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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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Chicken and Mushroom Casserole

Okay, so I was going to end this blog once I reached 250 posts! We were heading off on a trip to Oaxaca and Puebla and I thought it was a good time to put this blog to rest. The trip was great and now I am invigorated to continue on. (If you are interested in the latest trip then follow this link – www.oaxaca2016.wordpress.com )

This is another Costco recipe – too many mushrooms again! Hope you will enjoy it. It would be great for a brunch!

Ingredients

4 -5 large boneless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1 -inch thick strips
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 cup all-purpose flour to coat the chicken
6 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 pound fresh mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced

Ingredients for the Sauce:
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour for the sauce
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 cup half and half (or 1/2 cup milk + 1/2 cup heavy cream)’OR plain yogurt
1. Season chicken with salt and pepper and dredge both sides in flour. Heat 3 Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium/high heat. Once oil is hot, add chicken and sauté until golden. Work in batches if needed so you don’t crowd your pan. Don’t worry about cooking the chicken through; it still needs to go in the oven. Transfer chicken to a 13×9 casserole baking dish.
2. 2. Wipe down the skillet with a paper towel. Add 3 Tbsp oil along with sliced mushrooms and diced onions and sauté until soft and golden. Add garlic and sauté another 1-2 min. Spread mixture over the chicken.
3. 3. In a medium saucepan (or in the same pan you’ve been using), melt 3 Tbsp butter. Whisk in 3 Tbsp flour until lightly golden (1-2 min).
4. Add 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1/4 tsp pepper, and whisk until smooth. Add 1 cup half & half and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste
5. 5. Pour sauce over the chicken and mushrooms. Cover with foil and bake at 350˚F for 45 minutes. Serve warm or hot over mashed potatoes, pasta or rice.

Check out more of Natasha’s blog, from where I found this recipe!

http://natashaskitchen.com/2011/04/17/chicken-and-mushroom-casserole/

 

Spice Rubbed Turkey Breast with Roasted Carrots

Not wanting to cook a whole turkey this Thanksgiving amigos? Give this Martha Stewart recipe a shot…it only uses a small skinless turkey breast 30 to 35 minutes of oven time…

Spice Rubbed Turkey Breast with Roasted Carrots

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds carrots peeled and cut into 2 inch lengths
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled* (see below)
  • 2 T olive oil
  •  2 lb. turkey breast skinless
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/2 plain low fat yogurt
  • 2 T fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss carrots, garlic and 1 T. oil. Push them to the sides. Place turkey in centre of pan and rub with 1 T oil and sprinkle with cinnamon and 1/2 tsp. cumin. Season with salt and pepper.

Roast until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 165 degrees, 30 to 35 minutes, tossing carrots halfway through cooking. Let turkey rest 10 minutes before slicing.

In a small bowl mix yogurt, lime juice and 1/4 tsp. cumin. Season with salt and pepper. Serve turkey with carrots and sauce.

How to Peel Garlic? Cut the bottom off of your garlic cloves and place them on a paper towel in the microwave. Stop after 20 to 30 seconds and remove the garlic. Squeeze the top of the garlic buds and the skin will slip off. Chop as needed.

Potato and Leek Soup

Not always easy to find fresh leeks in the grocery store, but et voila…this week they were there, along with fresh horseradish (a rarity here). This recipe does not use the latter! Just mentioned it in passing, as I bought some and carefully washed it and took some online advice and froze them whole. At a later date I can grate them for use in my seafood sauce! FYI…I do the same with fresh ginger…. Hope you will enjoy this soup from the kitchen of Emeril Lagasse!

Potato and Leek Soup

  • 1 large or 2 small leeks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 20 black peppercorns
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme (or use dried)
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 strips bacon chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 to 1 1/4 lbs. russet potatoes diced
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (Can substitute with plain yogurt)
  • chopped chives (optional)

Trim the green portions off the leeks. Using a sharp knife, slice the leek lengthwise and rinse well under cold running water (leeks can be full of sand!). Slice thinly crosswise.

In a large soup pot, melt the butter and add the bacon. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally until the bacon is very soft. Add the chopped leeks and cook until wilted…about 5 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil.

While it boils, pour yourself a glass of the wine just to make sure it is a good year…LOL.

Add thyme, pepper, chicken stock and potatoes, and more salt if you prefer. Bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to simmer for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.

Have another glass of wine!

At this point you can put everything in a food processor (I do not as I like this chunky)or an immersion blender. Serve with a dollop of heavy cream or the yogurt.

Pour into soup bowls (after you have finished the bottle of wine…LOL).

Chive the snips……oops…snip the chives over top!

Chilled Avocado-Cilantro Soup

Hard to imagine on this very cold Sunday morning that anyone in Canada might be interested in a cold soup…LOL. Nevertheless, I have had a request for this soup from a dear friend in Burlington who enjoys a similar soup at our friend Valeries’ The Pickled Onion B and B in Santa Elena. Alas, it is NOT Valerie’s recipe (family secret), but it has been tested by Larry and I and it is a winner!

Ina Pinkney’s Chilled Avocado-Cilantro Soup

  • 1 2/3 large ripe fresh California avocados- peeled and pitted
  • 2 cup chicken stock (canned low sodium)
  • 2/3 Tbsp. lime juice
  • ½ cup yogurt- plain, low fat
  • ¼ cup sour cream or cottage cheese
  • 1 tomato – large, peeled and seeded or 10 or 12 cherry tomatoes whole
  • ¼ cup cilantro – fresh, chopped
  • salt to taste
  • hot sauce for garnish

Instructions

  1. Put 1 1/2 the avocados, stock, lime juice, yogurt and sour cream in a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Add the tomato and cilantro and pulse just until the tomato is coarsely chopped.
  4. Coarsely chop the remaining half of avocado and stir into the soup.
  5. Chill for several hours.
  6. Serve with a dash of hot sauce (optional)
  7. A dollop of sour cream on the surface of the soup, stirred with a toothpick to make a swirl. You could add a few croutons!

Makes 4 generous servings…

*Large avocados are recommended for this recipe. A large avocado averages about 8 ounces. If using smaller or larger size avocados adjust the quantity according