eat in my kitchen

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

Tag: seafood

Maltese Stuffed Bell Peppers from my cookbook & a short trip to Malta

Maltese Stuffed Bell Peppers

Old cities and beaches, seafood and wine! When Condé Nast Traveler asked me to take over their Instagram Stories last weekend and share some of my favourite spots in Malta, I immediately booked the flights. There’s no way I would miss a chance to visit my second home!

I’m in the Mediterranean for just a few days at the moment, but it’s enough time to visit my personal hot spots. An early morning boat ride starting in Sliema took me to Valletta to enjoy my first espresso of the day at the beautifully old fashioned Prego Caffe on the capital’s narrow South Street. It’s a beloved morning ritual of many locals, nibbling on buttery breakfast pastizzi filled with ricotta surrounded by the café’s original 60’s decor. A quick visit to the Baroque Saint Francis of Assisi Church (1607) and then I strolled through the streets – one of the most relaxing things I can imagine. If it had been a Sunday, I would have gone to St. John’s Co-Cathedral‘s early morning mass, which is held in Latin accompanied by the most heavenly sounding choir.

On the way to my next destination, Casa Rocca Piccola, I stopped by at the peaceful Lower Barakka Gardens. This place always manages to overwhelm me with its stunning views over The Grand Harbour and The Three Cities – and its almost meditative atmosphere. Frances de Piro was so kind to show me around the 400 year old private Valletta palace Casa Rocca Piccola, where she lives together with her husband, the 9th Marquis de Piro who’s a Knight of Malta, and their family. Many of the private rooms can be visited during guided tours and are a must see for everybody who loves art, history, and architecture.

My man joined me for lunch, which turned into a little feast at Scoglitti right at the sea at the Marsamxett Harbour facing Sliema. Pasta with Maltese prawns, swordfish from the grill, and a bottle of Meridiana Wine Estate‘s fruity white. Maltese Mqaret filled with dates for dessert and we were ready for a nap. Only the thought of an afternoon swim in Malta’s deep blue waters could stop us from having a siesta. We chose the secluded Delimara bay, limestone rocks and crystal-clear turquoise sea are the best conditions for a good snorkeling trip.

My perfect day in Malta wouldn’t be complete without having dinner at Legligin, my favourite restaurant in Valletta offering the most delicious Maltese tapas cooked by our friend Chris. And if it’s a Friday night, you can stroll over to Bridge Bar for their weekly open air Jazz concerts. Sitting on red cushions on the capital’s ancient stairs in front of the bar, sipping on a glass of pastis, and listening to good music make me ask myself why I should ever leave the Mediterranean (sorry Berlin).

As a part of the Instagram takeover, I also shared a recipe from my Eat In My Kitchen cookbook on Condé Nast Traveler‘s website. It’s a Maltese classic: stuffed bell peppers. Stuffed vegetables are a staple in every Maltese home. Tomato, zucchini, eggplant, pepper are filled with meat, seafood, or other vegetables and turned into the coziest treat to please a large Mediterranean family’s appetite. In my version, which you can find below, I go for green peppers cooked al dente – I don’t like them too soft and soggy – stuffed with white fish like cod, tiny zucchini cubes, tomatoes, and parsley refined with a shot of vermouth.

If you can’t travel at the moment, just cook a dish that reminds you of your favourite holiday spot, close your eyes, and you’ll almost be there.

Maltese Stuffed Bell Peppers

 

Maltese Stuffed Bell Peppers

Maltese Stuffed Bell Peppers with Cod, Tomatoes, and Zucchini

from Eat In My Kitchen, To cook, to bake, to eat, and to treat

Serves 4

4 to 5 medium green bell peppers
Olive oil
1 ½ tablespoons butter
510g / 18 ounces cod fillet (or any firm, white fish, such as monkfish or grouper), preferably 1 thick center piece
Fine sea salt
Ground pepper
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, crushed
340g / 12 ounces zucchini, cut into very small cubes
60ml / ¼ cup dry white vermouth, like Noilly Prat, or dry white wine
1 medium tomato, cut into small cubes
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons for garnish

Preheat the oven to 220°C / 425°F.

Cut the tops off the peppers. Scrape out and discard the seeds and fibers, then rinse the peppers and set aside.

