Recipes from Marche, Italy

For this entry, I made two recipes. Neither of them were especially good, but I don't blame the people who posted the original recipes or any of the traditions they came from, I blame myself and my propensity for Googling things that might kill me.

Recipes from Marche, Italy: Brodetto

A seafood stew with mussels and clams, minus the Vibrio.

Recipes from Marche, Italy: Filone Casereccio

An Italian bread that will come out much better than mine did if you use fresh brewer's yeast and steam.

Recipes from Malta

This is actually the third time I’ve cooked a meal from Malta. The first time, I cooked the meal and then just did not write the blog post. Years went by.

Recipes from Malta: Imqarrun

Imquarrum (also called Imqarrun il-forn) is descended from a dish served in Sicily, but the Maltese have adopted it as a traditional staple. The key to making this dish is to be patient.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Recipes from Marche, Italy

For this entry, I made two recipes. Neither of them were especially good, but I don't blame the people who posted the original recipes or any of the traditions they came from, I blame myself and my propensity for Googling things that might kill me. It just so happens that shortly before I made this meal, I learned that the reason you're supposed to boil shellfish alive is because it contains Vibrio, which sounds like a lovely genre of orchestral music with harpsichords and violins and stuff but is not.

Vibrio is a bacteria that proliferates out of control beginning in the moment immediately following the death of the animal that harbors it. According to the CDC, eating food infected with Vibrio causes either a mild illness or certain death, I can't quite tell which one. Apparently, people who are exposed to Vibrio parahaemolyticus usually just get sick but around 1 in 5 of those exposed to Vibrio vulnificus die, so maybe it's best to avoid all types of Vibrio just to be on the safe side.

Anyway prior to obtaining this information I put some frozen clams and frozen oysters into my shopping cart for the occasion of making food from Marche, Italy, and then I walked around the store for another 45 minutes and then I spent another 90 minutes in the car driving home, giving Vibrio more than two hours to make themselves and several thousand generations of their children at home in my food. I did actually boil the crap out of the oysters and clams in fear for the lives of myself and my children but by then the mental block was already there. So I did not enjoy the meal, but I should also add that I really think I just don't like all the weird little bits of strange-looking things that go along with eating shellfish, so I was extra-predisposed to not liking this particular culinary experience. 

Where is Marche?

Having said all of that, Marche is a region in the central part of Italy. It's home to around 1.5 million people and has a 107-mile-long coast, hence its apparent love of seafood. It does have some other specialties like Maccheroncini di Campofilone, a very thin pasta that in retrospect would have been fun to make and wouldn't have made me fear for my life, but it's too late to go back now. 

Here's what I made. Eat shellfish at your own risk. Definitely don't let it defrost for 2-plus hours. 

Good luck to you all. 

(Header photo by trolvag is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.)

Recipes from Marche, Italy: Filone Casereccio

It could have baked for longer, plus I did not use the water tip, hence the lame-looking crust.


  • 7.2 cups bread flour
  • 2 3/4 cups water
  • 3 g fresh brewer's yeast
  • 2 1/4 tsp fine salt


  1. Mix the flour with 2 2/3rds cup water and let rest for half an hour.
  2. Meanwhile, dissolve the brewer's yeast in the remaining water.
  3. Add the dissolved yeast and the salt to the dough and knead (or just put it in your bread machine).
  4. Put the dough in the refrigerator and leave overnight.
  5. About an hour before you're ready to bake, take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature. Then divide it into two loaves and let it rise for 2 hours.
  6. Make three diagonal slits across the top of each loaf.
  7. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the loaves are a golden brown color and sound hollow when you knock on them.
  8. *For a crustier crust, put some water in a metal pan on the bottom rack of the oven and let it heat up as the oven does. The steam will help the loaves form a crust as they bake.

What we thought:

 My brewer's yeast was not fresh brewer's yeast, which is probably why this bread came out dense. This is not the fault of the recipe, but my results were pretty mediocre. I also did not use the water trick mentioned in step 8, which is why my crust looks as boring as it does.

My kids liked it. To be fair, though, they like all bread.

Recipes from Marche, Italy: Brodetto

If you aren't afraid of it, I'm sure it's delicious.


For the stock:
  • Fish bones, (saved from the plaice and mullet) chopped into about 6 pieces
  • 1.5 quarts of water
  • 1 white onion, sliced
  • 1/2 fennel, sliced
  • 1 celery stick, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 handful of parsley stalks
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • Olive oil as needed
  • Salt to taste
For the stew:
  • 1 plaice, filleted, reserving the bones
  • 1 mullet, (red or grey) filleted, reserving the bones
  • 4 large prawns, or 8 smaller ones
  • 5 oz mussels, cleaned
  • 5 oz clams
  • 1 white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 fennel, thinly sliced
  • 1 celery stick, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 8 San Marzano or Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • Olive oil as needed
  • Salt to taste


  1. Cook the onion, fennel, and garlic in olive oil until translucent.
  2. Add the fish bones and cover with the water. Bring to a boil, skimming off any foam that collects on the surface.
  3. Add the thyme and parsley.
  4. Reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
  5. Fry the fennel seeds and coriander in olive oil until fragrant. Add the onion, fennel, celery and garlic. Cook on low heat until translucent.
  6. Add the tomatoes and cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring often.
  7. Strain the fish stock and add to the pot with the vegetables. Let simmer for one hour or until the liquid is reduced by about a third.
  8. Add the mussels, clams, prawns, and fish. Cover and cook for four or five minutes.
  9. Discard any mussels or clams that did not open.
  10. When the fish is flaky, it's ready to serve.

