Nakita does a nail fill tutorial

Nakita joined us last week to do a nail fill tutorial and share tips on how to care for nails and avoid peeling, lifting and other common problems to keep them in top condition for a 3 week period.

Nakita at Aqua Massage

Nakita at Aqua Massage

Tutoral on filling nails by Nakita

Tutoral on filling nails by Nakita

Perfect Bridal nails by Nakita

Perfect Bridal nails by Nakita


Nakita is avaialble at Aqua Massage Hair and Nails

Photos Steffi de Martino

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Kaponata Salad

There may be a Maltese or Sicilian version of Kapunata, a rustic mix of fresh peppers, eggplants and tomatoes with garlic, olives and capers.

I personally prefer it eaten cold but the Middle East left a strong influence on the way I prepare my food and still using the same ingredients, I like to break down the cooked eggplant with a fork to make a paste and add it to all the other cooked kapunata ingredients.

This makes it great as a dip or as part of a sharing plate with other fresh salad ingredients.

I finish off this dish with chopped cherry tomatoes and lots of mint.

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.
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Kaponata Salad

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

2 tablespoons apple vinegar
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.

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Kaponata Salad

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.
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Kaponata Salad

Cover up and refrigerate.

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

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

I use Filippo Berio Olive Oil at Rimus Group, Apple Vinegar by Kuhne at Quality Foods




Maltese Marmurat Tart

Traditionally baked for special celebrations, the Torta tal-Marmurat is not easy to find in local shops.  The combination of chocolate, orange marmalade and almonds is without doubt divine.

This is a simplified version of Renato Briffa’s recipe which I have adapted for a busy home cook.

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You will need a 23 cm tart dish

Heat oven to 160 degrees or gas mark 5

Baking time about 25 – 30 minutes. Prep Time 30 minutes

Ingredients for Sweet Pastry
160 g Flour
50 g Sugar
50 g Butter
5g Baking Powder
3 drops Vanilla Extract
35g Water
Zest of a quarter of a fresh Lemon

Sieve flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the softened butter cut up into small pieces and rub in until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the vanilla extract and lemon zest. Mix the sugar with water until it has dissolved and mix into the dry ingredients until they bind evenly. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest in a cool place for at least 15 minutes.

Maltese figolli preparation pastry using Novibloc 8

Ingredients for Marmurat Filling

125 g Pure Ground Almonds
100g Sugar
50 g Sweet crumbs from left over cakes or digestive biscuits
1 egg
2 tablespoons Orange Marmalade
1 tablespoon Cocoa Powder
Pinch of Mixed Spice
4 drops Vanilla Extract
20 g Candid Peel preferably orange

To finish : 150 g Dark Chocolate and 80 g Roasted Flaked Almonds

In a large bowl mix the ground almonds, sugar and sweet crumbs. Add sieved cocoa powder, mixed spice, vanilla and candid peel and mix well. Finally add the well beaten egg and mix with wooden spoon until the mixture is even. Test for a dropping consistency and if necessary add another egg.

Grease the tart dish. Open the rested pastry with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface. Line the dish. Trim the pastry neatly and dock it with a fork. Spread the marmalade on the bottom of the pastry and then fill with the almond mix. Take a spoon and dip in hot water and run over the surface of the filling to achieve a tidy finish. Bake in a hot oven at 160 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes. When baked cool on a wire rack.

To finish off, melt 150g dark chocolate and spread it on the tart. You can either use a palate knife but I like to brush it on with a large pastry brush in several layers. Decorate as desired with roasted almonds. Store in an airtight tin. This tart will keep for a few weeks and in fact the flavour will improve.

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One little hint, always weigh your liquids on a digital scale, it is far more accurate !
Happy baking ….

I use ingredients by Lamb Brand and Nature Line

Photos:  Stefan Stafrace, Steffi de Martino Media and Pix by P


Simple Gifts by Ann- Marie Buckle

Ann-Marie Buckle, 20, was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2.

After attending theatre arts school and various dance and performing arts classes which led to the  participation in a number of productions, she started singing lessons with Ruth Sammut Casingena in 2012.


