Following the Tian Tan – the world’s second largest outdoor, bronze Buddha, we took a bus to visit the infamous Tai O fishing village. We were worried that we would be having to wade through more hordes of tourist, especially after we were warned that the village was becoming more and more accustomed to visitors.
However, we were pleasantly surprised to find that many parts of Tai O felt authentic. There was even an eeriness to the whole place brought by its foreboding landscape and its stilt houses, putting in every bit of effort to stand mighty and tall, like its mountainous terrain. It was exactly what we needed after a crowded pilgrimage to Tian Tan.
We first walked through the village itself which had many stores selling cuttlefish balls as well as shrimp paste, a speciality of the place.
But most of all, you will see boxes upon boxes of dried goods, notably fish and shellfish of all shapes and sizes.
Even their trinkets are dried fish.
It was almost strange NOT to see a shop selling dried fish. We came across the occasional grocery or souvenir shop, but they were definitely outnumbered.
Once we were done from all the dried fish and all the fish balls, we walked towards the shore. The sea was anything but inviting but the sheer mysticism of the place really spoke to my soul.
We found more surprises along the way, like these salted, dried egg yolks and this suspicious looking cat.
We finally embarked towards a viewing point and it was truly spectacular.
That is, until I made the mistake of continuing down a rough path, which eventually turned into a very slippery, steep slope. One word of advice, leave your block heels behind for this one. But we made it to the bottom, unscathed (just very sweaty with nerves). Horray!
In Tai O village, you’ll have an opportunity to catch a rare sight of pink dolphins. We didn’t have the time to head out so we can’t advise on that, but I bet they’re a wonderful thing to sight! Also, whilst we didn’t buy any dried food, I’ve read that it may be overpriced.
Other than that, take a hike (in the best sense possible)!
I’ve heard a lot about the rivalry between Hong Kong and Singapore: both are modern cities, both share cultural attributes and both have an affinity towards nature.
Hong Kong definitely has some natural wonders, being located on mountainous terrain. I was pretty excited to see how such a modern city interacted with its natural landscape. So the first activity we did was to take the cable car all the way to Ngong Ping (Lantau Island) to encounter the second largest, outdoor bronze Buddha in the world: Tian Tan. Our excitement was marred by the fact that we waited TWO hours to get onto the cable car, partly because we didn’t pre-book tickets, but also because it takes a while to load 8 people into each arriving cable car. The view was spectacular though, and you could even feel sorry for the poor souls who chose to hike all the way! Kidding, I’d be up for that next time!
Once we got to Ngong Ping, we were slightly disappointed with how touristic the whole affair was. Tian Tan being so sacred, we would have expected more of a sombre and meditative ambience. Sadly, it felt more like a theme park for us. Nevertheless, Tian Tan stood mightily tall, commanding the landscape with all the patience he could muster.
Once we were done wading through other tourists like ourselves, we visited the beautiful Po Lin Monastery. I don’t remember ever seeing such intricate temple details and the colours are so vivid that it reminds you how sobering even the most lavish Catholic churches are.
On the way back, don’t forget to pass by the smaller temples and the GIGANTIC incense sticks.
Once we were done, we found a convenient bus stop just before the site’s exit, which took us to Tai O Fishing Village. More on that next time!!
This blog post has been long overdue, especially as I’m reminded by friends and family who are eager to hear about life in Singapore.
Marco and I moved to Singapore without having ever been here. It was quite a bold move, but we had heard lots of positive things, which put our mind at rest. Coincidentally, we even had relatives vacationing here, just before we flew in – getting further confirmation, that it was a wonderful place.
Now I’m able to tell you my first impressions of what makes Singapore unique.
This is the one thing EVERYONE warned me about. Well, it goes without saying that, in a country located on the equator, you’ve got 365 days of constant temperature. Which translates into hot and humid temperatures.
To be quite honest, it doesn’t get to me in the least (except when I’m out all afternoon). There have been occasions when we were out sightseeing and I was at breaking point. That’s probably also why they have an extremely cheap and efficient transport system, averaging on £0.50 a trip. You’re literally not expected to walk anywhere unless you’re willing to take 3 showers a day. The climate also lends itself to the fact that Singapore is so clean, as you wouldn’t want litter and garbage to be exposed to those sorts of temperatures without attracting some funky diseases.
Otherwise, I would argue that I’d happily dip in and out of the heat to remind myself of the harsh British winters I no longer have to endure. Sorry London friends. That said, pretty much anything that is enclosed is powered by air-conditioning. Sometimes it gets pretty cold and reminds me that I can’t escape the chill forever.
