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Tag: parsley

Cod al Cartoccio with Olives, Parsley and Lemon

Cod al Cartoccio

Whenever I cook fish al cartoccio and I enjoy the tasty fillet’s firm perfection, I ask myself, why should I ever cook cod, salmon, trout, or monkfish any other way? If the timing and seasoning is right, the texture will be flaky and the meat infused with whatever aromas you decide to add to the paper bag. Fresh herbs, warming spices, fresh or preserved lemon, olives, capers, thinly sliced vegetables or prosciutto even, there are endless possibilities to turn dinner into an exciting package of flavours. However, when I’m in my Maltese mama Jenny’s garden in Msida, I feel the same about barbecued fish: Why should I ever turn on the oven again when there’s a nice catch from the fisherman on the table?

When we set up our BBQ in Berlin, there’s mainly meat and vegetables on the roast, fresh fish is a rather rare occasion, it stays in my indoor kitchen most of the time. In the city, I never plan my seafood meals, I buy what looks fresh and yummy and then I decide what’s going to happen with it. My thick piece of cod from the Atlantic got wrapped in a package, but before I closed it, I added lots of fresh parsley, green olives, white wine, and lemon slices. It was a beautiful Mediterranean lunch, which you should enjoy on a Saturday or Sunday, when there’s no more work waiting for you and you can pull a bottle of crisp white wine out of the fridge (without feeling guilty). Just relax and break chunks off an oily loaf of ciabatta to dip into the juices – summer perfection!

Cod al Cartoccio

 

Cod al Cartoccio

Cod al Cartoccio with Olives, Parsley and Lemon

Serves 2 for lunch

olive oil
cod fillet (or any firm, white fish, such as monkfish or halibut), preferably a thick center piece, about 350-400g / 12-14 ounces
fresh flat-leaf parsley 1 medium bunch
green olives, with pits, 14
organic lemon, rinsed and scrubbed, 2 slices
white wine 2 tablespoons
freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 tablespoon
fine sea salt
ground pepper

Set the oven to 200°C / 400°F (convection setting).

Cut 2 pieces of parchment paper large enough to wrap the fish and lay them on top of each other. Brush the top sheet with olive oil, place all but 1 sprig of the parsley in the middle, and lay the cod on top. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Put the remaining parsley on top of the fillet and finish it off with the lemon slices. Arrange the olives around the fish. Whisk the wine with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the lemon juice and pour over the fish. To close the package, fold the sides over, twist both ends of the parchment paper, and fold the top twice so it’s well sealed. Place the parchment package in a baking dish and bake for 10 minutes. If you can flake the fish gently with a fork, it’s done. If not, close the parchment again and continue baking for up to 5 minutes. The cooking time can vary depending on the fillet’s thickness, but mind that you don’t overcook it.

Cod al Cartoccio

 

Cod al Cartoccio

 

Cod al Cartoccio

 

Cod al Cartoccio

 

codalcartoccio10

 

codalcartoccio9

Cumin Cinnamon Sweet Potato with Candied Lemon and Olives

Cumin Cinnamon Sweet Potato with Candied Lemon and Olives

The leaves on the vine in front of my kitchen window are changing their color and start falling as soon as the wind picks up. It’s slowly getting colder in Berlin, my wool sweaters replaced my t-shirts and it hasn’t taken long for cozy dishes to be back on my mind. Stews and pies, roasts and cookies – my cooking and baking is getting ready for the cold season. I bought the first quince for my spice and fruit flavoured brandy that I’ll soon need for all those minced pies and fruit cakes. A pile of small lemons from my kitchen counter has been squeezed into a jar with lots of Mr. Cini’s sea salt to preserve and soften them for aromatic lamb shanks. My mood leaves no doubt that I’m ready for winter to come.

I’ll still wait a few more days before indulging in the bright orange pleasures of pumpkins, for now I’ll enjoy the autumny warmth of sweet potatoes, chopped into chunks and sautéed in fragrant cumin and cinnamon oil. Red onions softened in their velvety juices, plump Kalamata olives stirred in at the end and a few parsley leaves sprinkled on top to wave goodbye to summer. I finished it off with a sweet and tart topping, candied lemon peel tends to stick to your teeth a little but it tastes so good in this composition that I’m willing to compromise.

