Maltese Tuna Ftira

Recipes

DSC_0662If 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.

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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

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*M E T H O D*

  1. Mix the tuna, olives, capers, salad onions, tomatoes, mint, cheese, cannellini beans and seasons with pepper.
  2. Slice your loaf in half and spread tomato paste generously. Add a drizzle of oil and continue to spread.
  3. Spread the mixture on one side of the bread and top with some lettuce.

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Grilled Miso Aubergine with Dukkah

Recipes

Hello everyone!

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!

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Serves: 2

Time:  45 minutes

Level: Easy

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 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, in fan mode.
  2. Slice the two aubergines lengthwise. That would leave you with four halves.
  3. Score the flesh in a diamond pattern, taking care not to cut through the skin.
  4. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and lay the aubergines on top, cut sides up.
  5. Mix the miso, honey, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger and garlic with 1-2 tablespoons of water to make a smooth paste.
  6. Brush over the aubergine flesh and roast for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and soft.
  7. 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.
  8. Sprinkle with the dukkah, sliced scallions, shichimi and serve with a side of rice.

Croque-Star

Recipes

I knew I had a busy weekend ahead so wanted to make something quick and easy.  I had to capitalise on the time I had this weekend due to being in Paris next weekend!

Et voilà! The answer was right in front of my face. I would make a Croque Madame, but with a twist.

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Serves:  4 croques (toasties)

Time: 20 Minutes

Difficulty: Very Easy

***I N G R E D I E N T S***

  • Sourdough Bread (I used Gail’s French Dark Sourdough Loaf)
  • Smoked, sliced ham
  • 70g Stilton
  • 1/2 cup single cream
  • 4 eggs, fried
  • 1 pear, sliced
  • a handful of walnuts, crushed
  • a knob of butter, softened
  • a drizzle of olive oil

***M E T H O D***

  1. Prepare a bain-marie (heat up water in a pan and place a heatproof bowl to balance on top of the pan).
  2. Add the single cream and stilton in the heatproof bowl which has been placed on top of the pan with water. Keep to a medium-low heat until the cream and stilton begin to integrate, whilst mixing.
  3. Once the blue cheese sauce is ready, slice the sourdough bread into 1.5cm pieces.
  4. Spread the blue cheese sauce on the bottom slice and top with sliced ham, sliced pear and walnuts.
  5. Use a brush to spread the softened butter on the bottom side of the bread and then repeat the same with the top slice of the bread so that both the top and bottom of the sandwich will be pan-fried. Don’t close the sandwich just yet so that you are able to toast both the bottom and top slices simultaneously. Make sure the pan within which you do this is of the right side to have space for both slices. Also, make sure the pan is hot but keep an eye on the bread so that it won’t burn.
  6. In the meantime, heat up another pan with a drizzle of oil. Add four eggs and fry them.
  7. Once both sides are toasted, close the sandwich and top with a fried egg. Serve warm.

 

 

Yerba Mate & Blood Orange Bundt Cake

Recipes

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 guampaporongo 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.

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Serves:  12 large pieces

Time: 2 hours

Difficulty: Easy

***I N G R E D I E N T S***

For the Cake Mix

  • 400g flour
  • 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
  • 4 eggs
  • 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***

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C and grease and flour a bundt pan
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl: flour, baking powder, salt and yerba mate.
  3. 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.
  4. Add the vanilla, juice of blood orange and eggs and stir to combine until mixture is homogenous.
  5. Alternately add the yoghurt and flour in batches and combine after each addition and mix until the dough is smooth.
  6. Fill the prepared bundt tin and bake for 60 to 90 minutes or until an inserted stick comes out clean.
  7. As the cake is baking, prepare the icing. Add the juice of blood orange to the icing sugar and mix well.
  8. 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.

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Cleaning up the fridge: Open-Faced Sandwiches

Recipes

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.

I have already posted a recipe for an open faced sandwich or Smørrebrød as the Danish call it. My recipe, which can be found via this link, was inspired by Scandinavian Kitchen’s Pickled herring and egg with beetroot Smørrebrød.

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.