Ruth gave Ann-Marie the opportunity to participate in other concerts as a choir as well as a soloist

Under the guidance of Ruth Sammut Casingena, Ann-Marie carried on to work to  develop her voice that allows her to communicate with her emotions.

Ann-Marie has recorded covers which include 'On My Way' from Disney's Brother Bear, ‘Amazing Grace’, 'I Dreamed a Dream' and 'On My Own' from the musical Les Misérables.

Ann-Marie Buckle

Ann-Marie Buckle  ‘ I would like to be a musical actress.  It would be a dream for me to perform in London’s West End’ [Steffi de Martino Media]

‘Ann-Marie is very diligent, dedicated and ambitious, an example to us all’

Ruth Sammut Casingena

Sarah Buckle

Sarah Buckle [Steffi de Martino Media]

‘I worked with Ann-Marie as a child with flashcards and other educational tools to develop her communication skills.   She has a great love for the arts and music, her father is a theatre producer and she was raised in an artistic environment.  Her passion for theatre and art is very strong and she is creative and very enthusiastic.’

Sarah Buckle, mother

With Sarah Buckle, Ruth Sammut Casingena and Ann-Marie Buckle

With Sarah Buckle, Ruth Sammut Casingena and Ann-Marie Buckle [Steffi de Martino Media]

Lea thanks Steffi de Martino Media, Maria Bonavia at Ange Paola, Analise the 
 Make up Artist, Flormar Malta and Geraldine Agius at Screen Hair Salon Fgura



Eggplant and sweet potato bake

This is a smart and quick kitchen creation and just as delicious served cold with a green leaf salad in the summer.  No need to make a sauce.  I just used canned chopped tomatoes.  Who wants to spend hours in a hot kitchen during Maltese summer months?

Here’s how to make it.

Eggplant sweet potato bake 1

1 Eggplant sliced
2 small sweet potatoes, sliced with skin on [or one large]
2 tablespoons olive oil
200g feta cheese
6 tablespoons grated mozzarella
1 large can peeled tomatoes
1 teaspoon Oregano

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Flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Mix of fresh herbs, finely chopped

A drizzle of virgin olive oil
Some baking paper
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Drizzle some oil and layer the sliced sweet potatoes with skin on to line the bottom of the dish.

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Arrange the eggplant slices on top, season and drizzle with a touch of olive oil. Sprinkle half of the dried oregano
Place in a preheated oven at 180 C for 30 minute.

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Take out of the oven and arrange the crumbled feta cheese on top. Add the canned tomatoes.
Scatter the rest of the dried oregano on top and another few drops of olive oil, half the mixed fresh herbs and then the grated mozzarella. Return to the oven for another 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and garnish with parsley and the rest of the fresh herbs

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I use Fior di Vita feta and mozzarella cheese by Quality Foods Marketing
Filippo Berio Olive Oil and X-tra tinned tomatoes by Rimus Group
Fresh Organic Vegetables by Barbuto


My lucky makeovers

One of the best things that happened to me last year was to meet Analise  who accepted the challenge of being my make up artist and therefore every time I have a show, she is with me from the early hours of the morning, without fail, unless she is doing one of her highly charged obstacle races, in which case I am also blessed with Leanne who stands in for her.

They are both great, not only as make up artists but with their easy and unintrusive natures – they both understand the concept of teamwork and that goodwill and loyalty are a necessity from all parties involved to make any relationship to work.

Make up by Flormar

Getting ready for Life and Style Weekend

My daily personal make up routine is very different from Analise’s magic.  She is quick, efficient and gentle, always managing to make my face look refreshed and bright.

How does she do it?  You can watch her tutorials during Life and Style Weekend .

With thanks to Analise  , Leanne and Flormar Professional Make Up
Photos: Rachel Muscat
Studio art: Kenneth Zammit Tabona at The Art Point
[See also Nicola Said's make up by Analise]

Kenneth Zammit Tabona at The Art Point


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A big thank you to Rachel Muscat for the photos of Kenneth Zammit Tabona’s   art during Life and Style Weekend.