What we thought:

If you read the introduction to this meal, you already know what we thought. I boiled this long enough that any Vibrio that might have been in it were definitely dead, but I still did not enjoy it. Mental block, like I said.

My kids also did not enjoy it, but it was probably more of an "ew clams and mussels" thing for them than anything else. My husband also did not enjoy it, but he also has an "ew clams and mussels" thing so our assessment is really not completely fair. If you do like shellfish, it's probably delicious.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Recipes from Malta: Roasted Garlic Ftira

Ftira is kind of like a giant sourdough bagel. According to the Food and Wine Gazette, it's been around since at least the 16th century, when it was baked in the ovens of the Knights of St. John. Of course, Food and Wine Gazette also explains that ftira is a flatbread, and the recipe I made had yeast in it so doesn't exactly fit that definition. Evidently, there are variations. Cue someone from Malta emailing me to say I did it all wrong. 

This recipe is a combination of two recipes taken from different Maltese cooking sites. The first recipe told me how to make the ftira, and the second told me how to dress it up. 


For the bread:
  • 4 oz sourdough starter
  • 1 ½ tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 ¼ cup water
  • 3 ½ cups baking flour (give or take)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • For the topping:
    • 2 whole heads of garlic
    • 1 stick of butter, softened
    • ½ tbsp chili flakes
    • Mild cheddar cheese, shredded
    • Extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
    • Emmental, shredded
    • Gouda, shredded
    1. Add all the bread ingredients to your bread machine and mix on the dough setting. 

    2. Take the dough out of the machine and shape into a round loaf.

    3. Cut a hole in the middle of the loaf.

    4. Let rise until your loaf doubles in size.

    5. Meanwhile, slice the tops off of the garlic bulbs and place them in a small baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

    6. Roast the garlic at 400 degrees until the cloves are creamy. Take out and let cool.

    7. When the bread is done rising, turn your oven up to 425 and bake for 12 to 15 minutes (longer if it isn’t a nice golden color yet)

    8. Take the bread out and let it cool, then slice it in half as if it’s a giant bagel.

    9. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of its skins and mash with a fork.

    10. Add the butter and chili flakes to the mashed garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

    11. Spread the garlic butter over the sliced part of each half of the bread. Accept your fate as a future victim of heart disease.

    12. Mix the shredded cheeses together in a large bowl, then sprinkle over the loaf halves.

    13. Place under the broiler until the cheese bubbles and starts to turn brown

    What we thought:

    Obviously, the bread was the best part of the meal. Mostly because it was slathered in an entire stick of butter with four different kinds of cheese. There were no leftovers. 

    Recipes from Malta: Imqarrum

    Imquarrum (also called Imqarrun il-forn) is descended from a dish served in Sicily, but the Maltese have adopted it as a traditional staple. The key to making this dish is to be patient ... it has to be simmered for a long time, and then it has to be baked for a long time.

    from the Maltese food blog I Love Food


    • Vegetable oil as needed

    • 1 onion, chopped

    • 18 oz lean ground beef

    • 3 cups tomato puree*

    • 1 level tsp Italian herbs

    • Salt and pepper to taste

    • 18 oz rigatoni, tortiglioni, or penne pasta

    • 3 eggs

    • 3 ½ oz edam or Cheddar cheese, grated


    *The Maltese version of tomato puree is called passata, and it’s generally just an uncooked tomato puree without the seeds and skin. But since it’s going to be cooked with the beef anyway, I think canned tomato puree is a reasonable substitute.

    1. Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan and add the onions. Saute until translucent. Die from boredom.

    2. Add the ground beef and cook until brown. Drain the excess fat.

    3. Add the tomato puree and herbs. 

    4. Simmer for 1 hour. 

    5. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile, cook the pasta for a couple of minutes less than you usually would. Drain.

    6. Add the sauce to the pasta and mix gently, taking care not to break the noodles.

    7. Stir the eggs and fold them in (you might want to let the sauce/pasta cool down a bit first to prevent curdling)

    8. Transfer the mixture to a greased baking dish and sprinkle the cheese on top.

    9. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until the cheese is starting to brown a little.

