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Greek Moussaka

In the process of cleaning out our freezer and realized I had 500 gm of ground lamb. What to do? I have always liked moussaka in a Greek restaurant, but never made it at home. Good old Pinterest to the rescue, for what appeared to be an easy recipe and without the potatoes on top….less calories. The recipe looks complicated, but I decided to prepare the ground lamb ahead of time and put it in the refrigerator until I was ready to make the complete dish. It gave me time to prepare the eggplant while I was cleaning up from the lamb prep. The dish turned out perfectly, with our guests taking home this recipe! The photo below is from the Pinterest pinner…we got so carried away enjoying the dish that I forgot a photo. Check out Sniff It Out on Pinterest for more tantalizing recipes!

Moussaka

Greek Moussaka

About 500g of lean minced (ground) lamb
2 Aubergines (Eggplants) medium to large in size
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 heaped tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 rounded tablespoons tomato purée
3 fl oz. (75 ml) red wine or more
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the yogurt topping for the Greek Moussaka – I used a large CorningWare casserole dish and ended up doubling the yogurt in order to cover the top.

150ml Greek yogurt (double if necessary)

1 medium egg, beaten

50g feta cheese or more

25g freshly grated parmesan or more

 

  1. Preparing the Aubergines

Leave the skins on and slice the Aubergines into approximately 10mm thick slices.

Put the slices into a colander and sprinkle them with about 1 level dessertspoon of salt. Stand the colander on a plate to catch the water which comes out of the Aubergines and put another plate on top of the aubergine slices.

You now need to weigh this plate down with something heavy (I find that a couple of tins of soup works quite well) and leave them for about an hour to let the juice come out.

After an hour, squeeze out any of the excess juice from the aubergines and dry them well in a clean cloth.

Spread the aubergine slices on a baking sheet and drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over them tossing them around to get a good coating.

Put the baking sheet in a pre heated oven (around 200 degrees) and roast the aubergines for 30 minutes or until they are browning at the edges.

I usually roast the eggplant simply because the baking tray is much bigger than the frying pan and I can get the slices done all in one go, but, if you would rather sauté the eggplant to use in the moussaka you can do that too.

 

  1. Preparing the lamb for the Moussaka recipe (I did this step first)

    Because the mince can have quite a lot of fat come out of it I usually dry fry the mince until it is nicely browned then remove it from the pan and put it to one side then discard any of the fat which has come out of it before using it to make the moussaka.

Then heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the onions, garlic and thyme gently, without colouring, for about 10 minutes.

Stir the minced lamb back in and add the parsley, cinnamon, tomato purée and red wine and stir to combine the ingredients. Season the mixture well and cook gently for around 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  1. Prepare the topping for the Greek Moussaka recipe

    It’s true that Moussaka isn’t the most healthy dish on the planet, that’s why I prefer a yogurt topping for my moussaka recipe because it is a bit lighter than others I have tried but that is purely my preference. Mix the yogurt with half of the cheeses and the beaten egg and season with ground pepper.

 

  1. Putting everything together for the Greek Moussaka!

    Line the bottom of a casserole dish with slices of aubergine, then spoon over some of the meat mixture. Build the layers of the moussaka up until all the meat and aubergine has been used.

Cover with the topping mixture and sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180ºC / 350ºF for about 1 hour until golden and bubbling.

Let the Moussaka stand for about 20 to 30 minutes before cutting and serving and this will ensure that it keeps its shape when you serve it.

 

 

 

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Lobster Thermidor

Just before I get to the recipe, I want to say thank you to the 6000 visitors as of today, who have checked out this blog. You give me inspiration to keep going just when I think I should move on to something else!!

The following recipe was posted by Rachel Ray who has her own cooking show.  I almost hate to say that I was clearing out the freezer and found small lobster tails asking to be used for dinner…LOL. I know, its a little rich, but consider it for a special dinner, make that ROMANTIC dinner…hope you will have an opportunity to try it.

