• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Chris Amirault

Moussaka--Cook-Off 7

123 posts in this topic

According to the America's Test Kitchen episode I saw on saturday, Eggplants are actually genderless. Seed size has to do with the relative age of the fruit(?)


"The Internet is just a world passing around notes in a classroom."

---John Stewart

my blog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmmm... more support for putting the kaibosh on eggplant sex.

At a Turkish cuisine conference a few years ago (the Turks love eggplant), Paula Wolfert, the author of many cookbooks and an expert on Mediterranean cuisine said, in effect, baloney. Others I’ve consulted or read about seem to concur. In “Craig Claiborne’s The New York Times Food Encyclopedia” (Times Books, 1985), the author says he consulted a botanist who pooh poohed the sex theory saying, among other things, that an eggplant has both female and male parts.

In Paula I trust!


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What kind of cheese is usually used with moussaka?

The Claudia Roden recipe calls for cheddar.

I can't wait to try this, probably Friday as I will going to Costco on Thursday... :biggrin:

Gorgeous pictures Jason!!


<p><strong>Kristin Wagner</strong>, aka "torakris"

Manager, Membership

<a class="bbc_email" href="mailto:kwagner@egstaff.org" title="E-mail Link">kwagner@egstaff.org</a></p>

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well maybe they're not male and female, but there were definitely two very different looking types of eggplants in that bin at the store. I don't buy the immature theory because the "male" ones were as long or longer than the "female" ones. Or, maybe they are immature, whatever, they were definitely sweeter and less seedy than the larger/rounder eggplants I'd bought in the past, so go for those.

I posted our recipe on RecipeGullet, if anyone wants to check it out, click.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kris, tonight we used a very sharp grated hard sheeps milk cheese, which I think offsets the richness of the bechamel nicely. You could use Parmigiano Reggiano or a Grana Padano, Pecorino Romano or any hard sharp grating cheese. A sharp feta would probably be good too.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What kind of cheese is usually used with moussaka?

I used a sharp, peppered sheeps' milk cheese that sat too long and got pretty hard. We ground it up and used it in the breading for the eggplant cutlets, to flavor the white sauce and with bread crumbs on top. Normally, I'd use parmesean or pecorino romano or even feta, but I wanted to use up that cheese we already had -- it was excellent.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rachel, that looks lovely. I've been experimenting with various ways to cook the eggplant for moussaka, but your way is new to me. Here are the ways I've cooked it before:

Maybe do a salt treatment, or maybe not:

a. Salt the slices, let them sit in a colander for at least a half hour, then rinse and drain; or

b. Soak all in a bowl of salted water, at least 1/2 hour, or a day if I'm busy and distracted; or

c. Neither of the above, no salting beforehand.

I've read that it isn't necessary to salt eggplant if it's going to be roasted or grilled (high-temperature treatment) but that it is necessary to salt and/or soak it to remove bitterness if it's going to be baked, as in moussaka. I haven't tested enough to agree or disagree.

I've also read that salting and soaking the eggplant in water prevents it from soaking up as much oil if you choose to fry it. That does seem to work.

Then cook:

1. (the low-fat way): lay the rounds on a baking sheet, brush with olive oil, and broil. This goes very, very quickly and requires rapt attention lest you burn it, but it meters the fat in a properly miserly fashion.

2. (the oilier way): fry the eggplant in 1" deep oil. I use a combination of canola and grapeseed oil, the point being to have a high smoke point. I've discovered that if the oil is hot enough the final product isn't really oily.

2a. (an Egyptian modification) my cookbook says to fry the eggplant as above, then rinse it in running water to wash off the excess oil. I haven't tried this method yet.

3. (the oiliest way): barely coat the bottom of a pan with oil, and try to saute the eggplant in it. This is the recommended method from something like The Silver Palate, because they say that eggplant is spongy so you have to be sparing with the oil, but I've never had much success with this. The eggplant always soaks up the oil, and I'm left with a choice between adding more (against recommendations) or cooking the eggplant in a dry skillet.

