Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sugar Free Yuletide Christmas Log

It is not Christmas in Malta without the traditional Yuletide Christmas Log! This walnut packed log is super easy to make and requires no baking! The original recipe calls for regular cookies and condensed milk. A few years ago I came across a similar recipe to the one I posted below for diabetics*. Over the years I have modified it and made it my own and my dad loves it!


1lb Sugar Free Plain Cookies (like plain shortbread)
8oz pitted Dates
1 cup Milk
1/4 cup orange juice
8 oz Chopped walnuts
2 oz dried cherries
2 tbl Cocoa Powder
1 bar unsweetened baking chocolate (to decorate with)


Put the cookies in a zip lock bag and crush with a kitchen hammer.

In a small pot, dissolve the dates with the milk and orange juice until you have a thick paste.

Using the largest bowl you have in your kitchen, dump all of the ingredients in it and knead.

On a clean surface, roll out a long piece of cling film and place the mixture at the center of it. Shape the mixture into a log, making sure to press and pack it all in so as not to leave any air bubbles inside. Let rest in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

Melt some chocolate and pour it over the top. Using a fork, make horizontal streaks as the chocolate is setting to create a grain pattern. Store in refrigerator.

*Always consult with your physician if you have diabetes about food guidelines and sugar intake. Dried fruit can have a substantial amount of sugar.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Peach Crumble


6 Large Peaches
1 cup sweetener

1 cup Almond Meal
1 cup Sweetner
1 tbl Cinnamon
1 egg
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup walnuts

Method :

Peel the peaches and slice into uneven slices. Sprinkle with sweetener and let macerate for about half an hour.

In the meantime combine the dry ingredients well and add a beaten egg to the mixture until it resembles course breadcrumbs.

Melt the butter and pour it over the peaches. Top with the crumble mixture and bake for 40 minutes in a 375 degree oven.

*For a regular Peach Crumble, use flour instead of Almond meal and sugar instead of sweetener. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Strawberry Cheese Cake (No bake)


Base :

9 oz walnuts, pecans or almonds
4tbs melted butter or 4 tbs honey

Filling :

16 oz cream-cheese (2 packages)
1 cup Sugar Free Cool Whip
16 oz Strawberries (sliced)
1 package Gelatin
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup Splenda (or any other sweetener)


Place the nuts in a ziplock bag and crush with a rolling pin (or process through food processor). Add the butter or honey and press into a 9"backing pan. I like to line up the baking pan with wax paper in order to be able to lift up the cheesecake when cold. Cover with cling film and put in the refrigerator to chill.

In a small bowl, mix the sweetener, gelatin and 1 cup boiling water. Whisk well and put in the freezer to chill quickly.

In a large mixing bowl, put the cream cheese and the cool whip and beat on medium speed. While doing that, slowly add the strawberries, setting aside a handful for decoration. Take out the gelatin bowl from the freezer and pour over the mixture. Beat the mixture of medium speed for a good 5 minutes.

Take out the 9" baking pan from the fridge and layer the mixture on top of the nuts. Decorate with strawberries and chill for about 6 hours before serving.

Maltese Sausage


4.5lbs of pork butt or shoulder (ground) (or 3.5lb minced pork and 1lb of pork fat)
1-1.5 oz black pepper*
0.5-1oz coriander seeds*
1-2oz sea salt
10 garlic cloves minced
Bunch of parsley finely chopped

Method (for KitchenAid users)

Rinse the hog casings in hot water from the salt and let them sit in a bowl of hot water for about 20 minutes. Run water through the casings after they soften and become pliable.

Grind the pork twice. Mix all the meat with half the amount of herbs and spices stated. Test the flavor by frying up a small patty and keep on adding the herbs and salt as desired. Do not add all of the salt from the beginning; you might find it too salty and you'll have to throw everything away.

Take one casing, tie at knot at the end and insert in the large sausage tube attachment, all the way in. Put the kitchen aid on speed 3-4 and you're all set to start stuffing the sausages. Keep a toothpick nearby, air might get trapped and you'd need to pierce the casing every now and then to release the trapped air.

