Moussa…Who? MOUSSAKA: the Reigning King of Satisfaction!

So some time ago someone decided they wanted a succulent, hearty meal that satisfies not only your appetite but sends explosions of taste throughout your mouth all the while transporting your senses- making you smile, relax and enjoy life…Leave it to the Greeks to invent such a dish! (Is that any surprise?) Presenting: Moussaka!

Beware though, Moussaka is not for the faint of heart! A small portion, accompanied by a salad or Horta, goes a long way. This is, in every sense a real-deal, hearty-meal. I prepare mine with a meat sauce (lamb is more typical, but any ground meat will do). Of course eggplant rules here, along with potatoes and a mouthwatering, creamy bechamel sauce tweaked with eggs. This happens to be my husband’s favourite meal- so I prepared this one for his birthday! To keep it a surprise, this time I cooked in my basement kitchen- I love that I can switch it up like that;)

Here’s the way I make my Moussaka:

Ingredients:

  • Meat sauce (prepared in advance)
  • Sliced Potatoes (enough to fill two layers of a baking pan-of your choice)
  • Eggplant (enough to abundantly fill one layer of a baking pan of your choice)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of flour
  • 3 tbl sp of butter
  • Milk as needed
  • 3 eggs  (Some people put upto 5- let’s keep it light at 3;)
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • 1 tbl sp of grated Graviera cheese (or Parmesan)
  • Pam or olive oil to coat your pan

Let’s begin!

(To save time, make sure you’ve prepared a meat sauce in advance).

Slice your potatoes, salt and bake on light broil till golden – turn over and broil again (no oil- just Pam on the baking sheet).

Once broiled, layer in a baking pan. Next, cover potatoes with your meat sauce.

Slice your eggplant, salt and proceed as you did with potatoes.

Once broiled, layer over the meat sauce. (Then, again, cover these with more meat sauce).

Add a last layer of broiled potatoes over the meat sauce.

Now, for the Bechamel!

In a large pot, mix butter and flour until they amalgamate.

When it starts to sizzle slightly, add milk. Continue to stir as it thickens (you don’t want it to stick to bottom of pan and burn!) AND keep adding milk.  Add a bit of salt as well.  Continue to do this until you get a nice thick sauce. Sprinkle about a table spoon of grated Graviera cheese-or- Parmesan cheese (only if you’d like!) I did;)

Once the bechamel is ready, wait a few minutes off the burner- Then place pot in fridge to speed up the cooling process.

On the same token, place eggs in warm water to heat them up a bit (so there’s no clash of temperature between the two. Otherwise,this could cause the eggs to scramble when mixing them in sauce later).

Once the two are cool – or about the same temperature, fold the eggs into the bechamel sauce. Mix it up well.

Pour the whole mixture onto that last layer of potatoes.

Bake at 350 for about an hour or so…until the Moussaka is a nice golden color. (it should also rise a bit).

And there you go! Roll out the red carpet! Kali Orexi!

#confessionoftheday : It was impossible for me to resist temptation…I had more than one piece!

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The Greeks Call it Yemista- Healthy Comfort Food

Deliciously filled baked vegetables that hit the spot! Yemista as the Greeks call this rich and satisfying meal is perfect for these nippy cold autumn days. For the record, Italians make this too- they call it, Verdura Ripiena (thought I’d add that in, since today’s cook, yours truly, is Italian;)

On that note, my recipe is a mix of both cultures: A Greek delicacy with an Italian flare. I have to warn you, this dish does take a bit of time to make. Here’s my way:

About 12 vegetables

3/4lb minced meat (I use a blend of veal, pork and beef)

2 onions

1 cup rice

salt, pepper, dill to taste, chilli flakes

Pam, a tiny bit of olive oil to drizzle

You can use a variety of different vegetables such as: Zucchini, eggplant, red, green, orange..peppers, yellow zucchini squash, potatoes , tomatoes- basically any vegetable that can easily be hollowed. Today, all I had on hand were tomatoes, red peppers and potatoes.

I usually begin by scraping out the vegetables, while keeping the top for a cap (you’ll see later). Then, all the scrapings are finely chopped and lightly salted.

If you clean out the potatoes first, as I did, you will need to place them in a bowl filled with cold water. This way they won’t turn brown while you work on the other vegetables.

Mix meat, scrapings, rice and onions together. Then, in a large pan, cook the mixture. Add salt, pepper and dill to your liking. If you prefer your dishes on the spicy side (Italian touch), add some chilli flakes, or peperoncino. Keep adding water as the rice swells.

When the whole mixture is consistently cooked (rice should be almost semi cooked), just go ahead and fill up the vegetables.

Place them neatly in a greased pan (I use Pam, but you can also use olive oil). Top them with their caps (helps keep them moist and cook evenly). Add about a ½ cup of water at the bottom of pan. Drizzle a few drops of olive oil.

Cover with aluminium foil and bake at 175C (325F) for about an hour. The last few minutes, uncover and set on broil – just long enough to get them nicely roasted.

Et voila! Or as the Greeks say: Etima!

Kali Orexi! Buon Appetito!

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