On the never-ending adventure Island of Gozo, the good times keep rolling. Yes, we do work, but we have fun too, lots of it. So, one hot Sunday afternoon, 25 friends get on a chartered boat and set sail. Ahoy Captain! We are off to Comino!
The three small islands of Comino are a short distance from Gozo. It takes less than 5 minutes by boat to get there. The main Island is 3.5 sq. km. and named after the cumin plants that once thrived over there. The Maltese name is ‘Kemmuna’ and the islands are very well known for the crystal clear aquamarine blue waters. The favourite spots are Blue Lagoon, St Maria Beach and Crystal Lagoon. The water is clean and cool, the sun shines down and the rest is history. Comino is a dream come true. Full of little caves, beautiful coast, a fantastic tower and the legend of the two-tailed lizards said to inhabit the islands.
As anyone knowing us would expect, the first thing we think of is what to eat! Not the sunblock, nor towels nor the plentiful supply of water… but the food. I had been working on an article about peaches so, early in the morning, I got baking. Needed to prepare for the photo-shoot and also to take something with me. I made individual frangipani tarts with almonds, blueberries and peaches for the article and a big tart for the pirates. I just manage to take it out of the oven when my cousin Marie beeped the horn to signal ‘pickup’! Too hot to handle, I popped it on another tray and drove off to meet the others in Mgarr.
On board the Atlantis II: food, family and friends…in that order, set sail to Kemmuna. Our first stop was Crystal Lagoon. Swimming, snorkelling and lots of photos. My brother Mark, shot off snorkelling, looking for some octopuses. My uncle Martin and my other brother Adrian set up for Silver Bream fishing. Now, silver bream seem to thrive in Comino and this makes you believe that it’s gonna be a good catch. However, they are sly. So sly that one or two only are caught during each boat trip. That's all we have ever managed!
We swim off to a nearby cave and take some photos. With my two good friends Jane and Olga, a good laugh is always guaranteed. We try not to drown and somehow manage a photo. They baptize us "the three tarts in Comino"! Hey, the tarts are on board not at sea! Cheeky.
Back on board, and the ‘buffet’ is announced as ‘OPEN’. A selection of Cheeses and Local Galletti, Stuffed Olives, Chilli Marinated Olives, Grapes, Mixed Nuts, Fresh Prunes and Watermelon. That’s to start us off. Then we sail off to Comino Caves and its cake-time somehow. Almond Blueberry Peach Tart (the big and small ones) and a Vanilla Cake (by Mrs Jane Eddy). More swimming, lots of swimming, and the hunger levels rise. Next stop East Coast of Gozo, more snorkelling… Then we head off to the Blue Lagoon. As if by magic, the ‘Hobz’ appears (local crusty bread), tomatoes, tuna, olives… at this point I give up. Too much food is circulating! I just need to get away from them all. Should I swim back to Gozo? No, I return on board and join in.So, the tarts did go to Comino. But never returned home……
Frangipani tarts can be made into large ones, or small individual ones. Use a well floured, non stick cupcake tray for baking. Cooking time will be less than the bigger tart – about 30 -40 minutes.
Pears, peaches, cherries, loquats, apricots, raspberries, blueberries, figs and plums are fantastic if used for a frangipani tart. I love the tartness of some fruits blending in with the sweetness of the frangipani. But it is entirely up to you which fruit, or combination of fruits to use. Seasonal fruits are best. They are packed with sugar and intense in flavour. Not to mention that they are abundant enough to be selling at a cheaper price.
I have made my own Sweet Pastry....here is how to make it
Mix the zest (tsp) and cinnamon (tsp) into the flour (450grams). Rub in the butter (150grams), and add the sugar(150grams). Lightly beat the eggs (3) and add most of mix into the flour. If the eggs are large ones, you might not need to add the three whole eggs, but a little less. Bring the dough together, making sure not to overwork it. Wrap it in cling film and let it rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before using. Resting time is important so the pastry will be easy to manage and wont shrink when cooking.
Hereunder is the recipe for the Frangipani filling.....
Beat the butter and sugar together for e few minutes, then add the eggs, one by one. Fold in the ground almonds, lemon zest and the flour. Set aside or place in fridge until needed.
Line a 14” round baking dish with baking paper. Roll out the pastry and line the dish. Fill with frangipani mix, then place the chopped fruits on top. Bake in a hot oven set on 180 degrees Celsius for about 1 hr and 10 minutes. Check with a skewer to make sure it is done. If the tarts starts to brown quickly, cover with some foil.
Leave to cool before serving.