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‘God bless this year’s crop’ – Victor Tonna [farmer]

Local produce is so fresh on the islands.  The short distances make it possible that within less than 24 hours after harvest,  vegetables and fruit can be found in retail outlets and vegetable vans all over the islands.  It is not possible for the consumer to find any produce that is fresher. The entire process of the food chain is transparent and sustainable.

This month I met three generations of the Tonna family who are full time farmers in their land in Attard.

 

artichoke fields mgarr malta

 

I am a full time farmer, here from sunrise to sunset.  I’ve been coming here since I was a child.  Now I am am in charge.  God bless the crop this year.  When you look after it well, you have great results.  We have wells and use the borehole to water the crop, use organic pest control.

Victor Tonna, Farmer

 

I come here with my dad.  We cultivate vegetables and fruit.  At the moment we have eggplants, basil, tomatoes.  When I am not at school I come here with dad and grandad.  It is hard work but I love it because nature is beautiful, we have a lot of fun together, the air is clean and fresh.

Jean Tonna, aged 12

 

Local produce

Here I find my inner peace, quiet.  I prefer to be here than at home.  I used to come here with my own father, now I come with my son and grandson.

It is a shame that people sometimes prefer to buy imported produce and it makes me very sad.

John Tonna, 82 years

 

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Very quick no-bake ricotta and greek yogurt flan

For a very quick summer dessert that requires no time spent in a hot kitchen this is a sweet that can be prepared in under 5 minutes provided you have all the ingredients at hand.

You will need:

1 ready made Sponge flan
800g ricotta
100ml Greek Yoghurt
100g Sugar or the equivalent in stevia
300g candid peel and chopped dark chocolate (ratio according to your preference)
A handful almonds and hazelnuts, chopped up and dry roasted in a pan
Grated zest of a lemon
Liquor of your choice, a couple of teaspoons to moisten the flan
A pinch of nutmeg
Glace cherries and grated chocolate to decorate the flan

Prepare the filling by placing the ricotta and yoghurt in a large bowl. Mash it up and then use a hand blender to whizz it to a smooth consistency. Add the candid peel, grated chocolate and dark grated chocolate as well as some chopped up cherries and nuts.

Mix and then add the grated lemon zest and nutmeg. Mix well until the consistency is smooth and even.

Place the flan on a large plate and drizzle the liquor to moisten it. Fill the flan with the ricotta mixture. You can of course pipe it, but I like the casual and undressed appearance. Decorate the top with more nuts, cherries and grated chocolate.

Place in the fridge for a few hours before serving.

I use Greek Yoghurt by Kolios at Quality Foods Marketing 

Kolios greek yoghurt authentic
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What do you think about the square neckline?

The square neckline that I am seeing so much at the moment reminds me of beautiful ladies in Jane Austen books.   It makes an attractive neckline for wedding dresses.

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The square neckline is suitable for all body types.  It is also good for ladies with a big bust as it provides a diversion and are a good frame for the decollete. This type of neckline helps to elongate the neck and make shoulders look more narrow. If you have a small bust it gives the illusion of curves but remember to wear a padded bra.

Maria Bonavia, Image Consultant and Stylist

 

 

This neckline is a favourite of  the Duchess of Cambridge.   And it is versatile and can easily be worn causally with jeans or shorts.

 

the casual way with square neckline


See the new Autumn Collection by Maria Bonavia

Maria Bonavia is an image consultant and stylist.  She can be contacted at Ange Paola

 

 

 

 

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Baked Pasta Caprese

The salad that originated in Capri is a classic and in this pasta bake I use the same ingredients. It is lightly baked and then before it is served, I top it again with more of the same fresh ingredients.

Baked Pasta Caprese with Fresh Mozzarella Balls
Baked Pasta Caprese

You will need:

500g Pasta shapes of your choice
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic
200g chopped canned tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato puree
3 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
a pinch of dried basil
a pinch of dried oregano
1/2 glass white wine
3 tablespoons grated mozzarella

Cook the pasta shells according to the instructions on the packet but reduce 2 minutes cooking time as the cooking process will carry on in the oven.

Prepare a simple tomato sauce by gently cooking the garlic in olive oil.

Do not allow it to brown and add the canned tomatoes and carry on cooking on a gently heat.

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As soon as it reaches boiling point add the wine and reduce the heat.

Stir and add the tomato puree and dried oregano, salt and pepper to taste.

Cook for 5 minutes and turn off the heat. Mix the sauce with the cooked pasta shells. Prepare an oven proof dish with baking spray.

