Rick’s Greek Moussaka

MoussakaOne side of my wife’s family is Greek and we all enjoy Greek food.  This recipe is always a hit. A rich lamb tomato sauce between eggplant layers and topped with a rich feta bechamel sauce makes a great main course. Add some stuffed grape leaves and a real Greek salad and you have yourself a meal.

Ingredients

For the lamb sauce:

2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil (Greek if you have it.)

1 lb. ground lamb

1 large yellow onion chopped

3 cloves garlic finely chopped

3 14 oz. cans chopped tomatoes

¼ tsp. ground allspice

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon dried mint

Salt and pepper to taste

1 large eggplant, cut into 1/3 inch slices

For the bechamel topping:

3 tbs. unsalted butter

3 tbs. all-purpose flour

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

1 cup whole milk

2 eggs, beaten

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Recipe

Heat olive oil in a heavy saucepan. Add onion and cook, stirring until soft, about 4 minutes. Add lamb and cook stirring until no pink remains. Break up clumps with a wooden spoon. Add the allspice and cinnamon and stir to incorporate. Add tomatoes with their juices and the mint, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a strong simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Oil 2 cookie sheets and place eggplant slices on them, lightly brushing them with olive oil. Broil 4 inches from flame for 4 minutes. Turn slices over, brush lightly with olive oil and broil for 4 minutes. You may need to do two batches.

Oil a 9 by 13 oven-proof baking dish and line the bottom with half the eggplant, overlapping the slices slightly. When the lamb sauce is finished spoon it over the eggplant, and place the remaining slices on top of the sauce overlapping slightly.

Move rack to middle the oven and pre-heat it to 375 degree F.

In another saucepan melt the butter over medium low heat and add the flour, whisking for 3 minutes. Add the milk in a steady stream while whisking for about 5 minutes until sauce thickens and no lumps remain. Add the crumbled feta and whisk until it has melted into the sauce. Remove the sauce from heat and cover. Let it sit for 5 minutes and then pour in the beaten eggs while whisking until they are incorporated into the sauce. Pour the sauce over the baking dish to cover the top. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the bechamel sauce is lightly brown. Let the dish sit for ten minutes before serving.

 “Building Bigger Barns” A Sermon on Luke 12:13-21

barn

“Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.” —Luke 12:13-21 NRSV Continue reading

Rick’s Summer Spaghetti with Uncooked Tomato Basil Sauce

Pasta 3We’ve been cooking variations on this recipe on hot summer days for decades. The original “Silver Palate Cookbook“ had a version that called for Brie, but  we felt that was too rich for a hot summer dinner.

We only make this in late summer when the good local tomatoes come in, and we have fresh herbs in pots ready to go. You do have to cook the pasta, but the rest is uncooked. I combine all the other ingredients in a pasta bowl earlier in the day and let them get happy. Continue reading

Rick’s “Fathers’ Day” Mixed Grill

Mixed grillWhen we were on holiday in Burwash, East Sussex, way back in 1993, it was our June 12 anniversary, and we were looking for fine dining to celebrate.  We had Auntie Freya with us to watch the kiddos, so we had high hopes, and we had scouted out what appeared to be the only restaurant in town that wasn’t one of the three pubs. Sadly, when we went to make a reservation, it was closed, night off, bank holiday or whatever.

Not to be deterred we turned to the usually reliable English pub for a back-up. The high street in Burwash isn’t very long, and was then anchored by a pub at either end and one in the middle. The one in the middle seemed busy so we went there.  It had “Mixed Grill” on the menu. Continue reading

Rick’s Summer Tabbouleh Salad

TabboulehI had never had tabbouleh until I met my wife’s family in my early twenties.  It was a staple of their summer picnics and I loved it. I seldom make it, as I was reminded yesterday by my unopened Bob’s Red Mill Bulgur with a 2012 sell-by date. A quick trip to Guido’s for new bulgur and I was ready. We had friends over for a Mediterranean dinner last night. We started with pita, hummus, feta and mixed olives, some nice Rose from Provence. Then I made grilled marinated butterflied leg of lamb and grilled veggies with the tabbouleh. Summer dining on the back porch at its best! Continue reading