Julie James Art Point 1

With Julie James

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Andriana Yordanova art point 3

Andriana Yordanova – Art by Kenneth Zammit Tabona at The Art Point



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Art works by Kenneth Zammit Tabona are available at The Art Point


More of Kenneth Zammit Tabona’s work is available at The Art Point in Sliema


Very Easy Vegan Apricot Carrot Cake

This vegan apricot and carrot cake is  moist and delicious, one of the easiest and most delicious recipes.

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Everyone seems to love it and it is ideal to cut into squares and add to children’s lunch boxes as a quick pick-me-up snack during the day. It is also a good replacement to cereal bars and can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.

The consistency is slightly dense with a pleasant texture.   Like most of my cakes, you do not require a mixer or food processor and the secret is not to overmix, just use a large metal spoon and fold in rather than mix.

You will need:

1 cup grated carrot
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup dried apricots
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon allspice
1 cup coconut
1 teaspoon powdered cloves ground
1/2 cup agave
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon apple vinegar
3 cups self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1  teaspoon bicarbonate
1 cup coconut milk

For the top [optional]: 8 apricots, sliced with skin on

Heat the oven to 180C.

In a saucepan mix the water, grated carrots, spices, dried apricots and the raisins. Bring the water to boil then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 8 – 10 minutes. Add the honey and salt and stir for about three minutes. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool completely.

In a large bowl sieve the flour and baking powder and bicarbonate. Stir and add the coconut and other dry ingredients. Add the coconut milk, non dairy yoghurt or water, cider vinegar to the raisin and carrot mixture. Stir well. Fold in the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients using a metal spoon. Do not over mix. Pour the cake batter in a greased bake tin of 23 cm and bake for half an hour until the cake is golden.  Before I put it into the oven, I arranged some sliced apricots with peel on the top.

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Glaze the surface with a teaspoon of warm agave by using a brush. Allow to cool before removing from the cake tin.

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I use dried fruit and baking ingredients by Lamb Brand and fresh fruit by Big Fresh


A visit from Professor Jane Somerville

Professor Jane Somerville is a pioneer in the medical field.   She created a new specialty within cardiology to care for grown ups with congenital heart disease [GUCH].  She is Emeritus Professor of Cardiology at Imperial College London and was the cardiologist for the first heart transplant operation in 1968.

Professor Somerville set up a clinic in Malta which runs from Mater Dei and she visits frequently to train and work with other cardiologists.  She is co-founder and President of the Somerville Foundation

Professor Somerville visited us this week and you can watch her interview here.  She is not only an eminent physician but has an amazing personality, instantly puts you at ease and everyone who had the pleasure to meet her loved her.  A great and unique woman !


You can listen to Professor Jane Somerville  interviewed on Desert Island Discs in 2013 by clicking here


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This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Studio Art by Vanya Goshe at The Art Point

Studio Photos George Aquilina



Hand made cards by Marion

Marion Seguna is a very patient lady.  Making handmade cards is a form of therapy and relaxation for her.

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She joins us during Life and Style next week again to demonstrate some new ideas and tricks how to make them.

Marion presenting Professor Jane Sommerville with a handmade card signed b all the crew

Marion presenting Professor Jane Sommerville with a handmade card signed b all the crew and of course some Maltese nougat from the feast in her village of Zebbug

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You can order hand made cards directly from Marion via her facebook page

Photos George Aquilina Media


Getting to know a most talented harpist

I think Lydia and I clicked right away. She has a wonderful way of putting people at ease, which is so important. I enjoyed every part of her participation during my show this year.

Dr Lydia Buttigieg

Dr Lydia Buttigieg

Lea: The harp is known to be a difficult instrument to play. When did you decide to play the harp as your main instrument?
Lydia: The harp was not my main instrument at the beginning of my musical studies, as I had commenced primarily on the piano when I was just 6 years. In 1990, the then Johann Strauss School of Music was offering harp lessons, so then I started studying the harp as a second instrument. Now I can say that both the harp and the piano are my main instruments, performing regularly as a professional musician on both instruments.
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Lea: It is also a difficult instrument to transport. How do you manage this efficiently?
Lydia: It is a very heavy instrument I can assure you, however, I have grown accustomed of how to handle and manoeuvre the harp. I have a 6-wheel trolley and a crossover car which enables me to transport my harp from one place to another. It’s the work of every harpist to transport such a massive instrument. You have built a great reputation as a teacher of music.
Dr Lydia Buttigieg

