05 February 2010

Visiting Malta?

Was kindly invited to do a guest post on Malta by Ever The Nomad, check it out for some ideas of things to do if you're thinking of visiting Malta. Many other travel destinations to be read about while there!

04 February 2010

Happy Friday

 A book I so fondly remember from my childhood, sadly I do not have a copy here but for those with little ones, I did happen on a pretty sweet video of it found here .
Happy Friday, may this weekend bring you time enough to stop and smell the flowers.

03 February 2010

Wednesday's Corner View: Sweets

With the nearing of Carnival here in Malta come the arrival of the  Prinjolata cakes, a special treat for just this time of year. The sweet overdose before lent. Have taken it upon my self to taste test as many slices as I can this year in order to find the best one and then to gleen the recipe if possible. Will be back with an update and hopefully a good recipe in a weeks time.  So far St. James Cavalier in Valletta is number one, Pictured above is it's huge cake on display. For other Corner Views look here

01 February 2010

Ode to: the door

While out with little D. walking through the village running errands we happened upon a few nice doors, this is one example of the detailed ironwork you find on old doors here, as well as by chance a blossoming almond tree just next to the playground! So here you have it, a close up with the actual almonds (and still no leaves).  
A few more doors,  sorry to bore you but I find them so pleasing. 

and one last one, the name is really what got my attention, not the best name for a house hmm?

31 January 2010

Maltese Chocolate Chestnut Soup, Imbuljuta

As thunder rumbled across the island last night, rain pounding and the flashes of lightening catching us off guard, we lit candles and enjoyed a cosy evening in. Thankful for out little gas heater, and warming Maltese wine (its around 50 F, 10 C inside these days) and I can't tell you how much I miss central heating. I decided to finally try making imbuljuta which is a traditional chocolate and chestnut soup (sweet).

I had been asking my mother in law for weeks to let me watch her next time she made it and at last she did. I must explain that this soup has the most wonderful smell, chestnuts, chocolate, cloves and tangerine peel, and because the soup needs to cook slowly for nearly an hour it has a chance to drift seductively through the house. I was told that it often was made on Christmas eve, so that when people returned from midnight mass they would be warmed by it. I was also told that in olden days when you went to give  a present to a new baby during the winter months they would often serve you this soup as a sign of gratitude, accompanied by small almond cookies.
Having experienced now two winters here in Malta I can see how one would appreciate coming in from the rain to be warmed by a bowl of this. The houses are mostly made of stone here, traditionally a kind of local pale yellow sandstone, which means they keep very cool in the hot summers but the stones ability to absorb the moisture from the air makes the wet days of winter feel extremely cold inside.
My mother in law fondly recounted that when she was a child on especially cold days her mother would make this soup while the house was taking their afternon naps (all seven children), the memory of what it was like to be woken by its smells still very vivid. The joy of coming down together to sit crowded in the kitchen spooning up chestnuts from steaming bowls of chocolate.
The recipe, should you want to try it.

Imbuljuta (Chocolate Chestnut Soup)
500 grams dried chestnuts (shells removed). Be sure to soak the chestnuts for 8 hours to overnight first.
5 Tbs dark unsweetened cocoa
5 Tbs sugar (to taste really, this version is not overly sweet).
1 whole tangerine peel
5-6 whole cloves
1/2 cinnamon stick (remove after 20 min of cooking)
enough water to cover the chestnuts

Place all ingredients in pot and let slowly cook till chestnuts are very tender, (about an hour). I strayed form tradition (I do not like the texture of the wet chestnuts so much) and after removing the tangerine peel and cinnamon stick, I blended the soup, so it became a thick dark pudding like texture. I think if it is very thick you could easily serve it with a dallop of fresh cream, if you want to cut the intensity.  Serve hot with a spoon.

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