Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Rabbit Burger Recipe

Rabbit burger topped with pancetta

For the benefit of my foreign friends, let me start by saying: Yes, we do eat rabbit in Malta. No! It is not a cheap substitute for chicken! No! It's not like eating "Bambi" at all! (Bambi tastes more gamey :p ).

Raw peeled beetroot

Now that I've taken that load of my chest,  let me state that I did not always love to eat rabbit myself. Maybe because when I was young, the rabbits themselves were too old and therefore the meat was tough. Maybe it was the cooking method. I did love my father's rabbit stew though.

Sliced mushrooms & courgettes... later dipped in tempura batter and deep fried

And the garlic fried liver! I have quite clear memories of Sunday mornings, when I was woken up at 6:00 by the smell of garlic and liver wafting through the house. Running to the kitchen I would find three plates, one for each of us kids, laid out with the rabbit liver equally divided between them and a slice of freshly baked maltese bread on each.

Shaped rabbit burger

My dad would then proceed to fry the rabbit in garlic and then stew it. Being an impatient man, he probably never let the stew simmer for long enough (therefore the tough meat). Still the resultant stew was delicious and I keep striving to make my stews taste the same, knowing it will never happen since my dad always threw in random amount of all herbs and spices he had at hand!

Rabbit burgers on the grill

These days, I buy rabbits which are still young, from a trusted supplier and altough rabbit stews start to smell good a short while after they are left to simmer, I usually manage to restrain myself until the rabbit starts falling off the bone.

Beetroot Aioli

The recipe here is not for my dad's rabbit stew. I am not ready to share it yet, because it's still not perfect. One day... maybe soon. Instead I am sharing one of my favourite recipes for a moist and tender Rabbit mince burger. Serve with sweet potato wedges and tempura mushrooms & courgettes. Recipe after the jump

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A wonderful sunny Sunday!

It's late, on a school night and I'm dead tired... but I was really excited to share the day's activities :)

The location

Today, I went to Gozo with M, C.S, and two friends, together with around 200 other people from my husband's workplace, to visit Ta' Mena's Agriturism in Gozo. Agriturism is something I was always interested in and Ta' Mena is a first in Malta... so I was really looking forward to this day, with some trepidation, lest it was a let down.

I was also dreading the fact that I had to wake up at 6 in the morning, on the day when the clocks moved forward! WAAAAAAAAA!! I am NOT a morning person. I love my bed and my sleep, but I have to say it was worth disturbing my sleep pattern for a day like today.

Orange picking, squeezing and drinking

After crossing over to Malta's sister island, Gozo, and arriving at Ta' Mena, we were greeted with gozitan coffee, pastizzi & qaghaq ta l'ghasel. We were soon on our way to pick oranges from the trees which were then squeezed for us to drink the incredibly sweet juice. It was great watching a little boy throw out his crisps in favour of oranges and tangerines! Maybe showing our kids where their food comes from might help them make healthier choices?!
Strawberry picking

We were then led on for a 15 minute walk through the country side, to a lovely orange grove surrounded by cane, were we ate more oranges and some tangerines... and then went on to an area where we were instructed to pick strawberries. I don't know whether it's because of the effort I put in to find ripe strawberries while feeling incredibly hot... but I believe that those strawberries where sweetest ones I have ever tasted. During the walk, Joseph, our tour guide for the day, was very forthcoming with information about the locality and about farming methods.
Focaccia making
Back at the estate we were offered a much needed cold drink together with bruscetta made with their own olives and sundried tomatoes, together with a romesmary focaccia baked in a woodburning oven, prepared in front of my very eyes. What fun! The method of preparation was also explained for whoever was interested :)
The winery
After a particularly large and delicious meal, we were invited to take a tour of the estate, but we declined... opting instead to lounge in the garden and enjoying a very nice breeze. Later we were given a tour of the winery. Incredibly interesting especially the part where we were allowed to enter the store where french oak barrels are maturing some very lovely wines. What a wonderful smell!

My companions in adventure :)
One thing to complain about - 200 people was just too many to really get involved... so we're planning to return with a group of no more then 30 people. I am sure it would have been that much more informative! Still... a day to remember and we left the estate laden with their home made "kunserva" (tomato concentrate paste), olive oil and liqueur.

