Thursday, August 28, 2014

Anna Sultana’s Hot Zucchini Salad, Maltese Style

Okay, the garden is in its final stage.
Some items are fully ripe and large.
Some items are immature and scrawny.
As you'll find among the zucchini.

The thick zucchinis are perfect for Ma’s Qarabali Mimli - Stuffed Zucchini, Maltese Style.
The smaller sized ones are just fine for Ma’s Parmesan Zucchini.
And then there are the in-between ones…
No problem.  They can be delicious, too.

This recipe makes about six cups of salad.


If you have a jar of sun-dried tomatoes, cut a couple of slices and add them to the oil before you start frying.
A red onion adds a nice touch of colour.
For the diced tomatoes you can use fresh or canned, drained.
You can substitute green beans for the peas.

                         Hot Zucchini Salad

Slice into half length wise
3 fresh zucchini (about 1 pound)
Halve the slices, then cut into 1/2 inch thick pieces.                     

Pour into a large skillet
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Heat over medium heat. 
1 onion, thinly sliced 
1 clove garlic, minced 
1 teaspoon oregano
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
the prepared zucchini
1 Cup peas 
Cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes or until crisp-tender.
1 Cup tomatoes, diced 
Cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. 
Remove from heat and place in a large platter.

Sprinkle over the salad
3 Tablespoons parsley, chopped
4 Tablespoons grated Parmesan or Romano cheese (optional)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Farewell, Summer 2014 by Margaret Ullrich

Folks around here are actually looking forward to the arrival of Autumn.
Even the kids are eager to get back to school.
With the summer we’ve been through, who can blame them?

Here in Winnipeg it’s been the summer from hell.
Hot during the week, with almost guaranteed rain during the weekends.
Occasionally there was also rain during the week.

Actually, we shouldn’t be surprised that summer has been so unpleasant.
We’ve just been through a winter that was awful and never wanted to end.
We lost a lot of our plants because of the winter kill.

The worst part of the summer was that it mostly rained during the weekends.
Yesterday was just another soggy Sunday.
Well, some Winnipeggers, with snorkels and canoes, managed to have some fun in the flooded streets, God bless them.

The excessive waterworks wasn’t just here in the midwest.
Folks in Suffolk County in Long Island, New York suffered through a day of rain that caused as much damage as a hurricane would.
They’ve started a petition to get government aid to help them recover.
If you live in the states, please click and sign.  Thanks!

The only good thing about a summer that can’t be enjoyed outdoors is that it’s a perfect time for catching up with indoor chores.

After all this, what else can we say but - Bugger off, Summer 2014!!
Autumn is here, in all its seasonal glory.
Time for crisp weather, brilliant colours, hearty meals.
Holidays, with all the traditional fuss and foods, are coming!
Let's get ready to enjoy them!
Our homes have never looked better.

About tonight’s new moon in Virgo…
According to the folks at
Order, organization and the value of routine are highlighted by the Virgo new Moon, which will leave you torn between making plans and simply forging ahead. 
The next four weeks are ideal for shuffling your schedule to make it more efficient, and de-cluttering both your commitments and your space.

Pay more attention to health, organization and how you might be wasting or losing time and energy by not having a good plan.

It’s time for a fresh start, a new beginning.
Maybe a new schedule, a little tweaking here, a few changes there.
And Virgo will give us a hand!

Good health, better planning and lots of energy to you all! 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Anna Sultana's Apple Bread Pudding

About a year ago I posted Ma’s recipes for Bread Pudding, Maltese Style. 
Yes, two recipes.
Pudina tal-Ħobż is the Maltese take on bread pudding.
And, no, it is nothing like the North American bread pudding.

As with most Maltese recipes, there's more than one way to make Pudina.
The other Pudina was a bit simpler.
Both are good, so try them both.

We had quite a bit of Pudina when Lily Tulip left College Point. 
Pop was out of work.
Every week he'd bring home a few bags of day-old bread.
Ma would turn them into Pudina tal-Ħobż
Well, we never went hungry.