Singapore has a policy for ensuring that there plenty of plants to observe in the city. If you’ve been to Singapore, you would immediately recognise that this young city-state has grown taller and taller. With plenty of condos available, serving over 5.5 million residents, Singapore has done its bit in green landscaping to ensure that its residents feel that they’re not drowning in concrete. And who doesn’t love tropical plants anyway?
Singaporeans are a mixture of cultures and ethnicities. It is no surprise then that the four official languages are English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil. Nevertheless, whilst English is spoken vastly, we’ve had to accustom ourselves to Singlish – a local dialect. It is usually a mixture of English, Mandarin, Tamil, Malay, and other local dialects like Hokkien, Cantonese or Teochew. Commonly, you’d find locals saying ‘Can’ instead of ‘Yes’; or ‘Lah’ to place emphasis on the word before – for example, ‘Don’t worry, lah’.
Singapore is known to be one of the most expensive cities in the world, let alone in Asia. So it was to my great delight, that I acquainted myself with the numerous hawker centres available. Gracing the streets every so often, you’d find a hawker centre selling decent portions of local food for a mere 2-3 Singapore dollars. We’re talking a full, nutritious meal under £2. Some of these have are even listed on the Michelin guide.
Considering how small Singapore is, you just CANNOT avoid malls. There are so many, many malls connected via the MRT (underground) and some even have city links to keep you sheltered from the heat. Seeing that malls cater to their demographics, they are also not created equal. The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, not only sells luxury brands and houses high-end restaurants; it even has a man-made canal in the middle of the mall, where visitors can take boat rides throughout the lengths of the mall. Love or hate ’em, the one thing that they offer everyone is solace from the heat.
I can’t believe it’s been two months already, since we’ve moved to Singapore.
We were puzzled on where to stay, when we got here. After doing some very quick touch-basing with friends and a lot of soul-searching, we settled on Tiong Bahru, a charming enclave home to hip cafes, art galleries, indie bookstores and post-war, art-deco architecture.
I’m pretty excited to share with you some snaps of this charming area, where our new home is based. Have you ever experienced Tiong Bahru yourselves? Shout out your favourite places!
If you’re Maltese or have visited Malta, it’s very likely that you would have tried the Maltese Tuna Ftira – a sandwich consisting of Maltese bread called Ftira, filled with all things Mediterranean. During my visits home to Malta, I always fit one in.
Now back in London, I was hoping to make myself another one just because it takes me back to my holiday mood. Most ingredients I could source pretty much anywhere, but one thing was certain – I wasn’t going to find any Maltese bread or Ftira. My mum solved that problem for me, by insisting on me packing a loaf on my way back.
Well, it wasn’t a bad idea at all, because the bread seems to be made for the filling, which needs to slightly soak into the bread. You also don’t want a loaf too thick, otherwise, it will be spilling out at your first bite and all you’ll taste is bread.
Another ingredient which I had to replace is kunserva, a tomato paste that is sweeter than the versions you find in the UK. I find it does make a difference to the overall flavour but you’re not going to radically change the flavour if you don’t have it.
Lastly, I like many others, like to add ġbejna – a variety of goat’s cheese we produce on the islands. This is also not something you can source in the UK but you can probably get away with a crumbly goat’s cheese or feta if you will.
Makes: 4 sandwiches
Difficulty: Very Easy
Time: 10 minutes
*I N G R E D I E N T S*
2 cans of tuna
3 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons sliced green olives
a handful of shredded mint
4 sliced salad onions
200g of goats cheese
1 can cannellini beans
1/2 can corn
3 large tomatoes chopped
1/2 gem lettuce
*M E T H O D*
Mix the tuna, olives, capers, salad onions, tomatoes, mint, cheese, cannellini beans and seasons with pepper.
Slice your loaf in half and spread tomato paste generously. Add a drizzle of oil and continue to spread.
Spread the mixture on one side of the bread and top with some lettuce.
It’s really not hard to stumble across a burger joint, but you almost can’t avoid it in London.
And why would you?
In London, you’ve got all sorts of burgers for all sorts of tastes. I’ve probably had burgers from more places than I can count on my fingers (and there’s some serious burger lovin’ competition out there).
I began to think about my all-time favourites and one that made it to the top is Shrimpy’s – a stall amongst many at Broadway Market. Having a weakness for seafood, the idea of juicy, grilled prawns was too good to miss.
