Sad Sunday

Sunday's Empty Nest
Sunday’s Empty Nest


Went to check on Peter and Paul today and found the nest on the floor.  I’d like to think that they flew away on their own but I doubt they were old enough.  So here are the last photos from the last couple of days.

You Shall Be Missed !!





I know right??  I had never heard of it before either…

It so happened that I was in a chat with a group of friends comparing things we love that are made with nuts.  Lots of sweet pastries and cookies were mentioned in our conversation and then Dukkah came up!  My ears perked up and I had to know what it was.

Turns out, Dukkah (pronounced DOO-kah) is an  Egyptian spice blend of toasted nuts and seeds that can be served as a dip with bread and olive oil, or sprinkled on roasted vegetables, pasta, feta cheese, and even peaches.  My friend Leslie also uses it as a thickening for sauces…so with so many uses, I say this is a must have in every kitchen.

It is easy to make at home but if you’re in a rush or something, you can also find it at Trader Joe’s.

Here’s my own version…


For Dukkah:

1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted
1/4 cup pistachios, toasted
1/4 cup almonds, toasted
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
5 teaspoons coriander seeds
4 teaspoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon paprika (hot or sweet)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
kosher salt to taste

To make dukkah: toast nuts together in a 350° F oven for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until just golden and fragrant.  Let cool to room temperature.  Meanwhile, toast remaining spices (except for paprika, cinnamon, and salt) in a large pan over medium heat for 5 to 8 minutes, or until fragrant and toasted.  In a food processor or an electric coffee or spice grinder, pulse all ingredients until very finely ground, about 3 minutes.  Leave a little powdery; do not grind to a paste. Refrigerate to store because nuts do go rancid after a while.


To try it out, I made my ftira.  I rolled out a piece of dough about 6 inches across and as thin as possible.  I drizzled some oil and liberally sprinkled some dukkah and a dash of kosher salt on top.  I baked at 425 degree oven for 5 mins.  Rotated the pan and baked for a further 5 mins.  It’s ready when it baked golden colour.

Next time, I might leave some of the sesame seeds whole and also add a touch of chili or cayenne pepper to the mix…

Caught in Action


Baby Beaks
Baby Beaks

I’m still high on adrenalin writing this post.  I went outside to check on Peter and Paul and could see that Mama Bird was not too thrilled to see me there.  She just buzzed around making sure I got the message without taking her eyes off me.

Watching Me Watching You
Watching Me Watching You

So I honored her sentiment and went in the bedroom, camera in hand and shot these pics to share with you…mama bird feeding her babies!!  The photos are not that clear because I had to take them from behind the windows…but you get the picture!

Well Done Mama Bird
Well Done Mama Bird

This all happened within 10 seconds! Just amazing to see!


Chevre Ravioli ~ It’s What’s For Dinner


Chevre Filled Ravioli
Chevre Filled Ravioli

I still had half a pound of goat cheese in the fridge waiting to be magically turned into some kind of snack/lunch/salad/dinner type thingie.

I  love having prepared frozen dinners ready for when I’m either are too lazy to cook or maybe running late or when I just can’t even be bothered to call for pizza!

Goat Cheese Ravioli!  Perfect answer to my dilemma!

How hard could it be to find a recipe for goat cheese filled ravioli?  

Oh, there are tons of fancy ones…from heart shaped ravioli filled with goat cheese and beets or butternut squash or pumpkin but I was hoping for something simpler.  Something that if I offered it to my kids, I won’t be met with the same wrinkly nose I used to give my mum when she offered stuffed cabbage for dinner!

I was just about to give up my search, when I saw this recipe which was just what I was looking for.  I used my own fresh pasta dough recipe and made some minor adjustments with the filling to cater for my family’s taste.

This recipe makes about two dozen.


