Monday, 25 June 2007

Little Foodies Greece - Moussaka & Dolmas & Pastitso

Egg Custard? No... Moussaka! Excuse the poor pics! This is probably not at all authentic, I'm not sure you're supposed to put potatoes in it but it's how I make it and it gives you a full meal in one pot which I like a lot. Though I do like to have a nice salad with it or some steamed green veg sometimes. Children seem to like this if when you serve it to them you take out the aubergine (eggplant) or you mash it up with the mince so they don't know it's there.

1 kilo (2.2lbs) of good lamb mince
2 medium size aubergines (eggplants) sliced into 1cm rounds
2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
large pinch of cinnamon
2 tablespoons of tomato puree
1 tin of tomatoes
2 large potatoes peeled and sliced into 1cm rounds.
Large handful of chopped fresh mint or 1 teaspoon of mint sauce
1 very large glass of red wine and same amount of water.
1 tablespoon of olive oil for frying onions and garlic
Half cup of olive oil for cooking the aubergines

Note: I don't bother to salt aubergines. Most people are of the opinion that it's not needed nowadays.
Pre-heat the oven to 170C / 325F / Gas Mark 3.
Oil the base of 2 trays then lay the aubergine over. Sprinkle with oil and put in the oven for 10 mins. Take out and turn them over. If any parts look a little dry then sprinkle with oil and put back in the oven for a further 5 to 10 minutes.
In the meantime, gently fry the onion and garlic for 5 minutes. Then add the lamb and brown.
When the lamb mince is browned add the glass of red wine and cook on high for 2 mins.
Add the tomato puree and cook for a further 2 minutes. Then add the tin of tomatoes, water and mint and cook on a medium heat on the hob for 20-30 minutes. You want most of the liquid to have evaporated.
I cooked the potatoes in the micowave by layering them in a pyrex bowl with a little water in the bottom, covered and cooked on high for 5 minutes, then a further 5 minutes.
While that is all cooking you can make the white sauce.

1oz/50g butter, 1oz/50g flour, 3/4 pint of milk, 1oz cheddar grated, 1oz parmesan grated, 4 tablespoons of plain Greek Yogurt
Melt the butter in a pan. Add the flour and cook for a minute. Add the milk a little at a time and whisk to get rid of any lumps. When all of the milk is incorporated add the cheese. When the cheese had melted add the greek yogurt, stir and it's ready for use.

You can then layer your moussaka. Start with a layer of aubergine, then a layer of meat sauce, then a layer of aubergine, then a layer of meat sauce, then a layer of potato, then the creamy sauce. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put in the oven on about 170C / 325F / Gas Mark 3 for about 45 minutes. Take it out and let it rest for a few minutes then serve.

Stuffed Vine Leaves
I've made stuffed vine leaves (Dolmas) before but I couldn't get hold of any vine leaves this time. Saying that, as I type I realise that we have Denbies, a vineyard about 3 miles away. Now I'm sure they could have spared me some vine leaves but I think they have to have something done to them first.. Oh I don't know. Anyway I didn't make my own. I bought two different tins of them and thought they'd probably be disgusting but Elle suggested we try them with extra lemon juice. I'm so glad she did as they were delicious! The children didn't like them but that left all the more for us and we soon polished them off. We had the tin on the left and we will have the tin on the right soon.

A special note of a personal nature as I like to say thank you and it is relevant to Greek Food. After school today we headed back over to near where we used to live to visit friends. My friend C and I both have 2 boys, The first two born within one month of each other and the second two born within a week of each other. The second two we like to joke were a bet made when we'd had one too many gin and tonics late one summer. I think it was just fate! Anyway I'm digressing, I'd like to say a huge thank you because without knowing we've been doing Greek food she'd made Pastitso from the Australian Women's Weekly Greek Food Book. Just another example of how friends can invade each others brain space without speaking! It was delicious, I didn't have a camera on me but believe me it will be made again. The children gobbled it all up. Thanks C! Wonderful food and really lovely to see you all. Also love to D (who was AWOL, well not quite, just out earning the pennies!)


Cynthia said...

Nevermind the pic - that crust is so rich. I like moussaka. The first time I had it however, instead of using eggplant, ripe plantains were substituted. This was in Trinidad. It was soooo good.

Meeta said...

Hey moussaka is a great kiddie dish I find! Even with the addition of potatoes. To be honest I like it that way too - Soeren fins the combination with the egg plant more palatable. Yours sounds great!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Moussaka comes with many friends so potatoes are always welcome.
Since I love eggplant, I always find it odd that others don't. Little kids you have to fool a lot!

Pat said...

Amanda that sounds like a lovely dish to try next time I have some kids over. And a lovely story about your friend!

Aimée said...

Amanda, I'll have to try this for Noah. We loved it growing up. I'll have to wait for cooler weather, though!!

Kelly-Jane said...

I've not made moussaka for years, but if it's kiddie friendly it'll be made soon!

Lovely story about your friend.


Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Hi Cynthia, I bet it was! Ours are still in the fridge.

Thanks Meeta

Tanna, the boys and my husband will tolerate it but they don't really love it...

Thanks Pat

Aimee, It's supposed to be summer here too but we have the heating on this evening it's so cold.

K-J, thank you

Thank you for your comments
Amanda x

Nora B. said...

Amanda, that sounds delicious. I like your idea of baking/grilling the eggpplant rather than fying them. I've been meaning to make mousakka for a while now...

joey said...

I love Greek food! So nice the you and your kids are enjoying Greece now :) The moussaka looks great! And dolmas are one of my favorite Greek foods :) Bravo for you for having made them from scratch before! I was based in Athens for 2 months and I ate Greek food every single day and never grew tired :)

"Just another example of how friends can invade each others brain space without speaking!" --> I so know what you best friend K and I are exactly the same way :) We like to refer to it as the "invisible umbilical" :)

Elle said...

Glad the lemon juice trick worked for you. Dolmas really are a more adult taste, but the moussaka is wonderful for anyone. I'm not a big fan of eggplant, but I love the moussaka crust.

Culinary Cowgirl said...

Try the fresh dolmas at Sainburys (refrigerated aisle)...I bought some last week, not holding out great hope, but was very pleasantly surprised.

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Nora, It's definitely easier to throw them in the oven...

Joey, Lucky you being there for 2 months. I don't think I'd grow tired of the food either. Re: friendships - I love the invisible umbilical..

Elle, No, thank you. We might have just left them in the cupboard had you not suggested we give them a go.

Culinary Cowgirl, I'll seek them out, thank you.

Cottage Smallholder said...

Yummy as usual. We have a vine and I'd happily post you some. They freeze well too.


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