Until recently I used method 1, broiling, but lately I've taken to doing method 2 (frying in 1" of oil), then placing the cooked eggplant between paper towels to soak up excess oil. The eggplant slices are definitely oilier than by the broiling method, but they're pretty good.

I'm going to try the cutlets soon. That method sounds really good.

Torakris, you can pretty much use your choice of cheeses. Tonight I mixed cheddar and kasseri because I needed to get rid of the kasseri. The kasseri is a sheepy cheese that, by itself, is a bit too sharp for my tastes, but in this sauce, with the rest of the layers, it really does well. I have a note in my cookbook where I mixed cheddar and fontina, most definitely a non-traditional mix, and I loved it.

Photos and recipe to come after I have everything uploaded.


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What kind of cheese is usually used with moussaka?

The Claudia Roden recipe calls for cheddar.

I have another Claudia Roden recipe that suggests a cheese named kefalotiri. It is apparently a greek hard sheeps milk cheese. I will have a go at finding it, but if I'm unsuccesfull, I will go for pecorino romano.

Rachel, your moussaka looks delicious!


Christofer Kanljung

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I normally make the stuffed aubergine variation myself - making Moussaka for one is a bit of a pain, but the stuffed aubergine is a lot easier. Usually have a load of the meat sauce left (You can't really make small amounts, and Aubergines don't hold THAT much. Good just with pitta bread though (Especially as it is even better the next day)


I love animals.

They are delicious.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the compliments all.

Smithy, I agree with your list about eggplant prep. They're all a PITA, requiring much attention and make the eggplant too oily. The baked cutlet technique makes for crunchy on the outside, creamy on the inside eggplant. I used to not like plain eggplant, but it is hard to not snack on these as they wait to get layered into the casserole.

Another note... Yesterday I used fresh bread crumbs for breading (had some hot dog buns to use up). Interestingly, they did not stick as well to the eggplant compared to plain, dry, store-bought crumbs. So, the eggplant slices weren't as well covered as they usually are, and they browned more too. So, if you make this, don't worry if your's aren't as browned as in my picture. And, they don't have to be totally limp after coming out of the oven. First, they will probably sit for a while until you are ready to assemble the moussaka, then they will be baked again.

Finally, if you haven't started this project yet... When you go to buy your ingredients, get an extra eggplant, especially if you can find some of those smaller ones like we did. If you have extra meat sauce and bechamel after filling your casserole, you'll be glad to have it on hand to make the papoutsakia.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, Rachel and Jason. It's nice to see what I'll be trying to do!

Thank you too, Chufi, for your as always beautiful and inspiring photos.


Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Usually have a load of the meat sauce left (You can't really make small amounts, and Aubergines don't hold THAT much. Good just with pitta bread though (Especially as it is even better the next day)

I also had meatsauce (and cheesesauce) left, and made a pastagratin with that the next day. I had a bunch of basil in the fridge, chopped that up and mixed it in. Very easy, fast and delicious supper!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just for the heck of it, I costed out my recipe. One lasagna pan of moussaka cost approximately $17.75 and yields 6 servings, for a cost of around $3 per serving. The eggplants are a little expensive in the store right now, at around $2/lb. (I paid $1.79 at an ethnic grocery), the meats averaged around $3/lb at the butcher. If you are able to take advantage of store specials and when eggplant is in season it would come out less per serving.

You know, I want to suggest this to tammylc as one of her Dinner for 40s, but she needs a vegetarian alternative the her meat main course. Does anyone have a suggestion on how to make a vegetarian moussaka or what would be a complimentary vegetarian main course when moussaka is the meat option?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm thinking you could chop up TVP, cook it in the tomato sauce/onion mix, and season it with the same spices, and make the Moussaka as normal.

Also on top of the baked eggplants, you could do the turkish-style eggplant salad, seasoned with the seven spice, instead of a faux-meat layer. Or perhaps zucchini/squash/onion with tomato.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With regard to the folks who have had trouble buying fresh lamb mince (though that's not too much of a problem in the UK) when I make Shepherd's Pie, these days I always use lamb left over from a roast chopped into tiny pea-size pieces (more 'bite' than if whizzed in the processor). I got the idea from my adored HFW 'Meat' book and the results have been wonderful, especially if the meat is cooked with a reduction of some stock made from the lamb bone as well as tomato. (We enjoy this left-overs dish more than the roast dinner!) I wonder if this method would work well for Mousakka? Or would it over-power the aubergine?

