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.
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 :)
This is a perfect light pasta dish for the summer prepared in the same amount of time it takes to cook the pasta
You will need:
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
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 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
You will need:
410ml evaporated milk [not condensed]
1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
a few drops of vanilla extract or a vanilla pod
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.
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.
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.
I like this cheesecake, made with ricotta, because it is an all-in-one recipe and ever so easy to make.
For the Quick Mulberry Cheesecake you will need:
300g Maltese mulberries (Ċawsli)
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 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
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.
A few drops of lemon
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.
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
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.
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.
‘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’
‘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’
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.
You should see the size of the cucumbers, those old fashioned type ones that nanna would put in her salads.
For today's farm to fork salad I used:
Crispy iceberg lettuce
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 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.
Judged by the free exchange of ideas, the world has never been a more global place. But viewed through an economic lens, in terms of the free movement across borders of goods, capital and labour, there is no doubt that globalisation has slowed. While trade wars have certainly been a factor recently, globalisation has, in fact, already been on the retreat for the better part of the last 15 years.’ says Global Financial Markets Specialist Nicholas Glinsman
Nicholas appears on my current affairs programme on a regular basis to give updates on the global financial markets. We started doing this on the outbreak of COVID-19 but it has become a feature that local audiences wait for.
Nicholas says: ‘Globalisation began to plateau just before the Global Financial Crisis, as trade volumes started to flatten out relative to overall output. The experience was much better than that seen through the interwar period, when the economy de-globalised, and more similar to the 1970s and early 1980s, when globalisation flattened.
But why did globalisation flatten out in the last 10-15 years? Firstly, the positive one-offs of the 1990s were always going to be a hard act to follow. But, in addition to this organic slowing, the nature of spending changed in a manner that further slowed globalisation. In nominal terms, the texture of consumption and investment increasingly shifted from material to intellectual; from goods and commodities to services. There has been little slowdown in global trade in services so far, but this equates to just a quarter of the global trade in goods, which has slowed much more sharply, so that overall globalisation has slowed down.’
With the decline in commodity prices since 2011, the terms of trade shift from goods and commodities towards services became very apparent, changing the earnings picture, especially for Europe and EM, where earnings are driven more by trade in goods and commodities, relatively speaking. There was no slowdown in trade in services. US earnings, which are driven more by exports of services, have remained strong, helping equity performance, both outright and relative.
So, we have moved from hyper-globalisation to a slowdown in globalisation. It is now likely that globalisation will go into complete stasis, or worse. As Sebastian Mallaby states, EM will suffer far more than DM, and given the EU’s dependence on “supply-chain-addicted widget-makers”, it remains more likely that the EU will suffer likewise relative to the US, although I would include with the US other Anglospheric countries, in particular the UK.
Given the above, I would posit that we have just seen this process in short, sharp relief with the economic lockdown. At a company level, just consider what happened to Amazon, the tech US service company that has flourished, versus Adidas, a German company dependent on its Asian supply chain, which essentially sold no shoes and took bailout money from the German government.
Expect this dynamic to continue well into the future.’
Nicholas Glinsman has over 35 years’ experience in the financial markets, working at some of the largest institutions in the USA, Europe and Brazil. Over the last 20 years, he has been partner, portfolio manager and an advisor on global markets to some of the biggest hedge funds in the world. Mr. Glinsman started his career in 1986 at Merrill Lynch, where he was singularly responsible for building Merrill’s position as the largest presence in a highly profitable segment of the Euro-Convertible bond market. He then went on to be an integral part of the management team that helped build Merrill’s presence in the European government bond markets. In 1990, he moved to Salomon Brothers and became the head of the European futures product, responsible for all aspects of that business across the global distribution network. Mr. Glinsman is an alumni of the London School of Economics and Political Science.
I remember this ice cream from my childhood, something quick that everyone made using evaporated milk. You can simply leave out the cinnamon and dried fruits or you can adapt the same recipe to a flavour of your choice.
You will need
1 large tin [410ml] evaporated milk
4 tablespoons sugar [or stevia]
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons glace cherries,cut in half
100 g nuts of your choice
1 tablespoon candied fruit [konfettura]
2 tablespoons dark chocolate, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons gelatin powder
On gentle heat, dissolve the sugar in the evaporated milk. Do not allow to boil.
Place the gelatin in a container and add 4 tablespoons of the warm milk and stir until the gelatin powder dissolves. Add to the milk mixture. Stir and remove from heat. Add the vanilla and cinnamon powder and allow to cool. Freeze overnight and then the next day beat with an electric mixer using a balloon whisk and beat on high speed until the mixture doubles in size. Add the cherries, nuts, candied fruit and dark chocolate. Fold in gently and pour into a container. Place in the freezer overnight.
If you ask around what we mean by ‘pulpetti’ the answer would probably be ‘meatballs’. In other cuisines, meatballs are round, and usually mouth-size. So I share today my healthy quick recipe of baked patties, made with minced chicken and cottage cheese. The health drive has really kicked in now and it needs to be a way of life rather than an interlude of a few weeks.
I am tending to use cottage cheese more than ricotta or feta these days. At around 1 calorie per gram or less for a low fat version, you cannot get much better than this.
You will need:
700g minced chicken meat
1 grated carrot
1/3 cup oats [I use stoneground/fine]
2 tablespoons fresh herbs of your choice, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
1 cup cottage cheese
grated zest of 1/4 lemon
salt and pepper
In a large bowl, mix everything together and place in the fridge for an hour.
Prepare a baking dish by covering it with baking paper and spray it with Fry Light
Use your hands to shape patties and place them on the baking tray. Brush the top very lightly with some olive oil.
Preheat the oven to 220c. Place the dish in the preheated oven and bake the patties for 35 minutes.
Take them out and turn them over to brown the other side. Brush very lightly with olive oil and return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes.
Allow to rest before serving. These are also delicious to take to work or eaten cold the next day.