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#CovidCooking: Four Top Maltese Chefs Share What They’ve Been – And What You Should Be – Cooking Under Quarantine

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Malta’s food industry has been totally upended as the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps the nation.

Food deliveries have become the norm, with even McDonalds rolling out home delivery – but some of the talented chefs behind some of top eateries on the islands have been keeping busy creating delectable dishes that you can recreate at home.

We teamed up with four Maltese chefs for a spot of #CovidCooking and to see what they’ve been up to under quarantine – and we even got them to share their recipes with us.

1. Traditional Maltese Kusksu

Served with crusty Maltese bread.

Chef Marvin Ebejer – one80 Kitchen & Lounge, Mellieħa

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 small cauliflower
  • 2 potatoes cut a bit chunky
  • 2 tablespoon chopped celery
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 250g shelled fresh broad beans
  • 100g kusksu no.67
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1ltr vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 fresh local sheep cheeselets (Ġbejniet friski tan-nagħaġ)
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Gently fry the onion, garlic, carrots and celery in a little olive oil for 5 minutes, until tender.
  2. Add the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add the stock, potatoes, broad beans and sugar and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and leave to simmer for around 40 minutes.
  4. Add the kusksu to the soup and cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Then carefully break the eggs into the soup so they poach firmly.
  6. Add the cheeselets and leave to simmer for another 10 minutes.
  7. Take off the heat. 
  8. Add the parsley and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Leave the soup to set for 5 minutes.
  10. Serve with crusty Maltese bread and enjoy!!
Marvin Ebejer

Marvin Ebejer

What does this dish mean to you?

Everyone has their own way of cooking this traditional soup, with the recipe being passed on from one generation to the next. The base is always the same but every home has its own special additions. Today we decided to cook kusksu, as my father-in-law left us some freshly picked broad beans, carrots and cauliflower from his own field, on our doorstep. We already had fresh cheeselets in our fridge, so when you have these ingredients the first thing that comes to mind is kusksu.  Today’s cold, rainy weather is perfect for a hearty traditional soup.

How are you coping with COVID-19?

I’m following recommendations and staying home as much as possible. I go out only once a week, early in the morning to buy some groceries. Other goods are delivered to our doorstep.

At the moment I’m using this time to work on the recipes of our new menu at one80 in Mellieha. We will launch it as soon as we are open to our customers again, hopefully very soon. 

Apart from that, I’m spending a lot of precious time with my family. Having a two-month-old baby, feeding him, playing and watching him grow… the days are passing by really quickly. I enjoy watching informative TV series, usually about food and cooking, with my wife.

I watch the news to know what’s happening, not only in Malta but all around the world. Hopefully, all of this will come to an end soon so we can enjoy our beautiful island and meet up with our loved ones to enjoy a meal in local restaurants altogether.

2. My Roast Chicken

With slow-roasted onions, broccoli, black garlic purée, and beurre blanc.

Chef Steve Mamo – Kitchen Concepts Group

 

Roast chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1.65kg whole free-range local chicken
  • 20g fresh thyme
  • 40ml olive oil
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Cut up your chicken or have your butcher do it. Leave breast on the crown. Remove the legs.
  2. Debone the thighs and French trim the drumstick.
  3. Marinate chicken for 30 minutes with olive oil, thyme, lemon zest, and season heavily with salt and pepper.
  4. Sear chicken in a pan till golden and roast in a pre-heated oven at 180c for 18 minutes.
  5. Then rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Black garlic puree

Ingredients:

  • Whole head of garlic
  • 5g thyme
  • 20ml olive oil
  • 30g black garlic
  • 50ml double cream
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Wrap garlic in tin foil with thyme, olive oil, and a pinch of salt and roast in the oven at 160c for 50 minutes. Allow to cool, then squeeze out roasted garlic and discard the skin.
  2. Add black garlic and warm double cream and blend with a hand blender till smooth and creamy, season lightly.

