Guza's Table

By Ms.Gourmet on September 22, 2011 11:39 PM
Last Sunday I had the great honour of being asked to judge at the inaugural Maussies Tan-Nanna Helu Manna Cook Off. For those of you who are unaware, Maussies is an organization that acknowledges and celebrates the best of both worlds. Hence the Maussies Cook Off was a feast of Maltese culture and cuisine here in Melbourne, Australia.

Ten teams consisting of three amateur, home cooks faced the daunting task of having their dishes critiqued by Maltese Consul General Charles Mifsud, Dean Delia of Maha, Anton Camilleri and myself in the hope of winning the title of best Maussie (Maltese-Australian) Cook for 2011. As if that was not challenging in itself, these home cooks had to then provide a three-course lunch for a very hungry crowd of 200 Maltese.

judges.jpgEach team consisted of three inter-generational family members, for instance, Nanna, daughter and granddaughter or Nanna, Aunty and niece or in some instances Nunnu, son and grandson. Needless to say the William Angliss kitchen here in Melbourne was taken over last Sunday by a handful of colourful and talented Maltese and Gozitan born nannas.

Sandra Mooney, one of the founding members of Maussies was the brainchild behind this amazing event. Her sheer passion, determination and driving force is the reason why this event was such a resounding success. Every person who attended last Sunday's event left feeling completely satisfied by the ħobż biz zeit, braġjoli, minestra, barbuljata, ravjul Malti, kannol ta' l-lrkotta and Guza's outstanding imqaret. Yet, what was even more satisfying was the wonderful sense of national pride that is beginning to emerge amongst second and third generation Maltese living here in Australia.

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Since last Sunday's event I have received countess emails and facebook messages from people who participated or attended the Maussies Tan-Nanna Helu Manna Cook Off. Gathering from the overwhelmingly positive response, this will no doubt be, the first of many similar events.

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In and amongst all the post euphoria I managed to ask Marija Cilia from the winning team Guza's Table to share with you a bit about her late mama Guza and the profound influence her cooking had on the life of her family. I'll leave you with Marija Cilia's heart-warming tribute to her late mama and her winning imqaret recipe.

 
'Guza my Mama past away a year ago, and the world has changed for all her family and those who were part of her circle of influence. She was a graceful lady. Her inner beauty was equally matched by her external looks and charm. Although she did not reach great academic heights in her life, her PhD in living was authored by her actions and unconditional love, which she gave so freely to her family and anyone who was so lucky enough to cross her path.  

Her big passion was her kitchen, and this was shown by the quality of the food she put on the family table. Guza's table was a place where family and friends shared a variety of old fashion Maltese cooking blended with good humble Maltese hospitality. Guza was a very humble cook but technical in the way she went about it. She was very precise and methodical in her approach, hence her food was always consistent in the way it looked and tasted. Her puddina tal ħobż and baked rice looked and tasted the same every time for more than forty years.  

When Guza was not doing house keeping or cooking, you would find her praying. Her faith was a big example to all those who came in contact with her. She was a very wise woman and taught us how to love, forgive, and to be thoughtful. Sometimes she would use words in her teaching, but only when she had to.

She kept a hand written recipe book in which she recorded all her favorite Maltese foods.   These were very detailed and well proven to produce perfect meals every time.  Having experienced her cooking and her generosity to life, you come to realize that her big success in the kitchen was due to one ingredient, which was never written down in any of her recipes.  This we now know is her love for the family and life in general. Guza's Table is a place which none of us will ever forget
'

- Marija Cilia


Guza's Imqaret

Ingredients

For the Dough

500g  plain white flour (or plain white 00 flour)
2 tablespoons of margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup of ilma zaghar
Water as required depending on the flour (approx. 1 to 1 ½ cups)

For the Filling

500g chopped pitted dates
1 rind of a lemon, finely grated
1 rind of mandarin or orange, finely grated
½ cup of water
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of star aniseed
4 gloves grounded
½ cup of ilma zaghar

Sunflower oil for frying

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Method

Dough

In a bowl mix the flour, margarine, and rest of ingredients.  Add water little at a time to form firm pliable dough, not sticky or too soft. Knead for 10 minutes by hand or for 5 minutes with an electric mixer, until smooth in texture. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover. Allow to rest for not less than one hour.  

Filling

In a suitable saucepan put chopped dates, and the rest of ingredients.  Mix all together and cook over medium heat until you form a tick paste. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature before using.

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Putting it together

By rolling pin or with the aid of pasta machine roll our dough in 100mm strips and 2mm thick.
Using a piping bag filled with the filling, pipe out along the centre.
Brush along one edge of dough with combined egg and water,
Bring one edge of the dough up over the filling then roll over onto the rest of the dough.
Using hand or rolling pin flatten down to get a uniform thickness.  Use light pressure.
Cut at a slight angle into finger portions, about 50mm long.
Place individually on a tray line with greaseproof paper.

Cooking

In deep-frying pot place the oil and heat to frying temperature.
Drop the cut portions into the hot oil.
Cook till golden in colour.
Serve hot or cold.

- Enjoy

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