There are few dishes I always insist on preparing from scratch. Meatballs are one of them. From scratch in this case means choosing a cut of meat and asking my butcher to mince it in my presence! Not that I doubt him (Dennis is the typical no nonsense butcher), but most of the times my base is a combination of two meats. Then there is the age-old dilemma of whether or not to add sausage to the mix for an extra layer of flavour. --- And so on with the remaining ingredients which serve mostly as seasoning and complementaries to the flesh. Lastly, the fun part - hand-shaping the mixture into balls. Moist palms with either cold water or olive oil to keep the meat from sticking to your skin and then gently roll a spoonful of the mixture between your hands. You will know when to stop rolling as soon as the sphere feels smooth and all ingredients are well integrated. --- These veal and pork sausage meatballs infused with grated lemon zest and oregano and bound together with breadcrumbs are slow-baked in a simple tomato sauce with "peppercorn" pasta. . . . . . #fromwhereistand #goodtaste #comfortfood #forkietales #foodilove #liveauthentic #maltaforks #onmytable #foodfluffer #lightandshadow #darkfoodphotography
Have you ever been in a situation in which you badly want to try out something but for a million and one reasons you never seem to get it done? It occurs frequently to me. And the feeling is quite annoying, right? Then once you finally do manage, the sense of achievement is hundred times stronger! It happened to me the other day when I finally got myself to cook this shakshuka dish. For months, I had been bombarded with the most wonderful images of shakshuka dishes that got me drool all over but somehow delayed to try it out. Perhaps it was because I was under the wrong impression that the recipe is loaded with hot spices. But when I cooked it for a Middle Eastern meal, it totally blew my mind. --- Although shakshuka originated in North Africa, today it is a common sight across the Middle East and became a popular and hip dish in Western countries. It is such a versatile, quick-to-prepare dish made from basic ingredients - tomatoes, feta, red pepper, spices and eggs - which when put together produce a most delicious meal that can be served for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. ---a
For someone who plans ahead to avoid disappointment, I'm thrilled when there is no other option but to improvise a meal with what happens to be available in the fridge and larder. And with today's ever full schedules, I find that this is happening much too often. The other day was one of them. As soon as I set foot home at the end of one of those days, it dawned on me that that mornings' meal planning routine - which usually plays out in my mind for an entire day - had completely escaped me. The result? Not enough ingredients to put together a decent supper. Oh, the horror! --- Or so I thought. What saved my day (or eve?) was a dozen or so ricotta-stuffed ravioli. Great. I had the hero. Yet just like movie heroes are flanked by a sidekick to overcome the villain, my ravioli badly needed a supporting act to tackle the looming hunger. We traditionally serve ricotta-stuffed ravioli with a simple tomato sauce. Having no desire to go through the motions, I had to come up with a quick yet tasty alternative. It felt like a do or die situation so I went all-in. I melted a knob of butter which I got going with a drizzle of olive oil, added some roughly chopped rosemary while in a separate pan I toasted a handful of chopped pistachios. Once cooked, I gently tossed the pasta for a minute or two to coat with the sauce, then plated the ravioli, grated some parmigiano, added a sprinkle of dried chilli flakes and topped everything with chopped pistachios. Spontaneity can be fun and tasty too! --- What is your favourite ravioli sauce?
[5/20]. The fifth instalment from my Still Images Award course portfolio. This was a hard one to crack. I started out by styling and shooting the octopus still raw. Not only was it hard to keep the mollusc in place due to its soft and slippery skin and the lack of skeletal support which made it sink in the pot, but the colour looked so pale and uninteresting in the photo. I had to find an alternative. My first thought was to grill it on the BBQ. However, I soon reckoned this was a high-risk option given that I had never grilled an entire octopus before and didn't have a spare one. I was completely lost. Then I recalled how mom used to boil octopus before frying it, to make sure that it is tender. --- Still, it was a shot in the dark (excuse the pun!), for I had never done it myself before. Alas, it turned out to be a fabulous trick. At first the change was hardly noticeable. Ten minutes in, the octopus began to puff up and the skin slowly took a nice brown hue. The arms opened like an umbrella which meant I could make it sit motionless in the pot with little effort. It felt like a little miracle! --- The great thing about food photography is that at the end of a shot you get to eat the food. Even greater is when the food happens to be your favourite. All the hard time was finally well rewarded!