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Lobster Thermidor (Rachel Ray)

Ingredients

4 (6 to 8-ounce) packaged lobster tails,  jumbo shrimp or prawns can be substituted

  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Splash dry white wine or dry sherry
  • 1/2 cup milk, eyeball it
  • 1/3 cup grated white cheddar
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika or crab boil seasoning, recommended: Old Bay
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • Lemon wedges, for garnish
  • Handful parsley leaves mixed with 2 cups baby greens, for plate garnish

Directions

Bring a pot of water to a boil, 3 or 4 inches deep. Add lobster tails to the water and boil 7 to 8 minutes. Drain and shock under cold water to cool. Use kitchen scissors to cut away soft underside of tails. Remove meat and save the shells*, arranging them in a shallow casserole dish. Chop the cooked meat on an angle into chunks.

Preheat your broiler to high.

Heat a medium skillet and a small saucepot over medium heat. To the small saucepot, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add finely chopped onion and cook 3 to 5 minutes until very soft. To the skillet, add remaining 2 tablespoons butter. When the butter melts, add chopped lobster meat and sauté.

Add flour to sauce pot with onions and cook together another 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in wine or sherry, then milk. Remove sauce from heat and stir in cheddar cheese and paprika or crab boil. Season sauce with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over lobster meat and stir to combine. Pour lobster into and over the shells* in a casserole dish and top with Parmesan and bread crumbs. Broil on high until golden, 2 or 3 minutes. Serve each tail, spilling over with lobster bits in sauce, on a bed of mixed baby greens and parsley with wedges of lemon along side.

  • I did not use the shells…so much for my presentation…

Roasted Garlic and Asparagus Soup

My mom always instructed me to snap off the bottoms of the asparagus stalks when I was a kid as they were never tender and I still follow that rule. She always threw them away in the garbage! I have started to save the end pieces by putting them in a freezer bag for latter use…i.e. soup! This latest find for soup combines two strong flavours  – asparagus and garlic. This recipe can be served cold by putting it in the fridge the next day OR serving hot. The former is more of a asparagus gazpacho. The latter is great with some shaved Parmesan cheese added after serving.

I would be interested in your opinion…

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Roasted Garlic and Asparagus Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds asparagus, trimmed
  • 10 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • cracked pepper and chopped parsley, for garnish

 Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside.
  3. Toss asparagus and garlic with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Arrange asparagus and garlic on prepared baking sheet in one layer.
  5. Roast for 12 minutes, or until asparagus is soft, stirring once.
  6. Remove from oven and transfer asparagus and garlic to a blender. (I never blend it all as I like it a bit chunky).
  7. Add broth and milk.
  8. Blend until smooth. Depending on how large your blender is, you might have to do this part in batches.
  9. Transfer soup to a soup pot.
  10. Warm soup over medium-high heat, thinning with more broth by 1/4 cupfuls, if desired.
  11. Season with salt and pepper. Continue to taste for seasonings and adjust accordingly.
  12. Ladle into bowls.
  13. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Fennel, Granny Smith Apple and Pecorino Salad

He is back! We are finally here again after our long trip away where we ate too much and drank too much wine…LOL. We did pick up some great new recipes which I will be sharing with you in the coming weeks. This first one was prepared by our good friend, Carole, up in Sault Ste.Marie, Ontario. I am not a great fennel fan, but this was very tasty and not strong on the fennel taste. If you are a GREAT fan of fennel use the 2 bulbs called for…we however only used one smallish one.

Fennel, Granny Smith Apple and Pecorino Romano Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 or 2 medium fennel bulbs (according to your love of fennel)
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
  • About 1½ ounces pecorino Romano, shaved with a vegetable peeler (½ cup shavings)
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

 

  • Instructions
  • Chop off the fronds where they meet the body of one fennel bulb. Halve the fennel, then thinly slice it, using a mandolin or a very sharp, thin-bladed chef’s knife. Repeat with the other bulb. You should have 2 cups of slices. Set them aside. Chop 1 tablespoon of the fronds and set it aside separately. Discard the remaining fronds.
  • Put the fennel and apple slices in a bowl. Add the pecorino Romano, lemon zest, ¼ cup olive oil, and parsley. Toss gently. Taste, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Arrange the salad on a large, chilled serving plate. Drizzle more olive oil generously over the top, and scatter with the chopped fennel fronds just before serving.