    10. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

    What we thought:

    First of all, blog meals should not be cooked on weekdays, no matter how simple they look like they might be. I trashed my kitchen, got frustrated, and took terrible pictures. The food was good though.

    Imquarrum is not a difficult dish to make ... it's takes some time, but it passes the picky eater test (I do still have some of those even though my kids are all teenagers now). In flavor, it's really not too far off from a baked lasagna. I did sort of regret not choosing something a little more … how can I say this in the least offensive way possible … not like a typical American pasta casserole? Of course, other recipes would have compounded the “no blog meals on weeknights” problem, so I guess I’m not complaining. 


    Recipes from Malta

    Fort St. Angelo, Birgu Malta. Photo by Spike28742,
    licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International.

    This is actually the third time I’ve cooked a meal from Malta. The first time, I cooked the meal and then just did not write the blog post. Years went by. One day I went, “hmm, maybe I should just cook another meal from Malta,” so I did … and then just did not write the blog post. Years went by. Third time’s a charm, right? 

    Where is Malta?

    Malta is a beensy little island nation located south of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea. At just 122 square miles, Malta is so microscopic that Wikipedia Maps had to blow it up so you could actually see what it looks like. It's so small, in fact, you could put 52 Maltas inside the city of Beijing.

    By NuclearVacuum - Own work based on:
    Location European nation states.svg, CC BY-SA 3.0.

    Culturally, Malta is sort of a mishmash of the many places that are in proximity to it, including North Africa and Italy. I did not, however, choose recipes that reflect multiple influences ... both seemed to be entirely derived from Italian cuisines. 

    I did waffle between the dish I eventually cooked and one called Stuffat Tal-Fenek, which is rabbit stew and also the national dish of Malta. I decided against the rabbit stew even though I happen to have a whole rabbit in my freezer, because the rabbit in my freezer was once living in my backyard as a part of my daughter’s 4H project, and whenever I cook any of my daughter’s ex-4H projects I have to lie to everyone about what they’re eating. Except for the daughter whose 4H project the rabbits were, because for some reason she’s the only one who doesn’t care.

    Anyway, here's what I did pick:

    In the past, I have made this whole blogging thing a chore by taking pictures of each step of each recipe and then posting long, verbal descriptions of each step, and you know what, I’m not gonna do that anymore. How many different pictures of frying onions do my three readers need to see anyway? And I’m going to come right out and say that my pictures were never exactly awesome based on me not bothering to use the lights I bought or do proper staging most of the time, so I’m just going to post a picture of the final dish and be done with it. 

    Although, here is a picture of my cat wishing she could eat Imquarrum.

    To get to the recipes, you'll need to click through the links above.


    Wednesday, March 3, 2021

    Recipes from Mali: Fonio Cakes

    See I told you I would post this tomorrow. Lucky for me, every day has its own tomorrow, so it doesn't matter that it was like a week ago that I said that. Right?

    So these little cakes aren't really the sort of thing I would typically think of as a dessert. They're kind of more like something you'd have with a cup of tea in the afternoon, but I gotta say I just wasn't having any luck finding anything deserty to do with this meal and I kind of just picked this in an act of desperation. I don't mind though, because they were good and the whole family liked them.

    At first I was like, great, another weird ingredient I won't be able to find. But fonio flour was actually readily available on Amazon, though it was a bit pricey. Here's the brand I ended up ordering (right):

    You're going to start making the dough by mixing two cups of fonio flour with two cups of regular all purpose flour. 

    Now mix 1 1/2 cups plus two tablespoons of sugar with 1 cup of water (the measurement is a bit weird because I cut the original in half). 

    Add the margarine, egg, milk powder, and yeast. The original recipe said to wait and add the yeast just before putting the batter in the muffin tin, but I'm guessing the recipe authors were using fresh yeast and I converted this to use active dry, and you can't really mix that in at the end.

    Mix in the flours. The recipe says knead, but the dough is pretty wet so just mix it up until it's smooth. 

    Grease your mini muffin tin and then drop the batter in, filling each cup up halfway.

    Bake for 10 or 15 minutes. As you can see from the photo, I burned the edges of mine. I'm pretty sure that's because the recipe told me to start at a higher temperature, bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature and bake for another 10. Instead I just recommend baking at 350 for 10 to 15 minutes. The cakes are done when they're starting to crack a little on top. Let cool on a rack before serving.

    Here's the complete recipe:


    • 2 cups fonio flour
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 5/8 cups sugar
    • 1 cup water
    • 1/4 cup margarine, melted
    • 1 large egg
    • 7/8 cup milk powder
    • 1 1/8 tbsp active dry yeast
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract


    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
    2. Mix the two flours together.
    3. Now mix the sugar and water. When the sugar dissolves, add the egg, milk powder, yeast, and margarine.
    4. Add the flour and mix until you get a smooth batter. Let rest for 30 minutes.
    5. Coat a mini muffin pan with a little bit of oil. Fill each cup halfway.
    6. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool on a rack before serving.

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