As for a veggie version, I like to used finely chopped mushrooms (you need LOTS!) combined with a variety of lentils & maybe a minced vegetable like turnip in place of the meat, you need to be quite generous with the seasoning.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I too was going to suggest mushrooms for the vegetarian version. My Egyptian cookbook has one stovetop moussaka recipe that doesn't use meat but does have lots of onions, pine nuts and raisins in the sauce. I haven't tried that one yet but I may before this is all done. I have my doubts about the raisins, but I think chopped nuts would do wonderfully.

What is TVP?


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Adzuki beans make a good substitute for ground meat in vegetarian dishes.


"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Made a moussaka last night and refrigerated it. It will be reheated for tonight's dinner.

Rachel, thanks for the Cutlet recipe :biggrin: ; I used it and even thought it's a PITA it's less of a PITA than in a frying pan. Based on your advice I made more than I needed. My 17-year-old son, a self-described "Big eggplant guy", loved them right out of the oven (and so did I).

Wegmans didn't have any ground lamb, so the butcher ground a leg for me and only made me buy the amount that I needed. If you have a Wegmans in your area and don't go there, shame on you! I hope the meat is not too dry. I drained off the fat, put in tomato paste, red wine and cinnamon. Layered it with the eggplant cutlets, thin sliced of potato cooked on a griddle and a bechamel made of the ususal plus some handmade ricotta and kasseri cheeses.

This was a combination of a bunch of ingredients from many of the recipes mentioned on this thread and was new for me since I ususally have no confidence without literally following a recipe. I am eager to get home tonight and try it, and to continue experimentation and learning from all of you with eGulleters.


If more of us valued food & cheer & song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. - J.R.R. Tolkien

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now, for a different take on moussaka, here's what I did yesterday.

I started with these ingredients, plus a few I forgot to include in the photo:

gallery_17034_1103_7235.jpg

2 eggplants, a quart of canned diced tomatoes (approximately 5 tomatoes' worth), 2 onions (no reason for mixed colors - it's just what I had around), nutmeg, salt, pepper, allspice, paprika, ground coriander, and chili flakes.

Not in the photo, or added later for sauce adjustments: 1-1/2 lbs ground beef, a small (14-1/2 oz) can of diced tomatoes to balance out all that meat later, and a tube of concentrated tomato paste. I think I ended up using about 2 tbsp of tomato paste concentrate to get the color I wanted. I ended up adding a pinch of cinnamon to the sauce, too, for just that right sweet note.

I didn't bother taking photos of the bechamel - ingredients or cooking.

I think someone upthread already said this, but I'll stress it again: moussaka isn't really all that mysterious; it's just a layered dish. You can make the layers ahead and assemble it later. When I finally saw a recipe that laid it out that way, a little light bulb went on in my head, and it all became easy.

I won't bore the entire readership with the detailed photos, but if anyone wants to see more, take a look at my User album, Cooking Moussaka & Developing my Recipe. Everything has captions if you want to try following step-by-step. I hope this doesn't seem silly, putting in all this detail. Such level of detail has helped me in the past when I wasn't sure what I was trying to do.

Cook the eggplant:

I like the peel on eggplant, but I often find that it gets tough during cooking and tends to come out of the dish in rings. To get around that I peel the eggplant in stripes.

gallery_17034_1103_3939.jpg

As far as cooking the eggplant goes, see notes above. I fried mine, and the photos show the process. I think Rachel's method looks better, although mine does taste pretty good. I think my oil was a mix of canola, grapeseed, and a bit of olive oil for the flavor. I strain the oil and reuse it on other eggplant dishes, so it isn't wasted.