Method (for non KitchenAid users)

In a food processor combine the pork fat and the minced pork, set on high speed and grind for about a minute or two. Mix half of the herbs, spices and salt and test the flavor by frying up a small patty.  Keep on adding the herbs and salt as desired. Do not add all of the salt from the beginning; you might find it too salty and you'll have to throw everything away.

If you are using hog casings you'll need a funnel. Stuff as per method above.

If you are not using hog casings, simply shape sausages by hand and freeze. If you cook them while frozen they will not fall apart.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Ricotta stuffed zucchini


2 large zucchini/marrows
1 cup part skimmed ricotta
1/2 cup parmesan
1 egg
Cherry Tomatoes


Slice the marrows vertically from the middle to end up with four quarters. Scrape the inside out with a spoon.

In a bowl, beat the egg, add the ricotta, Parmesan  rosemary, salt and pepper. Stuff the quarters with this mixture. Place halved cherry tomatoes on top and sprinkle with a little bit of Parmesan.

Bake in a 200 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Serves 2 people as a side.

S'berry, Lime, Ginger and Mint Water


6 large strawberries, sliced
2 limes, sliced
1 piece ginger, chopped
Handful of Mint


Fill up a large pitcher with ice-cold water and stir in the above ingredients. I do not know if this has any particular health benefits, but it is definitely a refreshing beverage loaded with vitamins!

Let sit overnight before consumption. Serve Chilled.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Moroccan Shrimp Salad


Rocket Salad (or any mixed greens)
Diced tomatoes
Diced avocados (1/2 per person)
1 oz feta cheese (per person)
3-4 oz shrimps per person

Salad Dressing

Sesame Oil
Olive Oil
Lime Juice
Tarragon Vinegar
Maggi Seasoning
Smoked Korean Red Pepper Flakes
Green Scallions
1 cube of Avocado (to act as the emulsifier.)
1 oz crushed peanuts, walnuts or pecans

Shrimp Marinade (marinate 2 hours before)

Pinch of cinnamon
Crushed Garlic
Ground Coriander
Dried Parsley
Onion Powder
Cheyenne Pepper
Dash Sesame Oil
Dash Maggi Seasoning


In a skillet, cook the shrimp for about 5 minutes. Do not over cook otherwise they will turn into a gummy mess. Set aside and let them cool. 

Place the rocket, tomatoes and avocado in a bowl and pour over the dressing, make sure all leaves are well coated. Add the cooked shrimp on top and sprinkle with feta cheese. 

*Recipe by Des

Portobello Pizza and Burgers

This will definitely take care of that junk craving that haunts us from time to time!

Portobello Pizza

2 Portobello Mushrooms
2 slices Prosciutto (or any ham)
2 oz grated Part Skimmed Mozzarella

Turkey Burger

1 or 2 Jennie-O Turkey Burgers
Mixed Greens (or iceberg lettuce)
Tomato, sliced
2 slices of Part Skimmed Mozzarella

Method - Portobello Pizza

Remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop finely. Chop the ham and mix with the chopped stems, mozzarella and oregano. Stuff the mushrooms upside down, drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and broil on High for about 10 minutes.

Method - Turkey Burgers

Cook the turkey burgers as per package instructions.

If using iceberg lettuce, you can sandwich the burger between thick slices of iceberg to replace the bread. Add any veggies that you like, such as tomatoes, pickles, onions ecc and top with a slice of part skimmed mozzarella.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Stuffed Pork Roast with Veggie Kebabs


1.5lb Pork Loin
1 cup spinach
6 slices low fat ham
3oz Gouda or any low fat cheese

Veggies for kebabs 


Fillet the pork loin with a very sharp knife. Cover it in cling film and pound it out with a kitchen hammer until almost double in size. Layer the ham, spinach and cheese and roll up, using toothpicks if needed. Seal in a hot skillet and then pop in the oven or crockpot.

Cut your favorite veggies in equal sized cubes and place on skewers. Drizzle with some sesame oil and broil until cooked. 

Quiche breakfast "cupcakes"


7 large eggs (or the equivalent in egg whites)
1/3 cup part skimmed ricotta
2 table spoons ground flex meal (optional)
5 large mushrooms
1 bunch spring onions
1 large bell pepper or 6 small ones
5 oz turkey breakfast sausage links
2 oz grated low fat cheese
Cayenne Pepper
Garlic Powder


Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Finely chop the spring onions (using only about 3-4" from the root; the whitish part), mushrooms and bell peppers as shown below.