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Serves:  12 pieces

Time30 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)
  • roe (optional)

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***M E T  H O D***

  1. 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.
  2. Prepare a pot with cold water. Add three eggs and hard boil them for 12 minutes.
  3.  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.
  4. In a food processor combine the beetroot, mustard, sour cream and olive oil. Process until creamy and smooth.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

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Kwareżimal – Traditional Maltese Lent Sweet

Recipes
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.
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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.
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Makes: 8 Kwareżimal

Time: 45 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

***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***
  1. Preheat oven to 180 °C/ 355 °F
  2. In a bowl mix together ground almond, flour, cinnamon, clove, sugar, zest of 1 orange, 1 mandarin and 1 lemon
  3. Add 120ml of water, orange juice and orange blossom water and mix
  4. Knead into a stiff dough, add more water if too dry but just one tsp at a time
  5. Take small pieces of dough and form the dough into balls and then form rectangular shapes
  6. Bake for 20 min or until slightly brown, not too long as they get very dry quickly
  7. In a small bowl combine crushed pistachio, ground almonds and the desiccated coconut
  8. While still warm, spread syrup on top of the biscuits and top the biscuits with the nut mixture.

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Corn Muffins with Jalapeño and Feta

Recipes

On my way to work, I usually walk past the Farmer’s Market just opposite King’s Cross Station. When I’m lazy and haven’t prepared breakfast, I pop by the baked goods stall and they have delicious savoury muffins and my favourite has got to be their cornbread muffins.

I’ve come up with my own version but in smaller sizes. I wanted to limit the damage, as this recipe is a danger to me — they are so easy to make, that I may not be having to swing by the Farmer’s Market for my morning fix.

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Makes: 12 muffins

Time: 45 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

***I N G R E D I E N T S***

  • 3/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons light sour cream
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp chopped pickled jalapeños
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 1/4 cup salad onion

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***M E T H O D***

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C./375 degrees F. Lightly coat a 12-cup muffin tin with butter; set aside.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl (from the cornmeal to the baking powder).
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, then add the oil and honey. Mix until well combined.
  4. Gently fold in the liquid mixture into the dry mixture making sure it is well combined.
  5. Add the feta, jalapeños and salad onion at the end and combine.
  6. Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin tray. Place into oven and bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  7. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Once cool, add a dollop of sour cream.

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Chicken Lentil Curry

Recipes

Lentils are one of those kitchen cupboard staples because they are extremely versatile and contain beneficial nutrients like fibre, protein, minerals and vitamins. They also virtually contain no fat. Which means, if you throw lentil dishes into your meal plan, it will cost you few calories with the benefit of keeping you full for longer.

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I’ve made this delicious, healthy and fuss-free lentil curry which can take any white meat or fish, perfect for any day.

Serves: 4

Time: 45 mins

Difficulty: Easy

***I N G R E D I E N T S***

  • 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 2½-inch piece ginger, peeled, finely grated
  • 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • handful coriander (and for garnishing)
  • 300g red lentils
  • 400ml vegetable stock
  • 400g tinned tomatoes
  • 150g spinach
  • 4 chicken breasts, diced
  • 200ml light coconut milk
  • Fat-free natural yoghurt (optional)

***M E T H O D***

  1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium. Cook onion, stirring often, until softened and golden brown, 8–10 minutes.
  2. Combine the minced garlic, ginger, spices and puree together in a separate bowl and then add to the saucepan with the onion, mixing until well combined, for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add lentils and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  4. Add the diced chicken, the chopped tomatoes, a handful of coriander, the spinach, a generous pinch of salt, and the stock. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low-medium heat until the lentils and chicken cook, for about 20 minutes.
  5. Add the coconut milk and continue to simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. To serve, scatter some coriander leaves and add a dollop of low-fat yoghurt.

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Patty-less Shrimp Burger

Recipes

One of my first encounters at Broadway Market was a food stall called Shrimpy (review via link), that make delicious, patty-less shrimp burgers.

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What I like about Shrimpy’s burger, is that even though the burger is patty-less, you get a balanced burst of flavour. Shrimpy adds samphire for that crunch and punch of saltiness, avocado for its neutrality and creaminess; pickled cucumbers for acidity; and caramelised onions for sweetness. The meatiness is delivered by the sticky, grilled prawns competing for space on the bun.

I’ve gone ahead and made my very own shrimpy version. Room for improvement, but happy with the overall flavour and texture of the burger.