Cook the sauce:

I'm really pleased with the way mine came out. I chopped the onions fairly finely, and browned them somewhat in olive and canola oil, then added the meat and let it all brown, stirring as needed. When the meat was nearly done I drained off the excess fat, then added the seasonings and adjusted until I got the right combination of spice and heat. I think I ended up with about 1-1/2 tsp each of allspice, salt, pepper, and paprika; 3/4 tsp ground coriander, a dash of ground cinnamon and a pinch of chili flakes. Then I pitched in the quart of tomatoes (juice and all) and let it start cooking down. At some point I realized I had far more meat than necessary, and added a small can of tomatoes. Then came the tomato paste to get a more reddish color. Finally, as it all simmered, I added about 1 tbsp parsley flakes. (Fresh might be better, but I didn't have any.) I let that all sit and simmer until it was fairly thick. It had a nice heat, some definite sweet/savory spice, but wasn't overly sweet. The cinnamon is easy to overdo, IMO, but just a small shake from the spice jar added the right, er, je ne sais quoi.

Make the bechamel:

Any standard recipe will do. I used one that called for 4tbsp each of butter and flour, 2-1/2c hot milk, 2 beaten eggs and 1/2c grated cheese (I think I used more like a cup). That made double the amount I needed because of the pots I used, so I could have cut this in half. I'd have needed it all for a 9x13 pan, though.

Assemble the dish:

Start with a layer of tomato/meat sauce in the bottom, then add a layer of eggplant next.

gallery_17034_1103_1368.jpggallery_17034_1103_628.jpg

Note, these are my standard moussaka pots because they're the Egyptian moussaka tagine, but they aren't necessary for this dish. A round flat-bottomed casserole dish will work. A 9x13 baking pan will work. Individual bowls or Grab-It™ pots will work.

Keep adding layers until you run out of space or layers. I like to finish with the meat sauce on top, and I think that's how it's presented in Egypt where they don't use bechamel. Some of my recipe books call for finishing with eggplant on top, and I see that's what Rachel did. I don't know how much it matters. My meat and eggplant came out exactly right for these, despite my sputterings over too much meat in the sauce.

gallery_17034_1103_15987.jpggallery_17034_1103_7728.jpg

Top with the bechamel. Make a good seal with the edge of the pot. Put the dish on a drip pan before placing in the oven. Bake uncovered at 400F for around 50 minutes, until the topping is golden brown. Let it rest a bit before cutting, if you can, but serve it hot. It does make mean leftovers, and it reheats beautifully.

gallery_17034_1103_2228.jpggallery_17034_1103_12431.jpg

Someday I'll get this photo adjustment business worked out. Sorry some of the photos are a bit faded.

Edited to add a small step I'd forgotten.


Edited by Smithy (log)

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I am so amazed that the ground lamb is hard for some of you guys to get, when here in  small town Florida where it is often difficult to find certain good ingredients, it's readily available in our Publix.  Any idea why that is?

Hi Susan--I was going on the informal theory that the low availability/selection of lamb here in San Diego was a combination of relative lack of ethnic groups that are heavily into lamb, and relative lack of interest in, for lack of a better term, "foodie-ism" around here. On the face of it, those theories wouldn't explain the easy availability of ground lamb in small-town FL ... except that I have been the Publix-chain stores down there, and I gotta say they pretty much kick the booty of any of the chains here in SD. Plus ... I dunno, on my few visits to the Daytona Beach area, I got the impression that the small-town Fl matrix around that area had an overlay of retirees from the Northeast--maybe markets down there have gotten a little into catering more to the ethnic-influenced food tastes of these snowbirds? Admittedly I'm now just wildly speculating on little data here... :hmmm:

Well maybe they're not male and female, but there were definitely two very different looking types of eggplants in that bin at the store. I don't buy the immature theory because the "male" ones were as long or longer than the "female" ones. Or, maybe they are immature, whatever, they were definitely sweeter and less seedy than the larger/rounder eggplants I'd bought in the past, so go for those.

