I have always idolized exotic and historic Malta as a perfect Paradise destination. So it was a real treat to prepare one of it’s most popular snack foods, Pastizzi.
It’s time for the MENA (Middle Eastern & North African) Cooking Group. This monthly group has for goal to help us discover the culture and cuisine of the countries found in these parts of the world. The host of the month will choose a savory and a sweet dish from the country and the members pick one dish to make. Get your luggage ready as we are exploring Malta this month.
As I was catching up on my favorite food blogs the other day I felt so awful for Bren who described how she broke her camera during an event. I also got a bad gut feeling. Well exactly one week later I broke my DSLR lens. I could not believe it. In such a stupid and careless way. I was carrying 50 things at once, including the camera, to toss on the couch as I was planning on downloading picture. Well I loss my grip on the camera and it fell. The UV filter was shattered and and the zoom extending part was crooked.
Well it looks like the body is OK and I was able to download my shots. I also had just received 2 payments on Paypal which now became lens shopping funds. Good timing but would have skipped the whole episode. Found one on Ebay and waiting for the mail man to bring my package. This is one of the recipes that I was thankfully able to download, a Roasted Jerusalem Artichoke and Walnut Salad with Ricotta adapted from this blog post.
Have you broken broken a camera lens before or an expensive electronic ‘toy’?
Back to the salad. Have you ever eaten a Jerusalem Artichoke before? I discovered this vegetable about 10 years back and fell in love. At the time it was really hard to find but it is gaining popularity. My mom said she remembers it from her childhood but I guess was forgotten for a few decades.
In case you are wondering, it is not related to the artichoke nor has it a connection with Jerusalem. It is actually part of the sunflower family and when the Italians started immigrating to North America they called it by the Italian name girasole (sunflower in Italian) which somehow turned into Jerusalem.
And how do we explain the artichoke part? The delicate and earthy taste has a faint resemblance to artichokes. Do not judge it for its tubular root look, this is a refined vegetable to the palate. Most recipes ask to peel them but don’t bother. The skin is thin and totally edible. Just give it a good brushing under cold water. This is a great warm salad that can totally substitute as a meal, it is a hardy portion.
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Place the artichokes on a baking tray lined with aluminum, drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put in the oven for about 30min until soft and cooked through.
Put the walnuts on a baking tray. Pop in the oven for about 5min until golden. Take out and leave to cool. Chop roughly.
Prepare the seasoning by mixing together the mustard, the vinegar and olive oil. Toss with the artichokes.
When the artichokes are cooked and warm, prepare 2 plates with greens on the bottom. Spoon the artichokes on top and add the walnuts and ricotta on top. Serve straight away.
Renata of Testado, Provado & Aprovado! is our Daring Cooks April 2011 hostess. Renata challenged us to think “outside the plate” and create our own edible containers! Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 17th to May 16th at http://thedaringkitchen.com!
This is a very special challenge indeed for both Renata and myself as we will be hosting a DUAL challenge since I am hosting the April Daring Bakers. We’re challenging the Daring Cooks and Bakers to make EDIBLE CONTAINERS. it is all very exciting as it is the first time both monthly challenges cooperate.
I decided to go with a Zucchini Ricotta Roll-up that was part of my mother’s Italian birthday feast. Now I went really loosely with my container idea. Some may debate if it is a container at all…but I say it is since the zucchini holds the ricotta mixture that you eat. Renata had fabulous ideas of her own as suggestions like a stew in a squash, breaded cups, and bread soup bowls. If you want to see the actual whole challenge you can download the printable .pdf file HERE. The only mandatory items was to make a SAVORY edible container and fill it with something appropriate. So I present to you my entry….
Zucchini Ricotta Roll-ups by CookItaly
2 medium zucchinis
2 sprigs fresh mint
4 sprigs fresh marjoram
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
Clean the zucchini and slice thinly length wise. Heat a ridged grill pan or a regular frying pan with a bit of butter and cook the zucchini slices dry for about 2 minutes on each side. Let cool to handle.
Clean the herbs, strip the leaves from the stems and chop or snip with scissors. In a bowl mix the ricotta with the chopped herbs, salt and pepper to taste, and the olive oil.
Lay the zucchini slices out flat, place a walnut sized piece of the herb ricotta mix on each and roll up. Add a dab at the end to glue the roll together. If you have cherry tomatoes or radishes you can top with a little slice to add a touch of color. Cool in the fridge for 1 hour.
For presentation I served my rolls on a bed of pureed snow peas. I just cooked a handful of peas in a bit of vegetable stock until soft…adding a bit of garlic salt and pepper. I passed this through the blender and got an amazingly colorful shiny dark green puree.
Today the repairs (done by the building owner) began. The parquet floor in my bedroom was removed and my carpets were cleaned professionally. I had to remove everything from my bedroom (except the bed). So now I am sleeping on my mattress on the floor of the living room. There is furniture everywhere. Its not easy feeling so cramped but I am actually really excited…feels like a free renovation. Here is a pic of the floor today…
So life is a bit crazy right now. I also bought yesterday my plane ticket for my summer holiday…in 3 weeks I am out of here. And lots of exciting things are coming shortly here on the blog.
Wednesday I will have an exclusive review of a very special new store opening on the same day I will post.
Keep an eye out at the end of the week for an article I am writing for the Daring Kitchen.
A really great review of a restaurant in Toronto.
Reviews…great stuff: a ceramic knife, an expresso machine and nice ethnic flavored vinaigrettes.
And a tease picture below about a really amazing outing I had with a fellow Montreal food blogger, Foodessa.
These two recipes were the ‘bonus’ recipes of this month’s Baker’s Challenge over at The Daring Kitchen…..the challenging being cannoli if you read my posts a bit below. Now I did not make these bonus recipes but totally thought they are worth sharing. I also do plan on making each soon. I think the idea of making your own ricotta and Mascarpone is just too cool for school! And both recipes looks so easy!