In a heavy pan, large enough to fit the fish, heat a generous splash of olive oil and the butter over medium-high heat. Sear the fish, turning once, for 1 to 3 minutes per side or until golden and flaky—mind that you don’t overcook it. Remove from the heat, break the fish into chunks, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a large, heavy pan, heat a splash of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes or until soft and golden. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Pour in a little more olive oil, add the zucchini, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Sauté for about 4 minutes or until soft. Add the vermouth and cook, stirring and letting the alcohol burn off, for about 10 seconds. Take the pan off the heat, stir in the tomato and parsley, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

To combine the filling, spread half the zucchini-tomato mixture on a large plate, lay the fish on top, and finish with the remaining vegetables. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Season the inside of the bell peppers with salt and pepper. Using a large spoon, generously stuff the peppers with the zucchini-cod mixture without pushing on the filling too much. If you have leftover filling, stuff the fifth bell pepper. Place the tops on the peppers and place them in a baking dish. Add a splash of water to cover the bottom of the dish and bake for about 25 minutes or until the bell peppers are al dente and the tops turn dark. Take the peppers out of the oven, sprinkle with more parsley, and serve warm.

Malta

 

Maltese Stuffed Bell Peppers

Ramp and Prosciutto wrapped Monkfish with Spring Peas

Ramps and Prosciutto wrapped Monkfish

I didn’t have many cookbooks when I was younger, I learned all about cooking from my mother. She’s my mama bird in the kitchen, I just watch and follow her. Then, in my late teens, she gave me my first cookbook, a detailed introduction to the most important basic techniques covering everything from eggs to soups, meat, seafood, and vegetables. It felt like she wanted to be sure that I wouldn’t starve when I moved out. The book was published in the 80’s and beautifully photographed. Quite minimal. I think, in regards to food photography, this book influenced my style of capturing food in pictures more than any other publications.

It was my only cookbook for a long time, but I collected and wrote down recipes myself whenever I got the chance to sneak a kitchen classic from a friend or my family. Even in restaurants, I was never shy to ask, if they’d share a recipe with me (the ones that really hit me). This strategy led to a bursting folder packed with notes, snippets, and sheets torn out of magazines. I still haven’t cooked and baked all of the treasures collected in more than 30 years. It’s a steadily growing project.

As I got into collecting cookbooks, Jamie Oliver’s books were one of the first added to the shelves. First as a present from friends, but later on I bought a few myself. I liked his style of playing with food. I was in my early twenties, I had seen and tasted many German, French, and Italian traditional classics cooked to perfection, by my mother and in friend’s kitchens, or at restaurants. But I felt like a younger voice. And Jamie’s voice felt just right at that time. In the end, I might have only cooked about 15 of his creations in all those years, but he inspired me a lot. And at least 5 of his recipes became staples that I still embrace today.

There’s one recipe that I’ve been wanting to try for more than 15 years. And again, I didn’t use it to follow, but to play with: Jamie wraps monkfish filets in prosciutto spread with pesto. It’s so simple, it looks stunning. As spring is in the air, or at least the smell of ramps as you enter the woods, I decided to wrap my firm white fish fillet in ramp leaves and prosciutto di Parma. Thanks to Jamie, the cooking time and temperature were perfect. The fillet was tender yet firm. And the wrapping was spot on: green, fresh, and slightly salty.

If you’re still looking for an Easter menu, what about skipping the traditional lamb roast and go for seafood? This dish is so easy, serve it with a bowl of lemony ramp peas and baguette (for the lazy ones like me) or Mediterranean mashed potatoes (either from my book, or try this recipe). And what about an eggnog sponge cake for dessert?

Have a wonderful Easter time with your loved ones!

xx

Ramps and Prosciutto wrapped Monkfish

 

Ramps and Prosciutto wrapped Monkfish

Ramp and Prosciutto wrapped Monkfish

Serves 2

olive oil
monkfish fillet, a thick center piece, 250-300g / 9-11 ounces
fine sea salt
ground pepper
prosciutto di Parma (or San Daniele or Serrano) 10 very thin slices
fresh ramps leaves, a small bunch
peas, fresh in shells (about 400g / 15 ounces) and peeled, or frozen (170g / 6 ounces)
freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1-2 teaspoons

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F (conventional setting) and brush the bottom of a baking dish with olive oil.