I'm willing to let go of the botanically male/female concept, but agree with Rachel that, for whatever reason, there do seem to be two distinct "looks" to the American-style globe eggplants in the market, including the distinctly different looks of their blossom-end "navels." That said, a couple of what looked to be "male" eggplant I turned into baba ghanouj the other weekend still had an annoying number of seeds. So, once again, I'm clueless ... what's an eggplant "sex" fiend to do anymore?!? :wacko::laugh:

You know, I want to suggest this to tammylc as one of her Dinner for 40s, but she needs a vegetarian alternative the her meat main course. Does anyone have a suggestion on how to make a vegetarian moussaka or what would be a complimentary vegetarian main course when moussaka is the meat option?

Hi Rachel--This recipe from epicurious.com using portobello mushrooms in place of the meat looks pretty promising, though if I were doing it I'd juice up the spicing a bit with some allspice/nutmeg or the blend you use in the meat-based recipe you posted to RecipeGullet (lovely-sounding and looking recipe, by the way).


Edited by mizducky (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder if the lack of availability of lamb in San Diego is a holdover from the old Range Wars. I wouldn't have expected that to apply down there, but I know it was tough to find lamb in central California when I was growing up because of generations-old hard feelings. This may also be a factor in Texas, that staunch cattle-growing state. Fifi, what do you think?

For those of you who don't know, there was quite a prolonged land use argument - I think starting in the late 1800's and going into the early 1900's - between the cattle ranchers and sheep herders of the West. As I understand it, the principle issues were the presence or absence of fences (cattle ranchers didn't want them, sheep ranchers did) and the incompatable grazing methods of the two animals. My grandfather, who never raised either cattle or sheep, nonetheless took the side of the cattle ranchers. To his dying day, he wouldn't eat sheep in any form.


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So after looking at these photos of Moussaka all day I had to get home and do my own.

I used a blend of the recipes I have seen, and just threw in some touches of my own.

mouss.jpg

I used ground beef, no lamb, as I couldn't find any and beef was an sale (can't beat $1.75 a lb for ground beef).

I roasted the slices of eggplant in the oven with a little EVOO and salt, and in a pot I fried up an onion, some garlic, 2 lbs of ground beef, the remains of a jar of tomato sauce, a can of black olives (hey, the Greeks love olives, I love olives, seemed like a good addition), and a spice blend of coriander seed, clove, cinnamon, paprika, black pepper, allspice, nutmeg, and lots of oregano.

I layered it up along with lots of mozerella cheese (decided not to go the bechamal route, just layer of eggplant, later of meat, layer of cheese, rinse, repeat, etc). I also topped it off with some parm.


He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Content

    • By eG Forums Host
      eGullet Recipe Cook-Off Index

      Thanks to chrisamirault, every now and then since December 2004, a good number of us have been getting together over at the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off.

      The Cook-Off is intended to be a forum at which we all can cook the same dish and share our experiences in a non-competitive, collaborative manner, making a dish:
      that you've always wanted to make at home (and may enjoy out) but rarely have made, or haven't made successfully; for which special but locatable ingredients may be used, but for which expensive special equipment is not required; that includes techniques, ingredient combinations, or other elements that intrigue you; from a different cuisine than that of the previous Cook-Off dish; that demands some time and effort, but that rewards that effort for even those first approaching it; and that motivates you to try it out, ask questions, serve it to friends, and share photos and stories. As we cook and compare, some of us post our recipes on RecipeGullet, the eGullet Society's wonderful database of cooking ideas, instructions, and insight.

      Finally, thanks to the internet, remember that you're never too late for an eGullet Cook-Off. While all have a specific starting time, none have an end time, and there are many of us eager to see what you will do with the cook-off recipes. So don't hesitate to contribute if you're finding this thread weeks or months after its start: by posting your own ideas, questions, or results, you can bump activity back up on this thread in no time!

      We've created this index so all cook-offs are easy to find and join in. We'll keep it updated.