Saute in a skillet with a teaspoon of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Adding salt at this stage is important because it drains out all the liquid from the veggies. Once done, set aside.

Chop up the turkey sausage breakfast links and brown in a skillet. Turkey meat is healthier and has less fat and sodium. In the US, Jennie-O has some great options all turkey-based. 

In a big bowl, combine the 7 eggs, ricotta, flax meal (optional; this adds fiber to the quiches), cayenne pepper, garlic powder and grated cheese.

Once the veggies and the sausage has cooled down a little bit, combine with the "wet" ingredients.

Using a standard 12 cupcake baking tray, spray it with cooking spray or else use baking paper cups (easier and no mess). Spoon the mixture evenly making sure that the mixture does not overflow.

Pop in the oven for about 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Zalza tal-Bzar (Bell Pepper sauce)


4-5 Bell Peppers, sliced.
1 large onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 large can water (use same can that the tomatoes came in)
1/2 cup olives
1 table spoon capers
Basil (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste


Stir fry the onions and garlic until well cooked. Remove from skillet and put on the side. In the same skillet, stir fry the bell peppers for about 10-12 minutes.

When they are cooked through, add the onions and the crushed tomatoes and water and let simmer for about 30 minutes. After that, add the basil, olives and capers and let simmer for another hour or so on very low heat.

Serve as a side with grilled fish such as salmon. Traditionally eaten with thick slices of Maltese bread .. but hey, this is a low carb section so we steer away from that! :-)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Stuffed Marrows


2 large green marrows/zucchini
6 oz beef
1 onion
1 clove garlic

Preheat oven to 400 degrees f.

Slice the marrows vertically from the middle to end up with four equal parts. Scrape the inside out with a spoon and save it in a bowl.

In a skillet, brown the onion, garlic and meat. After 10mins of cooking add the insides of the marrows and keep cooking until they practically dissolve in the mixture. Take off the heat, let it cool for 10 minutes and add a beaten egg to the mixture.

Place the zucchini in a dish and stuff with the filling. Add about a cup of water at the bottom of the dish (chicken stock can be used to enhance flavor) Grate some cheese on top and pop in the oven for a good 30 minutes.

Serve with a side of grilled vegetables.

*Traditionally, round green zucchini are used for this recipe however they are not easy to find in the US. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Kabocca bil-kapuljat (Cabbage with ground beef)


1 onion sliced
1/2 lb ground beef or 6oz bacon
1 whole cabbage
3 cups stock (chicken or beef)


Sautee the onion and the beef in a deep skillet. When the onion becomes translucent and the beef has browned, throw in the chopped cabbage, add the stock and seasoning and let simmer (covered) on low heat for about 20mins, stirring occasionally.
Serve with freshly grated parmesan.

Traditionally bacon is used, but many prefer it with lean ground beef as the protein content is higher and the sodium content is lower.

Yields 4-6 sides or 2-3 entrees. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Breakfast pizza

Choose big plump tomatoes, slice thickly at about an inch each. Top with some part skimmed mozzarella and bacon bits. Sprinle some parsley or oregano, salt and pepper and broil until cheese melts.
Serve with eggs.

Parmesan Eggs

Tired of the same plain boring eggs? Spinkle some parmesan and parsley on top of the eggs and serve with low sodium turkey bacon.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Chicken Salad with a twist

Tired of the usual mixed green setup for a salad? Try this one!

1 cup cooked chicken breast, cubed
1-2 red or orange bell peppers roughly chopped
4 radishes, roughly chopped
Handful of fresh basil, chopped
Any dressing that you want

Toss everything together and dress with your favourite dressing!

Pesce al cartoccio (Baked Fish in wine)


4 fillets of any fish that you like
2 onions sliced
5 cloves garlic
1 cup cherry tomatoes
10 olives
2 Table Spoons of Capers
1.5 cups white wine
Handful of fresh chopped basil
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Layer a deep baking pan with foil and spread the sliced onions at the bottom. Pour the 1.5 cups of white wine on top of the onions and place the fish on top of the onions and top with garlic, tomatoes, olives, capers and basil. Drizzle with some olive oil, salt and pepper.