Cumin Cinnamon Sweet Potato with Candied Lemon and Olives

 

Cumin Cinnamon Sweet Potato with Candied Lemon and Olives

Cumin Cinnamon Sweet Potato with Candied Lemon and Olives

Serves 2

olive oil
ground cumin 1 teaspoon
ground cinnamon 1/8 teaspoon
medium sized red onions, cut in half and quartered, 2
sweet potato, peeled, quartered and cut into 1 1/2 cm / 1/2″ slices, 430g (15 ounces)
freshly squeezed orange juice 3 tablespoons
white wine 3 tablespoons
water 6 tablespoons
coarse sea salt
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar
lemon zest 1 heaped teaspoon
Kalamata olives 6
A few parsley leaves

For the candied lemon peel

long, wide strips of lemon, peeled off the fruit with a vegetable peeler, 5 (without the white pith)
freshly squeezed lemon juice 4 tablespoons
water 4 tablespoons
granulated sugar 3 tablespoons

For the candied peel, bring the strips of lemon peel, juice, water and sugar to a boil in a saucepan and simmer for about 15 minutes until golden and soft but not dark. Set aside.

Heat a generous splash of olive oil with the cumin and cinnamon in a heavy pan. When the pan is hot, add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes on medium-high heat until soft, stir once in a while and mind that they don’t turn dark. Add the sweet potato, stir well and cook for 2 minutes. Deglaze with the orange juice, pour in the wine and water and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the zest and turn the temperature down to a medium-low. Close the pan with a lid and cook for about 10 minutes until the potatoes are just soft but still in shape. Stir in the olives and season to taste, take the pan off the heat, cover and let everything sit for a few minutes.

If the candied peel became hard, put the saucepan back on the heat to soften them. Divide the sweet potatoes between the plates, sprinkle with crushed pepper, candied peel and fresh parsley.

Cumin Cinnamon Sweet Potato with Candied Lemon and Olives

 

Cumin Cinnamon Sweet Potato with Candied Lemon and Olives

 

Cumin Cinnamon Sweet Potato with Candied Lemon and Olives

Spicy Cumin Fennel Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Ricotta and Lemon

Spicy Cumin Fennel Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Lemon

A few days after we got home from our summer holidays, the two of us met in the kitchen late in the evening, not sure what to make for dinner. Usually, a night like this calls for pasta and a simple tomato sauce, but we were in the mood for more, we wanted some spices on our plates! A quick look in the fridge offered a bunch of cherry tomatoes, fresh ricotta and a jar full of my Moroccan preserved lemons. The parsley on the kitchen counter looked like it wouldn’t last much longer but the leaves were still crisp and green. We pulled out the mortar and the pan, heated up some olive oil and crushed a spoonful of black peppercorns and our Maltese fennel seeds. We cooked the spices with a pinch of cumin in the oil for just a minute to unfold their aromas. When their peppery smell filled the whole kitchen, we added the chopped lemons and cherry tomatoes. After 3 minutes it was all done, ready to be mixed with the spaghetti, some lumps of ricotta and the fresh parsley leaves.

It was great, spicy and fragrant, a delicious mixture of the Italian and Arabic cuisine. Unfortunately, we had forgotten about this dinner. It was quite late, we were tired and we went to bed straight after we savored this meal. Weeks later, I remembered our spontaneous cooking session but it took me a while to recapture the recipe. So here it is, we cooked it again and loved it just as much!

Spicy Cumin Fennel Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Lemon

 

Spicy Cumin Fennel Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Lemon

Spicy Cumin Fennel Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Ricotta and Lemon

For 2 people you need

spaghetti 200g / 7 ounces
cherry tomatoes, cut in half or quartered, 400g / 14 ounces
ricotta 125g / 4.5 ounces
Moroccan preserved lemon, chopped, 1/4 or the zest of 1/2 lemon
black peppercorns, lightly crushed in a mortar, 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons (depending on the spiciness you want to achieve)
fennel seeds, lightly crushed in a mortar, 1 teaspoon
cumin, a big pinch
salt
olive oil
parsley, the leaves of 1/2 small bunch

Cook the pasta al dente in lots of salted water.

In a large, heavy pan, heat a splash of olive oil and cook the spices on medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the lemon (preserved or zest) and cook for a few seconds before you stir in the tomatoes. Cook the tomatoes for 1-2 minutes until they start to soften and take the pan off the heat. Season with salt, mix in the spaghetti and top with ricotta and parsley.

Spicy Cumin Fennel Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Lemon

 

Spicy Cumin Fennel Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Lemon

La Ratte Potatoes with Roast Lemon Peel, Olives and Parsley

Potatoes with Roast Lemon Peel, Olives and Parsley

A few weeks ago my boyfriend came up with a great chicken and red cabbage sandwich idea with an orange infused olive oil. He brushed the inside of the bread with this flavoured oil that we created by heating up a dish of olive oil and orange peel in the oven. The aromatic oil was wonderfully flavoured but the crisp citrus peel impressed me just as much! Since then I’ve used roast lemon and orange peel for my pasta, salads, couscous and risottos. The thin strips just need a few minutes to become golden crisps packed with flavour so it’s important to take them out at the right moment. If you leave them in the oven for too long, they become bitter, and this can happen within seconds!

