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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.

 
 

Chewy Cinnamon Cookies

By Ms.Gourmet on May 26, 2011 7:15 PM
We've lived in our old Victorian home without event for over a decade and have never experienced leaks or water damage, until last year. So, rather than continue to leave things to chance, silicon and no more gaps we decided that we needed to attend to a few minor repairs before winter sets in and the heavy rain begins to descend upon us.

What we initially thought was going to be a 10 day straightforward process, turned into a twenty-one consecutive day slog, with a few surprises thrown into the mix for good measure, culminating with me up on a ladder for 17 hours on Mothers days! Easter was a blur, World Figolli Day a challenge and Dante's 10th birthday came and went as we continued to live and breathe in plaster dust and paint fumes.

I'm pleased to report that we are now 'watertight' and that the hardest part of our renovation is now behind us. The lounge room is no longer ensconced in the kitchen and we are all restored to our designated bedrooms of a nigh time and family meals and weekend baking have once again become the norm.

Although the kids proved quite resilient throughout the whole renovating ordeal, Lucia greatly missed walking into the house to the comforting aroma of roast chicken or freshly baked cookies. So last Sunday, while it was raining once again, we spent the afternoon baking these quick and easy chewy cinnamon biscuits, which we then enjoyed with a strong cup of tea.

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Sorbetto di Melagrana - Pomegranate Sorbet

By Ms.Gourmet on December 19, 2010 3:22 PM

If you happen to be as fortunate as Sarah or Cenk and have easy access to gorgeous, local pomegranates - then more power to you! The only 'fresh' pomegranates we have access to at the moment are flown in from America and they are downright woeful. I have never been able to bring myself to buy them as they look like they've been sitting in cold storage for the better part of six months.

We do have quite a few miniature pomegranate trees growing in our Italian neighbours gardens, but unfortunately these trees are under constant surveillance. Hence, these fruit bearing trees are fiercely protected by omnipresent Calabrian grandmothers and I wouldn't dare dream of helping myself to their fruit, even if it is growing in abundance on over hanging branches, lest I be wrapped over the knuckles with a wooden walking stick and forever branded as a thief around these parts.

So when it came to making my own pomegranate sorbet I chose the safer option and used POM juice instead, as this alternative was far less threatening. The end result was an incredibly tangy and refreshing sorbet that would make a perfect end to any meal.

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Sorbetto di Melagrana - Pomegranate Sorbet

Ingredients

1.4 litres of POM juice

Juice of one lemon + one lime

300g of raw caster sugar

Method

1. Stir the sugar and two cups of pomegranate juice over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Take off heat and combine with the remaining pomegranate juice. Add the lemon and lime juice and stir to combine. Taste and see if the mixture is tart enough as you may want to add more citrus juice if you prefer a sharper tasting sorbet.

2. When it is cool, place the mixture in a bowl in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Put the mixture in your ice cream maker and proceed according to the manufacturers instructions.

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White Chocolate and Raspberry Clafoutis

By Ms.Gourmet on December 9, 2010 9:02 PM
There are certain flavour combinations that compliment each other so well that when one is presented without the other, it just doesn't seem right or complete. For instance, I find that I can't have tomato without basil or lamb without rosemary, dark chocolate without burnt caramel, lemon without the tart, quince without the blue cheese, gin without tonic and white chocolate without raspberries.

There are also certain times during a woman's cycle that can only be endured and made right with chocolate.  Thus, over the decades I've tried all manner of suggestions,  supplements and homeopathic treatments to help curb this craving, but at the wise old age of forty-something I've decided to throw caution to the wind and just roll with my hormones and enjoy the chocolate too.

One of the ways I explain away or justify this 'phase' of my cycle to those around me (including the little people), thereby making my food choices appear more responsible, is to pair the chocolate craving with a fruit. Hence, this white chocolate and raspberry clafoutis is a perfect example of me trying to convince everyone, that what I'm eating is in fact both healthy and nutritious because of the inclusion of fresh fruit, organic eggs and almond meal.

