Baked Rice

Ross-il-forn is a very popular Maltese dish very much like Arancini Scicilani is to the Sicilians. The concept is similar except,in this case,the rice is cooked separately,combined with a flavorful meat sauce, eggs and topped with cheese then baked.Just rustic and super delicious. It is ideal to prepare with left over rice and some ground meat.I often use Buffalo or lamb to change it up a bit.

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

1 cup short grain rice, cooked

1 lb ground meat,such as Buffalo or lamb

1 small can tomato paste

a few sprigs each Oregano, Basil and parsley, chopped

2 cloves garlic,finely minced

1 small onion,finely minced

1 cup red wine

1 bay leaf.

3 eggs beaten

1/2 cup each freshly grated pecorino romano and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Heat a saucepan and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.Allow to heat,then saute onion till translucent. Add garlic and saute 2 more minutes.

Add meat and use wooden spoon to break up meat. Cook on medium heat until meat browns. Stir in tomato paste and saute 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in chopped herbs and bay leaf. season with salt and pepper.

Pour in wine and allow to simmer 10 to 15 minutes on medium low heat, covered. Turn off heat and allow meat to cool.

Preheat oven to 350*F

In a separate dish beat eggs.Season with salt and pepper. Stir in half of both cheese. Add in the cooked rice and stir gently so as not to break up the rice.

Stir in the cooked meat, once again to incorporate but not break up the rice.

Pour into baking dish and top with the balance cheese.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until set and cheese melted. serve.


Eggless Pasta Frolla with almond filling

Having just returned from Malta has left me salivating for many of the local foods and confections of the beautiful island. While visiting I often dine al fresco in Cafe Cordina,one of the premier cafe in the capital,Valletta. They serve some of the finest pastries I have tasted. Malta is famous for pastry and cookies containing ground almonds. They serve a “bar” cookie called simply Pasta Frolla,generally referring to the type of shortbread pastry,but this one has an almond filling,or frangipani. This is my version of that amazing cookie,so very dear to my heart.

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

Makes one 9×13 sheet


2  1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp cornstarch

1/2 tsp salt

2 sticks unsalted butter,at room temperature

1/3 cup superfine sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

2 tablespoons heavy cream plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce.

Sift flour and salt,set aside.

Cream butter and sugar. Add extracts and mix to combine. Slowly add in the cream applesauce mixture. Scape down bowl.

With mixer on lowest setting start to fold in flour salt mixture. Fold,just until combined.DO NOT OVER MIX or dough will turn heavy .

Scrape dough onto a piece of parchment paper and flatten into 2 disks. Cover and refrigerate while you make the filling.


8 oz toasted blanched almonds,ground finely.

1/2 cup superfine sugar

2 tablespoons heavy cream plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

zest of 1 orange

1/4 tsp salt

2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

Combine all ingredients till well combined. Set aside.


Preheat oven to 350*F

Roll 1 disk of dough thinly to fit a 9 by 13 baking pan with removable bottom. Line pan with cookie dough.

Pour over and spread the almond paste. Leave a 1/4 inch border filling free all around the perimeter.

Roll out the second disk of dough and place on top of filling. Press to seal edges. Dock top with fork and sprinkle on some granulated sugar.

Bake for 40 minutes, until golden. Place on cooling rack until completely cooled before cutting into bars.

Kashmiri Dum aloo

There are very few Indian dishes,specifically North Indian dishes,my son Ashish loves. He used to call it indian stuffed potato in gravy and promptly remove the filling. i prepare these at home in the simplest way,no filling,and serve them with store-bought Garlic Naan,a treat my whole family enjoys!!!

1 lb baby potatoes,boiled till just done and peeled.

1 onion,finely chopped

2 tomatoes,peeled

2 green chilis,minced

1 inch piece fresh ginger,grated

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp coriander ground

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

salt to taste

1 tsp garam masala

1/4 cup heavy cream

10 cashews ground with 4 cardamom pods

chopped fresh cilantro,for garnish

Mix the tomatoes,green chilis and ginger together,set aside.

Heat a saute pan and add about 1 to 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to heat. Prick the peeled potatoes all over with a fork (this helps the sauce to cook into the potato better). Place the potatoes in the hot pan and season with salt.Allow the potatoes to get a golden brown color and crisp up a little. Remove the potatoes to a plate and keep aside.

Add a little more oil to the pan and stir in the cumin seeds,allow them to sputter,stir in the onion. Cook for 4 to 7 minutes over medium heat until onions are wilted and cooked. Add the tomato mixture and cook for a further 5 minutes on a medium heat. Stir in the ground coriander and turmeric,season with salt.

Stir in the ground cashew/cardamom into the cooked sauce. Stir for a further 2 minutes.Stir in the heavy cream and 1 cup of water to achieve a thick gravy.

Stir in the reserved cooked potatoes and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garam masala and top with chopped cilantro.


Eggless raspberry squares

Raspberry squares are an amazingly delicious cookie for so many reasons.The buttery crust doubles up as the crumble topping with a raspberry preserve sandwiched in the middle. The crust has oats and nuts,giving it a fantastic crunch. The white and dark sugar combine to lend a complex flavor. i often have to double the recipe as once served they go so fast.