Cut the monkfish in half (lengthwise) and, using your hands, coat it in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

On a large chopping board, spread out half the prosciutto (overlapping slices). Arrange a layer of ramp leaves on top (laying across the prosciutto), then lay one half of the monkfish on top (see 5th picture). Roll and wrap the fish tightly and transfer to the oiled baking dish. Prepare the second fillet the same way and lay next to the first fish wrap. Brush the prosciutto with olive oil and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the fish is tender.

While the fish is baking, prepare the peas: Cut 12 ramps leaves into thin strips, set aside. Cook the peas in plenty of salted boiling water for 1 minute or until al dente. Drain and briefly rinse with cold water. In a small saucepan, heat a splash of olive over high heat, add half the chopped ramps, and take the pan off the heat. Stir in the peas and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.

When the fish is done, using a sharp kitchen knife, cut the fillets into thick slices and divide between 2 plates. Serve with the peas sprinkled with the remaining chopped ramps, crunchy baguette, and chilled white wine.

Ramps and Prosciutto wrapped Monkfish

 

Ramps and Prosciutto wrapped Monkfish

 

Ramps and Prosciutto wrapped Monkfish

 

Ramps and Prosciutto wrapped Monkfish

 

Ramps and Prosciutto wrapped Monkfish

Salt Baked Salmon Fillet with Dill, Black Pepper and Juniper

Salt Baked Salmon Fillet with Dill and Juniper

If you’re still looking for a scrumptious but effortless main course for New Year’s Eve and if you like salmon fillet, this is your recipe. After festive days of rich, meaty treats I prefer to start the new year with a lighter dish, seafood, lots of vegetables, or Asian inspired recipes, preferably easy dishes refined with colourful aromas, spices and herbs. Salmon baked in salt crust came to mind, but not a whole fish – I want to keep it simple – only the fillets, sandwiched with a handful of dill, crushed juniper berries and black pepper. Sealed under a mixture of coarse sea salt, flour, cornstarch, egg white and water, it bakes in the oven soaking up all these wonderful flavours. After 50 minutes it was done, which I checked by following Martha Stewart’s tip: Insert a metal skewer, if it’s warm to the touch, the fish is ready to leave its crusty shell. You have to use a sharp bread knife to cut open the salty crust, this is the only part of this recipe that demands a bit of work. You could also break it but I wanted to open it like a lid – only for visual reasons. The result is perfectly flaky, firm with a subtle hint of sea salt, it can be a bit overpowering on the edges of the fillet but you can easily scratch this excess salt off. I used fleshy fillets tied together with a cotton string, it was enough for 3-4 people – depending on the amount of dishes you’re planning to serve. Two thick center pieces of roughly the same size are perfect, you could also fill them with other herbs or thin lemon or orange slices but I wanted to use the flavours which I use for my traditional gravad lax recipe: fresh dill, spicy pepper and fragrant juniper.

During the holidays, I cleaned the shelves in my kitchen, which were in a rather chaotic state, and to my surprise, I found far more packages of Mr. Cini’s sea salt than I had expected. They didn’t last very long, I needed 1 kg / 2 1/4 pounds to cover my salmon. Mr Cini’s salt comes from the Mediterranean Sea, from Gozo, where he harvests the white grains straight from the rocks together with his family. It tastes fantastic, it’s obviously salty but not in a harsh way, it has a distinct flavour, which you can recognize in the cooked fish. I recommend using high-quality salt for this recipe, although you will discard the crust, it effects the final result tremendously.

A very exciting year has almost come to an end. I look forward to 2016 and I hope it will be more peaceful and united than the year before. My kitchen will be as busy as ever and I can’t wait to share more recipes with you, here on the blog and in my first eat in my kitchen book, which will be published in September. I wish you a wonderful start to the New Year, don’t get intimidated by too many resolutions, just enjoy your life!

Meike xx

Salt Baked Salmon Fillet with Dill and Juniper

 

Salt Baked Salmon Fillet with Dill and Juniper

Salt Baked Salmon Fillet with Dill, Black Pepper and Juniper

Serves 3-4 (for more people you can use bigger fillets and leave them in the oven a little longer)

high-quality coarse sea salt 1 kg / 2 1/4 pounds
plain flour 100 g / 3 /4 cup
cornstarch 30 g / 1/4 cup
organic egg whites 2
water, cold, 75 ml / 1/3 cup
salmon fillet, 2 center pieces with skin (about 680 g / 1 1/2 pounds in total)
juniper berries, coarsely crushed in a mortar, 8
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar, to taste
fresh dill, 1 small bunch plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (optional, for the topping)

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F (conventional setting). Line a baking dish with parchment paper.