Joseph was continuosly, enthusiastically, explaining everything we wanted to know!
What got me thinking was that Joseph was telling us how he used to work in a bank for a number of years, but then quit to help set up this project... He did say it's hard work and that he must be crazy, but at the same time it is quite obvious how excited he is when talking about nature and how happy he looks. I can't help wondering whether this will be the trend in the years to come. More people leaving their 9 to 5 jobs to do what they really want to be doing. More people thinking more about sustainable living and being happy. I really do hope so!

Anyway... good night! I'm off to sleep with a smile on my face!

PS. I am in no way related to the Ta' Mena estates and this is in no way a paid advert...I am a person who usually complains a lot about the products or services being offered, so I'm always very happy to find something I can't really complain about. ◦

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Zeppoli (or "Sfineg ta San Guzepp")

My first thought, as I woke up this morning was: "I'll make Zeppoli today".

It's my friend J.'s fault. He's been going on and on all week about how he's looking forward to eat Zeppoli. Because today is St. Joseph's feast here in Malta, and it is tradition that on this day, people eat sweetened deep fried pastry balls, filled with Ricotta.

A picture of Sfineg
J. asked me, forced me, threatened me until I accepted to go out and buy them for him... He even called and sent messages in order to remind me. Which I did... I bought a couple for him. But then made some home made ones for the rest of us.

The recipe calls for candied peel and since I did not have any, but did have an orange and some sugar, I started the day by boiling the orange skin in water to make candied orange peel. I added some bay leaves and a handful of spices (cloves, cinnamon, juniper berries) just to make the house smell better.

Homemade candied orange peel
Homemade candied orange peel
I made the filling by mixing ricotta cheese with finely chopped dark chocolate, the orange peel & almonds. To the choux pastry I added grated rind of an orange and a lemon.

In the afternoon I went to see my bro & his friends' mare Lady IV. She's just 9 months old, a real cutie and very sprightly. 

Me & Lady IV

Back from the visit, I finished off the Zeppoli by deep frying the batter and then drenching the pastry with a honey/homemade marmalade mixture and sprinkled them with chopped almonds. Eaten immediately, the outside shell has a nice crunch with a soft, creamy interior. Eaten later, the shell had softened but the chocolate bits and nuts make for a nice bite. YUMMY!
Happy St. Joseph's day! Recipe after the jump... 

Sfinec ta San Guzepp
Sfineg ta' San Guzepp

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What I bought from Patches market

Just a quick one! The following pics should have been included in yesterday's post, but I was too tired (read lazy) to get up and start photographing.

Note also, that they are mediocre compared to the usual pictures in this blog, cause this time round I took them, rather then M. who is a much more dedicated photographer :)

So here they are... photos of the items mentioned in yesterday's post, starting with Amanda Gustafsson's Cookie table:

...Rachel Robinson's Jewellery (the bartered ones :-D )

Patches 5th Edition: A Roundup

The Patches Market has come and gone... leaving behind memories of such a lovely day. I was actually surprised at how busy we were, since it was raining and very bleak :)

Luxury Nut brownies

Once again, the brownies were a huge hit, together with the cookies. The baked lemon cheesecake, topped with pistacchios and a homemade marmalade-honey sauce was also a great success - loved watching people drool over it :)

Biscotti, Cherries in Chocolate & Profiteroles

Yippeeee!! Couldn't have been happier! My wonderful nephew D. was as usual an enormous help, as was my better half M. Both helped man my stall while I sprinted around buying stuff on offer from the talented artists :-D.

Kwarezimal, & cookies displayed on the new cookie stand

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Handz by Patz @ Patches this weekend!

Paper cubes - for decorating my stall
It's been nice & hectic these past few days. I've been getting ready for the Patches market which takes place this Sunday, 13th March.

I've been printing out flyers, and labels... description sheets. I've also been making origami to decorate my stall... My friend C.S. took me out to a flea market, where we prowled for odd pieces of china... Love my new purchases... Have to scrub them well, before laying them out with the delicious sweets I'm baking next Saturday.

Authentic milk bottles found at a flea market