Americas test kitchen

Makes 25 squares

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

1  1/2 cups ( 7 1/2 oz) all purpose flour

1  1/4 cups #  1/4 oz) quick cook oats

1/2 cup pecans or almonds,chopped fine

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp table salt

12 tablespoons ( 1  1/2 sticks ) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened

1 cup raspberry preserves

Adjust an oven rack to the lower -middle position and heat oven to 350*F.Line a 9 inch square baking pan with two pieces of foil and spray with vegetable oil spray.

Whisk the flour,oats, nuts, sugars, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl.In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat flour mixture and butter at low speed until well blended and the mixture resembles wet sand,about 2 minutes.

Transfer two thirds of the mixture to the prepared pan. Press the crumbs evenly and firmly into the bottom of the pan. Bake until just starting to brown, about 20 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, spread the preserves evenly over the hot crust;sprinkly the remaining flour mixture over the preserves. Bake until bubbling around the edges and top is golden brown,around 30 minutes, rotatating the pan halfway through the baking time. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, 1 to 1  1/2 hours.Lift the bars from the baking pan using the foil extentions;Cut bars into 25 squares,serve.

Thai crab salad with fresh mango

In the summer I am obsessed with freshness,from fruit to seafood. I adore the simple abundance of herbs in my small herb garden,especially the fresh green chilis,cilantro and Thai basil.Wish I could grow tropical fruit such as Lychees and Mangoes but….the market will have to supply those. While away at college,yearning for a home cooked meal,my son,Ashish e mailed me a list of items he would love to eat during his summer home,this crab salad was one of the first requests.It is best to prepare this with the freshest of ingredients,as it is a simple salad and each ingredient contributes to its explosion of taste in your mouth.

Chef Tony Wrigley,Rockfish restaurant,Phuket Thailand

Photograph by Ashish Mahtani

Serves 1

1/2 cup cooked crab meat

1/2 diced mango

2 to 3 sliced Thai chilis

2 green onions,sliced

a few sprigs cilantro,roughly torn

a few Thai basil leaves,roughly torn

1/4 cup ry roasted peanuts

2 tsp fish sauce

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp canola oil

juice of 1 fresh lime

some chili sauce for presentation

Gently toss all ingredients so as not to break the crab meat. Taste to adjust seasonings. Serve.

Rao’s famous lemon chicken

Pollo al limone is a classic dish I grew up with.Sadly,my mom’s recipe was lost during a storm that flooded our basement when we had just ,moved into our home.Luckily,years later,I came across this amazing recipe from the famous Rao’s restaurant in east harlen NY,it is a small,whole in the wall restaurant,where you have to wait a life time for a reservation,sadly never had the luck. This recipe is so simple to prepare,yet so delicious.Love it served with a simple spinach and tomato salad,some classic roasted potatoes and,ofcourse,crusty bread to mop up the sauce.

Serves 6

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

2  2  1/2 to 3 pound broiling chickens,halved

1/4 cup chopped parsley

Lemon sauce

To attain maxium heat,preheat broiler for at least 15 minutes before using.

Broil chicken halves,turning once,for about 30 minutes or until skin is golden brown and juices run clear when bird is pierced with fork.

remove chicken from broiler,leaving broiler on.Using a very sharp knife,cut each half into about 6 pieces(leg,thigh,wing,3 small breast pieces).

Place chicken on a baking sheet with sides,of a size that can fit into the broiler.Pour Lemon sauce over the chicken and toss to coat well.

Return to broiler and broil for 3 minutes.Turn each piece and broil for an additional minute.

Remove from broiler and portion each chicken onto each of 6 warm serving plates.

Pour sauce into heavy saucepan.Stir in parsley and place over high heat for 1 minute. Pour an equal amount of sauce over each chicken and serve with lots of crusty bread to absorb the sauce.

LEMON SAUCE2 cups lemon juice (Please use freshly squeezed,it really makes a difference)

1 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1  1/2 tsp minced garlic

1/2 tsp dried oregano ( I use fresh Greek oregano in the summer,about 1 T)

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients together and whisk .Cover and refigerate until ready to use.Whisk vigorously before using.

Easy grilled mint shrimp

These shrimp are as great to look at as to taste.Whenever the weather turns warmer we chose to grill,its easy clean up it the greatest incentive. I typically marinade these shrimp at least 1/2 an hour before grilling but no more than 1 hour.You could use either shelled or unshelled shrimp,but,I always find the shrimp to retain more moisture when grilled shell on.

1  1/2 lb  shell on jumbo shrimp (unshelled shrimp would be about 1  1/4 lb)

1/4 cup minced fresh mint leaves

1 to 2 serrano chillis,minced

4 cloves garlic,minced

juice of 1/2 small lime

1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper or white pepper

salt to taste

zest of 1 lime

1/8 cup canola oil.

Combine all ingredients together,except for shrimp, in a food processor to blend well.

Place shrimp in a plastic resealable bag and pour marinade over. Seal bag and gently massage marinade on to shrimp, making sure each piece is coated. Refrigerate for 1/2 hour.

Heat grill to medium hot. Grill shrimp about 2 minutes per side, DO NOT OVER COOK.

Place on serving dish and squeeze lemon or lime  before serving.