      Here is the list:
      Cook-Off 1: Cassoulet Cook-Off 2: Char Siu Bao Cook-Off 3: Gumbo Cook-Off 4: Lamb Curry Cook-Off 5: Fried Chicken Cook-Off 6: Pad Thai Cook-Off 7: Moussaka Cook-Off 8: Pizza Cook-Off 9: Mole Poblano Cook-Off 10: Meatloaf and Burgers Cook-Off 11: Ice Cream, Gelato, Sorbet, and Sherbet Cook-Off 12: Composed Salads Cook-Off 13: Fresh and Stuffed Pasta, including Gnocchi Cook-Off 14: Bibimbap Cook-Off 15: Chili Cook-Off 16: Potato Pancakes Cook-Off 17: Sausages Cook-Off 18: Asian Noodle Soups Cook-Off 19: Eggs, Beaten, With Stuff In Them Cook-Off 20: Chowdah/Chowder Cook-Off 21: Risotto Cook-Off 22: Tempura Cook-Off 23: Crêpes Cook-Off 24: Kebabs, Satays, & Skewers Cook-Off 25: Tamales Cook-Off 26: Soup Dumplings (Xiao Long Bao) Cook-Off 27: Daube Cook-Off 28: Mafé (Peanut Stew) Cook-Off 29: Posole/Pozole Cook-Off 30: Felafel/Falafel Cook-Off 31: Paella Cook-Off 32: Pickles Cook-Off 33: Cold Noodle Dishes Cook-Off 34: Ceviche Cook-Off 35: Pot-au-feu/Simmered Meat'n'Veg Cook-Off 36: Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Cook-Off 37: Croquettes Cook-Off 38: Feijoada Cook-Off 39: Tacos Cook-Off 40: Cold Soups Cook-Off 41: Jerk Cook-Off 42: Ratatouille Cook-Off 43: Braised Brisket Cook-Off 44: Ossobuco Cook-Off 45: Fries / Frites / Chips Cook-off 46: Enchiladas Cook-off 47: Asian Tofu Dishes Cook-off 48: Grilled Pizza Cook-off 49: Slaws Cook-Off 50: Lamb Stew Cook-Off 51: Chicken and Dumplings Cook-Off 52: Lasagna Cook-Off 53: Grilled Chicken Cook-Off 54: Gratins Cook-Off 55: Shrimp & Grits Cook-Off 56: Savory-Filled Pastry Cook-Off 57: Bolognese sauce Cook-Off 58: Hash Cook-Off 59: Cured, Brined, Smoked and Salted Fish Cook-Off 60: Banh Mi Cook-Off 61: Gels, Jell-O and Aspic Cook-Off 62: Squid, Calamari and Octopus Cook-Off 63: Summer Squash Cook-Off 64: Confit Cook-Off 65: Pork Belly Cook-Off 66: Rhubarb Cook-Off 67: Apples Cook-Off 68: Citrus Fruits Cook-Off 69: Beer Cook-Off  70: Shellfish Grilled Over an Open Flame Cook-Off 71: Winter Squash Cook-Off 72: Ramen 
    • By David Ross
      Welcome back to our popular eGullet Cook-Off Series. Our last Cook-Off, Hash, took us into a heated discussion of the meat of the matter--should it be chopped, hashed, sliced, diced, or chunked.
      Click here, for our Hash discussion, and the answers to all of your questions about this beloved diner staple. The complete eG Cook-Off Index can be found here. Today we’re launching eGullet Cook-Off 59: Cured, Brined, Smoked and Salted Fish.
      Drying fish is a method of preservation that dates back to Ancient times, but more recently, (let’s say a mere 500 years ago or so), salt mining became a major industry in Europe and salt was a fast and economical way of preserving fish. Curing agents like nitrates were introduced in the 19th century, furthering the safety and taste of preserved fish.
      Where I live in the Pacific Northwest, Native Americans have been preserving fish and seafood for millennia. While we are best known for our ruby-red, oily-rich, smoked salmon, other species of fish found in the Pacific and in our streams are delicious when cured and smoked including Halibut, Sablefish and Idaho Rainbow Trout. And don’t think that you can’t smoke shellfish, alder-smoked Dungeness Crab is a wondrous Pacific Northwest delicacy that evokes memories of crab roasting over a driftwood fire on the beach.
      Another method of preserving fish is to bath the beauties in a brine—a combination of water, sugar, salt and spices that adds flavor and moisture to fish before it is dried or smoked. And speaking of smoked fish, you can do it in a small pan on top of the stove, in a cast iron drum, a barbecue pit, an old woodshed or a fancy digital smoker. The methods and flavors produced by smoking fish are endless.
      Old-fashioned ways of preserving fish, (while adequate at the time), aren't always the best method today. Today's technology provides us with the tools to create cured fish that is moist, succulent, tender and with a hint of smoke. The Modernist movement has certainly played a role in bringing this age-old craft into the 21st century, so for the avant-garde in the crowd, show us your creative wizardry for preserving fish the "modern" way.
      Cured, Brined, Smoked or Salted, the art of preserving fish opens us up to limitless possibilities that transcend the boundaries of cuisine and culture. So let’s sew-up the holes in our fishnets, scrub the barnacles off the rowboat and set out to sea in search of some delectable fish to cure, brine, smoke and salt.
    • By David Ross
      Welcome back to a time-honored, cherished eG tradition, the eG Cook-Off Series. Today were venturing into a new world for Cook-Off's. Member Kerry Beal came forward with a Cook-Off idea we just couldn't pass up--Pork Belly--and inspired a new idea for future Cook-Off's. Knowing we're a community of great culinary minds, we'll be inviting the Members to send us ideas for potential future Cook-Off's, (more information to come later). Take it away Kerry and let's raid the larder and start cookin.
    • By David Ross
      Fall is but a whisper of the recent past--at least it is where I live in the upper reaches of Eastern, Washington. We had our first fluff of snow a week ago and a reasonable November storm is predicted for this weekend with temperatures holding at a chilly 18 degrees at night.
      Along with the rumblings of cold winter weather and Holiday feasts, we turn our culinary musings to time-treasured, comfortable dishes. And so I invite you to join me in another kitchen adventure--the inimitable eG Cook-Off Series. In 2013, we've tackled the tricky cooking of Squid, Calamari and Octopus and we made delicious dishes out of the humble Summer Squash.
      (Click here http://forums.egulle...cook-off-index/ for the complete eG Cook-Off Index).
      But today we're shunning all manner of counting calories, salt or fat content--for what is rich in flavor is good for the soul my dear friends. Please join me in crafting, nuturing and savoring a dish of Confit.
    • By David Ross
      Hello friends and welcome back to a time-honored tradition--the popular eG Cook-Off Series. We're in the heat of summer right now and our gardens are literally blooming with all manner of peak of the season ripe fruits and succulent vegetables. And there's no better time of year to honor a vegetable that is often maligned as not being as colorful or trendy as the chi-chi breakfast radish or the multi-hued rainbow chard.