Bake for about 30 minutes, opening the foil on top to allow the fish to brown a little bit.

This recipe is very easy to make as you can use frozen fish fillets too without defrosting them first. Just pop everything in the oven and enjoy the fusion of Mediterranean aromas that come out from this dish.

Serve with sauteed veggies on the side or a Caprese salad, using Part-Skim mozzarella between slices of plump red tomatoes and fresh basil leaves.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Ham and Gbejna Salad


Baby Spinach Leaves
Mixed Greens
Yellow Bell Pepper
1/2 Cucumber
4 Radishes
1 or 2 Gbejna
Handful of chopped ham
Balsamic Vinaigrette

Toss everything together and dress with the vinaigrette. The crispness of the radishes and the freshness of the cucumber go well with the acidic flavor of the gbejna. You can substitute gbejna for goat's cheese or feta, but the taste won't be the same.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Hobz biz-zejt Salad (without the bread)


Baby Spinach (or any mixed greens)
6 Cherry Tomatoes
1 orange/yellow/red bell pepper (or Giardiniera)
1 can of Tuna in brine
1 Gbejna
6 olives
1 tbl Capers
Handful of fresh chopped basil (optional)
1/2 diced onion

Toss everything together and dress with Balsamic Vinegar and 1tsp olive oil.

This salad is super easy to make and satisfies that "hobz biz-zejt" craving. Of course, there is nothing that can replace the combination of the above ingredients stuffed in a ftira, but trust me, its the next best thing!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Ftira (Maltese Flat Bread)

Follow the recipe for Maltese bread 

Divide the dough into 3-4 pieces, depending on how big you want your ftiras to be. Without kneading, gently open up dough into a flat circle and let rest for about 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes continue to expand the dough gently without kneading. Let rest for another 10-15 minutes, always covered in cling film otherwise the top will dry out.

With these resting periods, you will notice that after each rest, you can stretch out the dough a little further. Cut a hole in the middle, dust with some flour, place on a floured peel and pop on pizza stone in a 450 oven for about 15-20 mins.

End Result :-)

*This bread has no preservatives in it therefore it will go stale in a matter of hours. When I bake ftiras, I usually consume one right after it cools down and freeze the rest wrapped tightly in a freezer ziplock bag. To warm up, preheat over to 450 degrees, brush the top with some water and pop in the over for 5-10 minutes and the bread will be as good as new! 

Pulpetti tal-corned beef (Corned Beef Patties)


2 large boiled potatoes
1 large can corned beef
2 eggs
4oz Kefalotiri Grated Cheese (or grated parmesan)
4 cloves garlic, minced
handful of chopped parsley
1 tbl Curry Powder
Flour (as needed to thicken mixture)
Salt and Pepper.


Mash the potatoes up with a fork but do not cream. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Shape into pulpetti (patties) and fry in vegetable oil, 3-4 at a time. You might need to change the oil if cooking a large batch.They are not easy to flip as they will break easily so extra caution is advised! 

Serve with HP Sauce and crusty Maltese bread!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Hobz tal-Malti (Maltese Bread)

Yes, you can make this at home using a regular oven!

Step 1 - Preparing the starter

This is what the starter dough should look like

100g Plain Flour*
12g Gluten *
Pinch of Yeast
100ml tepid water

Mix flour and gluten together, add pinch of dried yeast, add water and work into a very sticky dough with a spoon. Cover with cling film and let rise for 6+ hours. No salt at this stage.

Step 2 - Feeding the starter

Starter dough after 6+hrs 
100ml tepid water, 
100g of flour 
12g of gluten.

 Mix flour and gluten together. In the same bowl that has the starter, add the 100ml water and dissolve lightly but not completely. Add the flour and mix everything together into a a very sticky dough. No salt at this stage! Cover and let rise again for 6+ hours.

Step 3 - Making the bread

Step 2 Starter after 6+hrs 
400g plain flour
48g gluten
7g instant yeast
300ml tepid water
1-2 tsp salt 

Take 1/2 of the dough from step two and put it in a large mixing bowl. Wrap the other 1/2 in cling film or an air tight plastic bag and store in the fridge for your next baking session! This will eliminate steps 1 and 2 next time you want to bake this bread again.

