How Sweet It Is

 

Hummingbird Nest
Hummingbird Nest

 

I have been waiting forever for this and it’s finally happened!

I’ve been soooo jealous of my friends who have had hummingbirds nest in their garden!

Over the years, I’ve had my fair share of robins making their home in my garden, but come on,  they’re nowhere as cute at hummingbirds and so I sigh and hope that maybe next year it’ll be my turn.

Everyday this week, I’ve been going out in the garden and thought it strange that a hummingbird kept circling around the lemon tree but thought nothing of it until I saw this!!

 

Hummingbird Nest
Hummingbird Nest

 

What a beautiful sight!  I wish I could peak in and see how many eggs the size of jelly beans there are but I don’t want to worry Mama Bird more than I have to so I’ll respect her and go buy lemons from Safeways for now…

 

Mama Bird
Mama Bird

Scones

English Tea Flag

When I think of England, I think of scones!! The two just go together just like Malta and Pastizzi! Kevin and I are not planners!! We knew that from the get go.  He proposed over the phone on New Year’s Eve  and we were married in March!  We did not even have any idea where we were going to live  We tried  Malta for a month and when that didn’t work out, we thought we’d see if England would be a better match.

Leaving on a Jet Plane
Leaving on a Jet Plane

We packed few bits in a suitcase, boarded Air Malta and all we knew was that we’d be landing in Heathrow in three hours!! We winged everything else after that. It was a beautiful May day and all I kept thinking was “WOW!! I can do this!!”  “I can live in England!”  “Why does everyone complain about the weather!” “What a beautiful place!”…as we drove our little rented car from London to???? It was one of the best days ever!! Just married…beautiful day…with the excitement of what lies ahead!  Whatever it was, we were going to make it work!

The Hoe, Plymouth
The Hoe, Plymouth

There were a few places we passed along the way that were possibilities and I still wonder what would’ve happened if we’d laid our hats in  Somerset or Bath.   But we kept on driving until we could drive no more! Plymouth Devon!!  Doesn’t Devon just shout out Cream Teas and Scones? We got out of the car on Plymouth Hoe and the view of The Sound with clear blue skies is still exhilarating to me to this day. We both fell in love with The Barbican and the little shops and restaurants and decided that it was the perfect place to start our new lives together.  Found a flat to rent across the street from a Greek Restaurant and made it our home! It was the stinkiest and had the most godawful decor, but it was perfect! And that was where I had my first Cream Tea experience!! A little place called Tudor Rose Tea Room  Just the whole teapot and cup and scone and jam and cream and mix it all up and you feel like the queen!

So of course, since then, I’ve been looking for the perfect scone recipe.  I’ve tried making them with milk/buttermilk/sour cream and cream and my kids  and best critics have confirmed that this recipe is one of the best ones…YET!!  I have my friend Rose to thank for sharing her recipe AND scones with me!

Scones are very simple to make and are pretty much fool proof if you follow these easy steps.  I suggest you don’t use your stand mixer for this recipe and make them by hand because the less you handle the dough, the better.

Ingredients
Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 beaten egg

Using the rubbing in method, combine and flour and butter and salt and work it until it looks like bread crumbs. Mix in the sugar. Put a well in the middle and pour in the cream and eggs and very lightly, bring the mixture together until just combined. Let it rest for about half an hour.

Also with your hands, pat the dough down to about 1 1/4″ thickness.  Using your scone/biscuit cutter, cut out and place on the prepared dish.

Bake at 375 for about 18 mins until golden.

Serve with jam and cream and tea of course…

Cream Tea
Cream Tea

Who Let The Goats Out?

 

Goat Sign
Harley Farm Sign

If  you’d’ve told me last year, that not only would I be going to a Goat Farm BUT actually look forward to it, I would’ve laughed and thought Funny Farm maybe but not a goat farm! But I did!! And we went!!   And then I started thinking how this came to be…

I can truly blame this series of events on the Ftira!!  Because if it weren’t for the Ftira, I would not have met my dear dear friend Ivy of Merci Chocolat, who in turn would not have gotten me to try making French Cheeses!  And that is how I got interested in making Goats Cheese other than Gbejniet!

When Kevin’s boss recommended a visit to Harley Farms Goat Dairy at Pescadero, I knew we had to go and, this week, I finally booked a tour.  We went there yesterday and I have to say, that even with the looong two hour windy road trip we had to take to get there, it was definitely worth it!

Farm Shop
Farm Shop

We checked in at the Shop and had a look around while we waited for the rest of the group to show up.  They had all sort of merchandise for sale all goat related…from lotions to goat hair blankets to rakes and shovels and gorgeous hand made pottery!

Mustard Path
Mustard Path

There were about twenty of us taking the tour of the farm which was led by a young and very knowledgeable girl who took us  through the mustard path to the goat pen where there were about a hundred female pregnant goats just lapping up the beautiful sunshine and one very proud male goat!!!  Two Llamas also roamed the vast field like kings in their castle!

Milking Barn
Milking Barn

We were told the history of the farm and how Dee Harley, the owner, came to the States from Yorkshire, fell in love with the  place and started making her own Goats Cheese which is sold in stores all over California. We were then taken to where they milk the goats twice a day and were told that each goat produces a gallon of milk each time they get milked.  It is quickly harvested and turned to cheese and it is the freshness of the milk that results into the creamiest and delicious cheese ever.

