Thursday, 13 January 2011
The walk up to the Acropolis is worth it, even if it is tremendously tiring, because you are walking through all these little alleys and passageways (like the one to the left) with the backs of the houses actually carved into the rock face behind it: these houses are part of Mount Olympus in a very real sense.
In their minds possibly preparing meals for their menfolk who left to go to war and never returned... as they have sat as such in the same doorways for millennia.
Generations of women who gave up their fathers, their sons and their brothers to a war they didn't understand.
Gave up their husbands, their life companions to some cause and now all that remained were their memories, their dreams and the ubiquitous cats. Sitting in the sunshine, their hands busy with their Rosary beads, their bright eyes seeing a scene I could not. I found that so sad. So incredibly sad.
This particular Moussaka recipe isn't too difficult to prepare, it just needs a lot of preparation so allow at least an hour for that. You put together five parts, similar to my lasagne: fried or grilled egglant slices, a white sauce, a meaty red sauce, fresh breadcrumbs and cheese
The Eggplant part
Wash 3 Medium eggplants, slice 2/3"/4cm thick, salt and let drain for 1/2 hour while you prepare the white sauce and start the red sauce. Then dry eggplant and shake in a bag with flour and a good grind of black pepper. Brown in a bit of hot olive oil. Be careful with the amount of oil, and use only enough to brown a few slices at a time. The eggplant is like a gready sponge and will absorb an amazing amount of oil if you let it, and greasy Moussaka is gross. Drain the eggplant and reserve. Or, you can grill the eggplant without flouring it until it is slightly brown, which is how I tend to do it now. (Or even get frozen, grilled eggplant slices, easiest!)
The White Sauce part
In a saucepan over medium heat mix together:
6 Tbl Butter
6 Tbl flour
Whisk for a couple minutes until well blended, add:
750 ml (3 cups) milk
Gently bring to a boil, stirring, and simmer couple minutes. Whisk a cup or so of this mixture into:
3 eggs, well beaten. Whisk the egg mixture back into the white sauce and bring up to a very gentle simmer, whisking just until thick. Do not boil, or sauce will scramble.
Good grating of nutmeg
dash Tabasco Sauce
Let White Sauce cool. It should be quite thick. Note that the white sauce can be prepared a day ahead of time, covered and refrigerated.
The Red Sauce part
Brown well together in heavy frying pan:
2 Tbl olive oil
500g ground lamb.
Drain grease. Add:
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Sauté around until the onion is limp. Add:
250ml can tomato sauce
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
tsp dried leaf oregano
Tbl chopped parsley
Tbl chopped mint
bit of salt and pepper
Simmer gently until quite thick. The red sauce can be prepared well ahead of time, and keeps well refrigerated or you can freeze it.
Breadcrumbs and Cheese part.
You will also need 250g dry bread crumbs. Make fresh by blitzing in a food processor then spread out on a baking tray and leave in a slow oven, stirring occasionally.
Also 500g grated Mozzarella cheese and 150g or so of grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.
To assemble the Moussaka
You need a either good sized casserole with a cover or a lasagne dish you can cover with aluminium foil. Put about 1/3 of the eggplant on the bottom in a solid layer. Trim eggplant to fit. Spread 1/2 of the red sauce on top. Spread 1/3 of white sauce over red. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the cheese, 1/3 of the crumbs. Repeat this set of layers. Then put in a layer of the rest of the eggplant, the rest of the white sauce and cover with the rest of the crumbs. Garnish top with a sprinkle of ground red chile or paprika and a small handful of chopped parsley. Cover, and bake at 350°F/160°C for an hour, uncover and bake until browned on top and bubbly. Serve with a green salad, good bread and a bottle of light red wine. Greek Retsina wine is quite wonderful with this.
Posted by Kitty at 20:05