Tag Archives: Cinnamon

Moussaka – Classic Greek Moussaka with Eggplant

Moussaka is a casserole made by layering eggplant with a spiced meat filling then topping it off with a creamy bechamel sauce that is baked to golden perfection.

It is perhaps the most widely recognized of all Greek dishes and was made famous by the legendary Greek chef, Nicholas Tselementes.

This eggplant version is the traditional rendition, however you can also layer in potatoes, zucchini, or whatever vegetables you prefer.  It’s hearty and filling so you won’t need many side dishes.

While it can be time consuming to prepare, I think you will find that once complete it is a very worthwhile endeavor.

Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 eggplants, about 4 lbs. total
  • 2 lb. potatoes
  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef (or lamb)
  • 2 large onions, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 cup tomato puree (or crushed tomatoes)
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups plain breadcrumbs
  • 8 egg whites, lightly beaten (reserve yolks for bechamel)
  • 1 cup grated Kefalotyri or Parmesan cheese
  • Bechamel Sauce:
  • 1 cup salted butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 cups milk, warmed
  • 8 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg

Preparation:

Prep the Vegetables:
Using a sharp peeler, partially peel the eggplants, leaving strips of peel about 1 inch wide around the eggplant. Slice the eggplant in to 1/2 inch slices. 
Place the eggplant slices in a colander and salt them liberally. The salt also helps to remove some of the bitterness of the eggplant.
Cover them with an inverted plate that is weighted down by a heavy can or jar. 
Place the colander in the sink so that excess moisture can be drawn out. 
They will need to sit for at least 15-20 minutes, preferably an hour. 

Peel the potatoes and boil them whole until they are just done. They should not get too soft, just cooked enough so that they no longer crunch. 
Drain, cool and slice them in 1/4 inch slices. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil and lightly grease.  Add a splash of water to the egg whites and beat them lightly with a fork.  Add breadcrumbs to a flat plate.

Rinse the eggplant slices and dry with paper towels.  Dip the eggplant slices in the beaten egg whites and then dredge them in the breadcrumbs, coating both sides.  Place breaded eggplant slices on baking sheets and bake at 400 degrees for 1/2 an hour, turning them over once during cooking.

When eggplant is finished cooking, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Make the Meat Filling:

In a large sauté pan, brown the ground beef (or lamb) until the pink color disappears.  Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add wine to pan and allow it to simmer and reduce a bit before adding cinnamon, allspice, parsley, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, and sugar. It should be a drier, chunkier, tomato sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  
Allow the sauce to simmer uncovered for approximately 15 minutes so that excess liquid can evaporate. 

Make the Béchamel Sauce:

Melt butter over low heat.  Using a whisk, add flour to melted butter whisking continuously to make a smooth paste.  Allow the flour to cook for a minute but do not allow it to brown.

Add warmed milk to mixture in a steady stream, whisking continuously.

Simmer over low heat until it thickens a bit but does not boil.

Remove from heat, and stir in beaten egg yolks and pinch of nutmeg.  Return to heat and stir until sauce thickens.

Assemble the Moussaka:

Lightly grease a large deep baking pan (lasagna pan).  Sprinkle the bottom of pan with breadcrumbs.  Leaving a 1/4 inch space around the edges of the pan, place a layer of potatoes on the bottom. 
Top with a layer of eggplant slices.

Add meat sauce on top of eggplant layer and sprinkle with 1/4 of the grated cheese.
Top with another layer of eggplant slices and sprinkle once again with 1/4 of the grated cheese.

Pour the béchamel sauce over the eggplant and be sure to allow sauce to fill the sides and corners of the pan.  Smooth the béchamel on top with a spatula and sprinkle with remaining grated cheese.  Bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes or until béchamel sauce is a nice golden brown color. 

Allow to cool for 15 – 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

You can make this dish ahead up until the béchamel sauce and refrigerate.  Make the béchamel sauce right before you intend to bake it.

I originally found this recipe at About.com Greek Food.

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Bananabread with Dark Chocolate

Ingredients (5 persons)

100 g room tempered butter
1 dl white sugar
2 room tempered egg
2 riped bananas
4 dl all purpose flour
0.75 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanillasugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
200 grams dark chocolate 70%

Directions:
1. Whip tempered butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix well. Whip one and one egg into the buttercream.

2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a different bowl. Blend carefully the dry ingredients into the buttercream. Mash the bananas with a fork or a mixer depending on texture. Add banana and nicely chopped chocolate into the dough with a spatula.

