#27 Date selected: 9/4/16 Date completed: 14/4/16
Country selected: Malta
Dining Selection: Cooked Own
What was on the menu/recipe address:
- Cauliflower Flan – Torta tal-Pastard
- Spinach, bacon & potato soup – By Patty Azzopardi
The Republic of Malta is in the Mediterranean Sea and is comprised of an archipelago of islands 80km off the southern coast of Italy. It’s east of Tunisia and north of Libya and is one of the world’s smallest and densely populated countries. The country has had a succession of powers and historically, has had great strategic importance as a naval base due to its location.
Whilst there are a numerous islands that make up the Maltese territory, most are uninhabited. Only the largest three islands, Malta, Gozo and Comino, are populated. There are plenty of good harbours thanks to the numerous bays along the indented coastlines and the landscape is made up of low hills with terraced fields.
Tourism is very strong, with three time more tourists visiting than there are residents. 1.6 million tourists visit each year.
The cuisine of Malta is strongly influenced by Sicilian and English cuisines with Spanish, Maghrebin and Provencal cuisines also playing a part in the food culture. Food has been historically important in the development of a national identity and there a number of regional and seasonal variations.
Thursday 14th April 2016, 1.52pm
The weather is starting to turn cold here in Melbourne and I’ve been out practically every night for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival which is currently in its final week. I’m starting to get the traditional ‘Festival Flu’ and have been craving comfort food, rich in vegetables. This has very much influenced my choices in recipes for this challenge.
My first choice was Torta tal-Pastard (cauliflower flan) – creamy and delicious!
It’s fairly simple to make and contains the equivalent of an entire cauliflower. You boil the cauliflower until cooked, then strain and mash. Next make a white sauce with onions and add it, along with some eggs, cheese, salt and pepper to the mashed cauli. Then it’s simply a case of adding the mixture to a shortcrust pastry-lined flan tin and topping with a bit extra parmesan cheese and freshly chopped parsley. The flan is then cooked for approx. 40 mins in the oven.
The end result is a gorgeous wintery dish that would be perfect paired with a salad or as a simple dinner. The topping is thick and creamy and isn’t overpowered by the pastry as so many pies and flans tend to be. So yummy!
My second choice of recipe was a Spinach, bacon and potato soup. This was to really load up my veggie intake but also because I thought it would go beautifully with the flan.
It’s even easier to make than the flan. Sautee the onion, bacon then potatoes. Add water and stock cubes then bring to the boil. Boil til tender then add spinach. Cook for a few minutes. Put everything in a blender and roughly wizz. Cook over the stove for a little while longer then serve with cream and parmesan cheese. Too easy!
The only part of the recipe that I was a little confused about was how much water to use. I took a punt and added about 4 cups (note: I was using half quantities of the recipe). This seemed about right but you might want to reduce this to 2-3 cups for a thicker soup. Whatever you do, ensure that you’re using a large pot as the spinach takes up a lot of space before it wilts down.
The soup is evenly balanced and all of the ingredients shine through. It’s also very healthy and I imagine would be a fantastic source of iron with all that spinach. I would definitely suggest topping with a little cream – it really adds to the texture of the dish.
I was very impressed with both of these recipes and they were exactly what I felt like in my over-tired, fluey state. They’ll definitely be on my list of recipes to make again!
Time to pick another challenge!!