I have stated it here before, but it bears repeating: risotto remains my preferred dish. Not only is it versatile and adaptable to whatever you happen to have in the fridge, but I find that this rice dish is extremely satisfying. Despite it's apparent simplicity, there are a few steps which cannot be compromised to attain the perfect risotto. First, choosing the proper type of rice. The choice is between arborio, carnaroli and vialone nano. No more, no less! Then there is what the Italians call "tostatura" or toasting which should last until the rice is translucent. Next is the "sfumatura" or evaporating wine. Go for chilled wine since it helps to lower the temperature, slows the cooking process while creating an outer shell around the grain which helps to release the starch which gives the creamy consistency to the dish. Lastly, add a ladleful of fresh veg stock only when the previous has evaporated. Oh, and keep that wooden spoon going. --- This risotto recipe is an example of how to turn simple and mundane ingredients into something supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! The sweetness of the peas, which are boiled and then blended with a stream of olive oil into a cream, coupled with the freshness of the mint provide a most delicious counterbalance to the saltiness released by the crispy fried bacon and the grana and parmiggiano shavings. ---
Here is the result of my first try at baking a round loaf I was so excited about a few posts ago. I must say that the way this panned out is not bad at all, considering that it is yeast-free. Granted, I did apply some tricks which helped the dough rise before popping it in the oven. First, making sure to create tension when folding the dough while turning it in a ball is crucial (a bit hard to explain here but you can find plenty of info on you tube). Then, once in the proofing basket, I placed a bowl of boiling water in the cold oven for 20 minutes beneath the dough which I wrapped in a cloth. This definitely helped the dough to grow. --- I still have to work on perfecting this recipe but I enjoyed every slice of the warm bread with cheese and apricot jam and a cup of tea on a wintry Saturday afternoon. You can see more images of the boule bread on my first ever IG story later on today! ---
Stunning dish by @enekoatxa at @azurmendi_atxa. This was one component of a red mullet served in three different ways. Here he served it with wheat stew, pepper and parsley potatoes. Not only visually great but exceptional flavours. . . . . #enekoatxa #azurmendi #foodandwinegazette #foodstagram #foodiesofinstagram #feedfeed #eeeeeats #vscofood #foodgawker #tastespotting #fromwhereistand #goodtaste #chasingthelight #alittleiglove #forkietales #foodstories #foodilove #liveauthentic #onmytable #michelinstars #finedining #foodaddict #gastrogram #artofplating #foodporn #foodphotography #foodforfoodies #lefooding #gastronomy #redmullet
[4/20] Another photo from my panel of twenty I submitted for the Still Image Award course run by @mipp_malta. This picture is one of a subset of four in which I introduce the human element in a food scene. Apart from bringing an image to life, the human presence feels so natural at a more fundamental level. Both are intertwined; people cannot survive without eating and food would not be produced and even meaningless were it not for humans. Beyond the biological need, food also nourishes all our senses. Not to mention the important role that eating plays in our social rituals. --- I couldn't possibly have had a better model for this photo than my beautiful daughter Martina. Since I was not happy with the result from the first shot, we had to set-up and redo the whole scene twice. Yet she has the patience of a saint having had to stand in my small studio in the sweltering summer heat wearing warm clothes and the apron. You are a dear @martina_ebz. ---
It's Christmas!! Warmest Christmas wishes to all the beautiful people I had the privilege to get to know through IG. May this day fill your homes with joy, your hearts with love and your lives with health. In this time of merriment and abundance, join me to spare a thought for those less fortunate. We should all count our blessings. And above all may the world find peace, joy and goodwill it so sorely needs.
It may not be the traditional Christmas cake complete with icing snowy peaks, but mama's almond cake is one of those things that make me look forward to the end-of-year festivities. Boasting a fair share of dried fruit and nuts, the lack of treacle and the inclusion of ground almond as its main ingredient turns it into a lighter, wholesome cake, full of texture and goodness. --- It's a recipe which I have never dared to prepare, safe in the knowledge that no matter how hard I try mine will never match the taste of mom's bake.
[3/20] Third instalment of my photo panel in prep for the @mipp_malta Still Image Award course. One of the things I enjoyed most during this exercise is manipulating light with flags, light absorbers and less so reflectors to create the mood I had in mind. The most annoying part was keeping the flags in place but thanks to a bunch of clamps, tape, toothpicks and blue-tac I firmly positioned the foam board to block or control light from the scene. In this image I capture the light streaming in from my studio's window as it hits and wraps around the copper pot, creating a most wonderful dramatic effect.