Place the pasta and sauce in the dish and sprinkle the grated mozzarella on top.

Bake in a preheated oven at 190C for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest before adding the rest of the ingredients.

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After baking and just before serving:
150g cherry tomatoes, halved or sliced
250g fresh mozzarella balls
A spoonful of fresh basil, chopped and a few extra leaves 
a few  rocket leaves
a pinch of dried oregano and dried basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
freshly ground black pepper to taste and salt if required
a few drops apple vinegar to drizzle

Scatter the rest of the ingredients on the surface and serve immediately.

IMG_6956
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I use fresh mozzarella pearls and grated mozzarella by Fior Di Vita available at
Quality Foods Marketing
Fresh vegetables and herbs by Big Fresh and kitchenware by Tescoma
Photos: Felix Cesare
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Summer Life and Style on demand

 

You can find the current series of Summer Life and Style on demand via this link

 

 

 

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Marie Benoit’s Diary: Distinctive and creative dishes on the menu

Doesn’t she do anything but eat, you must be saying to yourselves. It is far too hot to sit and enjoy a concert especially when parking is difficult.

carl zahra 1

Accepting an invitation to a restaurant is different as there is the enticing prospect that I would not have to cook. Much as I enjoy cooking, in the summer months it seems less attractive.

Source: Marie Benoit’s Diary: Distinctive and creative dishes on the menu –

The Malta Independent

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Quinoa and Bulgur Herb Salad

Thankfully this mix of bulgur and quinoa does not require a lot of soaking and waiting.  In 12 minutes the quinoa and bulgur are ready to use.

This salad is kind of based on the Lebanese taboulleh but meeting quite a few people recently who are allergic to tomatoes made me skip this ingredient and strip out other ingredients that are not considered agreeable to everyone’s digestion.

Bulgur is a cracked wheat that has already been parboiled or precooked and makes a great alternative to rice or pasta

In other words, this salad is a crowd pleaser and quick to prepare.

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Quinoa Bulgur Herb Salad

You will need:

200g Quinoa and Bulgur

Bring 1 litre of water to boil.  Add the quinoa and bulgur mix and cook for 10 mminutes  Drain and keep aside.

2 cups chopped mixed fresh herbs.
4 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
a pinch of mixed spice
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon salt
a pinch of stevia or sugar
some freshly ground pepper
fresh herbs leahogg

Use a mezzaluna to finely chop the herbs.

Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, mixed spice, salt and stevia or sugar.  Stir and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Cover the container and place in the fridge for an hour to allow the quinoa and bulgur to soak up all the juices and flavours.

To serve add the rest of the olive and some freshly ground pepper.

 

I use Quinoa and Bulgur mix by Tipiak available at Whats in Store

My fresh herbs come from Big Fresh in Mosta
Photos Felix Cesare
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A book to read this summer – Beat by Rowan Somerville

I was given a book by Professor Jane Somerville written by her son Rowan.

beat .jpeg

A few weeks ago Rowan came to Malta and we spoke more about the book during a tv interview.  He  spent six years  meticulously researching a topic, one which I believe many people choose to remain detached from.

Proud mother of a great son

Proud mother of great son

Professor Jane Somerville

I spent my youth in the Middle East, where Israel was erased from maps in geography text books at school and where respectable expatriates were deported without any prior notice if they were suspected of being from Jewish descent.  One day they were there, the next day they were gone for good.  When we returned from visits to the UK, we always remembered to remove packaging and cut labels off from new underwear that came from St Michaels/Marks and Spencer.  Should they have been spotted,  the items would be confiscated.

So I do relate to the story and even more so to the difficulty Rowan must have faced while carrying out his research which is impressive and brave.

You can click this link and find out more about the book from Rowan himself.

I have only just finished Part I and II.  Rowan’s style of writing is descriptive and easy  to read and this true story of exceptionally unusual events deserves to be read and shared.    I am intrigued and looking forward to Thursday and a long weekend to indulge and finish it.

Rowan Somerville’s book ‘Beat’ is available via Agenda Bookshops or Amazon

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Aubergine filled with Quinoa Salad [gluten free]

A variation of the Quinoa Salad recipe is to serve it in a scooped out aubergine.

Auberginne salad

To retain a lighter colour, simply cut the aubergine through the middle and scoop out the flesh, keeping it to use for other recipes.  Immerse the aubergine halves into boiling water for not more than a minute.

Brush the inside cavity of the aubergine generously with lemon juice and allow to rest for a few minutes.  Then brush it generously with olive oil and fill the cavity with the quinoa salad mixture.  Bake in a preheated oven at 220 C for 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest for a couple of minutes.  Top up with more of the quinoa salad and then garnish with more pomegranate seeds and basil.

