Eat yourself Greek is one year old. Hooray!!!
Many things can happen in a year, and if there is one thing I have learned, honing my cooking skills aside, is to never plan. Simply, you never know how things will turn out. Except of course for moussaka, you can always keep this under control.
I started exploring my grand-ma Ntina’s recipes, the Asia Minor tastes that have blend in the Greek cuisine and are much loved, from soutzoukakia to Isli, the Christmas treats. Wonderful pies, with handmade filo from yaya Marianthi. Excellent stews, with tips from mum and yiayia Nia. I have exchanged so many cooking tips and treats with my family, it seems these can last for a lifetime of taste.
Bonding with family is one thing, but cooking truly connects you with people. I made the weekly farmer’s market a routine and there is hardly anyone I met that didn’t get excited at the idea of Eat Yourself Greek and did not share their recipes, cooking and dining tips. From meeting Ms Marmite Lover, a true Londoner and food blogger extraordinaire to my lovely friends abroad, some very old, some very new with whom we bonded through the blog, every single thing has been a delight. The best of this year for me, has been the cookery workshops. Cooking and sharing at its best.
I kept moussaka, the top Greek dish for the annual anniversary, closing this way a ‘circle’ of some 70 recipes, sweet and savoury. Here is what you will need for your moussaka:
- 4 potatoes
- 4 aubergines
- 3-4 medium courgettes
For the beef sauce
- 1 onion
- 750gr beef mince
- 150 ml red wine
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 800 gr tomatoes, chopped
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- a pinch of sugar
For the white sauce
- 120 gr butter
- 120 gr flour
- 1 lt of milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
- A bit of nutmeg
- 250 gr of kefalotiri, or cheddar or any salty yellow cheese that melts well.
The ingredients above cover a baking dish of 15 inch x10 inch x2 inch. You can adjust your ingredients for a smaller tray, but since you are going to go in the hassle, you better go all out. Moussaka is a labour intensive dish, you have 3 different dishes in one, but if you are a little smart about your preparations and work on them simultanuously, you can limit it to just over 2 hours. So start with the mince meat sauce, once it’s in the pot, chop and fry your veggies. With these two out of the way, prepare the white sauce, layer them and bake! Let’s see moussaka step by step:
What to do
With a bit of olive oil, brown the mince meat.
Add in the finely chopped onion and minced garlic.
Once the onions soften put off with wine and let it simmer.
Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, bay leaf. Give it a good stir and let simmer for 20 minutes, until all liquids have evaporated.
Meanwhile, slice the courgettes, aubergines and potatoes 1 cm thick and fry in vegetable oil.
Place in kitchen towel to absorb any excess oil. Alternatively, you can bake the aubergines/courgettes.
Once the vegetables are ready start layering them, potatoes first, then aubergines and finely courgettes. Don’t forget to salt them.
The next layer is the beef mince sauce. And finely the bechamel, with plenty of cheese on top to make a wonderful golden crust.
Bake at 180 oC in a fan assisted oven for 50 minutes.
Ready to enjoy.
from Athens with love,