Roast new potatoes with fennel seeds and thyme

Ingredients:

  • 200g new potatoes
  • 50ml olive oil
  • 10g thyme
  • 5g fennel seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Boil new potatoes in salted water till they are cooked through.
  2. Drizzle with oil, thyme, fennel seeds, and season generously, and roast at 180c for 30 minutes.

Roast broccoli

Ingredients:

  • 150g broccoli florets
  • 20g olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Cut broccoli into even-sized florets, blanch in boiling salted water for 3 minutes and refresh in ice water.
  2. Sautee in a pan with oil and seasoning, on high heat till lightly charred and finish in the oven for three minutes.

Beurre blanc sauce

Ingredients:

  • 200ml dry white wine
  • 50g onion
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 25g salted butter
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Place roughly chopped onion in a saucepan with white wine and lemon juice and a pinch of salt.
  2. Reduce to a glaze and pass through a sieve.
  3. Then off the heat add cold butter and stir to emulsify the sauce. Season to taste.
Steve Mamo

Steve Mamo

What does this dish mean to you?

Roast chicken is something that everyone can make at home, and a good roast chicken is hard to beat if done well. The end result is really delicious, I wish everyone could taste it or at least just smell the kitchen… And it all starts from humble, cheap ingredients – just treated with respect.

How are you coping with COVID-19?

Schools are closed too so that means spending much more time with my 6-year-old boy – pretty tiring, more than being at work

I enjoy playing around in the kitchen experimenting and cooking without pressure. Kitchen Concepts true to form is re-inventing itself, finding ways to keep active, generate business and contribute towards the battle against COVID-19.

This week Foodhub, a dedicated delivery and take-out kitchen offering dishes from Vecchia Napoli, Cuba, Manakis and Gululu is launching.

KC has also dedicated its kitchen and staff at Vecchia Napoli in Salini to Solidarity Meals, an initiative sponsored by The Alfred Mizzi Foundation which prepares hundreds of meals a day for vulnerable persons.

3. Chicken Breast and Beef Liver Stew

With dried mushrooms and red wine.

Chef Isaac Camilleri – one80 Kitchen at Mgarr Yacht Marina, Gozo

Stew

Ingredients:

  • 700g chicken breast
  • 300g beef liver
  • 2 large onions
  • 4 celery sticks
  • 3 carrots
  • 300g baby potatoes
  • 150g mixed dried mushrooms
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 100ml double cream
  • 50g butter
  • 50g flour
  • 2tbs kunserva
  • 1tbs Worcester sauce
  • 1tbs sugar
  • 1tbs vegetable oil
  • 10g thyme

Method:

  1. Wash, peel and dice carrots, onions & celery sticks.
  2. Wash and half baby potatoes
  3. Remove wishbone and cartilage, dice chicken breast.
  4. Skin the beef liver and dice.
  5. In a hot frying pan, brown all the vegetables individually, leaving the garlic last so as not to burn.
  6. Lightly sear the beef liver and chicken breast separately.
  7. Soak the dried mushrooms with 200ml of boiling water
  8. In a hot saucepan, caramelize the kunserva with the sugar till light brown. Add the Worcester sauce, thyme and red wine and reduce by half.
  9. In a pot, melt the 50g of butter while stirring in the 50g of flour, browning slightly. Then, add all browned vegetables together with the mixed dried mushroom and its broth. Followed by chicken stock. Boil for 10 minutes.
  10. Lastly, add the chicken breast, beef liver and the double cream and simmer for 10 minutes.

Bread

Ingredients:

  • 240ml warm milk
  • 2 ¼ tsp dried yeast
  • 2tbs white sugar, divided
  • 1 large egg
  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 1tsp salt
  • 370g bread flour

(Optional topping: 2tbs melted butter mixed with 1tbs of honey)

Method:

  1. Whisk the warm milk, yeast and sugar together and allow to proof for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the egg, butter, salt and 1 cup of flour.
  3. Mix till smooth and add the remaining flour.
  4. Combine until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.
  5. Knead dough for two minutes.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rise for 2 hours, in a warm environment.
  7. When the dough is ready, punch it down to release the air.
  8. Form the desired shape of the loaf and allow it to rise for 1 hour.
  9. Preheat your oven to 180°
  10. Lightly brush the dough with the honey and butter glaze and bake for 20 – 30 minutes.
Isaac Camilleri

Isaac Camilleri

What does this recipe mean to you?