Passionate about seafood, Shrimpy has been selling their signature prawn burgers for a solid 4 years and is now doing rounds across the UK. They are mainly feeding hungry market-goers at Broadway Market and Southbank, but are also invited to festivals, to the delight of many festival-goers looking for more than your run-of-the-mill festival food. Recognising that most burgers are not seafood based, they are looking to set up more stalls across London. They currently serve two versions of their burger – one with chargrilled prawns and the other with deep fried prawns (only served at Southbank). I had the burger with chargrilled prawns but I really can’t wait to try their fried version.
The burger comes with chargrilled prawns coated in a sticky marinade, caramelised onions, samphire, pickled cucumbers, and as an option, avocado. You are also given the option to choose between two sauces. The end result is one which involves a variety of textures from the tenderness of the prawns contrasting against the crunchiness of the salty samphire. The caramelised onions and pickled cucumber give it a subtle sweetness ,whilst the avocado neutralises the flavours.
All in all, I’m really glad they’re rocking the seafood burger boat and shrimping up the lives of hungry people such as myself.
Chicago was never my go-to place. To be honest, the United States was always at the bottom of my ‘must-absolutely-[without question]-visit’ list. Reason being that the US is has a fairly young history and a culture that isn’t too different to what I’m familiar with.
I am absolutely thrilled that I got the chance to explore this American gem all courtesy to my wonderful boyfriend who booked this holiday as my birthday gift.
It’s quite extraordinary that when I told friends and family that I was heading to Chicago, I usually got a very specific reaction – a puzzled look.
Well, I probably gave Marco the same puzzled look. But as I dug deeper, I realised that it didn’t deserve to be the underdog.
Chicago is bursting with architectural wonders, incredible artworks and a fire-blazing, gangster-ridden history. The architecture, the jazz scene, the speakeasies and Chicago’s trendier neighbourhoods, all speak for the State’s ability to marry old with new.
Although Chicago is the third largest city in the US, we found it easy to get around, well connected and not crowded at all. The busiest areas are within the Loop, which refers to both the elevated (L) rail as well as downtown.
Downtown comprises the financial district, Broadway and the infamous Jay Pritzker Pavilion located at the Millenial Park. Not to mention Cloud Gate (a.k.a The Bean).
What I absolutely loved about Chicago was that there was also an abundance of landscaping, gardens and parks.
But the real question is, is Chicago a foodie destination. YES – it definitely has potential. And my blog post will give you my top recommendations, should you happen to be passing by.
DAY 1:After the River Cruise Tour by Shoreline Sightseeing, which was a brilliant way to be introduced to Chicago’s architecture, we had our first lunch. It HAD to be deep dish pizza.
The closest I ever got to deep dish pizza was Pizza Hut. Then I encountered Gino’s East – and it changed everything. Really. EVERYTHING.
We got the dish for two (with four slices in total) and we were able to mix and match different pizzas on offer. We got the Spinach Margherita and the Meaty Legend. [Be prepared to wait 45 minutes to an hour for the pizza to be prepared and cooked – they do warn you in advance.]
The best by far was the Spinach Margherita – the tomato sauce was rich, the dough was buttery and the cheese was well, cheesy. We found the Meaty Legend had too much going on, so our vote goes for… the Spinach Margherita.
Because we enjoyed this deep dish pizza so much we tried another local haunt called, Lou Malnati. We ordered the Malnati Chicago Classic and the Lou. The Lou was not meant to be too different from Gino’s Spinach Margherita but it was overly garlicky and the crust wasn’t as delicious. Sorry, Lou!
That same day with dined at Alinea, a 3 Michelin Star Restaurant I had discovered through Chef’s Table. There are three menus available and we chose the Salon Menu with 12 courses. On the whole, it was a special multi-sensory experience, where you are challenged to think about what you are eating based on its appearance, flavour and texture. We were also invited to the kitchen to witness the chefs at work, guided by Head Chef Grant. There, we also witnessed the making of a cocktail, mixed by a rare cocktail shaker (1 in 30 in the world, modelled after the Victorian shakers). Some pictures of the experience below.
DAY 2: Because a 15-course dish isn’t enough to push the thought of food out of my mind, I decided to treat myself to Xoco‘s Pork Belly Chilaquiles made out of crunchy tortillas, tomatillo-serrano sauce, poblano rajas, pork belly chunks, cheese, and a sunny-side-up egg. It was DIVINE. Ridiculously heavy for breakfast, but it was certainly my most important meal of the day.