Flour Eggs Oil Salt
Flour Eggs Oil Salt

2 cups all purpose flour

1tsp salt

3 large eggs

1tbsp extra virgin oil

semolina for dusting

Combine the flour and salt on a flat work surface; shape into a mound and make a well in the center. Add the eggs and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the well and lightly beat with a fork. Gradually draw in the flour from the inside wall of the well in a circular motion. Use 1 hand for mixing and the other to protect the outer wall. Continue to incorporate all the flour until it forms a ball. Cover and let rest for about a half an hour.



6 oz. fresh goat cheese

1/2 cup whole milk

1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped (plus more for garnish)

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/4 cup pecorino romano

salt and fresh ground black pepper

 Cut dough into four pieces.  Take one piece and pass it through the pasta machine on no.1 setting a few times.  Then on 2nd, then 3rd, then 4th, then 5th. Cut in half.  Place a tbsp of filling about an inch apart on one piece of dough.  Brush surface with a bit of water or egg wash, around the filling. Take the other piece of dough and place on top. Secure around the filling and using a ravioli cutter or knife, cut into ravioli forms. Circles or squares or wherever your imagination takes you.

Cook the ravioli in plenty of boiling salted water for 4 minutes; they’ll float to the top when ready, so be careful not to overcrowd the pot. Lift the ravioli from water with a large strainer or slotted spoon.

Set aside


3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 cup dry white wine

3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped finely

Melt butter in a saucepan.  Add oil.  Fry the garlic.

Once all that is bubbling (without burning – turn it down if it is!) and the pasta has cooked in boiling water for 3-4 minutes, drain the pasta and then add it to the saute pan.

Once the pasta is coated with the sauce in the pan, add 1/2 cup dry white wine and simmer for a couple more minutes, stirring occationally.

Remove the pasta from the heat.  Place on the plate. 

Add parmesan and chopped parsley and serve!

Makes an ideal first course meal when served three on a plate!

Garnish and Serve
Garnish and Serve

I have tried plain goat cheese and a combination of goat cheese and ricotta which are both very good. Would be very happy to hear your ideas!

Figolli ~ Traditional Maltese Easter Cookies





Hey, it’s that time of year again!  Time to make figolli!

There are a handful of occasions  throughout the year that my kids look forward to!  And they have to be Birthdays, Halloween, Christmas and Easter time! And this is probably because each holiday has something sweet attached to it.

Halloween Figolli
Halloween Figolli


The funny thing is, we have been known celebrate each occasion with Figolli.  I have made pumpkin and ghost  figolli for Halloween, Christmas Tree figolli for Christmas and even a birthday cake figolla for Dylan’s birthday.  Yes, any day can be figolli day at my house!  We love them that much!



Broken Ear
Broken Ear

Traditionally, figolli were given to kids on Easter Sunday after 40 days of lent.  They come in all shapes and sizes, from ducks and lamb to guitars and cars.  As kids we’d look forward to the broken ones because that meant we could scoff it straight out of the oven!

So get your work station ready.  It’s not a hard recipe to make.  Just time consuming so I suggest you divide the work over a few days.  I usually start with making the dough and the filling, forming the figolli and baking them on day 1.  I leave the decorating for day 2.  Then I wrap them on day 3! And best part is eating them on day 4!  They will vanish like magic…you’ll see!!



400g self raising flour

400g all purpose flour

400g margarine

300g sugar

juice and zest of one lemon

1tsp vanilla

4 egg yolks

milk or orange juice to bind

If you don’t have self raising flour, you can use 800g of all purpose flour and add two tsp of baking powder.

Sieve flour into a large bowl or stand mixer. Rub in the margarine to a bread crumb consistency. Add the sugar and lemon rind and mix again. Lightly mix in the eggs, juice, vanilla essence and enough milk to form a soft dough. Let rest in the refrigerator.


Almond Meal and Sugar
Almond Meal and Sugar

500g almond meal

300g sugar

4 egg whites

2tsp almond essence

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.

Add the egg whites and stir.  If it’s too dry, add some orange juice to the mixture.

Dust a work surface with flour and roll out the pastry. Use cookie cutters or custom-created cardboard shapes to cut out two identical shapes for each figolla.

