Tag Archives: Tomatoes

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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Ladybug Bruschettas

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Ingredients:

15 thin slices of a baguette
Cream Cheese (of your taste)
a couple romaine lettuce leaves
cherry tomatoes
8 large pitted black olives

Description:

In the oven, broil the baguette slices for a couple minutes – optional. Arrange on a large plate or platter.

Take about 1/2 tablespoon cream cheese at a time and spread on each slice of bread.

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Tear or cut the romaine lettuce leaves into pieces about the size of the baguette slices.

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Place the lettuce pieces on top of the slices covered with the spread.

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Cut the olives and tomatoes in half, lengthwise.

TomOlivesHalves

Cut the tomatoes from the bottom end to the middle, as pictured below.

LadybugCutTomatoes

Cut about a third of each olive, as pictured below. Set aside. They will be used to make the ladybugs heads.

LadybugsCutOlives

Using a knife with a sharp pointy tip, make about 4 tiny holes into the tomatoes, 2 on each side. Cut small pieces from the remaining pieces of olives, and place them into the little tomato holes, as pictured below.

LadybugsSpots

Using the same principle, make 2 tiny holes into the olives we will be using for the ladybugs’ heads. These will be the eyes. Fill them with small pieces of feta cheese. For the eyes you can also try to use tiny pieces of cream cheese. Just take a pointed knife and place the pieces on the ladybug’s “heads”.
Arrange the tomatoes on top of the lettuce leaves, then add the olive pieces in front, right next to them, as pictured below.

LadybugsFinalBottom

The original recipe to be found at papabuna.com

Healthy Chicken Beet Salad

I have never been a huge fan of neither salads or soups before. When I was a child I disliked them so much that I even bet with my mom that the cauliflower soup tasted so bad that even the cat wouldn’t want it. She was provoked by my behavior certain the cat wouldn’t want the soup so she allowed the cat to drink from the soup, where I triumphantly exclaimed; HA! Now I can’t eat from it, as I can’t eat from the same food that the cat ate from. Needless to say I was sent from the table without more food that night.

Salads were even worse. That was rabbit food. I can still hear my fathers words over the dinner table. No way I’m gonna eat that. That’s food for rabbits! – Poor mom. How was she to convince two kids to learn to like salads when their father was so opposed to it.

However, lately I have started getting a taste for both of them and I have discovered it has ALL to do with the ingredients of the salads. I have certain salads I still don’t fancy at all, but when I make them with the ingredients I do like. They turn out delicious!

My fav. salads are the Feld Salad (french) and the Radicchio Rosso Salad (Italian)
–  Use 100 grams of each (or 50 grams of each if you prefer to have less green leaves :D)

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Other Ingredients:

B008OFKM42_11 BIG or several small Red Beets
1 can of Chick Peas
1 Salad Onion or regular Onion cut in small pieces or thin slices to your liking
1 Red Sweet Pepper (Paprika) cut in 2 x1 cm long pieces
1/2 Cucumber cut in cubes
50 grams of Sweat Peas cut in 4 parts each
2 -3 tomatoes cut in cubes
1 can of Corn including the juice from the can

If you are a vegetarian this is it and if you enjoy some good meat you can add
2 – 300 grams of precooked and pre cut chicken .

Blend well and top with
50 grams Nuts / Seeds
Heinz Curry Mango Sauce
Lemon Juice from one lemon

This is a really great salad and feeds 5-6 people if this is your main course and 10-12 if used as an appetizer.

Enjoy!

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Turkey Day leftover Soup

After a huge Turkey meal there are always leftovers.
Today I decided to cook these up into a huge soup.

Ingredients:

3 Large Sweet Potatoes
7 Large Root Parsley
7 Normal Sized Carrots
3 Stick Celery
Celeriac (can be dropped if you are allergic)

3 Single Clove Garlic
1 Red Onion
2 Yellow Onions

1 Can of Chickpeas
2 Cans of Chopped Tomatoes
3 Small Cans of  Tomato Puree

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Chop all the vegetables into 1×3 cm sized chunks (or to your own preference) and add to the casserole.

Leftover Turkey – Minimum 1 kg, but use whatever you have.

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  Add Spices
Salt, Pepper, Chili, Herbs (I do not specify any in particular here because it depends on what I have in the cabinet, but I always have Oregano and Basil as a minimum). I also chose to add some hot sauces for taste. You don’t have to!

Let the Soup Slow Cook for 2 hours!

Its a real Treat!
This amount of soup should be enough for 10-15 people and whatever is not eaten day 1 or 2 is perfect to freeze in portion sized Tupperware boxes and bring to work or school for lunch!