Never skip Xoco breakfast.
And don’t leave without trying their Aztec hot chocolate.
Or their bacon popcorn.
And Marco’s less exciting Chorizo variation.
As holiday’s are not just about food (something I need to remind myself), that day we visited the world-class Art Institute of Chicago which houses plenty of notable artworks from various periods, as well as modern installations.
That day’s lunch menu involved a Chicago-style hot dog from the infamous Portillo’s – a local favourite, retro-style chain, selling fast food. The Chicago-style hot dog includes mustard, relish, celery salt, onions, sliced tomatoes, kosher pickle and ‘sport’ peppers piled onto a steamed poppy seed bun. Chicagoans call this “dragging the dog through the garden.” Nice.
The weather remained poor (thanks Chicago!), so we spent the rest of the afternoon walking along the Magnificent Mile and taking shelter within the many high-street and high-end shops. On the bright side, the rain left a few lovely reflections in return.
We then closed the evening with a historical tour on Chicago’s architecture and entertainment, which took us to a few Speakeasies and infamous watering holes known for their relation to Al Capone.
We then headed to our local speakeasy – The Drifter – which is hidden within the Green Door Tavern. A classic speakeasy serving cocktails and wild entertainment.
DAY 3: The following day was classified as Museum Day, as it was bitterly cold and windy, looking exactly like this.
We visited the Shedd Aquarium and The Field Museum (a natural history museum). They were both wonderful, with the aquarium being my favourite as I feel right at home. [Not saying I’m a fish, but I’m not a fish out of water when I’m at an aquarium that’s all.]
OK, moving on.
We also had no other opportunity other than that day to observe the Chicago from up high. This is what stubbornness amounts to (both from our side and the clouds’). Do visit the Skydeck or the 360 on a GOOD day. Unless you really like clouds.
Dinner was booked at the Untitled Supper Club, a vintage-inspired, high-end venue with a dress code and live jazz. They claim to have one of the best whiskey bars in Chicago. We had cocktails.
The weather remained shoddy, so we decided to spruce things up with some jazz at the famous Green Mill, where legendary figures such as Von Freeman, Franz Jackson and Wilbur Campbell, as well as young lions Kurt Elling, Eric Alexander and Orbert Davis, played. It has not strayed far from the atmosphere of the early ’30s and ’40s in service, price and music. Shades of Al Capone’s heyday are found in the wall memorabilia as you enter and in the famous booth where he and his henchmen could keep a cautious eye on both doors. Make sure to catch the late night show (midnight – 5am) with Sabertooth. Don’t let the jet lag get to you (now that Al Capone isn’t around). It sure got me.
DAY 4: On day 4, we decided to head north towards Lincoln Park, a beautiful, sizeable park hosting a free zoo. I’m not an advocate of zoos and me being there, confirmed it. Animals, especially large animals should be roaming free and not be confined to such small spaces. However, I can’t hide that I was especially happy to see this fellow.
In the afternoon, we headed towards Old Town which is known for its 20th-century style, pastel coloured houses – all rebuilt since the great fire of 1971.
At lunch, we were lucky to get ourselves a seat at The Twin Anchors, a well-known establishment serving barbequed ribs. They were sticky and sweet and came with a choice of sauce, side and coleslaw.
Day 5: This day was nice and easy. We explored the West Loop and Greek Town. The West loop is undergoing a period of transformation. Old establishments like the French Market continues to run, although don’t expect it to be very…French.
Fulton Market is pretty much completely under development but comes alive at night, with young, trendy folk. Rumour has it that gentrification is slowly driving its previous tenants, mostly Art Galleries, out of the picture as a result.
The Greek Town was a disappointment, as all it was was a string of Greek Restaurants and the National Hellenic Museum, which we didn’t have time to enter.
Thankfully we ended the holiday on a very sweet note. I may have found one of my favourite smokehouses – Green Street Smoked Meats. We ordered half a pound each of smoked brisket and smoked pastrami with a side of creamed corn with cilantro and paprika. Washed down with Chicago’s best Pale Ale – Daisy Cutter.
If you’ve visited Chicago or will be visiting Chicago, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
I’ve recently discovered what could be one of my favourite veg dishes: Grilled Miso Aubergine. I came across it for the first time when I visited Machiya, London.