Of all the street food out there, kofta is definitely a favourite. The good thing about kofta is that they can be prepared using any ingredient ranging from seafood to vegetables and anything in between. The Persian origin of the word 'kofte' means pounded - a reference to the way the meat is worked until the proteins are broken down and turned in a mash-like mixture. This avoids the need for adding a bulking agent like potatoes or flour and is a distinguishing feature between the standard meat balls and their Middle Eastern cousins. This and spices of course. --- I prepared these beauties using a mix of pork and lamb mince and jazzed the whole thing up by adding 5 spices: cumin, paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg, and my secret ingredient - freshly ground cloves. Oh, cloves add such a unique flavour that elevates these glorious skewers a notch or two where they rightly belong. Koftas taste best when served with a dollop of yogurt, a squeeze of lemon, warm flatbread, a glass of red and great company! --- What is your favourite street food?
Super, super delighted and proud to have my mince pies Christmas tree photo chosen for the cover page of the December 2017 edition of Foodist magazine. This issue also carries a feature on yours truly showing a selection of my work. @foodistmag is full of recipes for the festive season and other useful tidbits.You can view the issue here: https://issuu.com/becommunications/docs/foodist_05_lowres.
At the age of 76, Luis Azzilona is not thinking of retirement. His side hustle while he was working in research and development for a multinational became his full time occupation when he quit his job some years ago. He has been passionately making corn flour for 35 years. He operates the Errotabarri mill that has worked incessantly for 350 years making corn flour in Gamiz and supplies Michelin star restaurants in the Basque region in Spain. Read the story on #foodandwinegazette. . . . . #errotabarri #basque #basquefood #cornflour #foodstories #foodblog #foodblogger #foodandtravel #travelforfood #tastespotting #fromwhereistand #goodtaste #chasingthelight #alittleiglove #forkietales #foodilove #liveauthentic #onmytable #michelinstars #finedining #foodaddict #hustle #foodporn #foodphotography #foodforfoodies ##gastronomy #mill #tradition #foodculture
A traditional soup was served by @enekoatxa at the his txoko. This was made with roast garlic, bread, dried peppers and vegetable stock. It is a traditional basque soup that was made during the civil war when people did not have access to meat. A simple yet complex dish. The ingredients work together to give you the illusion that you are nearly eating a meat stew. Eneko said the nearly gelatinous texture comes from reducing the stock. Comfort food at its best. Read more about Eneko Atxa and the Txoko on Food and Wine Gazette (link in bio) . . . #txoko #basque #basquesoup #basquefood #roastgarlic #tastespotting #goodtaste #alittleiglove #forkietales #foodstories #foodilove #liveauthentic #onmytable #foodaddict #gastrogram #artofplating #foodporn #foodphotography #foodforfoodies #gastronomy #culinaryheritage #foodculture #foodhistory #comfortfood #soup #foodpic #instafood #instafoodie #eeeeeats #feedfeed
Simply stunning. An impressive and beautiful dish at @azurmendi_atxa by 3 chef @Eneko Atxa. This is roasted lobster with corals toffee, zalla onion and finished with a coffee butter. I asked the chef how he made the sauce shiny and he said this comes from roasting the shell of the lobster very well so that it releases that colour. The sauce is finished with tomatoes and cognac. . . . #enekoatxa #azurmendi #foodstagram #foodiesofinstagram #feedfeed #eeeeeats #vscofood #foodgawker #tastespotting #fromwhereistand #goodtaste #chasingthelight #alittleiglove #forkietales #foodstories #foodilove #liveauthentic #onmytable #michelinstars #finedining #foodaddict #gastrogram #artofplating #foodporn #foodphotography #foodforfoodies #lefooding #gastronomy #lobster #coffeebutter
All set for another batch of homemade bread. Although I don't consider myself a big bread eater, hard as I try, I cannot survive without a daily slice or two for breakfast. For the rest of the day, I'm fine without the dough. Beyond the pure bliss of tearing into the loaf straight from the oven (I know it is not advisable but hey it's so difficult resist), I find bread baking a healing process in itself. --- This time I will up the ante by using the proofing basket I stumbled upon during my props spree in down time . And since I still have to avoid yeast by doctor's orders and instead use a milder rising agent like baking powder, I'm not sure how this will pan out. In any case, so long loaf pan, it's time for some honest crusty round bread. --- Any tips on alternative rising agents for yeast-free bread?
