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Chris Amirault

Moussaka--Cook-Off 7

123 posts in this topic

Shouldn't male aubergines contain NO seeds??

The whole male/female aubergine business was debunked upthread. Still, people are flailing around to find some way to distinguish between what seems to be two different geometries of the large eggplant we find in the U.S. Innies vs. outies? :biggrin:


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

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The quest for ground lamb continues. I came close two different times today, but as they say, "close" only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. :biggrin:

Don't forget dancing. :laugh:


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

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I am going to have to put this cook-off (and future ones) on hold for quite a while.

I tripped over a toy yesterday and managed to fracture my left foot. I am completely off my feet for one week until the swelling goes down and a full cast can be put on. The 2 to 3 months I am in the last I will have limited mobility and probably not spending a lot of time in the kitchen..... :sad:

I will be reading along though!


<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>

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Didn't you pay attention to the Japan Times cartoon over the weekend that showed an overtime-benumbed worker treading on his son's legos like a mountain ascetic firewalker????

A pity you didn't have more fun (skiing, dancing, etc.) while fracturing your foot, but hope you enjoy your enforced reading time.

We made more than enough Moussaka the other day to count for your share too :laugh: .

Possibly eGullet could arrange international shipments of Dan Tarts for you to assess while you're unable to bake your own?

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I am going to have to put this cook-off (and future ones) on hold for quite a while.

I tripped over a toy yesterday and managed to fracture my left foot. I am completely off my feet for one week until the swelling goes down and a full cast can be put on. The 2 to 3 months I am in the last I will have limited mobility and probably not spending a lot of time in the kitchen..... :sad:

Ow! Sounds like something I would do! And in fact, I did do something a little like it a couple weekends ago (only over an adult-musician toy rather than a children's toy), and still have the black-and-blue marks on my right knee to prove it. So I really mean it, torakris, when I say I feel your pain. :biggrin: Get well soon, hear?

Meanwhile, my Quest for Lamb has finally achieved its goal--courtesy of the butcher shop that yesterday promised me it would have the goods today. Cost me somthing like $6.98 for a pound. Probably won't get a chance to perpetrate moussaka until tomorrow night, but it feels good to have the ingredient-collection phase complete.

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Heh. Change of plans. Moussaka happened tonight after all.

My starting point was Rachel Perlow's recipe in RecipeGullet (thanks, Rachel!). Changes I made:

--halved the recipe as I'm basically just cooking for myself

--used all lamb, because I looooooove lamb so (and the darn stuff was so bleepin' hard to get! :biggrin: )

--because I was feeling a little lazy, I didn't do the eggplant cutlets. Instead I did the salting/weighting/purging routine with the raw eggplant slices, then greased them up with some olive oil, laid them out on oiled cookie sheets, and baked them as they were, in a 350 deg F oven for about a half-hour.

--didn't have any decent wine of any sort in the house, so omitted that.

--used a couple of big russet potatoes instead of little white potatoes, partly because that's what I had in the house, partly because I like how the starchy russets kinda weld together when casseroled in a layer.

--my bechamel tightened up a whole lot after I added the egg yolk and parmesan, so just before I was to pour it on I stirred in a couple spoonfuls of plain water to get it loose enough to pour.

Some pix:

gallery_27785_1118_114486.jpg

The dish resting after just emerging from the oven.

gallery_27785_1118_416656.jpg

Note the elegant plating! :laugh: At this point in the evening, I was into "snarf food while at the computer" mode.

I think it came out pretty darned tasty, if I do say so myself. And I'm glad I did follow through on my lamb obsession--I can really taste it all the way through.

(An aside to Rachel: I think your recipe in RecipeGullet is missing its last step--how long to bake the moussaka and at what temp. I assumed 350 deg F for one hour. Worked for me.)

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--because I was feeling a little lazy, I didn't do the eggplant cutlets. Instead I did the salting/weighting/purging routine with the raw eggplant slices, then greased them up with some olive oil, laid them out on oiled cookie sheets, and baked them as they were, in a 350 deg F oven for about a half-hour.