Spread a thick (about 1 centimeter) layer of the almond filling onto half the pastry shapes you’ve made, leaving about 1 cm of space around the edges of each one. Brush edges with some evaporated milk. Then cover each with its corresponding half. Push the edges together slightly and bake for about 30 mins in a moderate oven (325-350F, 175C).

Allow to cool and decorate with chocolate or icing as desired.


Preserving Chevre


Chèvre (pronounced shĕv·rǝ) is French for goat and refers to any cheese made from goats milk.  Fresh (not aged) chèvre is usually just referred to as chèvre.

Yesterday I was thrilled to find out that a gallon of goat’s milk makes 1 1/2lb of cheese!  Well,  that thrill quickly changed to panic when I realised that it only keeps for about a week!

So I set about looking for ways to preserve the cheese in any way or form, and after hours of searching, I came across this site that shows how to stretch that week to a month!!

Today I decided to try the Chèvre Marinated with Pine Nuts, Thyme and Orange.  I intend to try the cherry and walnut one too and a combination of sun dried tomatoes with chili and garlic might be nice! I think that would take care of my batch of cheese for the coming weeks!

Of course you don’t have to make your own Chèvre to make this recipe…store bought will do just as nicely.

Chèvre Marinated with Pine Nuts, Thyme and Orange
Makes 8 ounces

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces chèvre, sliced or rolled into balls
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced orange zest
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme

Pour a touch of olive oil into the jar. Layer the chèvre with pine nuts and orange zest. Tuck in the thyme sprigs along the sides and add enough olive oil to cover.

I can’t wait to try it after it’s been marinading a while!


Cover in Olive Oil and Refrigerate
Cover in Olive Oil and Refrigerate


Cherry On Top ~ Pastini biċ-Ċirasa


Pastini biċ-Ċirasa

My mum knows me more than I know myself and lucky for me, she takes what I say with a grain of salt.

Success Bil-Helu 2
By Edward Calleja

She had been telling me about this Maltese Recipe Book  for months and just how good the recipes were. We’d be sharing a cup o’ coffee together over skype when I’d catch a glimpse of a tray of cookies she’d just made and every time she would say that she had followed  a recipe from Edward’s  Book!  And every time she’d say that she’ll send it to me, and every time I tell her not to.  It was a game we played quite often, with me having the last word of course!

Or so I thought because she sent it to me anyway…knowing fully well that she’d get told off for it but also that I’d love it and sure enough, my mum was right as she always is.

This book is fast becoming my go to book for Maltese Baking.  I have had excellent results with all the recipes I’ve tried so far and I thought I’d share this one with you.  These are my favourite traditional Almond Cookies.  They are a staple at weddings and baptisms and  Cafes any time of the year!

Almond Cookies
Almond Cookies

So for those of us who can’t just pop into a cafe and order a dozen or two to take home, this is a simple recipe that will definitely satisfy your craving.  One thing you have to remember is that you need to start these the night before as they need to dry overnight or from 6-8 hours!

Another thing is that even though these are easy to make, you do need a bit of muscle as the consistency of the dough does not pipe easily. So consider yourselves warned!!



The recipe makes about 3 dozen and is adapted from Suċċess Bil-Helu by Edward Calleja.


250g pure ground almond

250g powdered sugar

3/8 cup egg whites or the whites of 3 eggs

rind of half a lemon

1tsp almond essence

rice paper optional

cherries for decoration

Place the dry ingredients together in a bowl.

Beat egg whites in a separate bowl.

Slowly pour egg whites in with the almonds and sugar and stir until you see it’s well mixed.  The mixture should not be too soft.

Put rice paper in the pan.

Scoop the mixture and put in a 16-18 inch piping bag with a Wilton 1M tip. Pipe the mixture on top of rice paper or silpat as shown about an inch apart.

Place a quarter cherry on top.

Let dry overnight.

Let them dry overnight

Next morning preheat oven at 375 degrees and bake for about 10-12 mins until light golden colour depending on your oven.

Cherry On Top
Cherry On Top


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