Friday, April 24, 2015

Anna Sultana’s Spaghetti Pie #3

Ma served Spaghetti Pie a few times a month when I was growing up.
Spaghetti, as well as all types of pasta, is very kind to the budget.
Our Sundays weren’t Sundays if we hadn't eaten a plate of spaghetti as our first course.
And yet there was always quite a bit of leftover spaghetti - enough for Monday’s dinner.

Ma also always had eggs in the fridge.
During the fifties, no one worried about cholesterol.
Eggs are an economical source of protein.
On Mondays Ma would use a half dozen or so to make a pie.
Ma always added bits of leftovers to the pie to give us a little variety.

Spaghetti Pie is a delicious, easy recipe and there are so many ways to prepare it.

I posted Ma’s recipe for Froġa tat-Tarja - Spaghetti Pie, Maltese Style - a couple of years ago.
I also posted a variation of Ma’s Spaghetti Pie, along with a recipe for her Pasta with Butter and Ricotta, a few months after that.
About that time I also posted the recipe for Carmela Soprano's Spaghetti Pie.
Yes, the Sopranos enjoyed Spaghetti Pie.
Even if money is no object, or the ingredients just ‘fell off a truck’, Spaghetti Pie is a treat everyone enjoys.

A recipe that uses similar ingredients is Ma’s Spaghetti alla Carbonara.
Bacon, onion, cheese and spaghetti… what more do you need.


Vermicelli is the traditional pasta used for this dish.
But, if you have spaghetti or spaghettini, no problem.
Just adjust the boiling time for the pasta.

Ma would cook the spaghetti pie until the underside was golden, about 6 minutes. 
The she would place an inverted large platter over the skillet and, with oven mitts, firmly grab both the platter and the skillet, and carefully flip them over. 
Then she would place the platter on the counter and lift the skillet off the spaghetti, place the skillet back on the stove and add 2 Tablespoons olive oil to the skillet.
Then she would slide the spaghetti from the platter (raw side down) back into the pan to cook the other side.

While the pie was cooking she would wash the large platter.
After the pie had cooked 8 minutes she would take the clean platter, invert it over the skillet and, with oven mitts, firmly grab both the platter and the skillet, and carefully turn them over.
Then she would serve the Spaghetti Pie. 

Yes, that is a bit tricky.
You can also cut into the pie with a heat-proof spatula and turn over the sections.

I posted my easier method.
Forgive me, Ma.

                        Spaghetti Pie

Serves 2 to 6

In a large pot place
4 quarts water
salt to taste
Bring to a boil.
400 grams (about 1 pound) spaghetti or vermicelli
Cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is al dente.
Drain the pasta well and place it in a large bowl.

Heat in 10-inch oven proof skillet over medium heat
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 rashers bacon, diced
Cook until browned.
1 1/2 Cups onion, chopped 
Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. 
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
Cook about 1 minute. 
Pour the mixture into a small bowl. 

In a large bowl, lightly beat
6 large eggs
1 Cup ricotta
1/2 Cup milk
Stir in the onions, along with
3/4 Cup Parmesan cheese, grated 
1 Tablespoons parsley, dried
1 teaspoon basil (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Add the cooked pasta.
Mix the ingredients well.

Heat in the same skillet over medium heat
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Pour the pasta mixture into the skillet.
Cover the pan and cook 10 minutes.
The eggs should be almost set and the bottom lightly browned.

Preheat the broiler while the pie is cooking.
Place the skillet under the broiler to brown the top (about 3 to 5 minutes).
Slide a spatula under the pie to loosen it.
Tilt the pan near a serving platter and slip the pie onto the platter.
Cut into wedges.

Serve hot, cold or at room temperature with a sprinkling of parsley.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Anna Sultana's Timballo with Pastry - Pasta Casserole, Maltese Style

I posted Ma’s Timpana recipe two years ago.
If you’re avoiding carbs, don’t go there.
Timpana is a pie filled with pasta, not fruit.
Timpana is a salute to carbs.
And so good!!

A few months ago I posted Ma’s recipe for Timballo.
If you’re trying to cut back on the carbs, this is a good choice.
It has pasta, but instead of pastry, the pasta is covered with eggplant.

As with most Maltese recipes, there are Timballo variations.
One variation is a mix of Timpana and Timballo. 
Really… Timpana with eggplant.
How perfect is that?


Usually Ma used ziti.
Sometimes penne.
In a pinch, elbow.
You want something that can be filled by the sauce. 
Spaghetti would just lay there.
Not a good thing.

In a rush?
Roll out
2 400 g packages of flaky or puff pastry
Line the bottom and sides of a baking dish with 2/3 of the pastry.
Pour in the macaroni sauce mixture.
Cover the top with the remaining pastry and decorate with trimmings.
Add the egg wash for a nice gloss.

If you don’t have veal, a mixture of the pork and beef will be fine.
Or you can use either alone.


Serves 6 to 8

For the pastry:

In a large mixer bowl place
3 3/4 Cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 Cup + 3 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes 
Beat until crumbly.
2 eggs
Mix well.
1/4 Cup milk, about - enough to make a firm ball of dough.
Let the dough rest.