I had planned to do it earlier but other things took over (more on this later) before I could post this. So finally here goes my tribute to the brains behind The Supper Club Magazine - a premium food magazine to which I had the honour and privilege to contribute in the latest autumn edition. Leafing through my copy, it became immediately evident that this is no ordinary magazine. I actually think that 'cooking book' is a more apt description. --- Harvest. Gather. Feast - three magical words running throughout this edition which brings together diverse and talented contributors from all over the globe. Thank you Kay and Michelle for giving me this opportunity and for sharing your noble vision with the world. --- You can order a copy by heading to @hocsupperclub and clicking the link in the profile. It makes for a perfect and unique Christmas gift.
#tbt to another photo I took for the amazing November issue of Nude Food magazine. The autumn-themed issue of this online food magazine has a ton of mouth-watering recipes and interesting tips and information that are useful to the discerning home-cook. This image accompanies an article on the price of spices and why some are worth the high tag. You can read this and all the other articles by following the link in profile on @nudefoodmalta.
Would you agree that often vegetables are treated as an afterthought? We even refer to them as a 'side dish' or 'accompaniment'. But in reality they constitute a main ingredient as much as meat, poultry or fish do. Nutritionists even insist that veggies should occupy around half of what we put in the plate. So today I decided to salute a good ol' timer of the vegetable armada - green beans. ------------- These legumes provide the best snap when in season and I find them mostly enjoyable simply lightly steamed and dressed in a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. If you want to get more funky, whisk a squeeze of lemon in the dressing and mix in thinly chopped spring onions. The pungent taste of the onions contrasts nicely with the sweetness of the beans. ------------- How do you prepare your beans?
[2/20] Meat or rather minced meat, is the "hero" in the second photo of my photography course panel. This image captures the transformation of chuck meat into mince, as it passes through a manual grinder. I also wanted to give the picture a Steph King touch with the splattered blood and the creepy metal hook. It's one of my favourites also because meat is not the friendliest subject to capture in an appealing and interesting way.
The jury is still out on an age-old debate and one that is unlikely to be solved any time soon: what to call those miniature cakes - muffins or cupcakes? And what are the factors that distinguish them? Some put it down to the amount of sugar that goes in the recipe, with muffins being on the healthier side of the scale. Yet others distinguish cupcakes from muffins by the presence of a flavoured frosting on top of the former. Whatever you call them, the convenience of the palm-sized cakes surely makes them a favourite with many. Perhaps because they can be eaten on-the-go and unlike the good ol' cake their single-serving allows for tasting different flavours which comes in so handy when you're aiming to satisfy the varying preferences of a crowd. ---------------------- And while the debate rages on here is a batch of moist, soft and joyous chocolate...erm...muffins or cupcakes? ---------------------- How do you distinguish between muffins and cupcakes?
I have been hooked to hummus since the first time I tasted the smooth and creamy chickpea spread (eons ago). When one day I decided to bring out my clunky food processor and blitz the heck out of garbanzos, tahini and garlic, all helped by a splash of olive oil, lemon juice and water, I had discovered the real mccoy. The taste of home-made hummus is a world apart from the store-bought tub. But much like a car which is about to stall, the other day I felt like the time was ripe to shift the classic dip to a higher gear. With all the pumpkin flowing around, introducing squash was a natural choice to jazz things up. ----------------- Roasted pumpkins intensify and sweeten the flavour giving an autumny twist to the original. I also added a pinch of chilli flakes which took it to a different dimension altogether. This was indeed my third hummus re-discovery. ----------------- What is your favourite star addition to the classic hummus?