I have many ideas in my head that feature both the wonderful oil and the crunchy strips, today’s recipe combines roast lemon peel with potatoes, parsley and black olives to make a warm salad, great for lunch or as a side dish. I use the lemon flavoured olive oil as a dressing and the peel as a crunchy topping. It just needed some flaky sea salt for seasoning and it was done! I often use the French La Ratte potatoes for for these kind of potato salads, their taste is nutty and buttery and the skin is very thin. I don’t even peel them, I just clean them with a vegetable brush and cut them in half when they are cooked.

Potatoes with Roast Lemon Peel, Olives and Parsley

 

Potatoes with Roast Lemon Peel, Olives and Parsley

La Ratte Potatoes with Roast Lemon Peel, Olives and Parsley

For 2-4 people you need

olive oil 3 tablespoons
lemon peel, cut into pieces, 6 long strips

La Ratte potatoes, cooked, (unpeeled) and cut in half, 14
fresh parsley leaves, a handful
black olives 12
sea salt

Set the oven to 200°C / 390°F (fan-asssited oven).

Put the olive oil and lemon peel in a baking dish and cook for 6 minutes or until the peel is golden and crisp.

Spread the potatoes on plates and mix them with the lemon infused olive oil. Sprinkle them with parsley, olives, roast lemon peel and salt and serve either warm or cold.

Potatoes with Roast Lemon Peel, Olives and Parsley

 

Potatoes with Roast Lemon Peel, Olives and Parsley

Crisp Whitebait with Parsley

Golden Whitebait with Parsley

This was one of our first lunches when we arrived in Malta, but I had forgotten about it: golden fried whitebait sprinkled with parsley! For years I didn’t touch this dish as I didn’t like the idea of frying little fish in one piece until I tried it in a Portuguese restaurant and I loved it. That dinner changed my mind!

The fish has a fine taste, like the sea, so it shouldn’t be mixed with too many flavours. I like to cook a big batch of them and serve them on a big plate, with a salad and a glass of white wine on the side. This is perfect as an easy lunch and it brings a Mediterranean feeling to the table! Close your eyes, smell the aroma of the cooked fish and imagine that you’re sitting in a restaurant close to the sea!

When I cook whitebait (a big handful), I like to dust them lightly with flour, dip them in a beaten egg and fry them in 1 tablespoon of butter mixed with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. They just need 3-4 minutes in the pan to turn golden brown and crisp. I sprinkle them with a heaped tablespoon of chopped parsley and a tiny bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice, that’s it!

Golden Whitebait with Parsley

 

Golden Whitebait with Parsley

Sea Bream with Mint and Parsley on Onion and Tomato

Baked Sea Bream with Mint and Parsley

A whole fish cooked in one piece is ideal to stuff with herbs, vegetables or spices. Be it baked in the oven or on the grill, the meat doesn’t dry out and absorbs all the strong aromas, it’s my favourite way to cook it. It’s also less fragile to handle, a fact that always puts me off when I think of flipping over thin fish fillets in a pan.

When I cook a whole fish in the oven I simply follow my nose, at one point the air is filled with the smell of cooked fish and that’s the sign for me to check it. I make a short cut along the middle line on one side to see if I can lift the fillet off the bone. Most of the time this works, but don’t worry I will give you a time you can set for this sea bream recipe!

I stuffed the bream with parsley and mint and put it on a bed of onion, tomato and garlic, a splash of white wine on top and 20 minutes later my kitchen was filled with the most wonderful aroma. I could trust my rule, the meat was done to perfection, firm and delicious!

Baked Sea Bream with Mint and Parsley

Baked Sea Bream with Mint and Parsley on Onion and Tomato

For 2 people you need

a whole sea bream 450g / 16 ounces
(or 2 small ones but mind the shorter cooking time)
small onion, cut into thin slices, 1
medium sized tomato, 1/2 diced and 1/2 cut into thin slices, 1
garlic, sliced, 2 cloves
parsley, the leaves of a small bunch
mint 4 big leaves
white wine, around a glass
olive oil
salt and pepper

Set the oven to 200°C / 390°F and brush the bottom of a baking dish with olive oil.

Spread half of the onions and garlic and the sliced tomatoes in the baking dish.

Season the fish with salt and pepper on the inside and stuff it with the parsley, 3 mint leaves, the diced tomatoes and half of the onions and garlic. Lay the fish on top of the vegetables, cover with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and put 1 mint leaf on top. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with white wine and bake for 20 minutes until the fish is cooked through and you can lift the fillets off the bones.

Serve with ciabatta bread or potatoes – and a glass of white wine for me!

Baked Sea Bream with Mint and Parsley

 

Baked Sea Bream with Mint and Parsley

Spaghetti with Anchovy Pangrattato, Lemon and Parsley

Spaghetti with Anchovy Pangrattato, Lemon and Parsley

La dolce vita, I can hear it calling me! I need a holiday, some Mediterranean vibes, the sea that slows down my pace! For now I only have my beloved Mediterranean food but there’s only a month between me and a little dolce far niente! Our flights are booked and in four weeks we will be heading South, but my mind is already there, in Malta, our beautiful rock in the Mediterranean Sea. I find myself daydreaming about all the things I will do and eat.