Tickle your taste buds and indulge in a mouth-watering nutritious stew and a homemade crunchy bread whilst staying home during these tough times. This lovely heart-warming dish takes me down memory lane of family gatherings, flavours and aromas.

How are you coping with COVID-19?

In these troublesome times all we can do is hope for the best, especially people who work in the catering industry as everyone is at a standstill. During the first three days without work, I finished that long list of procrastinated odd jobs around the house. I’ve been baking and woodworking to keep myself busy. 

Luckily my employers have been working on a plan to start with home delivery (via Bolt Food), meaning that we will soon manage to get some of our much loved one80 meals to households in Gozo.

4. Chocolate Cake Hive

With bee pops.

Jimmy Aquilina – Radisson Blu Resort & Spa Golden Sands

Chocolate cake

Ingredients:

  • 220grms light muscovado sugar
  • 75grms unsalted butter
  • 200ml whole milk
  • 100grms dark chocolate couvertures
  • 2 eggs
  • 25grms cocoa powder
  • 130grms rice flour
  • 5grms baking powder (GF)
  • 5grms bicarbonate of soda (GF)
  • pinch of salt
  • 2grms vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Whisk 150grms of the muscovado sugar with the butter until pale yellow.
  2. In the meantime, put the chocolate, 70 grms muscovado sugar and the milk in a saucepan over low heat and stir until the chocolate and the sugar have melted- leave it to cool slightly.
  3. Gradually add the eggs into the butter mixture, followed by the vanilla and the salt.
  4. Then pour over the chocolate mixture onto the butter mixture.
  5. Sift and add the dry ingredients onto the liquid batter.
  6. Pour onto an already greased and lined baking tray and bake for about 25 mins at a temperature of 180’c.

Chocolate buttercream

Ingredients:

  • 110grms unsalted butter
  • 110grms dark chocolate couverture
  • 180grms icing sugar
  • 10ml milk

Method:

  1. Beat the butter and icing sugar until pale and fluffy.
  2. Melt the chocolate (leave it a bit to cool) and add it in the butter mixture.
  3. Continue to mix and finally add the milk.

Chocolate pops

Method:

  1. Crumble the cake (ideally prepare it a day before) into a bowl and add around 2 tablespoons of chocolate buttercream. Mix them together until you obtain a good consistency to roll them up.
  2. If the mixture is still dry, just add some more buttercream. Then, with a small ice-cream scoop, scoop one at a time the chocolate balls and then roll them by hand to do a perfect chocolate ball. After put them for abo 1 hr in the fridge.
  3. Now stick a lollipop stick in the chocolate ball but to ensure that they stay secure, dip slightly the stick into the already melted chocolate and stick in the middle of the cake ball. Put them again in the fridge.
  4. Prepare again the melted chocolate for dipping the chocolate cake pops.
  5. One can use any type of couverture chocolate, in this case, I used white chocolate with yellow colouring.
Jimmy Aquilina

Jimmy Aquilina

What does this recipe mean to you?

I chose this recipe because people are home, Easter just passed and this is a fun recipe to try out with children or just to decorate your dining table! An edible chocolate decoration.

How are you coping with COVID-19?

It is a very difficult and surreal situation, it is hard to believe that a property like Radisson Blu, Golden Sands is closed with no guests at all. I miss my colleagues and the buzz around the Resort, especially during Easter time when the hotel is normally very busy. I’m trying to make the most of my time at home experimenting with dessert recipes (all gluten-free – because one member of my family is celiac ) I’ve experimented with brownies, waffles, pancakes, scones, croissants,  chocolate cake, pies and date fritters, enjoying cooking with my kids.

Which recipe sounds the best to you? Let us know and make sure to post any photos of your versions in the comments below!

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