For the salt crust, combine the coarse sea salt, flour, cornstarch, egg whites, and water in a large bowl until combined, use your fingers or a spoon.

Spread a little of the salt mixture on the lined baking dish, lay 1 salmon fillet – skin side down – on top of the salt. Rub a little crushed pepper and half the juniper into the pink side of the salmon, then cover with the dill. Rub the second salmon fillet with pepper and the remaining juniper and lay it on top of the dill – skin side up. Tie the fillets together with a cotton string (see picture below), then cover the salmon with the remaining salt mixture until it’s completely covered (see 2nd picture), push the salt mixture together gently. Bake in the oven for about 50 minutes or until a metal skewer, poked through the crust into the thickest part of the salmon, is warm to the touch when you pull it out of the salmon.

Let the crust cool for 1-2 minutes, then cut it open with a sharp bread knife. Cut the string open, divide the fish fillets in 3-4 portions, and serve immediately. Sprinkle with freshly chopped dill on the plates (optional).

Salt Baked Salmon Fillet with Dill and Juniper

 

Salt Baked Salmon Fillet with Dill and Juniper

 

Salt Baked Salmon Fillet with Dill and Juniper

 

saltbakedsalmon9

 

saltbakedsalmon10

Saffron & Mussel Tomato Soup

Saffron & Mussel Tomato Soup

It’s getting colder here in Berlin, all of the trees in front of our windows are finally naked, their last colourful leaves swept away in a single stormy night. Before the winds came, the light in our living room was golden and warm, filtered through autumn’s pretty yellow linden leaves. Now that they’re gone, the light is much harder. All of a sudden, the city seems a bit more harsh, which made me long for a cozy soup.

Seafood has been on my mind for weeks, sweet mussels from the North Sea, adding their fine taste to a thick, fruity tomato soup refined with aromatic saffron. It warms the body and caresses the soul, what else could you want on a cold and misty November day? This dish may seem elaborate but that’s not at all the case, it’s a quick one. The fruit’s red juices only cook for a bit longer than 10 minutes and the mussels sink into a fragrant broth of white wine and spices for just 5 minutes. I use the wine, infused with a soft hint of the sea and the noble taste of saffron, to stir into my glowing soup. It’s supposed to serve 3-4, which I still believe is quite realistic, but we loved it so much that we almost emptied the large pot of soup in one go at lunchtime. We were hungry.

Saffron & Mussel Tomato Soup

 

Saffron & Mussel Tomato Soup

Saffron and Mussel Tomato Soup

Serves 3-4

For the mussels

mussels in shells  1 kg / 2 1/4 pounds
olive oil
medium sized onion, finely chopped, 1
garlic, thinly sliced, 2 large cloves
white wine 200ml / 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons
bay leaves 2
saffron threads 1/8 teaspoon / 1g
sea salt 1/2 teaspoon
ground pepper

For the tomato soup

olive oil
tomatoes, finely chopped, 1 kg / 2 1/4 pounds
garlic, thinly sliced, 1 big clove
broth, used to cook the mussels, 400ml / 1 2/3 cups
a pinch of sugar
sea salt
ground pepper

For the topping

fresh parsley, roughly chopped, 4 heaped teaspoons

Rinse and scrub the mussels under cold water and cut off the beard, discard any broken mussels.

For the mussels, heat a splash of olive oil in a large pot and cook the onion and garlic on medium heat for a few minutes or until golden and soft. Add the wine, bay leaves, saffron, salt and pepper, stir and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to low, gently add the mussels to the pot, shake the pot or stir with a slotted ladle and close with a lid. Cook for 5 minutes or until the shells open, shake the pot once or twice while cooking. Take the mussels out with a slotted ladle, discard any mussels that don’t open. Measure 400ml of the mussel broth, together with the onions and the bay leaves, and set aside. Peel the mussels out of their shells, leave about 6-8 inside the shells for the topping of the soup (optional). Set the mussels aside.

Heat a splash of olive oil in a large pot, add the tomatoes and garlic and cook for 4 minutes on medium-high heat (open), stir once in a while. Add the mussel broth with the onions and bay leaves, sugar, salt and pepper and cook for about 7 minutes (open) or until the tomatoes are soft and the soup is thick. Season to taste and, if necessary, chop the tomatoes with a knife if they are too chunky, or purée the soup in a food processor. Stir in the mussel meat, divide the soup between bowls, sprinkle with fresh parsley and pepper and garnish with the mussels in their shells.

