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I thought i might post some of my own recipes as well as my family recipes. Slow Cooked Lamb is my signature dish. I make it for my friends and family all the time. When you cook it like this it falls right off the bone. I first started making it at work for my team. Everyone thought i was a little crazy walking into work with my slow cooker full of Lamb…now i have the whole mobile set up. My slow cooker for Roast Lamb, my convection oven to roast potatoes and my steamer for veggies. I love seeing the look on people’s faces when they see and taste it for the first time…although most people still think I’m a little nuts!
Lamb Shoulder -2kgs will feed 6-8 people
2 Heads of Garlic
Large Bunch of Rosemary
Salt & Pepper
- Preheat Slow cooker on high.
- Peel garlic cloves.
- Take 5 cloves and slice them.
- Squash remaining cloves with the back of a knife.
- With a small, sharp knife make some incisions in the fleshiest parts of the lamb.
- Stuff a slice of garlic down the incision followed by a small sprig or rosemary.
- Sear Lamb in a hot pan.
- Place a layer of Rosemary sprigs on the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Once the Lamb is seared on each side lay it on the bed of rosemary.
- Turn fry pan to a medium heat. Add onion and garlic to the same fry pan. Saute until the onions brown and soften.
- Place remaining rosemary, onion and garlic over the lamb.
- Pour in any remaining juice from the fry pan. Season generously.
- You will just need to check and turn the meat sporadically.
- First check the roast after about 3 hours. You will notice that there will be a few millimeters of juice in the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Check every 2-3 hours after the first time.
- Once there is a substantial amount of juice in the slow cooker, rotate the meat so that it is as immersed as possible in the juice.
- It will be ready to eat from about 7 hours. You can leave it up to 12 hours.
- I take mine out when you gently lift the bone with tongs and it just comes straight out. Patients really does pay off with this dish.
I remember my mum and Aunty Maria making us Figolli at Easter time. They are giant shortbread biscuits, with an almond filling, decorated with colorful icing in Easter themed shapes. In Malta the kids used to get them as a reward for giving up sweets during Lent. I made them for the first time last year with a lot of help from my mum. This year i made them as a part of World Figolli Day, a virtual event run by my cousin Nanette, The Gourmet Worrier.
- 800 grams of flour
- 350 grams of caster sugar
- 350 grams of butter softened
- 4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
- Zest of 2 lemons
- Chilled water, you may need a dash to bring the dough together
- 600 grams of ground almonds
- 600 grams of icing sugar sifted
- 4 egg whites
- Zest of 2 lemons or 1 orange
- Optional to add some Lemon Essence. I added the orange zest and a squeeze of the juice as well.
- Royal Icing
- Small Easter Eggs
- Food Coloring
Note: You can decorate them however you like. Nowadays a lot of people use chocolate, but as my mum pointed out, that is not traditional! I made some with icing and some with chocolate.
- Sift the flour and caster sugar into a bowl.
- Rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.
- Add in the zest and the yolks and start to mix in with your hand. If you need to, add a dash of water and keep mixing until you bring the dough together.
- Turn onto a lightly floured surface and kneed a little until the dough is soft.
- Wrap in cling wrap and put into the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Add the ground almonds to a bowl.
- Sift in the caster sugar & make a well in the centre.
- Add the zest, egg whites and any other optional ingredients you have chosen.
- Mix well with your hand until combined.
- You can add a splash of juice if you need to bring the mixture together more. The mixture should not be sticky. If it is, you need to add some more ground almonds.
- Cover bowl with cling wrap and place in the fridge until your dough is ready to roll.
- You don’t want to work the dough much. I found it easier to slice a section of dough at a time. Place it on a floured surface and then roll it out to a height of approx 3mm.
- Cut shapes with a reasonable distance between them.
- Peel back the excess pastry to leave the shapes.
- You will need to cut 2 to make each biscuit.
- Place pieces of almond mix onto the base shape and even out.
- Then lift top onto the filled base.
- Gently press down the sides and reshape if needed.
- Lift onto a baking paper lined tray.
- Brush with milk.
- Cook at 180 degrees for until lightly golden underneath and lightly colored on top.
- They will take about 20 minutes.
- Take out and leave to cool.
- Decorate as you like. Ensure that you store in an airtight container.
Give to people you love! Enjoy!
Pastizzi are one of my favorite traditional snacks. Flaky puff pastry filled with either pea or ricotta.
The best ones I’ve had were from a little shop in Rabbat called Crystal Palace Tea & Coffee bar. It is an iconic shop in Malta.
Great Pastizzi are hard to find in Australia. I thought they would be really hard to make and although there is room for improvement, I am pretty happy with how my first batch turned out!
Ingredients for Pastizzi
- 500 grams of flour
- 1 tsp of salt
- 180 grams of softened butter
- Chilled Water
- 1 quantity of filling. See ricotta filling recipe.
- Sift flour and salt together in a bowl and make a well in the centre.
- Add small amounts of the chilled water and mix until the dough is soft but not sticky.
- Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead until it all comes together consistently.
- Lightly oil your surface and roll out your dough as thin as possible . You also want to roll it out long as you can and not too wide. This will ensure that your pastry becomes really flaky.
- Smear the softened butter evenly over the dough.
- Starting from the end closest to you, stretch and roll the dough upwards.
- Continue to stretch and roll the dough.
- If the dough gets long and thin at the sides, just fold it into the middle and keep rolling. This will just end up creating more layers in the pastry.
- Once you have finished rolling it, place it on a plate, cover it with glad wrap and leave it in the fridge for 24 hours.
- After 24 hours, place dough on a lightly floured surface and cut into thick slices about 2 cm wide.
- Stretch the outer edges of each section until you have an oval shape.
- Try not to press down on the dough as it inhibits it becoming flaky.
- Place dough in the palm of your hand and fill with your chosen filling.
- Stretch the sides out.
- Press sides together all the way around.
- Pinch the ends flat and gently push inwards to shape the Pastizzi.
- Bake on a baking paper lined tray at 220 until golden brown. Mine took about 20 minutes.
- 300 grams of Ricotta
- 3 Eggs
- Generous amount of salt and pepper to taste
Mash all ingredients together until really well mixed.
Note: I added a few handfuls of fresh chopped parsley to mine, but this isn’t a traditional addition for Pastizzi.
If you want to know more about Crystal Palace Tea & Coffee house:
“We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.” Goethe
Hi Parnis Family,
One of the ways I still feel connected to Nunna is by learning to cook traditional Maltese food, particularly her recipes. I realised that all of the gorgeous little ones joining our family wont get to grow up in her kitchen like we all did. They deserve to know her not just through these recipes and food traditions, but all of the stories that are attached to them that make them so special. So this blog is for all of us. I hope it will be something that will continue to strengthen our connections with each other, capture our family culture and let’s face it…give us a few more reasons to cook and eat together!
So I will be starting to make my way around to all of your kitchens…I want to hear the stories, I want to learn how to cook the food, I want to spend time learning about The Parnis Family from your perspective and i want to capture it all so the newest of Nunna’s 22 great grand children will have a way of understanding the very special people that came before them.