For the filling:

In a large pot place
4 quarts water
salt to taste
Bring to a boil.
1 pound macaroni
Cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is al dente.
Drain the pasta, run it under cold water, drain again and set aside.

Wash and trim the ends from
2 medium eggplants (about 1 pound)
Slice them lengthwise, about 1/4 inch thick.
Place the slices in a colander or on a large cookie sheet.
Sprinkle them with 
Let drain for 30 minutes to remove bitterness.
Preheat the oven to 350º F
Rinse the eggplant slices and pat dry.
Place them on the cookie sheets.
Lightly coat the slices with extra virgin olive oil.
Bake them for 10 minutes at 350º F  
Set them aside.

While the eggplant is baking, slice
1 pound mozzarella
Set aside.

For the sauce:

In a dutch oven pour
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, chopped finely
Stirring constantly, fry until the garlic is lightly browned.
1 1/2 pounds ground meat (a mixture of beef, pork and veal)
Fry until lightly browned.
Remove excess fat.
1/2 Cup white wine
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley (1 Tablespoon dry)
2 Cups peas
1 28 ounce can tomatoes, chopped
Cover and let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove the bay leaves.
Stir the pasta into the meat sauce.

For the assembly:

Grease and flour a 9 inch springform pan
Roll out 2/3 of the pastry into a circle about 1/4 inch thick.
Line the bottom and the sides of the pan with the pastry.
Trim and remove any dough hanging over the sides.
Line the sides of the pan with most of the eggplant slices, allowing them to hang over the sides. 
Cover the bottom of the pan with eggplant slices.
Add a layer each of
Flip over the filling the eggplant that is hanging from the sides of the pan.

Roll out the remaining pastry into a circle about 1/4 inch thick.
Place the circle of dough over the pan to cover the Timballo
Trim and remove any excess dough.
Using either your fingers or a fork, seal the side and top dough edges together.
Decorate the top of the Timballo with the dough trimmings.

Pre-heat the oven to 350º F

In a cup beat
1 egg
Brush the beaten egg over the top crust.
Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, until nicely browned.
Allow to cool 15 minutes.

Timbale is best served hot.
But it is also delicious cold and is great for picnics.

Want to avoid the pastry?
Ma’s Imqarrun il-forn (Baked Macaroni, Maltese Style) is also delicious.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

It’s a New Moon, Kristen Stewart by Margaret Ullrich - Champagne Cocktail and Kir Royal Recipes

I’m feeling a little melancholy about this new moon.
It’s the last major moon phase I’ll see while I’m 64.
When the full moon comes on May 3, I will be 65.
Well, actually, 65 years and two days.  

In July, 2010, I posted about how my turning 60 had affected our finances.
We’d just had our annual chat with our financial advisor.
After she found out I had passed 60 she gave me a belated birthday gift.
Their super duper Plan 60 Account.

I was feeling a bit over the hill.
Wrinkled, saggy, less energy… you get the picture.

But, what time taketh away, banks and businesses giveth.
After she casually mentioned that, since I was 60 and could get both of us discounts for shopping and travelling, I saw a gleam in my husband's eye. 
I hadn’t seen that gleam since… well, never mind.

After May 1 I’ll qualify for ALL senior discounts.  Yeee.. ha!!!
Turning 65 is a milestone that gets special days at the stores.
Hey, even the government has extra tax deductions for the over-65 crowd.
Anyway... becoming a senior citizen beats the alternative.

A hottie like Kristen Stewart looks great on posters. 
But we older gals have - and receive - something a little extra.  
We are an instant discount for everything near and dear to our husbands' hearts.  
And that's something they can take to the bank. 
So, it calls for a celebration.
A glass or two of Champagne would do the trick.

Okay… we’ve just finished paying taxes.
So maybe a glass or two of  sparkling wine will have to do.
Which is okay.
Geography isn’t everything.
Champagne means sparkling wines from the Champagne region.
If you live in the Champagne region, it’s just the local brew.
So, it's okay to make like the French and drink something from the hood. 

Champagne (or sparkling wine) is always served cold.
It is usually served in a glass that has a long stem with a tall, narrow bowl.  
The other glass - the one they usually have on anniversary cards - ruins the wine.

A bit of trivia…
The flat glass that looks like a bowl is called a Victorian coupe.
According to legend, it was designed using a mould of Marie Antoinette's left breast as a birthday present to her husband, Louis XVI.
That girl knew how to par-tay!!

Are you turning 65, too?  Why not go fancy and make a Cocktail.
Cocktails became less popular in the late 1960s and through the 1970s.
They got popular again in the 1980s, with vodka often replacing gin. 
Traditional cocktails began to make a comeback in the 2000s.
So Cocktails have a history.
As do we seniors.  Celebrate!!!

                        Champagne Cocktail

Place in a champagne glass
1 teaspoon sugar
1 dash bitters
1 lemon peel
1 orange peel

Fill with 
ice cold champagne

Kir Royal, served in a flute glass, is made with champagne instead of white wine.
It’s easy to make.
If it's the end of the month, it can be topped up with white wine.
I'll bet that's what the French would do after they had paid their taxes.