Saffron & Mussel Tomato Soup

 

Saffron & Mussel Tomato Soup

 

saffronmusseltomatosoup6

 

Saffron & Mussel Tomato Soup

Peruvian Ceviche and my love of the sea

Peruvian Ceviche

What I love the most about Malta – besides the wonderful people around us – is the sea. I can sit on one of the rocky beaches for hours staring at the sparkling shades of blue, the salty air in my nose and the the next seafood meal on my mind. Although I’m quite obsessed with snorkeling – I feel a great fascination for the beautiful wonders of Malta’s amazing underwater life, I can’t help but think about food when I’m close to the sea. We went to the fish market in Marsaxlokk as soon as we arrived and I couldn’t resist filling the cooling box with the freshest tuna, swordfish, calamari, Cipullazza (scorpion fish) and sea bream.

The fisherman’s wife at one of the stands made us try a selection of raw fish as I was on a mission. I’ve been wanting to make Peruvian ceviche for months and I decided that there’s no better place for my culinary experiment than Malta with its daily catches from the sea. Ceviche is a traditional Peruvian dish made with raw fish marinated in lime juice for a few minutes. Although the citrus fruit’s acid creates a chemical process similar to cooking I still wanted to use the freshest fish possible. I also felt that it would be appropriate to taste it raw first to approve the taste of my choice of fish. So we were right in the middle of the market, surrounded by lots of people and the most beautiful seafood offered on large tables when my experiment started. I just thought of sushi when I put one thin slice of fish after the other into my mouth. It felt a bit strange, especially after my fish-stand-lady told me that she would never eat raw fish. She had a mischievous smile on her face, but I trusted and survived.

I’ve never been to Peru so I decided to ask a woman for help who has lived in Lima for years, she’s a passionate connoisseur and food writer. I met Sheila through eat in my kitchen, she is one of my blog’s earliest readers and joined me on this journey with great support. We’ve never met in person but we felt a connection immediately through the universal language of food. My Peruvian lady is originally from Chicago but she dug deeply into her new home’s kitchen culture. I knew that I was in the right hands when I asked her for a recipe – and I wasn’t mistaken. Her directions led to the most delicious ceviche on our table in Malta, it was surprisingly quick and easy. And yes, lime juice kind of cooks the fish, I couldn’t believe it when I saw (and tasted) it! Sheila recommended flounder but I went for Accola (Maltese amberjack) which was my favourite at my raw fish tasting session. I also added some lime zest which isn’t usually done in Peru but I love the slightly flowery flavour it adds to the fish. It was quite an exciting kitchen experience but most importantly: my new seafood discovery made the most delicious lunch!

Peruvian Ceviche

We also had a couple visitors to the island in the past few weeks. My mother decided to hop over for a spontaneous long weekend which we celebrated befittingly. We enjoyed a Maltese champagne picnic with the fantastic Cassar de Malte at a promenade in Valletta before we headed over to a new restaurant find – the Italian Scoglitti right at the sea. They treated us to a huge local Pagell (red snapper) in sea salt crust after we had already enjoyed octopus with potatoes, swordfish carpaccio and pulpetti tal-Makku (white bait pulpetti) along with Meridiana‘s white Isis wine. It was a feast finished with Maltese Mqaret (date sweets) – the delicious recipe will follow soon!

Another one of my most beloved seafood restaurants on the islands is Rew Rew at Mgarr ix-Xini in Gozo. Noel creates very pure dishes, honest simplicity, always cooked to perfection. We went to the little hidden bay a couple times this summer to enjoy local prawns from the BBQ, fried sardines and makku, grouper ravioli and Bazooka (deep sea snapper). Holly, my editor from New York, joined us on one of these visits and she was more than impressed.

I love the sea and all these wonderful frutti di mare, it’s a gem we have to protect and treat with respect!

This recipe has been featured by Food52!

Peruvian Ceviche

Sheila’s Peruvian Ceviche

Serves 4-6.

firm, white fish (such as flounder, sea bass or amberjack) 280g / 10oz
medium sized red onion, quartered, thinly sliced, 1/2
red aji límo (Peruvian habaneros), thinly sliced, 1/4 (to taste)
yellow aji límo, thinly sliced, 1/4 (to taste)
organic limes, zest and juice, 3
fine sea salt

Cut the fish into 1cm / 1/2″ pieces. Lay the fish in a large sieve, rinse quickly with cold water, drain and dry with kitchen paper.

