The day has finally come, the guys from the moving company have arrived and the packing has started, the count down is on- 3 weeks until we board the plane and begin life back in Australia. A new phase of blogging is ahead of me and I am intrigued to see the differences in food/styles (if any) when living back in Australia compared to the States.
On the eve of having the kitchen whipped out from underneath me I decided to make one of my old favorites for dinner- Moussaka. I remember eating this when I was a kid and loving it. I probably thought it was another way of making lasagna, I know my mum was smart when it came to mentioning the layers of eggplant (meaning, she didn't!). I was a bit rusty on remembering how it was made so I hopped on line to look up a few recipes. The only helpful part about that was knowing what NOT to do. I didn't want to be in the kitchen for hours, nor did I want to use every pot and pan in the kitchen so I decided to make it up as I went along except for the white sauce that goes on top, I got that from an all time favorite "The PWMU centenary Cook book" (PWMU being Presbyterian Women's Missionary Union) The sauce is more like a souffle, a must for all to try!
Anyway, back to the meat part- I bought a pound of ground lamb, on the Internet they say to use beef or maybe lamb but in my opinion it isn't moussaka if it isn't lamb! Because it was a family meal I wanted to add vegetables, so I diced up some green peppers, carrots and celery along with onion and garlic. I got my pan smoking hot, added a little oil and browned the meat, once the temperature had dropped a little in the pan I added 1 tsp of cumin, 1/4 tsp turmeric and 1/2 tsp cinnamon along with a bay leaf and simmered it for about 10 minutes to reduce all the liquid. When the liquid was all absorbed I added the vegetables along with 1 tablespoon of tomato paste and a can of strained and diced whole tomatoes- mixed it all in, turn down the heat to a simmer and left it for about 15 minutes. Once it was all simmered, check the seasoning and then leave to cool. Fry your eggplant in olive oil until soft then layer the meat sauce and eggplant in a square pyrex dish. Once it is all in the dish, rinse out your pan you cooked the meat in and make the white sauce.
When the cheese sauce is made, pour over the layers and bake in a 350 (180) oven for about 40-50 minutes. When you pull it out of the oven you'll notice the white sauce looks like a soft pillow- but as with all souffles, it doesn't last for long. I made this in under an hour, so that was pretty cool for a moussaka, especially when the Internet recipes would of had me in the kitchen for double that time.
Basic white sauce from The PWMU Cookbook
2 Tbsp All purpose flour
1 Tbsp butter
1 cup (250 ml) milk
sat & pepper to taste
3 Tbsp parmesan cheese
2 eggs -separated
Melt butter on medium heat, once melted add flour and stir until smooth and blended.
Add milk and whisk to remove lumps, bring to boil, add seasoning and boil for 2-3 minutes stirring constantly.
Once thick and smooth cut heat, add grated cheese and stir until combined then beat in egg yolks.
Whisk egg whites until stiff and gently fold into sauce.
Pour cheese sauce over meat and eggplant mixture and bake.