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The Taunting Tune of Mr Whippy's Van

By Ms.Gourmet on November 4, 2010 8:45 AM
There was one sound that was synonymous with summer when growing up in suburban Melbourne in the late 70's and that was the taunting tune of Mr Whippy's ice cream van. Back then there was no home made gelato or sorbet, as domestic ice cream machines were virtually non-existent in white Anglo-Australia. Hence, if you were hankering after ice cream on a hot summers day, you had to either walk to your local milk bar in order to satisfy your craving or you had to patiently wait for the sound of Mr Whippy's ice cream van.

As kids we had this uncanny, innate sense (or maybe it was just wishful thinking) when it came to Mr Whippy, as we could hear that jingle, jangle miles away as that blessed van drove up and down neighbouring streets serving gelato and soft serve ice cream to the masses.

The minute we caught sound of that faint jingle, jangle in the distance, we would stop whatever we were doing and drop what was in our hands and run straight to mum, begging for mercy and gelato. It still amazes me how powerful that crappy, jingle, jangle tune was at drawing out all the neighbouring kids from their back yards as that 'sound of summer' used to tempt both adults and children alike with the promise of sweet, sugary, chilled bliss.
 

Anissa, Shane and the Snake

By Ms.Gourmet on October 25, 2010 9:25 PM
Gourmet Worrier has opened many doors for me both personally and professionally and has changed my life in ways that I could have never dreamt or imagined. I mean, who would have thought that in such a short space of time I would be interviewing on national radio, writing for an international newspaper or launching a touring company?  

I know I didn't!

Blogging has also allowed me to connect with all sorts of interesting and inspiring people from around the world, such as fellow bloggers and writers and also talented chefs, food producers and artisans.

Last week I had the great pleasure of meeting and spending the day with Anissa Helou and managed to introduce her to my good friend Shane. I must pause to say that Anissa is far more delightful and funny in person than I had anticipated and I hope that the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival will try and get her out next year, as she absolutely loves Melbourne, despite the twenty plus hour flight!

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Hence, the pistachio and rosewater pastry filled M'hencha, is a bit of a tribute to my two friends, as they have both inspired me over the years to venture into and thus fall in love with Middle Eastern and North African cuisine.

In Morocco M'hencha, meaning snake, is made with warka or brick pastry, but I find that it turns out a little dry if it is baked and not deep fried. If you are going to try this recipe then I would suggest that you follow Claudia Roden's (another inspiring person I hope to meet) advice and use filo pastry instead, as the end result is absolutely stunning!
 

Home Made Limoncello

By Ms.Gourmet on September 29, 2010 9:51 PM
Remember that humungous bag of unwaxed, organic lemons that I was given a while back? Well, to say I've been up to my elbows in lemons would be a complete understatement. But I'm happy to announce that I'm almost at the end of the lemons, which in itself was a huge feat as that bag weighed close to eight kilos.

Hence, these past few weeks we've been feasting on lemon tart and breakfasting on fluffy, golden pancakes with lemon sugar. I've also made some of the most amazing lemon ice-cream ever and I pinky-promise to post the recipe soon. I've also made mountains of lemony cacik, baba ganoush and soft white cheese and walnut dip.

Although the highlight of my recent lemon stint has been making my very own limoncello. Not only was it dead easy to make, but it tasted just as good as the real stuff from Amalfi. So now that I'm confident with the process and quantities I'm going to get cracking on a dozen or so more bottles as I intend to hand them out as gifts at Christmas time.

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Indipendenza - Maltese Independence Day

By Ms.Gourmet on September 23, 2010 10:21 PM
Malta's central Mediterranean sea location has given it great strategic importance thus allowing a sequence of powers including the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Sicilians, Knights of St John, French and British to rule the islands throughout history. Despite it's turbulent past, Malta finally gained independence from the United Kingdom on the 21st of September 1964 and this day is celebrated as Independence Day or Jum l-Indipendenza.

maha_indipindenza.jpgOn Tuesday evening I had the great privilege of attending Indipendenza as Shane Delia and the fabulous team at Maha celebrated Maltese Independence day here in Melbourne in unique culinary style. The room was full of dignitaries and famous Maltese sporting and cultural personalities. But I guess the thing that excited me the most was meeting fellow second generation Maltese, who are doing amazing things both locally and abroad to raise the collective cultural awareness of Malta.

