Galletti | Maltese Water Crackers

Also known as hard crackers or water crackers, savoury Galletti biscuits are thin, hard, brittle Maltese biscuits made from flour, salt, semolina, yeast and warm water. A little sugar and either olive oil or butter can be added. They are quite different to the biscuits we might think of as water crackers, and are often flavoured with caraway, oregano, black pepper or sesame seeds.

Galletti are baked until golden-brown and served before or after a meal, paired with dips or cheese, spreads, avocado and other equally fashionable toppings. Or they can be consumed just on their own. These biscuits are found in almost every home kitchen on the island, even in bars and restaurants. Few homes in Malta make their own these days, but they are easy to make if you can’t get them locally.

The history of Galletti goes back at least 150 years to the naval bakeries in the rich maritime legacy of Malta’s seafaring past. Crisp and crunchy,  you can imagine they made the ideal ship’s biscuit.

Similar recipes include Oatmeal Crackers.

Browse our Maltese recipes and our Crackers. Or explore our Early Summer dishes.

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Salad of Broad Beans, Tomatoes and Parmesan

One of the precious gifts of Spring is Broad Beans. If you do not grow your own you miss the young, tender pods, no more than, say, 8cm long. Often smaller. Sweet with the grassy taste of Spring, these need not be podded or peeled – they can be used as they are.

If you are not so lucky, purchase them from your green grocer and always look for the younger pods. Remove the beans from the pods, scald them for a few minutes, and then remove the outer peel of each bean. Perfect!

This simple salad pairs the beans with tomatoes and parmesan, a classic pairing, easy to prepare, delightful to eat.

Similar recipes include Spring Pasta with Broad Beans and Mint, Broad Beans with Pecorino, Broad Bean and Tomato Salad, and Pan Fried Broad Bean Salad with Tomato and Thyme.

Browse all of our Broad Bean recipes, our Broad Bean Salads, and all of our Salads. Or explore our Mid Spring dishes.

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Noodles with Fried Eggplant, Miso and Walnuts

I hadn’t really cooked any dishes from Ottolenghi’s books for about a year (and it would be another 6 months before I went back to cooking his recipes regularly). When I began cooking from Plenty More again, I realised 2 things: Firstly how much I had missed the flavours of Ottolenghi, and secondly I remembered the almost tedious number of processes in each recipe.

The deep sweetness and intensity produced by miso paste, combined with other Japanese staples, are guaranteed to put a smile on your dial on an overcast Winter or Early Spring day.

This one is no different. It has 7, yes seven, different processes with associated pots, pans and equipment. Make the vegetarian dashi, ribbon cut and soak ginger and spring onions, prep the eggplants, deep fry the eggplants, saute the onions, walnuts etc, make the sauce, cook the noodles.

So Ottolenghi flavours come at a price. Leave an afternoon free – at least several hours to cook and clean up – when making any of his dishes.

To be fair though – the man I call the Master of Flavour produces amazing dishes that makes the hours worth the effort!

This is an Ottolenghi dish from Plenty More – we are cooking our way through this book. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area. You can see the original recipe here.

Similar recipes include Roasted Eggplant with Special Miso Sauce, Deep Fried Eggplant, Ginger Scallion Noodles, and Udon Noodles and Shimejii Mushrooms.

Browse all of our Japanese dishes and all of our Eggplant recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Mid Spring recipes.

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Zucchini Gratin with Roasted Tomato Sauce | Cheesy Baked Zucchini

Summer and Autumn are the seasons of zucchini abundance, and we have some terrific recipes for dealing with the glut. This is another one – it comes from the now-defunct Lucullian Delights blog. Ilva’s recipes were so good – Italian, simple, delicious. Just my style. She as always very generous in sharing her food and recipes. You will love this one.

If you have been following this blog for a while you will know that I adore Gratin dishes and also stuffed vegetables, and this dish fits both criteria. A cheesy stuffing is made and the zucchini are baked. I also made a Roasted Tomato Sauce to go with it – you can use this recipe, but bake at a higher temperature, or begin early and put the zucchini in with the roasting tomatoes when the timing is right. I added a little bit of sugar after pureeing as it is Autumn and the tomatoes are not as sweet as in mid Summer. I love the spice kick from the chilli (but you can leave it out if you are not a fan of spicy heat).

Similar recipes include Potato Gratin with Cream, Sweet Potato Gratin, and Cheesy Baked Aubergines.

Browse all of our Zucchini dishes and our Gratins. Or explore our Early Summer dishes.

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Green Bean Salad | Insalata di Fagiolini

Equally good hot or cold, this Green Bean Salad is sure to become a favourite. Simple and easy (very much my kind of food), the beans are steamed and then mixed with mint, garlic and lemon. Take it straight to the table for an instant salad, entree/starter or snack. With some crusty bread, it can even become a light lunch.

Similar dishes include Green Beans with Tomatoes, Green Beans with Freekeh, Walnuts and Tahini, Glorious Five Bean Salad, and Green Bean and Carrot Poriyal.

Browse all of our Green Bean dishes and all of our Italian recipes. Our Salads are here. Or explore our Early Summer dishes.

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BBQ’d Vegetables with Peppery Dressing

Recently it was the first day this season where the sun felt HOT on my face as I stepped outside, and it immediately had me thinking about the BBQ. I need to roast capsicums anyway, to make a batch of harissa, so why not make a meal of it? We roasted a range of veggies and drizzled them with a mustard-pepper dressing.