....

(An aside to Rachel: I think your recipe in RecipeGullet is missing its last step--how long to bake the moussaka and at what temp. I assumed 350 deg F for one hour. Worked for me.)

Oops, thanks I'll edit it.

See, what you did to the eggplant seems to take just as much effort to me. The eggplant I used this week was quite sweet, so if you want to just skip the breading that's fine. Just brushing them with oil and baking sounds good to me too -- just add more cheese to the sauce and maybe sprinkle some bread crumbs into the layers.

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--because I was feeling a little lazy, I didn't do the eggplant cutlets. Instead I did the salting/weighting/purging routine with the raw eggplant slices, then greased them up with some olive oil, laid them out on oiled cookie sheets, and baked them as they were, in a 350 deg F oven for about a half-hour.

....

(An aside to Rachel: I think your recipe in RecipeGullet is missing its last step--how long to bake the moussaka and at what temp. I assumed 350 deg F for one hour. Worked for me.)

Oops, thanks I'll edit it.

See, what you did to the eggplant seems to take just as much effort to me. The eggplant I used this week was quite sweet, so if you want to just skip the breading that's fine. Just brushing them with oil and baking sounds good to me too -- just add more cheese to the sauce and maybe sprinkle some bread crumbs into the layers.

Yeah, I think you're right with the equal effort thang. I think it's just sorta psychological with me--I seem to have some kind of mental block that breading stuff is labor-intensive. :rolleyes: Plus, I've done the eggplant-salting routine so many times I can practically do it in my sleep. I'll get over it one of these days, I'm sure.

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Yesterday evening I made the moussaka. I didn't fivert too far away from the Claudia Roden recipe that I used.

The meat filling consisted of 100% ground lamb, onions, tomato puree, a couple of chopped canned tomatoes, allspice, cinnamon and parsley.

I used both eggplants and potatoes. I didn't do the eggplant salting routine, as I never do nowadays, so I just sliced the eggplants and fried them in oil. The potato slices were also fried briefly in oil.

Between each layer I sprinkled some grated cheese. I had no luck in finding the kefalotiri cheese so I settled for a really great tasting pecorino (not romano though).

The layers were: eggplant, meat, potatoes, meat, eggplant, meat and potatoes. Then some bechamel were poured over the top layer. The recipe suggested using eggs in the bechamel but I omitted these. At last I sprinkled some more pecorino over the bechamel.

The moussaka was then put in the lower half of the oven for 40 minutes at 350 deg F.

gallery_26014_1127_1068938.jpg

The moussaka just after it has been reheated for lunch today. Served together with the tiny amount of non-wilted lettuce that I could find at home.

The whole family was very happy with the result and I'm sure that moussaka will make regular apperances at our dinner table in the future.


Christofer Kanljung

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I made a moussaka this afternoon, and it was really good. It spent too long in the oven (a friend stopped by that we hadn't seen in a long time) and the potatoes lost some of their toothsomeness, but the overall flavor was fine. I added some Penzeys Greek seasoning - about 5 shakes - along with 2 shakes of cinnamon and parlsey and red wine to season the meat. (I used 1/2 ground beef and 1/2 ground pork. We are not lamb lovers). I didn't use any bread crumbs, but did pre-cook the eggplant in the oven. There was just a little juice in the bottom of the casserole that I'm sure the bread crumbs would have taken care of, but it wasn't really a problem. Moussaka will assume a spot in the food rotation at our house!!


Stop Family Violence

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I did mine on Thursday and it came off quite well. The version I was trying to copy did not utilize pre-cooked veggies (eggplant and zucchini) but has them thinly sliced on a mandoline. As my thoughts evolved on the matter I came to the conclusion that the restaurant in question probably blanches these slices so that they can assemble their moussaka to order, in individual servings, and then just pops everything under a broiler. Nevertheless, I decided I would stick with a large casserole and see what happened.