This new generation of Maltese in Australia are passionate, creative, imaginative and bright. They are also warm, exuberant and distinctly Maltese. One person who is all of these things is Shane Delia and his food is both modern and refreshing, yet is firmly grounded in the traditions of his ancestors.

 

Neither Pigeons nor Eggs

By Ms.Gourmet on September 14, 2010 9:43 PM
I have wanted to make b'stilla or pastilla, the national Moroccan dish for some time now but I've been put off by a couple of things, namely the pigeons and the copious amounts of eggs. In hindsight, I should have gone straight to Claudia Roden as her 'poor mans' version in Arabesque is spectacular, as it contains neither pigeons nor eggs.

B'stilla is thought to have been brought back by the Moors from Andalusia and it is a favourite at Moroccan weddings and is often served at festive occasions. In Morocco b'stilla is made with paper-thin warka pastry similar to Turkish yuftka and Greek filo pastry. If you're unable to source warka or yuftka pastry you can substitute with filo, as that will do just fine.

Once you try this particular b'stilla you will see why it is more to my liking than the more elaborate version that is heaving with eggs. Hence, my extremely fussy son Dante not only inhaled this scrumptious pie but he then went back for seconds. Now you and I both know that he wouldn't have come within a one-mile radius of this chicken and onion pie had there been the slightest hint of egg or pigeon in it!

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Gelato di Cioccolato e Menta

By Ms.Gourmet on August 29, 2010 10:11 PM
The last couple of years we have managed to escape the Melbourne winter by flitting over to Malta to bask in the warm Mediterranean sun and enjoy time with family and friends. Unfortunately, due to family commitments here we were unable to go to Malta this year and so we've had to endure the cold and wet. Needless to say it has been a long and gloomy winter and we're all well and truly over it!

Our little girl Lucia despises winter and many a cold and miserable morning she has raised a tiny fist at the storm clouds and cried 'when will it stop mama, when will the sun shine'? Hence the other day when she asked the same old question, yet again I quickly replied 'when you see blossoms on the trees sabiħa, that is when you will know that spring is around the corner'.

And so the other day while I was in the car doing the mad dash to get the kids to school in time Lucia screamed at the top of her voice 'LOOK MAMA BLOSSOMS'! Her older brother Dante calmly responded with 'I guess that means it's time to start making ice cream again mama'.

And so the chocolate and mint gelato recipe below is an adaptation of Marcella Hazan's famous gelato di cioccolato del Cipriani. Hence, if you have yet to try 'the world's best chocolate ice cream' then you haven't really lived!

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Nutmeg and Maple Cream Tart

By Ms.Gourmet on August 17, 2010 9:57 PM
Firstly, I'd like to apologise for the lack of food around here. It's not like I've stopped cooking or eating, but rather I just haven't had the time or the inclination to collect my thoughts and pen down a recipe.

And secondly I just wanted to thank you all for being so terribly patient with me. I am still around and we're all OK (thanks for noticing and for asking), it's just that I've got a fair bit on the go at the moment, all good and all very, very exciting.

So, as things continue to fall into place and I begin to find my groove again I promise to pick up both camera and pen a little more frequently and share with you some of the things that I have been making in my kitchen.

I'll leave you with this perfect nutmeg and maple cream tart. Hence, I stress the word 'perfect' because this tart is just right as is. Don't be tempted to tweak or tinker with this one. Just show some restraint and follow the recipe to the letter and do add the nutmeg and the tiny touch of sea salt.

Trust me on this one and you won't be disappointed!

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  • jas @ the gluten free scallywag: delicious! I love cinnamon and Gewürzhaus spices are gorgeous, their read more
  • EatnListen Foodie Blog: Wow! Paula Dean would be so proud of this one, read more
  • mariage: yummy read more
  • John Valenty: what a beautiful sunset! read more
  • Jenn @LeftoverQueen: Glad to hear that you are over the worst parts! read more
  • Fletchma: I've just served this to eight guests and it was read more
  • penny aka jeroxie: Bookmarked! Hope to make these over the next couple of read more
  • Margaret Ullrich: While I agree that together "chewy, cinnamon and cookie" make read more
  • Pomegranate Juice: LOL....It looks like something my mother would have wrote. I read more
  • Pomegranate Juice: Thanks for the recipe for the cinnamon cookies, I'll definitely read more




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