One can get tired of the same thing, no matter how good.
Sometimes Ma made a bread pudding recipe she had found one day when she'd read The New York Daily News.
And she found that this recipe is good, too.
I hope you will agree.

                        Apple Bread Pudding
Butter a 9×13-inch deep baking dish, then set aside.
Preheat oven to 350º           
Bake 40 minutes  

Slice into 1-inch cubes 
1 pound bread (crusts removed optional)
Spread cubes on a baking sheet.
Toast in the oven for 6-7 minutes, until crisp.  Set aside.

1 tart green apple, peeled
Cut into 1/2-inch pieces.

Place the toasted bread cubes in the prepared baking dish.
the apple cubes 
1 Cup raisins 
Mix together until evenly distributed.  Set aside.

Place in a small pot
1/2 Cup milk
1/2 Cup dark brown sugar
Simmer, stirring constantly, until the brown sugar melts.

Place in a medium bowl
4 large eggs
Beat in
3/4 Cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place in a large bowl
3 Cups milk
Add the warmed milk and stir until blended.
Stir the egg mixture into the milk/sugar mixture.

Pour the milk/sugar/egg mixture over the bread cubes.
Stir to evenly coat the bread cubes.
Let stand for 5 minutes. 
Sprinkle over the top
1/4 Cup sliced almonds
1/2 Cup dark brown sugar

Place the pan in the centre of the oven.
Bake for about 40 minutes, until puffed and set, with the top lightly browned.
Let the pudding cool for 15 minutes so that it will be a bit more solid.

But, of course, it will never be as solid as Ma's Pudina.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Anna Sultana's Stuffat tal Fenek (Rabbit Stew, Maltese Style)

As beef is to Texas, rabbit is to Malta.
Back in 1952, after we had moved from Corona to College Point in Queens - a borough in New York - Pop set up a few cages of rabbits in our garage.
The rabbits did what rabbits do.
After a while Pop needed more cages.
As a result, we had lots of rabbit meat to eat.

Ma had a few favourite recipes for preparing the rabbits Pop raised.

Her Fenek bit-tewm u bl-Imbid (Rabbit with Garlic and Wine) was often served for Sunday dinner.
For old time’s sake we also prepared it when my parents visited us when we lived in British Columbia in the ’70s.
That was an amazing surprise.
Somehow or other, Pop had found some rabbits.
Like I said, rabbits are important to Maltese.

Another favourite recipe was Ma's Fenek fil forn (Roasted Rabbit).
It's a simple recipe, which works just as well with stewing fowl.

Ma also cooked Stuffat tal Fenek (Rabbit Stew).
Rabbit is now available in the frozen food section in stores.
Why not surprise the family with something a little different?


This recipe also works with a stewing hen.

You can use either frozen peas or a can of peas, undrained.

                        Stuffat tal Fenek

Peel and quarter
2 onions
6 carrots
2 cloves garlic

Cut a rabbit into small pieces.
Flour the pieces and place in a large bowl.

Pour into a dutch oven 
1/4 Cup olive oil
Over medium heat fry the rabbit pieces until browned on all sides.
1 Cup dry red wine
Simmer for 5 minutes.
Place the fried rabbit and wine in the large bowl.

Place in the same dutch oven
2 Tablespoons olive oil 
the prepared onions and garlic
Fry until golden.
the fried rabbit pieces and wine
2 ounces tomato paste
4 ripe tomatoes, halved
the prepared carrots
1 bay leaf
Add enough water to cover the rabbit pieces.
Bring to a boil.
8 ounces peas
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Simmer gently for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Serve with spaghetti or any other favourite pasta.
Polenta is also good.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Anna Sultana’s Linguine All’astice - Linguine with Lobster / how to butcher a lobster

Got an email asking if I have the recipe for Linguine All’astice.
Yes, I have the recipe.
And now you do, too.