 

  • VARIATIONS
  • If you can’t find pecorino Romano cheese, or simply prefer Parmigiano-Reggiano, by all means substitute it.
  • Crisp, sweet pears, such as Bosc, are a good autumnal replacement for the apples.

Coconut Chicken (pollo al coco)

Here is a straightforward recipe for a quick meal. I came across it in our local Costco magazine this month and decided to give it a try. My suggested changes are in red as always.

Pollo al Coco (Chicken with Coconut)

  1. MIX together –

1 teaspoon cumin. 1 teaspoon paprika and 1 teaspoon cilantro

  1. BLEND into –

4 pieces of chicken cut into cubes ( I used thighs)

  1. COOK in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for 8 to 10 minutes until cooked through
  2. ADD –

1 teaspoon of olive oil

1 small chopped onion

1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger

2 jalapeno chilies minced without seeds (can be omitted)

2 teaspoons minced garlic

SAUTE to blend the spices with the chicken

  1. ADD –

1 can cubed tomatoes

  1. SIMMER 7 to 10 minutes, stirring very frequently.
  2. ADD –

400 ml of coconut milk (next time I would use coconut cream to make a thicker sauce)

  1. HEAT through…

SERVE over rice…sprinkle with chopped parsley

 

Roasted Parmesan Garlic Shrimp

Always looking for a great appetizer and this one surely qualifies. In the case of both the oregano and basil I would use fresh in place of the dried. If you are ever caught with cocktail sauce, a simple recipe blends 1/2 cup ketchup + 2 Tablespoons horseradish!

Roasted Parmesan Garlic Shrimp (http://inspiredbycharm.com)

1 pound medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (I prefer fresh)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil (I prefer fresh)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Parsley leaves, chopped for garnish
Cocktail sauce (optional)

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a baking sheet with oil or nonstick spray.

Place the shrimp in a single layer on the baking. Evenly distribute the olive oil, parmesan, garlic, oregano, and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss together with a spoon or your hands.

Place the pan of shrimp in the oven and roast the shrimp until just pink, firm, and cooked through. This should take 7-9 minutes. When done, sprinkle with lemon juice.

Linguine with Red Clam Sauce

Checked the pantry and found a large can of clams…should I make chowder or linguine? No potatoes…decision made…linguine! Pinterest to the rescue again.Quick and fairly straight forward if you use the canned clams. Certainly would make a special dish for a memorable dinner…

Linguine with Red Clam Sauce
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes Yield: serves 4 to 6**
Ingredients
• 1 pound linguine
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 4 anchovies, packed in oil
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 shallots, minced
• 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
• 1 cup dry white wine
• 18-ounce jar diced tomatoes
• 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
• 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
• 2 pounds littleneck clams* OR 13 oz. canned clams drained (save the juice)
• Parmesan cheese
Directions
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add linguine and cook for 3 minutes. The pasta will finish cooking in the sauce. Strain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water, and set aside. If using clam juice discard the pasta water
2. In a very large sauté pan over medium heat, heat oil. Add anchovies, garlic, shallots, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. Sauté for 3 minutes until the anchovies “melt” and the shallots become translucent. Add wine and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until the wine reduces by half, about 5 minutes. Next, add tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of parsley, thyme, and reserved pasta water or clam juice. season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.
3. Add linguine and clams to the sauté pan and cover. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until the clams open. Discard any clams that do not open.
4. Garnish with the remaining parsley, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and a pinch of sea salt. Serve immediately. Pass the cheese…

Garlic Roasted Sundried Tomato Shrimp

One of my blogs which I follow, Rasa Malaysia, shared this recipe recently. Its a great site, well worth visiting – http://rasamalaysia.com/ The recipe was full of flavour, ok, a little spicy, but you can adjust the original amount of chili flakes to your taste. You can always put some flakes in a small dish on the table and let your family or guests adjust the heat. It makes a beautiful dish!

