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, 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.


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