Linguine All’astice is simply Linguine with lobster in a very basic sauce.
The sauce is a cinch.
The lobster… not so much.

I’ll let you in on a secret: Ma served this with frozen jumbo prawns.
The ones that are about 22 to the pound.
Much simpler.

Live lobsters are a bit intimidating.
Remember the boiling lobster scene in Annie Hall?
And Julie had to live with the guilt of being a lobster killer in Julie & Julia.
They just had to toss the lobsters into a pot and boil them.

Linguine All’astice calls for a butchered lobster.
Not fun, but it can be done.
First thing:
Knock back a few stiff drinks to steady your nerves.
DO NOT remove the rubber bands that keep the lobster claws shut.
Wear oven mitts to protect yourself.

Okay… here we go:
Place a LIVE lobster upside down on a cutting board.
Hold the lobster by the tail and plunge the point of a heavy knife into the body,
where the tail joins the chest, and cut off the tail.
Continue hacking up the lobster at the joints into 2 inch chunks.
Crack the claws.
That's one dead lobster.
Remove the rubber bands.

Frozen jumbo shrimp are smaller and a quicker cook.
Do the frying part until they're almost pink, then remove them from the pot.
Add the other ingredients and simmer.
Add the shrimp for the last 10 minutes.


If the sauce is dry, add a little bit of the pasta’s cooking water.  
Don’t add too much.
If the sauce is too watery the sauce will taste mild. 

                        Linguine All’astice 

Serves 4

Prepare as above
2 lobsters (about 1 1/2 pounds each) 

For the Linguine

In a large pot place
4 quarts water
salt to taste
Bring to a boil.
While the sauce is simmering, add
1 pound linguine
Cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is al dente.
The pasta will get a bit more cooked in the sauce.
Drain and set aside.

For the Lobster

While waiting for the water to boil, start the sauce.
Into a large heavy saucepan pour
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
Fry the garlic until it turns golden.
the prepared lobsters 
Cook them until they turn orange, about 5 minutes. 
1 Cup dry white wine
Cook another 2 minutes.  
1 29 to 35 ounce can Italian tomatoes, chopped
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Turn the heat to low, cover and simmer  15 minutes.
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
the drained cooked pasta.
Toss the pasta until it is coated.
Cook together for 1 - 2 minutes.
Arrange the pasta in a warm serving bowl or platter.
Sprinkle with
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Top with the lobster.
Drizzle with 
extra virgin olive oil

Serve immediately.

It has a bit more of a kick.

And, yes, it can also be made with frozen jumbo prawns.

Anna Sultana's Blueberry Cake / Berry Cake

Peaches, plums, nectarines…
And the berries!!
Fresh fruit is in season.
Why not take advantage of the sales?

Blueberries have been getting a bit of attention, science-wise.
They reduce brain damage and may influence blood pressure.
Blueberry juice may benefit the brain, improve memory and learning in older adults, and possibly reduce blood sugar and symptoms of depression.

So, buy that big clamshell of blueberries and keep the family healthy!

Ma had a nice simple recipe that she always used in the summer.
It works well with raspberries, too.
I’ve also found that it works with cranberries.
Perfect for when cranberries are on sale during the holidays.


Fresh blueberries work best. 
If you’re using frozen, allow extra baking time for the extra moisture.
You can add 1 teaspoon lemon extract to the cake batter for extra flavour.

If you’re using cranberries use 1 teaspoon almond extract instead of vanilla.
Don’t top with more cranberries.
You can have some on the side if someone likes a really tart dessert.

For that matter, the blueberry cake is delicious without the whipped cream.
And handier for picnics and packed lunches.

If you have covered the cake with whipped cream and berries, serve immediately.
If timing is a problem, store covered at room temperature until ready to serve.
Leftovers will keep well in the fridge for up to three days.

                        Blueberry Cake
Grease a 9 inch pan
Preheat oven to 350º           
Bake 45 to 60 minutes  

Sift together in a medium bowl
2 1/2 Cups flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Set aside.