I have a plan, I will enjoy the sea and spend lots of time with our friends and family as I always do but I will also share some of my culinary hotspots with you. Over the years, I found so many delicious restaurants, small producers of olive oil, cheese, bakeries, winemakers and my salt pans in Gozo of course. I met many people who are as passionate about eating and cooking as I am, chefs and Maltese Mamas who have treated their families to years of the most delicious traditional dishes. Soon, I will meet these food lovers, we will talk about food, I will watch them cook and share their recipes with you on the blog. I’m very excited and I can’t wait to show you this amazing island, its food and natural beauty!

For now I can only enjoy all the lovely dishes that feed my memories and fit my daydreams, like spaghetti with pangrattato (meaning grated bread in Italian), crisp breadcrumbs fried with anchovies and garlic! I sprinkle it with freshly squeezed lemon juice, crushed black pepper and parsley, a summer meal which couldn’t be quicker and easier!

Spaghetti with Anchovy Pangrattato, Lemon and Parsley

 Spaghetti with Anchovy Pangrattato, Lemon and Parsley

For 2 people you need

spaghetti 200g / 7 ounces
breadcrumbs 5 heaped tablespoons
(if you have some stale white bread left put it in a food processor and turn into breadcrumbs)
anchovies, rinsed, dried and finely chopped, 2-3 big fillets (use 3 if you like a strong fish taste)
garlic, finely chopped, 2 cloves
parsley, finely chopped 1 1/2 tablespoons
lemon 1/2, to drizzle over the pasta
black pepper, crushed coarsely
salt
olive oil for frying

Cook the pasta in lots of salted water al dente.

In a heavy pan, heat a splash of olive oil and fry the garlic on a medium heat for 30 seconds. Add the anchovies and fry for a few seconds before you pour in a little more oil, add the breadcrumbs and fry until golden brown and crisp. Divide the spaghetti and the pangrattato between 2 plates and sprinkle with lemon juice, black pepper and parsley. Season with salt, carefully as the anchovies are very salty.

Spaghetti with Anchovy Pangrattato, Lemon and Parsley

Feta and Tomato stuffed Bell Pepper with Mint

Feta stuffed Bell Pepper with Parsley + Mint

The smell of fresh mint is still in my nose! I spent last weekend at my mother’s house in the countryside, more precisely in her garden and kitchen and the smell of herbs and flowers was always around us. She is one of those lucky people who has a green thumb and lots of space to prove it. The strong sun and heavy rain of the past days turned her garden into a blossoming green world with various shades of red, pink, violet and yellow. Whenever I passed her flower and vegetable beds a cloud of roses, thyme, lavender and mint followed me. This was aroma heaven and the the strong mint was a very persistent companion! My mother’s vegetable garden made me jealous, artichokes, lettuce, carrots, potatoes, peas and many more, she can honestly compete with my market stands at home! Her herbs grow like weeds, some of them have had their roots in this ground for almost twenty years.

The path from her garden to the kitchen isn’t long and we brought lots of these goods inside the house in the past days. We cooked big artichokes with three different kinds of dips, a delicious, light pasta recipe with tomatoes and bell pepper and fish soup. On the sweet side, we had strawberry tarts, ice cream in espresso and I also got to love a great summery aperitif with Limoncello, white wine, lemon rind and mint, needless to say that it was all wonderful and I will write more about it in the coming days.

Back to the fresh mint, here is a recipe so quick to prepare, it looks beautiful and combines a few ingredients which I love for my cooking in summer, bell pepper stuffed with feta, tomatoes, parsley and mint. After twenty minutes in the oven it’s done, having four or ten people to feed doesn’t make much of a difference, this is a real crowd pleaser!

Feta stuffed Bell Pepper with Parsley + Mint

 

Feta stuffed Bell Pepper with Parsley + Mint

 Feta and Tomato stuffed Bell Pepper with Mint

For 4 people you need

red bell pepper 4
feta cheese, 250g / 9 ounces
medium sized tomatoes, chopped, 3
parsley, chopped, 3 heaped tablespoons
mint, chopped, 8-10 big leaves
salt and pepper

Set the oven to 200°C / 390°F

Cut the top off the bell pepper and set aside. Mix the feta, tomatoes and herbs and season with salt and pepper to taste. Fill the bell pepper with the cheese mixture, close the fruit with the lid and put in a baking dish. Bake for 17 minutes, the bell pepper should be al dente.

Feta stuffed Bell Pepper with Parsley + Mint

 

Feta stuffed Bell Pepper with Parsley + Mint