Canape for your Festive Meal

With only a few weeks left to Christmas, here are some ideas for to prepare for your festive meal. But before I start this week’s recipe, I would like to remind you about the Christmas Market which is on this Sunday, 23rd November, at San Anton School Imelliet, L/O Mgarr.

You’ll find everything you want for the perfect Christmas, from traditional decorations, to gift wrapping, home-made jams as well as stocking fillers to impress your family and friends. Whilst you shop, the children can meet Santa or take part in one of the numerous activities such as story telling or Christmas crafts. The market is open all day from 10.30am till 8pm.

And now back to our recipe. When preparing your festive meal this year, why not start off with some impressive canapé . These delicious nibbles will keep your guest’s appetites at bay and at the same time it is an opportunity to get the conversation going.

And whilst they are chatting about the weather, you are comfortably left with some extra time for the final arrangements before greeting them and inviting everyone to have a seat!
These canapé can be prepared in advance and assembled on the morning.

You will need 1 long baguette - possibly a day or 2 old!
The day before, cut the baguette into slices. Cut slightly on the diagonal to make larger slices. Grill the bread on both sides until it has toasted, possibly under an oven grill. Once the slices have cooled, place them in an air-tight container and keep until you are ready to use them.

Crabmeat pate
1 tin x 400g crab meat
2 tablespoons good quality mayonnaise
Half a lemon grated
Freshly ground pepper

Place the crab meat into a bowl and mash it with a fork. Add the lemon zest and the pepper, then stir in the mayonnaise. Now taste the pate and season according to your taste buds. The pate should drop once scooped with a spoon but it should not be too runny. Place the pate in the fridge.

Mushroom and blue cheese
200g fresh mushrooms finely chopped
2 garlic cloves
50g blue cheese

Chop mushrooms and garlic finely and cook over a medium heat until the mushrooms are done and all the liquid has been absorbed. Now place the mushrooms in a bowl and allow them to cool completely. One the mushrooms are cold, add the blue cheese which also needs to be chopped finely. Place the pate into a bowl and refrigerate until you are ready to use.

When you are ready to serve the canapé, place a small amount of pate on one end of the baguette slice. Mix the different pates on the same plate so that you will serve a selection. This selection of canapé will take just minutes to assemble on the day.
This article has been previously published in the Best Buy Supplement, out monthly with The Times

Pork Fillet with Home-made Chips

Christmas is getting closer and with most Christmas publications finalising this week, I’ve been pretty busy preparing delicious Christmas treats for you to enjoy making over the Festive season.

This weed I would like to mention the Christmas Market that will be held at San Anton School, Imselliet (limits of Mgarr) on Sunday 23rd November. You’ll find everything you need for the perfect Christmas, from traditional decorations to gift wrapping, home-made jams and also stocking fillers. So make a note in your diaries. The market is open from 10.30am to 8pm.
And since we are only 6 weeks away from Christmas and from the big Christmas lunch here is a quick family meal you can prepare in minutes!
Pork fillet is one of the leanest cuts of pork you can buy. It is also not expensive and even though cooking meat might sound inhibiting for mid-week suppers, this dish needs very little time to prepare.

When you buy a pork fillet you buy a whole one and this is usually about 30cm long (on average). You can cook your fillet whole in a pan however this would take some time and a lot of care since the fillet would need continuous turned – definitely not ideal for a mid-week supper.
The method I use in this recipe is to cut the fillet and hence reduce its cooking time. Here is what you need for this pork supper for 2:
1 pork fillet
2 medium sized potatoes
Start off by preparing the fillet. Trim any excess fats from the outer part of the fillet taking off as much as you can. Next cut the fillet into thick strips around 5-7 cm each. Now turn the fillet over so that the cut would be the top or bottom and using a kitchen mallet beat the meat slightly.
This way you will spread your fillet out into a wider and flatter piece of meat. Keep on doing this until all the fillet has been cut and beaten.
Next, place all the cuts in a plate and sprinkle with some salt and pepper, set aside in the fridge until you are ready to use. This can be prepared a couple of hours in advance.
Now wash the potatoes still with their skins on and cut them in half, now cut each half into wedges and place them on an oiled baking dish. You can sprinkle them with salt or any type of spice. You can make some with paprika or curry should you prefer.
Now place the chips into a hot oven. This would have to be pre-heated to 170C. Cook the chips for about 30 – 40 minutes or until your chips are golden on the outside and soft on the inside.

Serve your chips as soon as they are out of the oven.
To cook your fillet, warm up a non-stick pan WITHOUT any oil or fats you can also use a griddle pan. Once the pan is hot enough, place the fillet pieces into the pan making sure that they do not touch each other. If the pieces of pork touch each other, then they will cook into one whole piece.
Once your pork is cooked through, serve your fillet with the chips or add some fresh salad or hot vegetables!

Quick Apple Pie

This week has finally seen the start of some winter weather. This is good news for people, who like me, love to bake. Working with a hot oven in a cold day has a special feel to it!

Next week, 11th November is St. Martin’s day so make sure you keep this local tradition alive by preparing the Traditional Borza ta’ San Martin for your little ones. A tiny cloth bag with a draw string at the top containing nuts, figs, 1 orange and 1 apple and if available 1 pomegranate.

This bag used to be carried around during the feast of St. Martins and children used to play “ zewg jew fart” meaning even or odd. Through this game you could win more nuts from other children’s bags or lose their own little stash!

So, if you are planning a St. Martin’s picnic this weekend or simply want something quick to enjoy with your afternoon teas, here is a recipe for a super fast apple pie. The pie is as easily adaptable for your weekend dinner parties so don’t treat this apple pie as inferior dessert simply because it is easy to make!

Here is what you need to make this week’s quick apple pie.
400g Sweet pastry.
2 apples
2 eggs
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
60g ground almonds

Start off by rolling out the pastry and place it in a flan dish to rest. In the mean time prepare the filling. Peel one of the apple – no need to core it. Grate the apple and place it in a bowl together with the eggs, almonds and vanilla.

Now go back to your flan dish. The pastry would have relaxed by now and you will be able to remove any extra trimming from the side. Once that is done, spread the filling over the base. Now wash your second apple cut it in half and keeping the skin on, slice it into thin slices. Now place the slices around the edge of the pie leaving a hole in the middle where the filling is still showing.

Bake the apple pie at 160C for about 20 mins. I’m sure you will never manage to do a dessert in less time than this!