                        Kir Royal

Place in a champagne glass
1 part crème de cassis
Top up with
9 parts champagne

About the moon this weekend…
According to the Farmers Almanac:

On April 18 there will be a New Moon, with Venus at the point in its orbit where it is closest to the sun.

On April 19 Mercury and Mars can be seen very near the Moo in the west-northwest. Mercury is also at the point in its orbit where it is closest to the Sun.

On April 20 look for the Pleiades to the east of the Moon, and the Hyades to the west of the Moon, about an hour after sunset, looking west-northwest.

April 21 look to the west-northwest to see the waxing moon forming a trio with the red star Aldebaran and Venus about an hour after sunset. The Lyrid meteors will reach their maximum during the night when about 15 to 20 “shooting stars” per hour might be seen.  The Lyrid can be seen from April 16 to 25.

Getting an early start on your garden?
Plant flowers and vegetables that bear crops above ground during the waxing moon, from the day the Moon is new to the day it is full.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Links for Cheesecake and Cheese Recipes

Have you heard?
A Lego set version of the sitcom Golden Girls' iconic kitchen and living room has swept the Internet.
And the set comes with a Lego cheesecake.

Well, it had to, didn’t it?
No matter the time of day, whatever the problem, the girls had a cheesecake.

Ah, cheesecake!!

Is there any problem that can happen to any woman, at any age, that can’t be helped by a slice of cheesecake.
Or anything that has cheese in it.

In honour of the Lego Golden Girls, here is a list of the links for 'I'm Turning 60's top cheesecake and creamy, cheesy recipes.


       - Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk


Carmela Soprano's Cassata / Iced Sponge Cake with Ricotta Filling

Carmela Soprano's La Pastiera - Easter Ricotta Pie, Italian Style

Carmela Soprano's Pasticiotti / Tartlets with Vanilla Cream Filling

       - Italian Easter Pie with Ricotta and Meat

Monday, April 6, 2015

Thank you for visiting!!

The top ten countries and their visitors are:
United States..... 127,956
Canada................ 26,829
Malta.................... 15,460
Australia............... 10,631
United Kingdom..... 8,641
Russia.................... 8,301
France.................... 6,422
Ukraine................... 4,856
Germany................. 2,940
Romania................. 2,600

Folks from Indonesia, China, Belgium, Albania, Sweden, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Spain, India, the Philippines, Finland and Brazil also visited regularly.
A huge thank you to everyone!
Hope everyone is enjoying a very Happy Easter season
and that I'll see you again soon!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Wishing you all the joy and hope of the season...

May joy fill your day,
Hope light your path,
And the many blessings of Easter 
warm your heart...
Wishing you a Happy Easter!!

Thank you for visiting!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Blessed Weekend! by Margaret Ullrich - Gin Fizz Recipe

Wishing everyone a Blessed Weekend!
This is going to be quite the weekend for Jews and Christians.
Passover begins on the evening of April 3, and ends on the evening of April 11.
For Christians following the Gregorian calendar, April 3 will be Good Friday, followed by Easter Sunday on April 5.
For those following the Julian calendar, Easter will be celebrated on April 12.
But maybe they’ll be invited to a party this weekend, too.

Here in Winnipeg March 2015 has had a few extreme temperature days.
Even a couple of days of snow.
But the snow steadily disappeared and it is actually looking like Spring.

No, there aren’t any real flowers, yet.
No daffodils outside of what we can find in the shops.
But we’re grateful that the snow is gone and we can wear regular shoes.
And we’re praying that there won’t be another blizzard as we had in 1997.

A month ago I posted the recipe for Tom Collins.
It’s slightly different from a Gin Fizz, which is "fizzed" with carbonated water.
This makes it a bubbly drink.
Which might make it fun for a festive gathering.

Some add a whole egg.
Some add either the egg white or the yolk.
Some use sparkling wine instead of carbonated water.

Some add green crème de menthe.
Although that might’ve worked better on St. Patrick’s Day. 

                        Gin Fizz

2 ounces gin (4.5 parts)              
Juice of 1/2 lemon (3 parts) 
1 teaspoon sugar (1 part) 

Place all ingredients in a shaker filled with cracked ice.
Shake well and double strain into a highball glass.
Fill with soda water  (8 parts).

About the moon this weekend…
According to the Farmers Almanac:

Before sunrise on April 4 there will be a total Eclipse of the Moon.  To see this eclipse you will need to be on one of the countries or cities located around the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Across much of the US and Canada, this eclipse will coincide with moonset; the farther west you go, the more of the eclipse you will see. 

Alaska and Hawaii will have an excellent view as the eclipse will occur in the middle of the night. This eclipse is called one of the shortest — totality lasts less than 5 minutes. The partial phase is visible everywhere in North America, except parts of Maine and the Canadian Maritimes. 

On April 4 there will be a Full Moon, called the Full Pink Moon. This name came from the herb moss pink, or wild ground phlox, which is one of the earliest widespread flowers of the spring. 

Other names for this month’s Moon include the Full Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon (if before Easter), and among coastal tribes, the Full Fish Moon, because this was the time that the shad swam upstream to spawn.