This is the sort of dish you can use as an entree or salad course, a side salad, a main dish with crusty bread, or a snack. I need to tell you that we are not so formal about courses here – we tend to cook Balinese style – prep and/or cook a whole lot of dishes early in the day and eat as required or desired through the day. We do love our salads, and also our snacks, so each day might see one of each, along with other dishes. Most are simple – that is our food style, simple – quick – easy.

This dish can actually be made at any time of the year – just make it with seasonal vegetables. It is a great way to clean out the fridge!!!

Similar dishes include Raw Vegetable Salad with Mustard-Mayo Dressing, Kohlrabi and Mint Salad, and Miso Vegetables and Rice with Sesame Dressing.

Browse all of our BBQ recipes and all of our Salads. Or explore our Late Spring dishes.

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Cluster Beans Jaggery Kootu

Another in our Kootu series is made with cluster beans, and jaggery is added which counterbalances the slight bitterness of the beans and compliments the tamarind very well. It is slightly sweet-sour.

Most Kootus are made from vegetables, coconut and a mix of spices. Sometimes lentils or a dal is added to thicken the kootu. Generally kootus are made with vegetables that are locally available.

The recipe is another of Meenakshi Ammal‘s from her cook books Cook and See. She says that this same Kootu can be made with green beans, sabre beans, eggplant, plantain, plantain flower and chow chow.

Similar dishes include Pumpkin Milk Kootu, Cluster Bean Kootu, Brinjal Kootu and Mango Kootu.

Browse all of our Kootu recipes and all of our Cluster Bean dishes. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Late Summer recipes.

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Sprouted Horse Gram Sundal | Horse Gram Sprout Salad

A lot of deliciousness in a small bowl. Perfect for Navarathri.

I re-read something I wrote years ago, and it hit a chord, so I thought I would repeat it.

The weather is gorgeous and I am so grateful for so many things in my life. From my teachers and mentors throughout my life, to the birds that sing me awake in the morning, the kookaburras which made an unscheduled stop in our neighbourhood, to the gardeners and garbage men who keep things spick and span around this area.

I am grateful for the simplicity and nourishment of food, and of course for the great tastes.

Today I am making a Sundal from horse gram sprouts. Horse gram sprouts are a little trickier to grow – I found the cheese cloth method the best. And they are tough little sprouts so need simmering or steaming before use. They are highly nutritious and worth cultivating.

Read more about Horse Gram (aka Kulthi Bean). It is easily purchased in Indian shops.

Similar recipes include Horsegram Thoran, Black Gram Sprouts Sundal, Sprouts Usal, and  Sprouted White Pea Sundal.

Browse all of our Sundals and all of our Horse Gram recipes. Or explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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Lemongrass Chai

Lemongrass grows freely in my garden, as it does in India, and it is used to add fragrance and that beautiful lemon flavour to salads, rice and S.E. Asian dishes. But in India its use in cooking is limited despite its availability. It features mainly in drinks and soups, such as this fragrant tomato soup.

Here it is used in a simple but elegant chai – a lemon grass bulb and an Indian tea bag or loose leaf tea. Jaggery or rock sugar is used to sweeten the tea, and it can be taken with or without milk. It is a wonderfully refreshing tea on a warm Summer afternoon or evening. I encourage you to try it.

You might like to read How to Make Chai, and our 20 Chai Recipes.

Similar recipes include Fiona’s Beautiful ChaiTim’s Chai, and Tulsi and Mint Chai.

Browse all of our Chai recipes and all of our Indian drinks. All of our Indian recipes are here, and the Indian Essentials Series is here. Or explore our Early Summer dishes.

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My Favourite Grilled Asparagus | Simple Food is BACK!

Simple recipes are now the fashion, thank goodness. I grabbed Nigel Slater’s Greenfeast from the library just after it was released – I never buy a book these days without a good look at it first. I was surprised by the book, perhaps initially a little disappointed.

First of all, its dimensions are small for a cookbook, especially one that is to be used regularly in the kitchen. But it is also quite thick and bound in such a way that the book will not open flat. To cook from it I would need to put my heavy mortar on the edge of one page and the pestle on the edge of the other.

And then to the content – I was surprised at how everyday and simple the recipes are. My initial comment on social media was that it is a book to give Simple, by Ottolenghi, a run for its money. Few exotic ingredients, recipes that suit time-hungry but foodie professionals. Recipes without 6 or 7 or 8 different processes. But, well, also without excitement.

24 hours later I realised that the lack of excitement, the everydayness of the recipes is the genius of this book. It is a cookbook that thumbs its nose at all of the chefy cookbooks we have been drooling over for the past decade. It thumbs its nose at the hours we spent searching down new ingredients that in cities like Adelaide have not and never will make it into the mainstream. It thumbs its nose to those of us who like to think we know 1 or 2 things about food – but have forgotten how to cook simply.

Nigel’s recipes are always unapologetically British, but the first of the Greenfeast 2-Volume set focuses on stunning fresh-from-the-garden ingredients arranged with love on a plate to produce Summery yet nourishing dishes. It is a book that you want to cook through from start to finish for easy, satisfying, home cooked meals. Thanks Nigel.

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