Have on hand
3/4 Cup milk

In a large mixer bowl place
1/2 Cup unsalted butter
1 1/4 Cup sugar
Beat until light and fluffy. 
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
Mix until blended.
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix until combined.
Add 1/2 of the milk and stir to combine.
Add another dry, then wet and then the final dry addition.
Stir after each addition until the batter is smooth.
Spread half of the cake batter in prepared baking pan.

Place on top of the cake batter
3 Cups fresh blueberries
Sprinkle over the blueberries
2 Tablespoons sugar
Gently spread the remaining cake batter on top of the blueberries.

Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. 
Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes.
Gently run a knife around the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. 
Carefully transfer the cake to a rack.
Allow to cool completely, then place cake on a stand or plate.

While the cake is cooling
In a small mixer bowl place
3/4 Cup heavy cream
Whip until soft peaks form.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Just before serving, spread the whipped cream over the top of the cake.
Top with
1/4 Cup fresh blueberries

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Anna Sultana's Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Butter Topping (Ganache)

Folklorama introduces us to quite an assortment of flavours.
But all good things must come to an end.
Time to get back to regular meals.

When in doubt, make something chocolate.
Ma had a quick, easy chocolate cake recipe.
Perfect to make during the summer, while the gang is gathered around the grill.

The cake is good on its own.
Or with a scoop of ice cream.
In a pinch a tin of frosting will do.
But, if you have the time, do try the ganache.


You can substitute chopped semi-sweet or dark chocolate or dark chocolate chips when making the ganache.
For a mocha touch, add 2 or 3 Tablespoons strong coffee.

White chocolate also works well, too.

Use a large toothpick or a lollipop stick to poke holes in the cooled cake.

                        Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Cake
Grease a 9×13 pan
Preheat oven to 350º           
Bake 30 minutes  

Sift together into a large bowl
3 Cups flour
2 Cups sugar
1/3 Cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Make a small hole in the middle of the dry ingredients.
Pour in
2 Cups cold water
2/3 Cup vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons white vinegar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
Stir until the batter is smooth.
Pour into prepared baking pan.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. 
Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
Gently run a knife around the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. 
Carefully turn the cake out onto a cake pan.
Allow to cool completely before covering with ganache. 

Chocolate Ganache

Place a small bowl over a small pot of simmering water.
Place in bowl
1 Cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons butter
Melt together over low heat, stirring frequently until the mixture is smooth.

Poke holes in the cooled chocolate cake.
Pour the ganache over the cake and spread with a spatula.
Let the ganache soak into the cake. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Queen Me!! by Margaret Ullrich

Paul and I have just completed a quest.
It made Homer's Odyssey seem like a stroll around the block.

Ah, Odysseus…
His journey home to Ithaca after the fall of Troy took ten years.
Finding the perfect mattress, bed frame and sheets took us about as long.

We actually tested mattresses in both Canada and the U.S. 
The salesman in the states has even sent us some e mails.
We’re trying to figure out how to let him down gently.
Until then we’ll just detour around that state when we vacation.

We were upgrading from a double to a queen.
So that meant we also had to look at bed frames.
God, there are so many kinds of bed frames.
Some were quite impressive, complete with book cases and drawers.
Some were right out of a hospital’s colonoscopy prep room.
We decided on a simple headless, footless, wooden box with slats. 

The week before the frame was due we went to buy queen sized sheets.
We browsed them all - Sears, The Bay, BBB and a few specialty shops that made sheets out of I don't know what. 
We got a set of white sheets.
Since Winnipeg has a bed bug problem, the mattress and box spring had to be bagged and sealed before they could be taken away.
We picked up the plastic bags from Sears, went home, and had a drink. 
Some other time I’ll face a new duvet cover and new curtains.
Then, maybe, repaint the walls, look for a new carpet... 

