Monday, February 25, 2013

Greek Night in the Garden/ Moussaka

I don't know about you...But I very much enjoy cooking meals, on occasion, that are inspired by other nations. For me, it is a joy to experiment and switch out Dinner to different flavors and customs. Lately,  I decided to go Greek. I'm particularly a fan of Spanakopita, with it's buttery Phyllo dough, Spinach and Feta. And, of course, I love Moussaka. When I lived in Virginia, I used to go to a restaurant owned by a local Greek family...and there... I had THE BEST Moussaka I have ever, and probably will ever eat. Since I no longer live in Virginia, I have done my best to try to emulate the lovely and light recipe of that Restaurant... and here is what I have come up with...
                                                                               GVibe's Moussaka

1 lb Ground Beef

1 Large or 2 Medium Eggplants
Unseasoned Bread Crumbs
Dried Oregano, to taste
1 Large Egg, Beaten and a splash of tap water added to make an egg wash

1 15 oz can of Tomato Sauce
1 6 oz. can of Tomato Paste
1 tsp Nutmeg
1 tsp Dried Oregano

I begin by browning the Ground Beef. And... *Nurse cap on*... Render (drain) away the fat as it cooks ... *Nurse cap off*.  Once browned, set aside to cool slightly... more on why later....

Next, I slice the Egg plant into thin, about 1/4 in. thick slices.

I create an egg wash, by beating an egg, and 'aerating' it with a splash of cold tap water right from the tap.  I mix unseasoned bread crumbs with dried Oregano, to taste,  on a plate .

I take each slice of Eggplant and dip into the egg wash, and then dip into the bread Crumb mixture.

As I prepare the Eggplant slices, I place them on foil lined cookie sheets, slight spray of cooking oil on the Foil. (Olive oil is best.) I also spray each bread crumb coated Eggplant slice with the cooking spray. This helps the coating get that lovely golden color once baked.

I then Bake the Eggplant slices at 350' for about 30 mins, or until golden brown.

While my Eggplant slices are baking, I prepare the sauce by combining 1 can of Tomato Sauce, 1 can of Tomato Paste, 1 tsp. dried Oregano and 1 tsp. Nutmeg. I only cook through until the Tomato Paste has melted and the sauce is smooth.

Next, I take the slightly cooled Ground beef and place in my Food Processor, pulsing the meat, slightly,  just until finer crumbs of meat are achieved.

I'm then ready to layer in my baking dish: first Tomato sauce to coat the pan, then Eggplant slices, then Meat, then Eggplant slices, then Sauce... and so on.... Ending with sauce on top.

Bake at 350' until heated through and the sauce bubbles. 

Notice that I keep my Moussaka 'light' and do not top it with Béchamel Sauce, as traditionally done....  since , in my opinion, no cheesy sauce is needed in view of the lovely aromatic properties of the Nutmeg and Oregano.  Enjoy!

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