IMG_20151220_161253I was invited to a friend’s house just before Christmas for a secret santa pot luck party. After some internet searches for something new and fun, because I get bored making something I’m used to making, I decided to go for a ravioli bake (also an excuse to try out some new ravioli, because I don’t eat pasta often!)

I purchased two packs of ravioli, one was filled with ricotta and the other with porcini mushrooms and they were both rather delicious. Since the porcini mushroom ones were slightly overpowering, I mixed the two types for this recipe.

The most important part of this recipe, aside from selecting good ravioli or making your own, is to make a tomato sauce that your grandmother would’ve been proud of (or would be, if you’re lucky enough to have a living grandmother :)).

For the tomato sauce you will need:

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

400g tomato sauce

oregano

1 cup water

apple cider vinegar

salt and pepper

For the dish:

Ravioli

1/2 cup or to taste grated Parmesan or mozzarella slices

To make:

Cook the ravioli for a few minutes in boiling water, then drain and carefully add a tiny amount of olive oil and stir through. You want to be gentle so as not to break the ravioli up.

Heat up some olive oil or coconut oil in a pan and start to fry the garlic, being careful not to burn. Then add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let it cook for about 20 minutes or until the consistency has thickened. You might want to add some tomato paste to help it along.

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Mix the tomato sauce with enough ravioli to fill your baking dish, then top up with grated Parmesan or mozzarella. You may even want to include some of this within the mixture for a cheesy, chewy, delicious surprise!


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Last Sunday, after buying lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, we decided to make a healthy smoothie and somehow we made one every day for a week, because once you get into the routine of making it, it seems to only take a few minutes. Which, let’s face it, is just about all I can manage most mornings when I need to rush off to work. It’s been a particularly busy week for me, and it will definitely be this way for the next month at least. And that is why starting the day with an energy boost to keep me going was a life-saver. It kept me sane.

Sunday: carrot, beetroot, kale, banana

Monday: banana, apple, coconut milk, almond milk, ginger

Tuesday: banana, apple, coconut milk, almond milk, ginger, teaspoon of Energy mix

Wednesday: banana, apple, coconut milk, ginger, goji berries, wheatgrass

Thursday: banana, apple, beetroot, ginger, coconut milk, goji berries

Friday: banana, apple, coconut milk, wheatgrass, ginger, goji berries, hemp protein powder, cocoa nibs

Saturday: banana, frozen blueberries, coconut milk, ginger, goji berries, wheatgrass, hemp protein powder


There’s a new cat in town

 My foodie antenna first caught a whiff of Fredy’s diner thanks to a picture posted on social media. This depicted the interior of a new eatery, looking shiny and new, and dare I say it? Reminiscent of what in my mind the 70s TV series Happy Days represented.

The mustard and orange seating and the cartoonish wallpaper helped, but I think that what greeted me most were the smiles. Is it just me who is surprised by good service nowadays? Pleasantries that don’t take much effort but that make the largest difference? An attitude that shows your patrons that you actually enjoy your job? (Shock, horror, etc.)

I took a seat towards the back, with my mental soundtrack starting to play “These days are ours, Happy and free. (Oh Happy Days)” obviously eyeing the other patrons’ plates on the way. The menu was vast and it was difficult to decide, so I opted for something light that time (prawn and avocado salad) and then proceeded to plan what I’d order on my next visit.

In the mean time I spoke to chef and owner Chris Stellini. Chris has trained and worked in high-class hotels for some years, but opening a casual diner was a dream that he finally got to fulfill. Fredy’s diner gets its name from his late father, Fredu, whom his mum liked to call ‘Fredy’. Fredy has been immortalized in the company’s logo and on the walls of the diner, and under his ‘supervision’ the family works in tandem, all putting their different skills to good use.

I’m curious to know what this kind of shift in lifestyle meant for Chris. One conjures images of long, stressful hours, kitchen disasters and flying food. While it certainly is a tough job with long hours, he tells me that the joy of fulfilling a dream and creating a project together with this family, with attention to detail, soaks up so much of this stress. And I’m assured that there is too much respect for the food for it to be thrown around!

He describes the choice of serving American food as ‘easy’ but after examining the menu I cannot help but notice the variety, and how he has been applying his acquired skills to old favourites as well as recipes developed over the years. The chef is serving food that he enjoys eating, recipes that have been enjoyed by friends and that have been perfected to be served in his restaurant. Sometimes the easiest way is the best way.

The menu tends to be carb-heavy, which perhaps is something you could expect from this type of theme. You would only be slightly limited in terms of choices if you’re vegetarian or want to avoid a heavy meal – I have my eye on that butternut squash steak for mains.

Diving into the menu which promises to ‘smack hunger out of you’ (easy, tiger!) you will notice some unusual language, which is funny but also a bit disturbing at times. I squirmed when my partner order ‘The Sock’ pizza, but luckily it did not live up to its name. Actually, it was rather light and tasty, a pizza I’d be tempted to order, and I’m very snobbish about my pizza.

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The pièce de résistance for me were the Smoked & Baked BBQ Back Ribs!, which I am told are cooked slowly in a smoker. And you can tell. They fall off the bone and somehow you end up eating through all of them, too many of them most probably, with ease. Yep, they’re good. They don’t do halves, so go hungry.

A favourite with the staff seems to be the ‘Grilled Chicken & Mash’ ciabatta. I couldn’t understand the fuss; although the pesto makes it interesting, the potato in bread thing doesn’t really do it for me, it’s too heavy especially served with more potato (fries) at the side. In my opinion there are better things on the menu (like the hot dog! Try the hot dog!).

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Finally, I can never get myself to write a review without tasting the desserts. I do it for you, dear readers.

My pumpkin, pineapple, pecan concoction not only pleased by alliteration-loving self, but it made me stop in my tracks. Truly delicious. I love the fact that they are also made from scratch at Fredy’s diner. Points. I found the Peanut Butter Cake to be great too, but far too rich in buttery taste to be finished by one person (have this on a first date). I hear that the Key Lime Pie is great too, so I’m looking forward to trying that one!

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Fredy’s Diner is found at 111, Triq San Bartolomew, Qormi

And here or here.

Ambience: cheerful and fun, great for meeting your friends

Service: excellent, attentive without being intrusive. A mistake in the order was redeemed quickly enough for us to barely notice it had happened (now that’s where you can actually see just how the service is..)

Wine list: short, but with some good choices

Value for money: some dishes are slightly over-priced, others are good value

Quality of the food: overall great, some dishes might do with a little improvement

After chatting with Chris about future possibilities and giving my suggestions (for ever-so-slightly selfish reasons of course!) I’m looking forward to more visits at Fredy’s Diner.