Finish off with sunflower seeds.

Aubergine filled with Quinoa Salad

Aubergine filled with Quinoa Salad

Quinoa-by-Tipiak.jpg
I use French White Quinoa by Tipiak and soft white gbejna by Hanini with organic vegetables by Barbuto and sunflower seeds by Lamb Brand

 

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New collection at Ange by Maria Bonavia

The new collection has just arrived at Ange and the theme is ‘Like a Diva’  ❤️❤️

Maria gives us a peek here and shares a few outfits from the new collection.

Style can be different in many ways.  It depends on the weather, if an occasion is informal or requires you to be more elegant.  You can also look stylish in a T-Shirt and shorts.  The look this season is sophisticated and feminine and brings a modern style with vintage elegance.

Maria Bonavia, Image Consultant and Stylist

rinasciamento 2

 

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Maria Bonavia’s new collection is available at Ange Boutique

 

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Quinoa Salad with aubergine and fresh gbejna [gluten free]

This salad is wholesome and has great texture. Adding some smoked paprika gives a really good flavour when paired with the baked aubergine flesh.  What makes this salad particularly different is that the aubergines are baked and peeled, then the flesh is broken down until it is almost a puree and it is added to the quinoa.

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Quinoa Salad with Aubergine and Fresh Gbejna

You will need:

3 aubergines
Measure 200g uncooked quinoa and follow these simple instructions to cook
150g cooked chickpeas
120g shredded raw carrots
6 cherry tomatoes cut into 1/2 or 1/4 pieces
a pinch of dried basil
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
salt and pepper

Finish off the salad with :

2 fresh soft gbejna cheeselets [Gibniet Friski], chopped
6 leaves fresh basil, choppped
a handful of fresh parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
1/4 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons apple vinegar

Start by cooking the aubergine.  Preheat the oven to 200C.  Place the aubergines on a baking tray covered with baking paper.  Bake for 40 minutes.  Allow to cool completely, then peel them and chop the flesh by using a mezzaluna.  The consistency is nearly puree-like.

Prepare all the other ingredients. Place the cooked quinoa in a large bowl.  Add the  chickpeas, shredded carrots, chopped tomatoes, dried basil, smoked paprika and salt and pepper to taste.

quinoa salad

Just before serving, lightly toss the ingredients in the salad bowl then finish off the salad by adding the chopped soft gbejna cheeselets.

Gbejna 5

Then add the fresh basil and parsley, grated lemon zest and pomegranate seeds.   Drizzle with olive oil and apple vinegar.  Serve immediately

Freezing Quinoa

If you are really pressed for time, you can cook a large batch of quinoa and freeze it in individual portions in ziplock bags. Once the quinoa is cooked, allowing 180 - 360g of cooked quinoa per portion. Allow it to cool completely before putting it into ziplock bags. Squeeze any air out of the bags .

When ready to use simply defrost at room temperature and heat in the microwave for a minute in the bag if you want it warm.
insalata quinoa gbejna 2

Bright and colourful. I even added some red edible geranium petals

 

Quinoa raw by tipiakGbejna soft cows
I use soft fresh gibniet by Hanini and Quinoa by Tipiak 
My fresh organic vegetables come from Barbuto
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Light Strawberry Yogurt Desserts

I use light strawberry yogurt to make this easy summer dessert.  For many reasons it is nearly impossible to call this a recipe because it is so easy and quick to make with great results that look like  you have take a bit more time.

teapot with geranium

Use edible geranium petals to finish off desserts

strawberry yoghurt dessert 2
Light Strawberry Yoghurt Desserts

You will need:

1 packet no added sugar strawberry jelly
100ml hot water
grated zest of 1 lime
4 low fat strawberry light yoghurts
200g fresh strawberries
some fresh mint leaves

strawberries

Place the jelly crystals in a large bowl and add some boiling water. Mix then add the light strawberry yoghurt.  Mix again and add the grated lime zest and half the quantity of the fresh fruit.

Mix then pour into a measuring cup and mix enough water if necessary to make up the required liquid listed on the jelly packet. Mix and pour into glasses.

Place in the fridge for a couple of hours until the content firms up.

Before serving decorate with berries, pomegranate seeds and fresh mint.  I also added some edible pink geranium petals.

strawberry yoghurt dessert

I use Light Strawberry Yoghurt by Hanini
My fresh fruit comes from Big Fresh Mosta
Ceramics by Bristow Potteries
Photos: Pix by P