Driving back home, the afternoon light reflects on the cream-coloured stone that from long ago our houses have been built. And between clusters of homes the countryside that, against a backdrop of blue sky and sunshine, seems to glow magically. Daydreaming, I think of what to cook for my twin friends and sister, who are coming over for dinner in a few hours time. And with the shops closed, my only resources are my cupboard and freezer. Interesting…..
Roghan Josh and rice? No, I only have enough for two! Donkey stew? Again…. I only have enough for about 3. What else? Potato frittata? A bit poor for a public holiday evening. I have a frozen stash of sauce from the Qargha Baghali Mimli stuffing…. And a kilo of rice. That's settled: I can make Baked Rice a la Gozitaine!
Ross fil-Forn in simple terms….
Having no microwave, I take out my rudimentary toaster (a perforated metal plate that lies flat over the burner, and which doubles as a heat diffuser), plonk one of my round enamel baking dishes on top and gently heat the sauce until it melts. I'm in no rush anyway…. Half cook the rice and set it aside. Eggs, grated cheese, milk….. I have all I need.
As I am a serious enamelware collector: pot/pan/kettle/plate/whatever-I-can-get-my-hands-on, I debate which baking dish to use. A deep one, rectangle, a big round one or the latest one I got from the flea-market in Birgu? I also have my new bormaforn and could use that! Decided: I will use the round round baking dish my friend Olga gave me this Winter.
Cooking is such a joy. Well, to me it is. I never run out of enthusiasm or things I want to bake and cook. The seasons inspire me, the local ingredients get my mind racing, it’s a continuous celebration of taste and colour. The pleasure to please those for whom I cook is often excuse enough for me.
Making baked rice is easy if you have all the prep ready. I make enough to feed 6 hungry Gozitans (that is a serving for 8 to 10 people). One kilo of cooked rice, six eggs, 150 grams of grated cheese, pepper, one glass of milk and about a kilo of meat sauce (either a Bolognaise or Qargha Baghali stuffing sauce). Am carried away taking pics and realize that my cat Pickles has sneaked on to the chair, chin up in the air trying to get a sniff of the food. I remind her that curiosity killed the cat, and I shoo her off! Back to your Alley-Watch post miss! Shooshoo… little Minx!
Just mix all the ingredients together, place in a baking dish and bake in a hot oven set on 180 Degrees Celsius for around an hour. The top should be golden! Rest for about 15 to 20 minutes before serving. It sets and can be cut better.