      In addition to not always being recognized for it's looks, every August and September it becomes the butt of jokes at State Fair competitions across the country. If you can get past the embarassment of seeing the poor devils dressed up and carved into silly, cartoon-like farm figures or pumped-up with organic steroids, you'll find a delicious, low-calorie vegetable packed with potassium and vitamin A. Yes friends, your dreams have come true for today we kick-off eG Cook-Off #62, "Summer Squash."
      (Click here http://forums.egulle...cook-off-index/ for the complete eG Cook-Off Index).

      According to the University of Illinois Extension Office, summer squash, (also known in some circles as Italian marrow), are tender, warm-season vegetables that can be grown anytime during the warm, frost-free season. Summer squash differs from fall and winter squash, (like pumpkins, acorn and butternut squash), because it is harvested before the outer rind hardens. Some of the most popular summer squash are the Green and Yellow Zucchini, Scallop, Patty Pan, Globe, Butter Blossom and Yellow Crookneck.

      My personal favorite summer squash is the versatile zucchini. Slow-cooked with sliced onion and ham hock, zucchini is perfectly comfortable nestled on a plate next to juicy, fried pork chops and creamy macaroni and cheese. But the chi-chi haute crowd isn't forgotten when it comes to zucchini, or, as the sniffy French call it, the "courgette." Tiny, spring courgette blossoms stuffed with herbs and ricotta cheese then dipped in tempura batter and gently fried are a delicacy found on Michelin-Star menus across the globe.

      Won't you please join me in crafting some delicious masterpieces that showcase the culinary possibilities of delicious summer squash.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.