Eating the Grilled Miso Aubergine was like a revelation. The aubergine was so ridiculously creamy that you could scoop the flesh away from the skin. They also topped the aubergine with shichimi togarashi — a popular Japanese spice mixture containing ground red chilli pepper and Japanese pepper (sanshō), roasted orange peel, black and white sesame seeds, hemp and poppy seeds, ground ginger and seaweed (nori). And they also sprinkled walnuts, for a bit of a crunch.
I was surprised I hadn’t discovered this during my visit to Japan but I’m so glad that discovery happened anyway!
I did my research on how to make grilled miso aubergine and it seemed simple enough. I was going to make it the same way Machiya does, but then I thought about doing things slightly differently.
I recently make dukkah (duqqa), an Egyptian condiment consisting of a mixture of herbs, nuts, and spices. It is typically used as a dip with bread or fresh vegetables, but you can also add it to cooked vegetables. In fact, I recently followed a recipe by Rita Serano from her book Vegan in 7, where I oven-baked slice of cabbage and topped these with dukkah.
Long story short, I thought ‘why not make grilled miso aubergine with dukkah instead?’ And so I did. It turned out not too different from Machiya’s but nevertheless a variation and I love it!
I’d be curious to know of more variations that I can make with grilled aubergine. If you have any ideas, do post in the comments section below.
Till next time!
Time: 45 minutes
I N G R E D I E N T S
2 medium aubergines
4 tsp miso paste
2 tsp runny honey
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
thumb-sized piece root ginger, peeled and grated
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
2 scallions, green stalks sliced
2 tsp shichimi togarashi
dukkah (75g walnuts, 25g white sesame seeds, 1 tbsp coriander seeds, 1 tbsp cumin seeds – ground together to a rough crumble)
120g rice (optional), cooked and sprinkled with shichimi and scallions
M E T H O D
Preheat the oven to 180°C, in fan mode.
Slice the two aubergines lengthwise. That would leave you with four halves.
Score the flesh in a diamond pattern, taking care not to cut through the skin.
Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and lay the aubergines on top, cut sides up.
Mix the miso, honey, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger and garlic with 1-2 tablespoons of water to make a smooth paste.
Brush over the aubergine flesh and roast for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and soft.
In the meantime, prepare the dukkah. Mix all the ingredients together and using pestle and mortar, grind to a rough crumble. You can also use a blender.
Sprinkle with the dukkah, sliced scallions, shichimi and serve with a side of rice.
If you’ve read The Great Steak Post (where I don’t only talk about steak), you’ll hear about Yerba Mate — the national drink of Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Southern Brazil. It is known to have antioxidant properties, is caffeinated and is consumed 6 to 1 over coffee.
When I was visiting Argentina, I would pass by dozens of passerby drinking yerba mate from the traditional gourd known as guampa, porongo or mate in Spanish, through a metal straw called bombilla in Spanish. It is also not uncommon to see the guampa being shared amongst friends, with constant refilling from a thermos. The Yerba Mate ‘kit’ can be found in any traditional store, marketplace or souvenir shops.
I myself am a big fan of tea and for that reason, I love to find ways to use it in baking, marinades, smoothies and cocktails. I was lucky enough to come across Love Tea, a Maltese Tea company that stocks a wonderful variety of quality teas. I was super, SUPER excited to find their product Green Yerba Mate Matcha in powder form because I’ve only ever come across Yerba Mate as tea leaves.
I thought hard what it would pair well with. Eventually, I settled on the idea that citrus flavours would balance the essence of yerba mate nicely, due to their acidic sweetness. As we can’t get enough of blood oranges at home, I thought that it would be a fine contender for my bundt cake. And the good news is, I had leftover Green Yerba Mate Matcha for a cuppa or my morning smoothie.
Serves: 12 large pieces
Time: 2 hours
***I N G R E D I E N T S***
For the Cake Mix
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. yerba mate powder
100g coconut oil, softened
170g butter, softened
300g caster sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean, scraped
170g greek yoghurt
Juice of one small blood orange
a little butter and flour for the pan
For the Icing
1 small blood orange, juiced
200g icing sugar
***M E T H O D***
Preheat the oven to 170C and grease and flour a bundt pan
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl: flour, baking powder, salt and yerba mate.
In another bowl, cream together the softened butter and the coconut oil with a mixer until well combined and then add the sugar and cream together, until the mixture is fluffy.
Add the vanilla, juice of blood orange and eggs and stir to combine until mixture is homogenous.
Alternately add the yoghurt and flour in batches and combine after each addition and mix until the dough is smooth.
Fill the prepared bundt tin and bake for 60 to 90 minutes or until an inserted stick comes out clean.