Every week, starting from today, I will reproduce the photos I presented for the final assessment of the Still Image Award course run by @mipp_malta. Each course participant had to prepare a panel of twenty images on a pre-selected theme. As you can well imagine, yours truly's choice of theme effortlessly fell on food and being completely gripped by moody images, I titled my panel 'Of Food and Mood'. During the duration of the course, I learned a great deal, met awesome people and most of all had fun honing my photographic skills. Special thanks goes to @kevincasha5158 our tutor whose passion and deep knowledge of photography is contagious and inspirational. [1/20]
I keep returning to this dish every so often, being the fish lover that I am. The unique taste of fresh yellowfin tuna chopped in small pieces and mixed with a few high-quality ingredients is enough to make one's soul sink and heart fly. It is truly sea-meets-land in terms of fragrances, combined into a simple and light dish. ------------------ Apart from sea-meets-land, this version of tartare is also East-meets-West. The diced tuna is mixed with ginger, soy, lime juice and topped with sesame seeds. The wasabi purée is a (hair-raising) compliment to raw tuna. ------------------- What is your opinion about eating raw fish?
As much as I long for hearty winter fare, every so often I find myself daydreaming about the tastes of summer. And there is no better way to relive the summer moments than by indulging on freshly-caught red mullet. The fish's pink-gold skin colour is in itself a pleasant reminder of balmy days spent at the beach admiring the blue seas. So for this occasion I thought of contrasting the summery colour of red mullet against a more moody setting. I think it brings out the rich and charming colours of the fish. ----------------- This recipe is so simple to prepare and yet so full of flavour. Place a few fresh bay leaves in an oven-proof dish and on top lay the fish stuffed with a few sprigs of rosemary. Drizzle a generous amount of vinaigrette made with the peel and juice of lemon and olive oil over the fish. Season to taste and pop in a pre-warmed oven for 20 minutes.
Perhaps no food is as versatile as omelette. Provided you have the base ingredients - eggs and butter or oil - your imagination is the only limit to how far you can travel with this quick-serve meal by adding you fav fillings. I normally prepare omlette on those (recently more frequent) moments when time is scarce and I have no option but to knock something together in a beat or I risk that hunger turns me into a ware-wolf. ------------------------------- The other day, however, I took my time to go the extra mile and prepared tortilla - the Spanish version of omelette - with cubed potatoes, beans, red peppers, chorizo and a grating of aged manchego. Oh the joy! ------------------------------- How do you serve your omelette?
So very #proud to see my photo featured in the latest issue of Nude Food magazine. It was great fun prepping and shooting this spice wheel photo. The Fall 2017 edition is packed with handy tips, incredible spice articles and plenty of pomegranate-based recipes everybody can easily repeat at home as we warm up to the cold winter temperatures. Head over to @nudefoodmalta and get inspired!
If "comfort food" is any food that we eat to feel better, then pasta with ragu sauce surely ranks high on the list. With this dish, "comfort" is not restricted to the eating part. I find that the entire process of preparing the sauce; chopping onions, carrots and celery, prepping the tomato puree, mincing the meat(s) and letting all that goodness cook slowly on low heat to perfection - releases a soothing feeling. Consuming it is a different matter altogether! ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Although the jury is still out, many studies seem to suggest that what we term comfort food is nothing but humans' need for belonging or a soothing sense of familiarity very similar to the ritual of re-reading/re-watching a favourite book/movie. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Do you believe that food provides comfort? What is your comfort food?
One of the most fascinating aspects of life is the process of creating something from a bunch of materials. Furniture from wood, clothes from fabric, paintings from pigments and so on and so forth. At home the same process happens daily in the kitchen; the magic of transforming a handful of simple ingredients into a dish with a life (even if a short one) of its own. Science and art come together to produce a more powerful outcome. The creator's satisfaction is bigger when the process is more involving, or seemingly so. Like this ricotta cheese. I was always intimidated by the idea of producing cheese. But as it turns out, ricotta is soooo easy to whip up. Milk and citric acid are the only ingredients needed which when mixed together give a tasty, fresh home-made cheese in no time.
The fourth and last (for now😉) in this installment of food photos shot in high key. This one goes beyond a depiction of food but symbolises the beauty of diversity. It shows that whatever our colour - white, red, black, green, yellow - or size, harmony is possible. Even more, diversity promotes beauty. Imagine how boring it would be if we all were one and the same.
Second in the series of food photos shot in high key | fresh local goat ricotta cheese has a creamy texture and a sweet taste...and is darn delicious too!
Today's is the first in a series of high-key food photos I took as part of a discovery into different styles. I have always found chiaroscuro very intriguing but I admit that following this little experiment, the minimalistic white-on-white is as fascinating. Which style do you prefer most?