to see more science applied.  I welcome the opening of the airport.  We have successfully contained our infection rate.  People were careful, the nature of disease and perhaps our genetics were a reason of its successful containment.  Most people had their infections traced back to Italy.   To be honest when we open up, I would favour testing people a bit more’

Professor Mark Brincat


‘I agree with Professor Brincat and Mr Zarha.  I think it is compulsory to continue the testing and also I believe that you have to continue with masks and social distancing.   As an example we can look at the mistakes in the United States, particularly in the States like Florida and Arizona where you don’t necessarily have a concentration of people but where the virus has spread.  You have to ensure that you have a testing regime in place.  You need to be cautiously optimistic and ensure that the testing regime is accompanied by good leadership.  We have a long way to go and should not be overly optimistic’

Professor Colin Lawrence


‘I think one of the challenges is that people carry the virus.  You don’t know who is carrying the virus.  Even if you have people who are behaving incredibly responsible and doing the right thing, they may still be asymptomatic.    You need to catch the spread of the virus before it becomes severe as one single person can cause a major problem.  And you cannot rely on people to do the right thing but the authorities need to be able to track it’

Christian Hunt

You can watch the  first part of the programme from this link.


Farm to Fork Organic Salad

I went to Vincent’s Eco Farm today and got a wonderful box of fresh organic produce.  I chose produce that was cultivated on the estate.  There was a huge variety but I chose cauliflower, egglplants, a mix of coloured tomatoes, bulgarian tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, carrots, kale, onion, lemons and more.

organic box

You should see the size of the cucumbers, those old fashioned type ones that nanna would put in her salads.

Old fashioned Maltese cucumbers

For today's farm to fork salad I used:

Crispy iceberg lettuce
Cherry tomatoes
Pink Bulgarian tomatoes
coloured sweet cherry tomatoes
fresh basil and mint
1 Maltese soft sheep's cheeselet [gbejna] with red peppercorns 
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
some grated lemon zest


Assemble all the ingredients.   Then place the cheeselet [soft gbejna] on top.

fresh gbejna with red pepper corns

Fresh sheep gbejna with peppercorns from Vincent’s Eco Estate

Finish off with the fresh herbs, grated lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Simplicity is always best with fresh ingredients as close to their natural state as possible.


farm to fork salad

All my ingredients for this salad come from Vincent’s Eco Estate

a visit to vincents eco farm