Monday, October 26, 2009

Chilling out with friends at Ghajn Tuffieha

Yesterday, we decided to go out in the afternoon and dine out with our friends at Ghajn Tuffieha - (pronounced 'ine' as in 'nine' Too-fee-ha ) one of the most beautiful sandy beaches in the North of our island. Although the air is now somewhat cooler than in summer, yesterday a good number of people were either sunbathing or frolicking round at the beach. When I saw all the activity at the beach, I kind of forgot that it's been almost a month since Autumn started. We are still enjoying warm days here in Malta. There were even some daring people who went for a dip in the choppy sea even though it was windy. We enjoyed ourselves so much that we did not notice how time flew. At the end, after watching sunset, we reluctantly made our way home.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bird Hunting in Malta

There goes my staying late in bed this weekend. Living near the countryside does have its repercussions. Why is it that weekend or no weekend I have to be woken up so early? Today, (like in the past 4 weeks) the constant gunshots of heartless bird hunters, somewhere in the vicinity of our house woke me up at around 5:30am. I can't imagine, for the life of me, how they can make out the birds flying in the darkness of morning. Don't they strain their eyes? Their incessant killing starts from 5am!!! Today, I've been tossing and turning in bed waiting for the shots to abate - in vain. Blessed Sunday indeed!

As I'm typing, the sound of gunshots is still going on. The sound of the lead pellets hitting our skylight and the side windows is very unnerving. I feel sorry for those birds, that, after flying for so many kilometers in so many days, their life ends up in one second here in Malta. It's heartbreaking. Unfortunately, the news that makes headlines is only the bad publicity! The BBC and other foreign news are having a field day with our hunting issues. Take a look at these links and you'll see what I mean:

Our island is rarely in the news but wonder of wonders when our hunting season opens we get to be very 'popular' or should I say 'infamous' with the rest of the E.U countries.

Recently, Maltese educators were asked to refrain from passing any negative comments to the students with regards to bird hunting because they were told that the children might turn against their hunter parents!

If the FKNK (Federation for Hunting and Conservation representatives) had the time to prepare the Teachers' Pack, I suggest that they keep on reading it themselves. As a teacher, I would never impart positive comments regarding hunting. Hunters should go and get a life! They should abide by the law! The lengths hunters will go through to justify shooting birds is amazing.

img credit Wildlife Extra

Monday, October 12, 2009

Banana and Chocolate Squares

With the onset of the rainy season, I usually start looking for some good baking recipes. This weekend, while I was browsing through some food blogs this recipe caught my attention. It was very easy to prepare - in fact, I think it only took me an hour from start to finish. And, mark my words, once you take these delicious chocolate and banana squares out of the oven, they won't last long - they're simply irresistible! One last thing..make sure you don't forget the chocolate chips - I completely forgot about them - I sprinkled them in the last minute and, as expected, they didn't melt properly!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Another authentic Maltese recipe - Torta tal-lampuki ( Dolphin-fish pie)

Since we are in the lampuka season I thought of posting a lampuka recipe. The Lampuka - also known as Mahi Mahi, Dorado or Dolphin Fish – is Malta's 'national' fish. The season stretches from the end of August to the beginning of November. This is a seasonal fish and is very much in demand during its season. The following recipe was extracted from The Food and Cookery of Malta.
For the pastry

400 g plain flour
200 g margarine
Pinch of salt
4 tbsp (approx.) cold water

For the filling
2 medium sized lampuki (approx. 400 g)
1 onion, sliced 2-3 tbsp olive oil
2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped or 1 dessertspoon tomato puree
1 medium cauliflower
800 g spinach
8 black olives
1 tbsp sultanas
6 walnuts, shelled
(I also added some boiled potatoes, and some green olives too. )

Make the pastry. Use no more water than necessary. Keep the pastry cold while you prepare the filling.

Cut the fish into 4 or 5 steaks, coat lightly In flour and fry in shallow oil until just cooked. Remove any bones and the skin. Reserve. (Tip: I prepared the fish the night before because it takes a long time.)

In a large pan soften the onion in olive oil. Add the tomatoes, cook for a few minutes more. Add the cauliflower broken into florets and the spinach. Add about 250 ml of boiling water, cover tightly and cook until the vegetables are just tender. Remove from the heat and add the olives, sultanas and walnuts. Season. It is import ant to let this mixture and the fish get quite cold before finishing the pie.

Line a large shallow pie dish with slightly more than half the pastry. Put half the vegetable mixture over it, then the fish, then the remaining vegetables. Roll out the rest of the pastry to cover. Decorate and brush with beaten egg to which you have added a few drops of oil. Bakc at 200°C/400°F/gas 6 for 30 minutes, then at 180°C/350°F/gas 4 until golden brown and the filling heated through. This pie tastes equally good hot or cold.

Some prefer to cook the cauliflower and spinach separately. In this case, add the 250ml water to the tomato and onion mixture and simmer gently for about half an hour.

For a change, I made small pies (qassatat) instead of a large one. Qassatat come in very handy when I'm at a loss at what lunch to prepare for work.