Dr Lydia Buttigieg

Lea: What route should introduce the harp to a child’s musical tuition?
Lydia: Introducing the harp to a young student is difficult, simply because it depends on the stature of the person. Normally, the harp is taught on the celtic harp, although the system between the celtic harp (small harp) and the concert harp (big harp) various in its mechanism. The celtic functions with levers, whilst the concert harp works with foot pedals that change different pitches according to the plucked string. It is a long process and one needs to highly consider buying an instrument of this genre as it is very expensive and also to maintain it regularly.
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Lea: What do you think has been your most memorable performance so far?
Lydia: Every performance has its unique experience, whether being as an orchestral or chamber harpist or as a solo performer. However, giving my utmost as a performer and seeing the audience enjoying themselves with my performance, leaves me satisfied and thrilled that I had managed to please them.
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Lea: What makes the harp so special for you?
Lydia: The harp is a unique instrument that definitely stands out from the whole orchestra. The sound that is produced from such a beautiful instrument is out of this world. it’s my pride and joy practising on my harp, continuously building new repertoire both as a solo harpist and as a chamber/orchestral musician.
Dr Lydia Buttigieg

Dr Lydia Buttigieg

Lea: How adventurous are you when it comes to collaboration with other instruments?
Lydia: It is a very challenging task to collaborate with other musicians, however, being a professional musician, and the rest of the other musicians are all of the same level, makes it easier to understand one another. All professional musicians have invested hours and years of practice, so that makes it easier for us to fully comprehend the music that we would be performing.
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Lea: What forthcoming projects are you working on?  
Lydia: There are various projects down the pipeline, however, more details will be revealed in the coming weeks.
Dr Lydia Buttigieg with Professor Jane Somerville

Dr Lydia Buttigieg with Professor Jane Somerville

A Tribute by Lydia to her dad

A tribute by Lydia to her Dad
A tribute by Lydia to her Dad
The man who gave me life,
The man who was a true gentleman,
The man who loved his family more than anything in the world,
The man who was a devoted husband and father,
The man who always wanted me by his side,
The man who loved unconditionally,
The man who was a true father to his family.



The abortion question in Malta – Professor Jane Somerville

A total ban on abortion may endanger the life of women.

Professor Jane Somerville explains her views.

She says,  “The abortion question in Malta is a very tricky one. And I understand both sides, of course.’

Professor Jane Somerville

Professor Jane Somerville

‘First of all you have to have some sort of opinion in order to guide. But it has to be very open-minded and I respect both sides. And  I would say now I am not a Catholic and I don’t speak from any religious view.

What I do think is that the woman must, whatever the legislation is, be given some right to an opinion.

It is absolutely extraordinary that the lives of a woman and a whole family should be decided by men in suits in Parliament or wherever – or law or whatever it is.

I think there are four basic issues.

I think the woman should be given a choice and should not be made to carry a very deformed, disabled, predictably known, [after proof] fetus.

I don’t think any man could understand the trauma of such a thing.  The woman can decide whether  she wants to. And I think she should be allowed to. I don’t think it should be overlooked.

Another thing a woman as we see, with bad heart disease, may have a real chance [we have to ask those who know] of loosing her life by staying pregnant.  I think it is right that she should have at least some say in that decision, and not the politicians.

And then there is the question of incest and rape that’s always brought up.  I cannot go into that.

Professor Jane Somerville

Professor Jane Somerville

But about the first two I know a lot.

I don’t think that people realise that giving birth to a very disabled child, looking after it, has the ability to destroy a marriage which is wrong, has the ability to destroy the whole family and effect them, because a mother’s loving attention is usually only on that.

Apart from the trauma of having to give birth or carrying a very disabled child.  I have dealt with all those situations so I do feel that legislation if  you are going to say ‘no abortion’ somebody has to think about the mother.  ‘

Professor Jane Sommerville, Malta

Professor Jane Sommerville, Malta


Professor Jane Somerville is Emeritus Professor of Cardiology at Imperial College London. She is President and Co-Founder of The Somerville Foundation, the only charity in the UK that supports adult patients with Congenital Heart Disease
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Photos: George Aquilina