Thursday, July 31, 2008

It's All Greek To Me!

I woke up this morning with two things on my to do list: Kick butt and chew bubblegum! And I was all out of bubblegum! Make dinner and pay homage to our Greek ancestors. Well, someone's Greek ancestors. I don't think I have any Greek ancestors. I do, however, have French-Canadian ancestors and Italian ancestors, and 66% of those nationalities border on the Mediterranean (along with Greece) so that's a start!

For salad I boiled the farm share beets, cooled them, and drizzled them with a little Athena Kolymvari Premium Greek olive oil. I just happened to get this oil as a gift two days ago. It's like the Greek stars really aligned and the smiling visage prosopo of Zeus was looking down on me!

I served the beets over the red romaine with a little lemon (Greek!), honey, (Greek!), feta cheese (Greek!), and egg (not actually, but if I had . . . GREEK!) along with the cucumbers and tomato from the farm share.

With eggplant I decided that that should be featured prominently. Originally Jen had toyed with the idea of making a pasta dish such as pasta à la Norma. However, my idea today was to make a loose version of Greek moussaka. By loose I mean it's my interpretation of Moussaka and in no way authentic. I was inspired when I remembered my parents eating at Perfect Pizza growing up. I consider Nick at Perfect Pizza to be like my Greek Grandmother. He would always have the moussaka ready in "fifteen-a-minoots", something I was not going to be able to achieve for tonight's dinner.

My original intention was to make a vegetarian version of moussaka but I had some ground beef in the freezer so I opted to go with the standard meat-eaters' version.

I decided to use the remaining zucchini from last week to pad the eggplant as one eggplant wasn't quite enough for a whole casserole. I peeled and sliced the eggplant. I left the zucchini skin on and sliced it diagonally. I soaked the slices in heavily salted water for twenty minutes, drained, then patted dry and dredged in seasoned (salt and pepper) flour before shallow frying in some olive oil. Then I baked some potatoes, cut them into wedged and fried them in the same pan.

I made a quick tomato sauce using the farm share onions, peppers and the ground beef from the freezer along with some tomato, garlic, red wine and oregano. Then I made a béchamel sauce with butter, flour, milk and grated Parmesan.

I sauced the bottom of the pan with the meat tomato sauce, layered some eggplant, zucchini and potato, then topped with a little tomato sauce, a little béchamel and then put a second layer on, topping with the sauces and some sliced mozzarella cheese.

I baked the whole thing in the oven for about an hour at 350 degrees and then let it cool for about 30-40 minutes before cutting and serving. It was nice because I was able to get most of this done in the morning and then just throw it in the oven to finish it off closer to dinner time.

The final dish turned out pretty good, though next time I would go a little heavier on the sauce and a little lighter on the potato I used. But since I wasn't following any sort of recipe, I don't know how I will accomplish that. I used two baked potatoes so I guess I'd go with 1 to 1.5 next time.

I accompanied the moussaka with some House Wine which was given to us by a dinner guest last week. It's a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (54%), Merlot (30%), Syrah (11%), Malbec (3%), and Cabernet Franc (2%). [Insert generic description here about the "foxy undertones" of the wine" here.]

I had cherries leftover from the Zachary Taylor surprise dessert I made on Saturday and before they went completely bad I turned them into ice cherry vanilla ice cream. I went with a full-fat version after having mixed results in the past few low-fat ice creams I've tried to make. I think in the future I would half the heavy cream used and replace with whole milk. The fat content of the ice cream made it foam up quite a bit when I tempered the eggs into the milk mixture so it did curdle slightly. I was concerned about this but decided to pass it through the machine anyway and the consistency actually turned out pretty good. I cooked half the cherries in the cream mixture and then blended it all to make a pinkish ice cream. Then I diced the remaining cherries and added to the ice cream in the last two minutes of mixing. I topped it with whipped cream and, yes, a cherry. It's a little weird to have a cherry with its pit on ice cream but it sure makes for a lovely picture.

Okay, so I lost the Greek theme a little at the end. What're you gonna do? The cherries were from Washington State (a mere 6049 miles away!).

Strange, that this was the one night this week where we didn't have yogurt.

1 comment:

Sandy said...

You were starting to remind me of the father in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" for a while. That moussaka looked and sounded very delicious.