 

Dee Harley
Dee Harley

 

Of course, I had to ask if it was possible to purchase some fresh goats milk but was told that unfortunately  this was not possible as they needed a special permit to sell.  So that was the only bummer of the day but I quickly got over it when we got to see how the cheese was made and also tasted all the cheeses they had available at the store!  It was pretty hard to choose my favourite because they were all so darn good but I think the Monet topped the charts.

Baby Goats

So now I want to try making my own Chevre with my own herbs and my own edible flowers and dried fruit combination.  And who knows…we might NEED to go back and meet the baby goats!!  So stay tuned…

Flowers
Flowers

 

Pastizzi – Camenzuli Style

Flaky Pastizzi
Flaky Pastizzi

Pastizzi ta’ l-Irkotta or Pastizzi tal-Pizelli!  Those are only two of the most popular fillings you will find because nowadays you  may find many more types of fillings…from sweet to savoury but I still think that the original are the best! Pastizzi get a bad rap because the dough contains a little more than your average fat.  Usually a basic dough has half the amount of fat as flour. The pastizzi dough has slightly more but is oh sooo worth it.

Pastizzi for Breakfast
Pastizzi for Breakfast

It is also slightly more work.  Well, when I say slightly, I mean a lot! And also slightly messier…ok a lot messier…but I don’t want to scare you away and really want you to try it, cause when you make it and taste it, you’re going to fall in love. There’s just nothing like that rich, crunchy but melt in your mouth pastry!!   And this recipe delivers! Pastizzi are also great to freeze so you can always have some on hand. Then just pop two in the toaster oven and have them for your lazy Sunday morning breakfast!

Uncle Fredu Making Pastizzi
Uncle Fredu Making Pastizzi

This recipe is one of those that has been passed down to me by my relatives who had emigrated to the US in the early 60’s which means they’d been here for 30 years before I made my appearance and had all that time to finesse everything Maltese!! I have a big family here and rest assured that there’s pastizzi at every gathering and not surprising at all, it would be the pastizzi that would be the first to disappear.

Uncle Alex Making Pastizzi
Uncle Alex Making Pastizzi

Pastizzi call for a mixture of butter and lard OR crisco.  There was a time when just the word LARD would make  me cringe and seeing anyone using it in cooking would immediately make me lose my appetite.  But here is an article I read recently that made me think differently.

Dough

  • 1lb all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • pinch of salt
  • 9oz water
  • 9oz lard or crisco
  • 3oz butter
Butter and Lard
Mix Butter and Lard

Make the dough by putting the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the oil and water and let it knead for about 12 mins until you have a nice smooth dough. Let it rest for about half an hour. Cut the dough in half. Open one of the halves into a long strip as shown in the photo beneath.

Take both fats and mix them together. Divide in two. Take one part of the mixed fat and slather it all over the rolled out dough.

From the end closest to you, start stretching and rolling while widening the dough as shown. Keep doing this until you reach the other end. You’ll end up with a long rope like piece of dough.

Take one end and roll it into a spiral shape. Put some fat over the top, cover and store in the fridge until ready to use. Do the same with the other piece of dough and remaining fat.

Ricotta Filling
Ricotta Filling

 

Filling
Make the pastizzi filling by mixing 1lb ricotta, 2 eggs and pinch of salt together.

Forming Pastizzi
Take the end of the spiral shaped dough and cut about two inches off the end. Flatten it with your hand as you turn it round and round between your fingers so you can see the ridges of the dough forming. Form it into a circle about 3-4 inches in diameter. Put a dollop of ricotta in the middle.

 

Ready for Baking or Freezing
Ready for Baking or Freezing.

Fold over and seal and place on a greased dish or on a silpat. Do this until you’ve used up all the dough and ricotta.

You can freeze them at this point. Or you can bake them in a 375 degree oven for about 20-30 mins until golden brown.

As with everything, moderation is the key.  Pastizzi are not the the healthiest of foods, but then neither are croissants or eclairs and it would be a shame if we couldn’t have them once in a while, so go on…have one…you know you want to.

 

Pastizzi Camenzuli Style
Pastizzi Camenzuli Style

 

Gizmodo Challenge Light Box

Goose Egg Entry Photo
Goose Egg Entry Photo

Kevin Building Lightbox
Kevin Building Lightbox

This week’s Gizmodo Challenge was a husband and wife collaboration.  We were supposed to build a light box and take a photo of something interesting inside it.  I had  no idea what a light box was or does…but now that I do, I am sure it’s going to come in very handy in the future.  All the things I’m learning…who knew!!

We didn’t do too bad either…kinda like the 49’ers!  We almost won!

Trying Out the Lightbox
Trying Out the Lightbox

Duck…Duck…Goose

First time I went to Amelia’s, owner of Hidden Fortress, I wasn’t sure what to expect!  I’d heard she had chickens and was a famous micro brewer and that we were going there to make some cider!

What impressed me the most, since I’m not a cider drinker, were all the different kinds of chickens and roosters that were happily clucking away in their castle like coop! From then on I became a believer that happy chickens make happy eggs.

Well this past weekend I got to know that Amelia has added geese to her happy family and Kevin brought me some goose eggs to prove it! The egg shells are super strong and need a good whack to crack them open as Kevin found out while making his Sunday morning omlette!   Look at these beauties!!  The middle photo shows the difference between a chicken’s egg and a goose’s egg.