Serves:4

Time: 45mins (but add 2 hours in advance, for cooling the pickled cucumber)

Difficulty: Easy

***I N G R E D I E N T S***

For the shrimp marinade

  • 50ml runny honey
  • 30ml soy sauce
  • 1 clove of minced garlic

For the aioli sauce

  • 100g mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste

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For the pickled cucumbers 

  • 150ml water
  • 1.5 tbsp salt
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 60ml white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cucumber, thickly sliced
  • 3 dill sprigs
  • 1 garlic cloves, peeled and bruised

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For the rest of the burger 

  • 400g raw prawns
  • 1 avocado
  • 100g samphire
  • 4 brioche buns
  • salt and pepper for seasoning

***M E T H O D***

  1. Prepare the pickled cucumber by slicing 1/2 a cucumber with a mandolin slicer or knife so that the cucumber slices are 2mm thick. Then add water, salt, caster sugar and white wine vinegar into a pot and bring to boil. As soon as it begins to boil, take the pan off the heat and add the sliced cucumber, the bruised garlic and the dill. Let sit for 2 hours to cool before serving.
  2. Next, make the prawn marinade. Whisk the honey, soy sauce and garlic together in a medium bowl. Coat the prawns in the marinade and leave to refrigerate for 15 minutes or for up to 8 hours.
  3. Make the aioli sauce by mixing the lemon juice into the mayonnaise. Add lemon juice little at a time, to taste.
  4. Slice the avocado and drizzle it with lemon to prevent it from browning.
  5. Heat up a grill pan with a little bit of oil.
  6. Slice the brioche buns and toast on the grill pan.
  7. Add the prawns to the grill pan and cook on one side until pink, then flip the prawns over. Add the samphire to the grill and remove when the prawns are grilled around the edges.
  8. To assemble the burger, add the aioli sauce to the burger and spread. Add a layer of avocado and top with the pickled cucumber and grilled samphire. Finally, add 5 prawns, stacking them if there’s not enough room.

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How to make Chocolate Marzipan Truffles

Recipes

Marzipan has always been something I’ve associated to travel. I have two distinct memories: one related to when I had my first Mozart Chocolate truffle which I remain devout to (and bought swats of in Vienna); and another associated with Brussels, because it’s not uncommon to come across marzipan chocolate cigars.

Whilst my experience has been somewhat limited, I’m still a huge fan of the sweet, almond paste. And you couldn’t have imagined my excitement when I discovered how easy it is to make.

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Makes: 24

Time: 45 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

***I N G R E D I E N T S***

  • 300g ground almonds
  • 50 ml maple syrup
  • 40 ml amaretto
  • 1 tsp lemon zest form an unwaxed lemon
  • 175 g dark chocolate
  • topping such as crushed, almond flakes, lemon zest, melted white chocolate (optional)

***M E T H O D***

  1. Mix the ground almond with the lemon zest in a bowl.
  2. Mix amaretto and maple syrup in a separate bowl.
  3. On a clean surface, empty the ground almond mixture onto the surface and create a well. Slowly add the liquid to the almond mixture and begin to knead. Once all the liquid has been combined with the almond mixture, knead until compact. Wrap in a piece of cling film and chill in the fridge.
  4. Break chocolate into small pieces and melt it gently over a bowl of boiling water (bain marie). Make sure the water does not touch the bowl with chocolate.
  5. Take the marzipan out of the fridge. Pinch small pieces of marzipan and roll them into equal size balls. They should weigh around 15g each before dipped into the chocolate.
  6. Dip the marzipan balls in melted chocolate and place them on a drying rack for the chocolate to dry. Place in the fridge if you want to speed up the drying process.
  7. Add the toppings before the chocolate dries. If you are adding melted chocolate, wait for the dark chocolate to set first.

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How to make Austrian mountain food: Gröstl

Recipes

In my previous post, I talked about Fischer’s Café and Konditorei, on Marylebone High Street, where we had the Austrian Gröstl for brunch.

It inspired me to make it at home, not least because it seemed like the perfect dish to keep you warm and satisfied for a good part of the day. It also turns out to be really simple. And who doesn’t like a simple recipe?

Reading up on Gröstl, I’ve learnt that it’s typical to Tirol, a province known for its skiing, hiking and Alpine traditions. Gröstl’s popularity soared as a mountain dish, to be shared with fellow mountaineers. Being a simple dish, its origins are far from noble; instead, it is affiliated with the convenience of finishing off yesterday’s beef brisket and boiled potato leftovers. But who cares!

If you don’t happen to chance on brisket or boiled potatoes in the fridge, fear not. My recipe doesn’t include brisket. You can simply use lardons or if you’re intent on having some beef in there and have little time to prepare, use sliced salt beef. If you can’t find that, use minced beef.

Also, you can boil the potatoes on the day. I made the mistake of not crisping the potatoes enough as you can see from my images, so I have adapted the recipe to make sure that this doesn’t happen to you! One word of advice: spread the potatoes out evenly, making sure that they are touching the base of the pan and are in contact with rendered lardon fat.

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Serves: 2

Time: 45 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

***I N G R E D I E N T S***

  • 500g waxy potatoes, peeled
  • a lug of oil
  • 100g smoked bacon lardon
  • 1 large brown onion, roughly chopped
  • 150g sliced salt beef (or minced beef)
  • 1 heaped tbsp caraway
  • 1½ tsp hot, sweet paprika (or simply add chilli to sweet paprika)
  • 2 eggs
  • Handful of parsley to garnish

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***M E T H O D***

  1. Peel the potatoes and sliced these into halves. Add the potatoes to a pot with cold, salted water and cook for 10-15 minutes until cooked but firm.  Remove the cooked potatoes and leave to cool or run under cold water.
  2. Whilst the potatoes cool, chop the onion.
  3. Heat a large, deep pan, with a lug of oil and add the lardons and onions until the bacon is golden and the onions translucent. The lardons will begin to render fat which will coat the potatoes and will give them a nice crispy outer layer.
  4. Add the potatoes and spread out evenly, making sure that the potatoes are touching the base of the pan and are in contact with fat. Once the potatoes begin to brown, shuffle them around to ensure that all sides of the potatoes have been crisped.
  5. Add the salt beef to the mix together with the seeds. If the mixture is looking dry, add a drizzled of oil. If you are using minced beef, make sure it is cooked through. Season with sea salt and pepper.
  6. Whilst the potato mix cooks, fry two eggs which will be placed on top of the gröstl.
  7. Garnish with parsley (I used curly leaf parsley).

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Dulce de Leche delights (Alfajores)

Recipes

During my trip to South America, I commonly found biscuit treats called Alfajores. Alfajores is made of two crumbly biscuits sandwiched together by Dulce de Leche. Dulce de leche is a thick sweet paste with the colour and flavour similar to caramel. It is found in every grocery store in South America but can also easily be made at home. It is essentially milk and sugar or what we know as condensed milk. The quick way of making dulce de leche is to simmer a closed can of condensed milk fully submerged in water (with the water being 1-2 inches higher than the can) for two to three hours. The longer you leave it the thicker and darker it gets.

DSC_0154-2The special thing about alfajores is that the dough includes corn flour. This is important because it’s what gives the biscuits a silky, crumbly texture. You can also dress your Alfajores as you like: you could cover them in chocolate or you could roll the biscuits in desiccated coconut – or both. If the biscuits are not covered in chocolate, only the dulce de leche in between the biscuits will collect the desiccated coconut.

I decided to have a go at making the dough myself because store-bought shortcrust pastry doesn’t quite cut it. Again, the trick is to use corn flour, which you can mix with plain flour.

Quantity: 12 sandwich biscuits

Difficulty: Medium

Time: 1 hour 45

*I N G R E D I E N T S*

  • 130g cornstarch
  • 100g all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp fine salt
  • 225g butter
  • 45g granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp cognac
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 115g dulce de leche, at room temperature
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

*M E T H O D*

  1. Place the cornstarch, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and combine; set aside.
  2. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl once with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is light in colour and fluffy, about 3 minutes. If you don’t have a mixer, be prepared to work your muscles.
  3. Add the egg yolks, brandy, and vanilla and mix until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. On low speed, gradually add the reserved flour mixture and mix until just incorporated with no visible white pockets, about 30 seconds.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, shape it into a smooth disk, and wrap it tightly. Place in the refrigerator until firm, at least 1 hour.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180°C and arrange a rack in the middle. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  6. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap it, and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Lightly flour the top of the dough. Roll to 1/4-inch thickness (the dough will crack but can be easily patched back together). Stamp out 24 rounds using a plain or fluted 2-inch round cutter, rerolling the dough as necessary until all of it is gone.
  7. Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheets, 12 per sheet and at least 1/2 inch apart. Bake 1 sheet at a time until the biscuits are firm and pale golden on the bottom, about 12 to 14 minutes. (The biscuits will remain pale on top.) Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. Flip half of the biscuits upside down and gently spread about 2 teaspoons of the dulce de leche on each. Place a second biscuit on top and gently press to create a sandwich. Dust generously with powdered sugar before serving.

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