eat in my kitchen

To cook, to bake, to eat and to treat.

Tag: ftira

Gozitan Pizza with Ricotta, Goat Cheese and Potatoes

Gozitan Pizza

This is one of my favourite summer treats whenever we visit the island Gozo in the Mediterranean: the fabulous local pizza! It’s shaped like an open galette, the rim fold up to hold the richest filling a pizza has ever seen: ricotta mixed with goat cheese and eggs, topped with potatoes and crushed black pepper. I love it!

Every year, when I pick up my first Gozitan pizza of the summer from my beloved Maxokk Bakery in Nadur I open the box with hungry impatience to start the feast. We always drive to a near-by park above San Blas beach to savour our pizzas, it’s tiny but full of pine trees and oleander. The few wooden benches allow the most amazing view of the bay! While they others wait to get there, I’m often the only one nibbling on the first piece. No matter how hot is, it can be noon, the sun at its peak turning the inside of the jeep into a sauna, but nothing can stop me from enjoying this moment that I always long for like a child. The bakery calls this pizza a Ftira, not to be confused with the popular Maltese Ftira sandwich that I wrote about in July while we stayed on the islands. The bread for this sandwich and the pizza are made of the same dough, hence the same name.

Back to the pizza, I decided that the time had come to give this recipe a try, here at my home, to have  some sunshine on our plates at least – and it worked! I used my normal pizza dough and baking technique, I just folded up the sides for the authentic look and to hold it all together. The filling is rich, there is no way around it, it needs lots of ricotta and it doesn’t make sense to spare on calories in the wrong situation (and here, it would be wrong!). Luckily, my Maltese sister Emma had just given us a package of Gozitan cheese while she was here to visit us, the strong peppered Gbejna made from local goat milk. As long as you don’t live on the Islands of Malta, you will have to miss out on this treat but you can use any other strong, firm substitute.

If you get in the mood for pizza, here are some more recipes:

Pizza Bianca with Preserved Lemons, Chèvre and Rosemary

Spinach Pizza

Pizza with Grilled Aubergine and Pecorino

Gozitan Pizza

 Gozitan Pizza with Ricotta, Goat Cheese and Potatoes

I start to prepare the dough 2 hours before I bake the pizza to give it enough time to rise and I bake it on a hot baking sheet which has a similar effect to a pizza stone.

For 2 round pizzas you need

For the dough

plain flour 350g / 12.5 ounces
dry yeast 1 sachet (7g / 1/4 ounce)
water, lukewarm,  190ml
olive oil 5 tablespoons
salt 1 teaspoon

Combine the flour with the yeast and salt, add the lukewarm water (you might not need all of it) and olive oil and mix with the dough hooks of the mixer for a few minutes. The dough shouldn’t be moist and sticky at all, more on the dry side. Continue kneading and punching with your hands until you have an elastic dough ball. Put the dough back into the bowl, cover with a tea towel and let it rise in the warm oven (35°C / 95°F) for 45 minutes (top/ bottom heat and not fan-assisted!).

When the dough is well risen, divide in two parts, and roll them out in two circles on a very well floured working surface. Each should fit on a baking sheet. Cover with a tea towel and let it rise for another 10-15 minutes.

 

For the topping

ricotta, 500g / 1 pound
firm, aromatic goat cheese (peppered Gbejna is best), finely chopped or grated, 150g / 5.5 ounces
parmesan, grated, 70g / 2.5 ounces
organic eggs 2
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar, to taste (if you don’t use peppered cheese)
medium sized potatoes, boiled, peeled and thinly sliced, 6
olive oil

Whisk the ricotta, goat cheese and parmesan and season with pepper to taste before you mix in the eggs. Add a little salt if necessary.

 

The pizza

Set your oven to 260°C / 500°F. My oven has a pizza setting but you can also use top / bottom heat. Put the baking sheet on the bottom of your oven to heat it (for about 10 minutes).

Take the hot baking sheet out of the oven, turn it around and place it carefully on two stable wooden boards or mats as it will be very hot. Quickly put one of the risen dough discs on the baking sheet, spread with half the ricotta filling leaving a rim around it. Arrange the potato slices on top and fold up the rim, gently pushing it onto the outer potatoes. Sprinkle with a little pepper and olive oil and bake for about 8 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the ricotta filling is set. Repeat with the second pizza.

Gozitan Pizza

 

Gozitan Pizza

 

Gozitan Pizza

 

Gozitan Pizza

 

Gozitan Pizza

A Maltese Beach Ftira with Tomato, Capers, Olives and Mint

Maltese Ftira with Tomatoes, Capers + Mint

Today I will share a sandwich with you that is as simple as it is perfect, Ftira mimlija – or filled, round Ftira bread.  This sandwich doesn’t require many ingredients but the few you use must be of exceptional quality. All you need is an extraordinarily delicious loaf of white sourdough bread, finest quality extra virgin olive oil, ripe tomatoes, red onions, olives, capers and fresh mint and basil leaves. This is a Maltese classic which you can buy at every beach kiosk and bar in many variations, some of them are also made with tuna, anchovies, bell pepper, Gbejna (Maltese goat cheese) or coarse sausage. I prefer to keep it simple, that’s how my friend Essa makes them and that’s the recipe I will share with you, it’s my favourite! Every Maltese family has their own traditional recipe for this popular snack, so there isn’t only one way to prepare it.

Depending on the time I have for my sandwich preparations I choose between the stuffed Ftira or a quick beach version without a filling, the equally famous Hobz biz-Zejt u Tadam (bread with oil and tomatoes). When I only have a few minutes left before our friends ring at the door to pick us up to go to the beach, this is my choice! I cut the bread in half, dip it in a plate of olive oil, rub it with a cut, ripe tomato and sprinkle it with coarse sea salt and crushed pepper. When you close the bread and push it together, it will soak the fruity and oily juices until you take it out of your bag after a long swim in the sea. Delicious! Jenny (my Maltese Mama) prepares these for us sometimes and I’m always happy when she pulls this snack out of her cooling box!

I think it’s time for a quick introduction for those of you who don’t really have an idea of where I am at the moment. The islands of Malta lie 80 km (50 miles) south of Sicily in the Mediterranean sea. This tiny country is formed by the islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino and a few smaller uninhabited rocks, it’s one of the smallest and most densely populated countries in the world. Its beautiful baroque capital is called Valletta which is a UNESCO World Heritage city. While we’re here, we live on the island Malta which is the largest of them all but still very small – only 28 x 13km / 17 x 8 miles!

Maltese Ftira with Tomatoes, Capers + Mint

 

Maltese Ftira with Tomatoes, Capers + Mint

Maltese Ftira Sandwich with Tomato, Capers, Olives and Mint

For 2 Ftiras Sandwiches you need

Ftira, 2 quarters or 2 sourdough buns
big tomatoes, chopped, 2
capers, rinsed and dried, 1-2 teaspoons
small red onion, chopped, 1-2 teaspoons
black olives, chopped, 6
big basil leaves 6
small mint leaves 6
olive oil 4-8 tablespoons
salt and pepper

Sprinkle each slice of the Ftira or bun with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and put the tomatoes, capers, onion, olives and herbs on top. Season with salt and pepper to taste and close the sandwich, enjoy!

Maltese Ftira with Tomatoes, Capers + Mint

 

Maltese Ftira with Tomatoes, Capers + Mint

 

Maltese Ftira with Tomatoes, Capers + Mint

 

Maltese Ftira with Tomatoes, Capers + Mint

 

Maltese Ftira with Tomatoes, Capers + Mint

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