Garlic Roasted Sun-Dried Tomatoes Shrimp Recipe

Serves 4 | Prep Time: 10 Mins | Cook Time: 10 Mins
Ingredients:
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil
1 heaping teaspoon chili flakes, or more to taste
1 lb shelled, deveined and tail-on shrimp
1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 tablespoon parsley leaves, chopped
Method:
Heat up the oven to 375F.
Heat up a skillet with the olive oil on medium heat. Add the garlic and lightly sauté. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and the chili flakes, stir to mix well, until the oil becomes slightly red in color. Add shrimp, salt and parsley leaves, stir to combine well.

Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes*

* I have to admit I served the dish, forgetting all about the 10 minutes in the oven…LOL.It was still really awesome, but next time I should follow the recipe and see what difference it makes…

Serve over pasta or rice…

Chicken Marsala with Portobellos and Gorgonzola

Ok…there are probably many of you who do not like Gorgonzola or any blue cheese. Its okay to skip this and use another cheese like Parmesan or mozzarella, but you will miss the great flavour of the blue cheese in the sauce…LOL. It is fairly quick and goes well with mashed potatoes and steamed carrots!

Chicken Marsala with Portobellos and Gorgonzola Cheese
Ingredients
• 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each)
• 1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon salt, divided
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
• 1/2 pound sliced baby Portobello mushrooms
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 cup Marsala wine or sherry or Port wine
• 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
• 1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese, divided (optional) (try Mozzarella or Parmesan_
• 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Directions
1. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. In a large skillet, cook chicken in 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat 6-8 minutes on each side or until a thermometer reads 165°. Remove and keep warm.
2. In same skillet, sauté mushrooms in remaining oil until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute.
3. Add wine, stirring to loosen browned bits from pan. Bring to a boil; cook until liquid is reduced by a third. Stir in cream and remaining salt. Return to a boil; cook until slightly thickened.
4. Return chicken to pan; add 1/3 cup cheese. Cook until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with remaining cheese; garnish with parsley. Yield: 4 servings.

Reef Spaghetti (also known as Scoglio)

One of our favourite restaurants in Merida, Yucatan Il Caffe Italiano serves this wonderful seafood dish. We usually pop in after Sunday afternoon symphony. This is one wonderful dish and makes a little seafood go a long way! If you are buying fresh seafood, just purchase TWO pieces of EACH seafood PER PERSON.

Reef Spaghetti – Spaghetti allo Scoglio

Ingredients

  • fresh clams (although I used frozen and they were just fine)
  • fresh mussels (frozen is fine)
  • shrimp (frozen is fine) De-veined and tails removed!
  •  2 or 3 plum tomatoes chopped (I would use more next time)
  • bunch of parsley
  • basil
  • 1 clove of garlic OR MORE
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • spaghetti (dependent on how many people)

Preparation

If using frozen seafood, first thaw them in the refrigerator in cold salted water for  about 30 minutes. Thaw each seafood separately. Salt a pot of water for the spaghetti and set it to boil. Heat 2 T. of oil in a broad skillet with the garlic. When the garlic is browned, remove it (and eat it if you want..LOL). Add the drained clams and mussels. Cover and cook over a brisk flame, shaking the pan every now and then until the shellfish have opened. Turn off the flame and let them cool slightly. Remove empty or unopened shells. Do NOT try to open closed shells as they are already dead and eating them could make you quite sick!!!

Start to boil the spaghetti!!

In a separate deep skillet add more oil and garlic. Add the chopped tomatoes. and shredded basil leaves.Salt. Simmer the sauce for 10 minutes. Stir in all of the shellfish (including the shrimp), adding some of the white wine (to your taste) Simmer another five minutes.

Transfer the drained, cooked spaghetti to your serving dish, add a little olive oil and ground pepper. Toss and then stir in the sauce with the seafood. Serve with some crusty bread to soak up the sauce…and don not forget more wine…to drink, of course!!