Sears delivered the pieces for the bed frame on August 1, a little after 5 p. m. 
The mattress was scheduled for August 6. 
We wondered if they thought it would take us almost a week to build the frame.
It came with an instruction manual that gave us time goals for each step.

We added up the manual’s time goals.
People who knew what they were doing were supposed to build it in an hour.
We planned on at least three days.
We knew our limits.
Worse came to worse, we thought we’d pull out our sleeping bags and camp in the living room for a few days.

Day one - we read through the brochure.
We checked that we had received everything.
We examined and did a dry run of laying out the slats.
We checked that all the little holes were there and matched.
Yep, everything was in order.

Day two - a little messier.
The brochure was written for someone building the bed frame in a gymnasium.
We were working in our bedroom.
A bedroom that still had a double bed filling most of the middle of the room.

Okay, first get rid of the old bed.
We stripped the mattress and leaned it, and the box spring, against the wall.
Then the colonial bed frame was dismantled and carried down to the basement.

On to building the box frame.
That was easy enough.
Laying on the slats and and screwing them in were no problem.
Then there was the mitred trim which had to be screwed into the top of the slats.

One corner was fine, the other took a bit of tweaking.
Finally, done!!  
It had taken about an hour to put it together, just like the instructions said it would!
We laid the old mattress on top of the slats and went down for a drink.

On August 6 the moving men called early and arrived promptly. 
They noticed the labels marking our old mattress and box springs as an actual Eaton’s bedding set.
They realized they were practically removing an antique.
Eaton’s had gone out of business in 1999.
The bedding set had been bought a few years before that.
Before our young movers had been born.

We are now the proud owners of a queen-sized, soy-based, gel-plus memory foam mattress from Sears. 
Progress and an improvement in our lives.
Now Paul’s feet are no longer hanging off the edge. 
Life is good!

About tonight’s full moon in Aquarius...
It’s called Sturgeon Moon, Corn Moon, Red Moon, Green Corn Moon, and Grain Moon.

According to the folks at
Pay close attention to your goals, because this is a Super Moon!  ((The closest to Earth of three this year at 221,765 miles away.)  The next one is on September 9.  
The last new Moon in Leo on July 26 gave you a fresh start and asked you to assume more of a leadership role in your own life.  
This full moon gives you an opportunity to stand back and see how far you've come!

Let go of any activities adding an unwelcome load to your life. Organize a plan to maximize what's great about your life as you also make changes that will make you feel more comfortable.

Now it's crucial to focus on the needs of others, for Aquarius loves a team player! 
Pay extra attention to your friendships, groups or organizations. 
At the same time it highlights the value in doing your own thing. 
It’s your once-a-year chance to honour your authentic desires!

A full Moon in Aquarius is the best lunation of the year for breaking out of sexual ruts, and is such an amazing opportunity for sexual experimentation..
Get ready to completely buck convention! 
This summer's second Super Moon is in anything goes Aquarius. The whole weekend will be rife with opportunities for you to get your freak on, especially in the bedroom ... or, for that matter, any other place that turns you on!

Okay... Fresh start - we have a queen-sized bed.
We let go of our old double-sized bed.
Aquarius loves a team player... groups... break out of sexual ruts... buck convention... anything goes.
Oh, my!!!

Well, the new bed is going to get a rang dang do breaking in…
for starters!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Anna Sultana's Lamingtons / Strawberry Coconut Cake Squares

It’s a great way to get to learn about other countries.
Imagine, enjoying a perfectly prepared exotic meal, then sleeping in your own bed.
No passports, no packing.

Since Malta is a favourite vacation spot of the British Commonwealth, Maltese people also manage to enjoy foods from other commonwealth countries.
Restaurant owners know tourists sometimes want something familiar.
Nothing personal, just the tummy wants what the tummy wants.

One popular Australian dessert is lamington.
It’s really easy to make and is perfect for summer.
Squares of sponge cake dipped in a syrup or sauce, then in coconut.
Easy enough for the kiddies to do.