Mix the instant yeast in the 300ml tepid water and let it foam for a good 5-10 minutes. Add the flour (mixed with the gluten, very important to mix the flours beforehand) and salt to the mixing bowl with the 1/2 step 2 dough and add the water with yeast. Work into a dough, knead on a surface for a good 10 minutes until you have a nice elastic dough. Cover the bowl and let rise for about 3 hours.

During these 3 hours, you need to fold the dough twice. Fold the dough after the first hour (you should fold it 4-5 times each fold, if that makes sense :-P) and then again after the second hour. You can view this youtube video a instructions of how to fold the dough. It is important to just fold the dough and not knead the dough.

In the meantime, preheat your oven to 450 Fahrenheit. If you have a pizza stone, the result will be much better. If not you can bake the bread on a floured baking sheet, but I cannot stress enough the importance of investing in a pizza stone if you intend to bake this bread! 

After 3 hours and 2 folds, the dough should have doubled in sized. Place on a floured surface and gently shape into a ball, pressing the sides with the palm of your hands. Again, do not knead the dough as you would destroy the air bubbles that have been created with the folding process.

If you are looking to make Ftira, please click here.

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Initially dough should be very sticky
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Covered in cling film and wet kitchen paper
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Final proof

Dust well with flour. Cover and let it prove for another 45 minutes. Before popping in the oven, add more flour to the surface or just flip the dough upside down (as the bottom will be uneven therefore more flour sticks to it), dust with more flour on top and pop on the pizza stone. Bake for a good 50 minutes if making one loaf. If you are splitting the dough to make two loaves, bake them together for 35 minutes.

Enjoy the bread! 

*High Gluten Flour - Bread flour in the US has only 4% of protein which is not enough for this kind of bread. I usually buy Bob's Red Mill Gluten Flour and add 12grms of this to a 100grms of plain flour. If you manage to find bread flour with at least 12% of gluten content then you don't need this. Do not add more than 12grms per 100g of flour otherwise the bread will turn out into a rubbery spongy texture.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ottijiet tal-gunglien (Sesame Dunkers)


8oz plain flour
8oz self-raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
9oz butter or margarine
4-5oz confectionary sugar 
Zest of an orange and lemon
1 tsp toasted aniseed
1 egg, beaten
Juice of an orange
Milk and Sesame seeds to decorate with


Put the flour, baking powder, butter and icing sugar in a bowl and mix using the rub-in method until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Throw in the orange and lemon zest, toasted aniseed, eggs and orange juice and form a dough.

On a floured surface, cut dough into walnut-sized pieces. Roll out in the shape of a pencil and form the "8" shape. Press ends together well.

Dip the figure of 8 in milk and then put it in a plate with sesame seeds to coat the top of the cookie.

Place on a greased and wax paper lined baking sheet and bake in a 390 degree Fahrenheit oven until golden brown.

The cookies might still be a bit soft after cooking. Its important to let them cool well as this process will make them crunchier. Do not store them while they are still hot, they need to be completely cold before storing in an airtight container.

These cookies are extremely popular in Malta. Nearly every household is always stocked with a bag or two of these cookies. It is customary to offer something sweet with coffee or tea when you have visitors and these make a great treat and are the best tea/coffee dunkers out there! 

Sfineg tal-Incova

Sfineg tal-Incova (Deep fried anchovy balls)


Pizza Dough
Anchovy Fillets

There are several ways to prepare sfineg. These are traditionally sold during lent in Malta, very simple yet very tasty. Traditionally, according to "Recipes from Malta" published in 1972, a batter made out of flour, baking powder and water was formed and set to rest for about an hour. Pieces of anchovies were then dipped in this thick batter and deep fried in fat.

A quicker version can be made using store-bought pizza dough (however much of the authenticity will be lost  because as you can see, the original recipe doesn't use any yeast in the batter).

Using store bought pizza dough you can roll u walnut sized balls, stuff a piece of anchovy in side and deep fry.

Alternatively, if you are making home made pizza dough, you can go ahead and knead in pieces of anchovies in the dough and just fry it like that.