Pour the lime juice in a deep bowl, add the fish, toss it around and marinate for 2 1/2 minutes. Take the fish out with a slotted ladle and divide between plates. Garnish with onion and aji límo and sprinkle with salt and lime zest (optionally) to taste.

You can serve ceviche with cooked corn, sweet potatoes and lettuce.

Thank you Sheila!

Peruvian Ceviche

 

Peruvian Ceviche

 

Peruvian Ceviche

 

Peruvian Ceviche

 

Peruvian Ceviche

 

Peruvian Ceviche

 

ceviche11

Cod al Cartoccio with Ramp and Red Onion

Cod and Ramp al Cartoccio

My beloved ramp is back in season, ready to add its garlicky spiciness to fish, meat and vegetables, and to one of my favourites of course: fragrant ramp pesto!

I’ve been looking for it impatiently over the past few weeks and when I finally spotted the first bunch at my organic supermarket I had to call my boyfriend instantly, he’s almost more obsessed with these green spring leaves than I am. We changed our dinner plans from gnocchi with blue cheese sauce to spaghetti with pesto, and that was just the beginning of our re-awakened green passion! Cod al cartoccio on a bed of ramp and red onions was next on my list. It’s not only very delicious but also a very convenient match. I wrapped the fish in a parchment paper package with a little white wine, olive oil and lemon juice and cooked it in the oven for 15 minutes, all in all it took less than half an hour including the preparation! If you’re still looking for a light and easy family Easter lunch, think al cartoccio. It cooks the fish to perfection while you can create your desired aroma of herbs and vegetables, it tastes divine and looks beautiful on the table.

Cod and Ramp al Cartoccio

 

Cod and Ramp al Cartoccio

Cod al Cartoccio with Ramp and Red Onion

For 2 people you need

cod fillet, about 2 1/2cm / 1″ thick, 400g / 14 ounces
ramp, stalks cut off, a large bunch (about 50g / 1 3/4 ounces)
small red onion, cut in half and into thin slices, 1
white wine 2 tablespoons
freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 tablespoon
olive oil 2 tablespoons plus more for the parchment paper
sea salt and pepper

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

Cut 2 large pieces of parchment paper, big enough to wrap the fish, lay them on top of each other and brush the top layer with olive oil. Lay the ramp leaves in the middle of the oiled parchment paper (leave 2 leaves out and put aside), place the cod on top and season with salt and pepper. Lay 1 ramp leaf on top of the fillet and arrange the onions around the fish. Whisk the wine, olive oil and lemon juice and pour over the fish. Close the parchment paper like a bonbon and fold the top twice. Place in a baking dish and cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Check after 10 minutes, if you can separate the fish (gently) with a fork it’s done, if it needs a little longer close the parchment paper and put back into the oven (mind not to overcook it!). Chop the raw ramp leaf and sprinkle over the cooked fish, serve with fresh baguette and a glass of chilled white wine!

Cod and Ramp al Cartoccio

 

Cod and Ramp al Cartoccio

 

Cod and Ramp al Cartoccio

Mediterranean Octopus with Fennel and Orange

Octopus, Fennel and Orange Salad

This is my favourite octopus recipe, tenderly cooked with star-anise, fennel seeds, bay leaf and garlic before it reveals its fine qualities in a refreshingly light salad side by side with crunchy slices of fennel and juicy orange filets. It’s one of the purest ways to savour this seafood which is so unique in taste and so scrumptious when prepared well. Cooked octopus combines a smooth butteriness with the soft sweetness of the fresh sea, it doesn’t need much more to caress my taste buds. A little fruity acidity and the flowery aroma of anise and it’s complete.

It’s that time of year again, when my summer holidays come back to mind and tease me, especially the culinary memories from Malta and Gozo, our second home, and I can’t wait to revive them in a few months. This octopus salad makes an annual appearance and will definitely be on my plate more than once. It’s one of my personal Mediterranean classics, cooked in my Maltese mother’s kitchen and savoured in her garden for lunch, with a glass of crisp Maltese white wine and the sun on my back. So much to look forward to, so let the holiday dreaming begin!