I placed about 4 layers of zucchini (tossed with olive oil and salt) on the bottom with a sprinkling of bread crumbs. The meat mixture went on top of that, then about 5 to 6 layers of eggplant. I covered that with the bechamel topping and baked for an hour.

What I didn't like was that the zucchini seemed to be a non-entity, and cooked too long to boot. What I did like was how the eggplant was cooked but still retained a bit of texture and had a 'straightforward' eggplant flavor (for lack of a better term.) Overall I liked it a lot and so did my wife- we both finished it the next day for lunch. She has already asked me to do it again soon, only this time with potatoes on the bottom (she is, of course, the 'idea man' in the family. I should listen to her more often.)


aka Michael

Chi mangia bene, vive bene!

"...And bring us the finest food you've got, stuffed with the second finest."

"Excellent, sir. Lobster stuffed with tacos."

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What I didn't like was that the zucchini seemed to be a non-entity, and cooked too long to boot. What I did like was how the eggplant was cooked but still retained a bit of texture and had a 'straightforward' eggplant flavor (for lack of a better term.) Overall I liked it a lot and so did my wife- we both finished it the next day for lunch. She has already asked me to do it again soon, only this time with potatoes on the bottom (she is, of course, the 'idea man' in the family. I should listen to her more often.)

Yeah, I do think the potato layer on the bottom provides some stable foundation for the rest of the moussaka, especially when dishing out individual portions.

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I did the deed last night. I used one of the recipes that Jason linked in the beginning of this thread as a guide, this one from Recipe Zaar. I made a few changes to give it my style, including substituting zucchini for eggplant. It was very good; however, I will kick it up a notch with herbs and/or spices if I make this again. I might have been proportionally off, too... The potatoes I used were big, and I would prefer more lamb than one pound.

With the moussaka we had a good Greek salad and very good pita bread made by Pasha Middle East Cafe in Daytona Beach.

Overall, this was a great project. Mmmm-mmm good comfort food.

Out of the oven:

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Cutting/serving portions:

gallery_13038_837_15712.jpg

The table:

gallery_13038_837_107152.jpg


Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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I've very late to the game here, but I tried a little experiment. I am not usually a huge fan of mousakka, I find it a little too heavy. So I gave it a Lebanese twist: instead of bechamel, I used a thickened yogurt sauce. It came out very well! Here is the smaller of the two pans, the other was still in the oven and we were getting very hungry:

gallery_17531_173_9879.jpg

(No real recipe: I used ground beef in the red sauce because that's what I had. I think it would be even better with lamb.) I loved chufi's idea of doing individual eggplant halves. I went the light route and baked the eggplant cut side down on an oiled pan for about 20 minutes. The white sauce was a little sauteed garlic & parsley, yogurt thickened with an egg to keep it from curdling, topped finally with some goat cheese and a little parmesan. I was really very surprised at how well it came out :smile:

Next up, pizza.


Edited by Behemoth (log)

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I'm only a *little* late to this party - I've had the ingredients, but not the weather, since I wanted to grill my eggplant outside! But I found a moment between the rain/snow/wintery mix, and finally got it together. This recipe is my variation on a recipe I got from a friend, who got it from another friend who got it from a newspaper, so I doubt this is even approaching "authentic", but I like it a lot.

gallery_15557_1141_43257.jpg

I peeled the eggplant before slicing and grilling because my spousal unit doesn't like eggplant skin. I like its chewiness, but the grill gives a similar effect along with a very nice grilled/smoky flavor. I also like grilling because I can use less oil - I like oil, but only so much.

gallery_15557_1141_50508.jpg

The finished dish. The top is a stiff bechamel (a little more flour added), a beaten egg tempered in, and 1/2 cup parmesan. The seasonings in the tomato/ground meat mixture (I used beef but I've used lamb when it was on sale) are cinnamon, nutmeg, and red wine.

gallery_15557_1141_23493.jpg

As served, marinated vegetable salad on the side.