As the cake is baking, prepare the icing. Add the juice of blood orange to the icing sugar and mix well.
Once the cake is baked, leave to cool for about half an hour before turning the cake out onto a plate and adding the icing.
I’m a big fan of open-faced sandwiches because a) I love that you can make it up as you go and b) because it’s a great way to clean up the fridge (if you have a busy fridge like me). Open-faced sandwiches are also ideal when you have guests because you simply have to prepare a few toppings in advance.
This time I made a variety of open-faced sandwiches based on what I had in the fridge, with the exception on the pickled herring itself, as that’s not something I would stock commonly. Also, I was out of my home-made pickled cucumbers but they do go really well with the salmon sandwich described below. For the pickled cucumbers recipe, check out the recipe for my patty-less shrimp burger.
And remember, do not be afraid to think of creative uses for leftovers as that is the point of a good Smørrebrød. For the purists (I suspect you may be Danish) – do forgive me for not including butter.
Serves: 12 pieces
Time: 30 Minutes
Difficulty: Very Easy
***I N G R E D I E N T S***
6 slices rye bread, sliced in half
3 eggs, boiled, peeled and sliced
2 small radishes, sliced thinly
4 slices of ham
4 tsp of horseradish
1 bell pepper, sliced and grilled
4 slices of smoked salmon
1 tsp capers
1 avocado, seasoned with salt and pepper and mashed
4 pieces of jarred pickled herring
1 cooked betroot, cubed
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
5 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons olive oil
bunch of salad cress (optional)
***M E T H O D***
Preheat the oven to 180C on grill. Brush a baking sheet lightly with olive oil. Lay the sliced bell pepper and allow the peppers to grill for 20 minutes.
Prepare a pot with cold water. Add three eggs and hard boil them for 12 minutes.
Whilst the eggs cook, slice four slices of rye bread in hal to make 8 pieces and proceed to slice the radishes, and onion into thin slices.
In a food processor combine the beetroot, mustard, sour cream and olive oil. Process until creamy and smooth.
Once the eggs have been cooked, drain the boiling water and refill with cold water. Let cool so that you can peel and slice the eggs easily.
Assemble the sandwiches in the following order. For the four ham sandwiches, spread horseradish on the rye bread, add a slice of grilled bell pepper and top with ham and sliced radish. For the four salmon sandwiches, spread the seasoned, mashed avocado on the rye bread and top with salmon, egg slices and capers. Add roe for that extra punch of flavour but it’s not necessary. For the four herring sandwiches, spread the beet mixture and top with a pickled herring, egg and sliced radish. Sprinkle all with salad cress.
With the run-up to Easter, my aunt asked whether or not I’d be making traditional Maltese Lent biscuits, called Kwareżimal. And what a brilliant idea that was because I absolutely LOVE kwareżimal and I think I’ve managed to convert a few others since I made these.
The word ‘kwareżimal’ is derived from the latin word quaresima referring to the 40 days of Lent. It reminds me very much of childhood as it was pretty much the only sweet treat I was allowed to have during the fasting period. As kids, we were asked to make a ‘sacrifice’ and in my case, it was to give up chocolate. On the plus side, I really did like kwareżimal, so it could have been worse.
These Lenten biscuits are almond based, with aromatic spices and even cocoa powder. It is also dairy free although there are versions that use eggs. These biscuits are topped with Maltese honey or thyme honey and sprinkled with nuts.
Makes: 8 Kwareżimal
Time: 45 minutes
***I N G R E D I E N T S***
200 gr ground almond
200 gr plain flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground clove
100 gr caster sugar
Juice of an orange plus approx 50 ml water
1 mandarin, zest
1 orange, zest
1 lemon, zest
1tsp orange blossom water
2 – 4 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp crushed pistachios
1 tbsp ground hazelnuts
1 tbsp desiccated coconut (optional)
***M E T H O D***
Preheat oven to 180 °C/ 355 °F
In a bowl mix together ground almond, flour, cinnamon, clove, sugar, zest of 1 orange, 1 mandarin and 1 lemon
Add 120ml of water, orange juice and orange blossom water and mix
Knead into a stiff dough, add more water if too dry but just one tsp at a time
Take small pieces of dough and form the dough into balls and then form rectangular shapes
Bake for 20 min or until slightly brown, not too long as they get very dry quickly
In a small bowl combine crushed pistachio, ground almonds and the desiccated coconut
While still warm, spread syrup on top of the biscuits and top the biscuits with the nut mixture.