Here’s more about the man who taught me to cook octopus with star-anise and fennel seeds, Kurt Micallef from Malta.

Octopus, Fennel and Orange Salad

 

Octopus, Fennel and Orange Salad

Mediterranean Octopus, Fennel and Orange Salad

For 2 people you need

For the octopus

octopus, skinned and cleaned, 300g / 10.5 ounces
star-anise 1 piece
a pinch of fennel seeds
bay leave 1
garlic, cut in half, 1 clove
small onion, cut in half
lemon, sliced, 1/2

For the salad

orange, peeled and cut into fillets, 1
medium sized fennel bulb, cut into very thin slices, 1, the green chopped
olive oil 3 tablespoons
freshly squeezed orange juice 2 tablespoons
white Balsamico vinegar 1 teaspoon
salt and pepper

In a large pot, bring water with the star-anise, fennel seeds, bay leave, garlic, onion and lemon to the boil. Slip in the octopus and cook on low heat (simmering) for about 45 minutes or until the octopus is tender. Take the octopus out of the broth, let it cool and cut into pieces.

For the dressing, whisk the olive oil, orange juice and vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the slices of fennel on plates and lay the octopus and orange on top. Sprinkle lightly with the dressing and fennel green, serve immediately.

Octopus, Fennel and Orange Salad

 

Octopus, Fennel and Orange Salad

Shrimp Sandwich with Cumin Guacamole, Coriander and Chili Peppers

Shrimp Sandwich with Cumin Guacamole

Sometimes I sit in my kitchen, or on my sofa in the living room, I close my eyes and imagine food. Just food. I can see colourful ingredients, vegetables, seafood, spices and herbs, or beautiful dishes carefully prepared on plates. I don’t have to do anything, these pictures appear naturally in front of my inner eye. It’s a helpful gift and the reason I never fear running out of inspiration, as long as I take my time to sit down with a cup of tea, relax and let go my kitchen ideas will come to me.

Culinary daydreams are fun and I particularly enjoy the ones about new sandwich creations. It makes me feel like a child in a toy shop. I can pull any ingredient out of the imaginary shelf, mix wildly and create whatever comes to mind on the plates, or I can keep it simple and work (or dream) minimal. Fruit and ripe cheese is always a great match, but there’s so much more, sweet and salty, creamy and crunchy, sour and spicy, fresh and aged aromas, there are endless possibilities.

It’s an exciting process as I never know how it will taste until I finished taking the last picture and enjoy the first bite. Some recipes are hard to imagine but I always follow my gut feeling (literally) and that’s quite reliable. Today I felt like cumin guacamole, it’s a great fusion of this distinctive spice and the wonderful velvety fruit, they truly bring out the best in each other! I merged this duo with the salty taste of the sea, fresh herbs and some hot spiciness. Shrimp, avocado, coriander and red chili peppers stuffed between a bun, my daydreaming was right, it was delicious!

A special event calls for action, I’m asking for your help! The wonderful Saveur Magazine opened the nominations for their Food Blog Award 2015 and it would be great if you could support eat in my kitchen. You just have to hop over to Saveur.com, choose the categories that you feel my blog fits best and fill in www.eatinmykitchen.meikepeters.com, here is the link for the nomination!

Thank you so much! Meike xx

Shrimp Sandwich with Cumin Guacamole

 

Shrimp Sandwich with Cumin Guacamole

Shrimp Sandwich with Cumin Guacamole, Coriander and Chili Peppers

For 2 sandwiches you need

buns, cut in half, 2
shrimps, cooked and peeled, 100g / 3.5 ounces
small ripe avocados, peeled, 2
sour cream 3 tablespoons
freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste
a pinch of cumin
salt and pepper
fresh red chili pepper, thinly sliced, 1
fresh coriander leaves, a small handful
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar, for the topping

Cut 1 avocado into slices, chop the second one with a fork and mix with 2 tablespoons of the sour cream. Season with lemon juice, cumin, salt and pepper to taste.

Divide the guacamole between the 2 buns and spread it voluptuously on the bottom half. Lay the shrimp and avocado slices on top and sprinkle with the remaining sour cream, the chili pepper, crushed pepper and coriander leaves. Enjoy!

Shrimp Sandwich with Cumin Guacamole

 

Shrimp Sandwich with Cumin Guacamole

 

Shrimp Sandwich with Cumin Guacamole

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