3. Bake the cake on lower level of the oven for 180 Celcius degrees for 50-60 minutter. Cake will be a bit soft when warm, it has to cool to set. This bananacake will stay fresh for many days if you wrap it well and keep in fridge.

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Christmas Traditions: Grandma Elises’ Pepperkaker

Proper Norwegian Gingerbreadmen

This dough yields about 100 cookies

  • 400 grams of sugar
  • ¾ dl dark syrup
  • 1 ½ dl water
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground lemon or grapefruit peel
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1-2 tablespoons of cognac
  • 250 grams of margarine (butter)
  • 1 kg all purpose flour
  • 10 grams baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Directions:

Bring to boil: sugar, syrup, water and margarine in a casserole.

Blend the spices in Cognac, add the mixture to the sugars and cool down.

Add the dry ingredients (All purpose flour, baking powder and baking soda), mix thoroughly and cool dough till next day.

Let it rest in room temperature for 2-3 hours before working it as it is easier to work when tempered.

Roll the dough thin (0,2-0,25 cm on a rough estimate) with a Rolling pin. Use cutting molds to carve cookies.

Cook in oven on a baking paper covered pan on 180C for about 5-10 minutes. Cool down.

Now its time to Decorate.

I made a Pepperkakehus:

To get proper windows use Gelatine plates

Pepperkakehus

Then we decorated a bunch of cookies in traditional christmas style (hearts in pink etc.)

However, in these 50 shades of Grey times, I made a few kinky cookies that I wrapped up for my boyfriend for Christmas.

I had so much fun making these after I saw some pictures on google some years ago.

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Pumpkin Creme Brulee

Pumpkin Creme Brulee

Total Time:4 hr 15 minPrep:45 minCook:3 hr 30 min

Yield:4 servings
Ingredients
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 pinches nutmeg
1 pinch ginger
1 pinch ground cloves
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/3 cup coarse sugar or raw sugar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

In a medium saucepan, heat the cream, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves over medium heat, stirring occasionally, just until it comes to a boil. Immediately turn off the heat and set aside to infuse at least 15 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the granulated sugar. Whisking constantly, gradually pour in the hot cream mixture. Whisk in the pumpkin puree. Pour the mixture into 4 ovenproof ramekins and arrange in a hot water bath. Bake in the center of the oven until almost set but still a bit soft in the center, 30 to 40 minutes. The custard should “shimmy” a bit when you shake the pan; it will firm up more as it cools. Remove from the water bath and let cool 15 minutes. Tightly cover each ramekin with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic does not touch the surface of the custard. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, and up to 24 hours.

When ready to serve, preheat a broiler to very hot (or fire up your kitchen torch). Uncover the chilled custards. Pour as much coarse sugar as will fit onto the top of 1 of the custards. Pour off the remaining sugar onto the next custard. Repeat until all the custards are coated. Discard any remaining sugar. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan and broil until the sugar is melted and well browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Let cool 1 minute before serving.

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Eggfree Apple Coconut Cranberry cupcakes

Prep time: 20 Mins
Cook time: 20 Mins
Yields: 15 Regular Size Muffins

Overripe bananas is no problem anymore, just bake these amazing chocolate banana cupcakes. It’s the perfect dessert to please all age groups.

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice blend (See below for recipe)

Wet Ingredients:
1 cup mashed apples
1/2 cup milk (I used whipping cream milk, but you can use almond milk, rice milk etc)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup coconut cream (or coconut milk if you don’t find coconut cream)

1 cup Cranberries (sundried (but not too dry)

Procedure:
Preheat the oven to 350F/180C for 15 minutes.

Line 1 – 12 cup muffin pans with paper liners or grease it with non-stick cooking spray. There will be about 16 muffins / cupcakes for this recipe.

In a large bowl sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt. Stir in the sugar and make well.

Add all the wet ingredients (mashed apples / milk / vanilla extract, coconut cream) and mix until just combined.

Scoop out the batter with an ice cream scooper among the 12 (16) cavities. About 2/3rd cup of batter per muffin.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.

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Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool.
If using paper liner, you should be able to lift the muffins off the pan after 5 minutes.
Cool it completely on a wire rack before storing them / decorating them / serving them.

These come out real fluffy and delicious !

I found the original recipe at www.Egglesscooking.com, but I have edited it some to my own taste and preferances.

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Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend
Yield: about 5 tablespoons

3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice (can be skipped)
1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves

Combine spices in a small bow, mix well to combine. Store in a small jar or spice container.

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