Moussaka (serves 6)
For the Meat & Tomatoes:
2 onions, thinly sliced or chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1½ lbs ground lamb
Salt & pepper
2 teaspoons cinnamon
5 large tomatoes, peeled & chopped
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon chili-pepper flakes
3 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
White Sauce Topping
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 1/2 cups hot milk
Salt & pepper
Pinch of grated nutmeg
1/2 cup grated cheddar
3 eggplants (about 1 1/2 pounds total), not peeled, cut crosswise in 1/2-inch slices
Preheat the oven to 400° F.
Sauté the onions in the oil in a large skillet or saucepan until golden. Add the ground meat and stir, crushing it with a fork and turning it over, until it changes color. Add salt, pepper, cinnamon, tomatoes, sugar, and chili flakes if you like. Stir well, and cook until the liquid has almost disappeared, then mix in the parsley.
Prepare the white sauce: Melt the butter in a pan. Add the flour and stir over low heat for a few minutes, until well blended. Add the hot milk a little at a time, stirring vigorously each time, until it boils, taking care not to allow lumps to form. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens. Add salt and pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Beat the eggs lightly, beat in a little of the white sauce, then pour back in to the pan, beating vigorously. Do not allow the sauce to boil again. Add the cheese and mix well until melted.
Brush the eggplant slices generously with the oil and broil or grill the slices, turning them over once, until lightly browned. Line the bottom of a large baking dish (about 14 x 10 inches) with half the slices. Spread the meat on the top and cover with the remaining eggplant slices. Pour the white sauce over the top.
Bake uncovered for about 45 minutes, until golden. Serve hot straight from the baking dish with good quality crusty bread and a green salad.
Wine suggestion: With the lamb and that aromatic touch of cinnamon, a lush Cabernet-Merlot blend or a softer Cabernet Sauvignon would be a perfect match for this meal.
Green Salad (serves 4)
A mixture of lettuce of your choice or one of the mixtures available in most good grocery stores in the bin or the vented containers with a lid. Avoid lettuce sold in plastic bags, it is often not fresh and picks up the smell of the plastic.
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon honey
½ teaspoon grainy mustard
Salt & freshly ground pepper
5-6 tablespoons good quality olive oil
Wash and dry the salad leaves. Gently tear the lettuce into bite size pieces. In a salad bowl, mix the vinegar, honey, salt & pepper together with a whisk. Next, slowly whisk in the olive oil. Taste and correct the seasoning. Place the lettuce gently on top of the dressing and toss just before serving.
Apple Tart with a Pecan Crumble Topping (serves 6)
1 pastry crust, pre-baked
1½ lb cooking apples, peeled, cored & chopped
grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
1 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup soft brown sugar
1/3 cup unbleached flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ stick unsalted butter
1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 375°. Line a 9 -10 inch tart pan with the pastry. Chill for 30 minutes, then bake blind for 20 minutes until golden. Brush the base and sides with beaten egg.
Toss the apples in lemon juice, then sprinkle lemon rind, sugar, and cinnamon over the apples, and mix. Melt the butter in a large pan, add the apples and cook stirring, until apples soften, almost all of the juices have evaporated, so the filling is fairly dry.
Place the crumble ingredients in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips until it is pea-size.
Increase oven to 400°. Spoon filling into pastry base and cover with topping. Bake for about 15 minutes until the topping is cooked. Best served warm.