Fresh fruit, plentiful in summer, also goes well with sponge cake.
Pick up some, along with a carton of heavy cream (or your favourite whipped topping) and enjoy!

Back to the lamingtons…
If you’re preparing this in advance, wrap the pan in plastic wrap and freeze.
When frozen, remove the cake out of the pan and cut it into squares.
After that you can also return the squares to the freezer until ready to dip in the strawberry syrup and coconut.

Lamingtons are sometimes served with a layer of cream or strawberry jam inside.
Some people dip the cubes in a chocolate sauce before dipping into the coconut.
A raspberry version is also is a favourite.
If you or the kiddies would like to experiment, why not!
They freeze well and defrost quickly, too.

                        Strawberry Lamington

Grease 2  8 inch square pans
Preheat oven to 350º           
Bake 30 minutes  

Sift together
2 Cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

Place in a medium pot
1 Cup milk
2 Tablespoons margarine
Heat to boiling point.

Place in a large bowl
4 eggs
Beat until light and thick.
Beat in 
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
Beat the heated milk/margarine mixture into the egg mixture.
Beat the flour mixture into egg mixture only enough to blend.
Pour into prepared pans.
Bake 30 minutes.
Invert and allow to cool at least 1 hour.
Remove cakes from pans and cut into 2 inch squares.

While the cake is cooling prepare

Strawberry Syrup
2 small packages of strawberry jello in 
3/4 Cup boiling water
Stir in 
1 Cup strawberry jam
3/4 Cup cold water
Chill this to the point that it thickens slightly but is not beginning to set.

In a medium bowl place
4 Cups dried shredded coconut

Dip the cake cubes into the syrup one at a time. 
Let them soak for a few seconds.
Roll the soaked cake into the coconut.
Place squares on a baking sheet to dry.
Store in airtight plastic containers in the fridge.
You can also freeze the prepared squares.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Anna Sultana’s Chickpea Salad, Maltese Style

A few days ago I mentioned serving Ma’s Green Bean Salad with her Manicotti with Cheese Filling.
It is a handy salad to have in the fridge.
It improves while storing.
But, it is nice to have a choice.

Ma would often stock up on dried beans when they were on sale.
It didn't matter which - she used them all.
She often served us Pasta Fagioli and Pasta E Ceci.
She also prepared Chickpea Salad.
And so can you.


Chickpea is another name for garbanzo beans.
If you don't have time - or want to use some canned beans you've bought -
2 19 ounce can of beans for 4 Cups of home prepared beans.
But first drain the can's liquid, rinse the beans and drain the water.

Dried beans are so easy to prepare.
Worried about 'the gas' factor?
Draining the cooking water will help prevent that.

No, I still don't know why.

Preparing Dried Beans

Place in a bowl
2 Cups dried beans
enough cold water to cover by 2 inches
Let stand for 4 hours, or overnight, in the refrigerator.
If the beans appear above water level, add more water.

Drain the beans and place them in a pot with fresh water to cover by 1/2 inch.
Over low heat, bring to a simmer.
Cover the pot and simmer about 1 hour.
If the beans appear above water level, add more water.
When the beans are soft, drain and use as canned.

                         Chickpea Salad

Makes 4-6 servings 

Rinse and drain well
4 Cups prepared garbanzo beans
Place beans in a large bowl.
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 cups plum tomatoes
Drain in a colander.

Prepare and add to the bowl with the beans
3/4 Cup red onion, chopped 
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, sliced into lengthwise slivers
Add the drained tomatoes.
Wash and dry well
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/4 cup fresh parsley
Finely chop the herbs, add the the vegetable and combine

In a small bowl place
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
Whisk in
5 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Gently add the dressing to the salad
salt and pepper to taste
Marinate at room temperature for an hour or two before serving.

Some prefer it when freshly made and before being refrigerated.
And then some like it after a longer marinating time.
Serving at room temperate is usually best.