Marcia.


Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted...he lived happily ever after. -- Willy Wonka

eGullet foodblog

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Just wanted to add that my understanding was that the bechamel only appeared on top of Greek moussaka after the 1950's, before that the lighter yogurt sauce was preferred.

The old recipe I have is just yogurt, eggs, pinch of flour, seasonings.

You can also make it with just yogurt, like this recipe I found.

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Just wanted to add that my understanding was that the bechamel only appeared on top of Greek moussaka after the 1950's, before that the lighter yogurt sauce was preferred.

The old recipe I have is just yogurt, eggs, pinch of flour, seasonings.

You can also make it with just yogurt, like this recipe I found.

Oh cool, that recipe is pretty similar to what I did. I guess if you live around the mediterranean long enough the food instinct is just in the air. It seemed like such a natural substitution :smile:

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More papoutsakia from Rosemary Barron's "Flavours of Greece". Recipe altered to suit taste and what was in the house. Half pork, half beef, onions, celery, carrot, ham and tomato, flavoured with honey, cinnamon, allspice and oregano.

gallery_1643_978_693760.jpg

A really good tip from this book is to mix the white sauce with an egg yolk and then fold in the whipped egg white, this gives a much lighter topping. White sauce was flavoured with bay leaf, nutmeg, aged gouda and some Irish brie style cheese.

gallery_1643_978_696147.jpg

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I want to thank y'all for suggesting the stuffed eggplant route. Last night I had 2 tired eggplants, one tired cook, and a bunch of stuffing that had been taking up space in the freezer when it was left over from making cabbage rolls. The stuffing was ground venison, rice, tomato sauce and a bunch of Cajun seasonings, so this was definitely a non-traditional use of eggplant, but it was darned good. No photos, sorry.


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

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I used these beauties to make my moussaka.

gallery_41870_2503_57360.jpg

gallery_41870_2503_11217.jpg

Moussaka

gallery_41870_2503_45796.jpg

gallery_41870_2503_6391.jpg

I used lamb and veal to make the sauce. I also added b'harat, oregano and cinnamon; tomato puree; stock; red wine and bay leaf. It simmered for nearly 3 hours.

As you can see, in addition to the eggplant I used potatoes, and I also added a marrow (like a giant zucchini) from my friend's garden. I used sheep's feta and a Greek sheep's grating cheese. It was even better the second night.

I should add that I'm not a fan of the fluffy, eggy bechamel that typically tops this dish. I just use a simple bechamel flavored with nutmeg.

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The moussaka from the New York Times International Cookbook was a classic of my mom's dinner table growing up. Lamb, eggplant, potato, tomato, bechamel, oh it was good.

I actually often make a Lebanese appetizer dish referred to as moussaka. You can find the recipe in Annisa Helou's Lebanese Cuisine.

Basically you make a tomato sauce with onion, chickpeas and spices. You get baby eggplants (peel in stripes), briefly fry them whole, then add to the sauce to simmer. Fan the eggplants in a serving platter and spoon the tomato-chickpea sauce between the eggplants.

It is a lovely presentation and so good!

Your mom and I must be the same generation... I made many a wonderful meal from that book (most certainly including that Moussaka), and it still holds an honored place on my bookshelf.

Made the Moussaka tonight from the "Zov" cookbook. Very, very good. Doesn't call for potatoes in the dish, but that's fine with us, because Greek-style baked potatoes are a perfect accompaniment. You cut about 3 lbs of potatoes into large slices, then toss with salt, pepper, oregano, juice of 1 lemon, 1 cup olive oil, and 3 cups of water. Put into baking dish and bake, uncovered, in a moderate oven for about one hour, or until the water has evaporated and the potatoes are roasted and browning.

So Moussaka, Greek-style roasted potatoes, Greek salad with plenty of Kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, sweet onions and feta cheese.

Sound good?


Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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