eat in my kitchen

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

Tag: Xwejni salt pans

Focaccia with Grapes, Rosemary and Gozitan Sea Salt

Focaccia with Grapes and Rosemary

This is the best focaccia I ever made! One reason might be the excessive use of very good olive oil. Sometimes there’s just no way around, if you spare on oil you spare on taste and texture, it’s just that simple. The second reason is the unbelievably delicious combination of baked ripe dark grapes and rosemary! The fruits add a soft sweetness and juiciness to the bread which is better than any other flavouring I ever tasted in combination with this Italian classic.

So, the air in my kitchen was filled with the addictive smell of freshly baked bread mixed with the woody aroma of rosemary. I sat in front of the oven like a hungry cat and I couldn’t wait for the focaccia to be done, it was so tempting! I took the photos as quickly as possible as the aromas teased my nose even more after I cut the first piece off the thick and flat loaf. Then, finally, when I took the first bite, I just enjoyed the spongy softness, the oily crust which was almost flaky, the grapes which released their juices and this heavenly taste topped with roast rosemary sprigs and my Gozitan salt from the Cini family!

Focaccia with Grapes and Rosemary

 

Focaccia with Grapes and Rosemary

 Focaccia with Grapes, Rosemary and Gozitan Sea Salt

For a 25 x 32cm / 10 x 12.5″ focaccia you need

plain flour 500g / 17 1/2 ounces
dry yeast 1 sachet (7g / 1/4 ounce)
salt 1 teaspoon
sugar 1 heaped teaspoon
water, lukewarm, 260ml / 9 ounces
olive oil 110ml / 3 3/4 ounces, 60ml / 2 ounces for the dough and 50ml / 1 3/4 ounces for the topping
red grapes around 25
fresh rosemary needles, a small handful
flaky sea salt for the topping

In  a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Add the water and 60ml / 2 ounces of olive oil and mix with your dough hooks for 5 minutes until well combined. Continue kneading with your hands for around 5 minutes until you have an elastic dough ball. Put the dough back into the bowl and cover with a tea towel. Let the dough rise in a 35°C / 95°F warm ( top / bottom heat, no fan!) oven for 40 minutes.

Take the dough out, punch it down and knead for 1 minute. Roll out the dough until it measures around 25 x 32cm / 10 x 12.5″ and put it carefully on an oiled baking sheet. Cover with a tea towel and let it rise for 20 minutes in a warm place.

Set the oven to 220°C / 430°F.

Punch about 6 x 7 holes into the dough with the round bottom of a wooden spoon and put a grape into every second hole. Pour the remaining 50ml / 1 3/4 ounces of olive oil over the dough and into the holes. Sprinkle with rosemary and sea salt and bake for 20 minutes or until golden on top.

Focaccia with Grapes and Rosemary

 

Focaccia with Grapes and Rosemary

 

graFocaccia with Grapes and Rosemary

 

Focaccia with Grapes and Rosemary

 

Focaccia with Grapes and Rosemary

meet in your kitchen | The Cini Salt Pans and Sun-dried Tomatoes in Gozo

Cini Salt Pans

Gozo is one of the most magical places I know, it’s Malta’s silent and peaceful sister island, full of natural beauty. Whenever the ferry reaches Mgarr harbour in the south of the island after a 20 minute crossing of the channel between the two islands, I feel overwhelmed by its serenity and happy to be there again!

There is so much to write about Gozo, so many places to introduce you to and I will do that in the next few days, but for now I will show you just one of them which is very special to me. It’s a place that produces a product which I use every day in my cooking, Gozo sea salt. I buy my salt at the Xwejni pans in the north, owned by the Cini family. Rose Cini’s family has been harvesting sea salt for five generations. She herself has worked in the pans which are cut into the porous rock, all her life until the family almost stopped using them in the early sixties. Together with her husband Emmanuel, their daughter Josephine and David, their son-in-law, they have revived this tradition.

Salt pans have been in this location since Roman times. The position, the climate, the rock and the good quality of the sea water are perfect for salt harvesting.

Cini Salt Pans

When Emmanuel married into the family most of the pans hadn’t been used for a few years and they weren’t in the best state. He decided to repair and clean them and to continue the family tradition in 1969. He built up a little family business which is now run by the four family members Emmanuel, Rose, Josephine and David. The four of them keep the pans filled with sea water between May and September. In June and July, the peak of the harvest season, they carry up to 3 tonnes of salt off the 300 pans each week! Sea water contains about 3.7% of salt, the water in the pans about 5%, as soon as the water is pumped up it will take around 7 days for it to evaporate. 24 liters of sea water are necessary to harvest 1 kg / 2 pounds of salt.

Emmanuel Cini has always wanted to keep the traditional way of harvesting the salt, work which is mainly done by hand; it demands lots of passion but also physical strength. In 1974 he made a decision which was considered very modern at that time in Gozo, he was the first to pack the salt in plastic bags with his name printed on and sold it in shops all over the islands, he became the Salt Baron from Gozo!

When I asked him if he sees his work as the perfect job he said “Yes, of course!”. Although it’s physically very straining, he never complains, as his daughter says. The whole family works at the pans, fills them, empties them and carries the salt up into a little cave which is cut into the stone to store the salt, the salt shop. That’s where you can buy it, or from the little table under an umbrella which they put out on the street from 10:30 to 17:00, every day, that’s where you can find the Cinis between April and December.

Gozo sea salt contains more than 80 trace minerals, I love the crystal’s flaky texture and the fine taste for my cooking!

Cini Salt Pans

 

Cini Salt Pans

I have been buying my salt from the Cinis for many years and when I asked them if they would like to share a recipe on eat in my kitchen, Rose said that she would show me how to make sun-dried tomatoes in her mobile outdoor kitchen outside the salt shop. It takes between 4-6 days to sun-dry the tomatoes and the final result tastes divine! You need a hot climate and constant sun for this period of time to dry the fruits!

 Sun-dried Tomatoes by Rose Cini

All you need is

ripe tomatoes
coarse sea salt

Rinse and dry the tomatoes and cut them in half  (crosswise). Spread them on a metal grid (cut side up) and sprinkle each tomato generously with sea salt. Leave the tomatoes out in the sun for 4-6 days, covered with a mosquito net by day and with a plastic sheet by night (to protect them from humidity).

When the tomatoes are dried, rinse them and dry them in the sun for an hour. Store them in sterilized jars when they are completely dry with a handful of coarse sea salt. You can also preserve them covered in olive oil.

Cini Salt Pans

 

Cini Salt Pans

 

Cini Salt Pans

 

Cini Salt Pans

 

Cini Salt Pans

 

Cini Salt Pans

 

Cini Salt Pans

 

Cini Salt Pans

 

Cini Salt Pans

 

Cini Salt Pans

 

Cini Salt Pans

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers:

%d bloggers like this: