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Tuesday, June 20

Cultural Cooking : Greek

One place the children have always wanted to visit is Greece!  We spend a lot of time studying Ancient Greece, the philosophers, the arts, and the politicians....and sometimes we even top it off with a Greek meal!  Καλή σας όρεξη (Enjoy!)

Moussaka
  • 2 medium eggplants
  • olive oil (as needed)
  • 1 lb lean ground beef (or can use ground lamb)
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic 
  • 1(8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (or to taste)
  • Cheese Sauce
    • 3 tablespoons butter
    • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
    • 1⁄2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper 
    • 2 tablespoons flour
    • 1 cup half-and-half cream
    • 1 egg
    • 1⁄2 cup grated parmesan cheese 

  1. Grease a 9 x 9-inch baking pan although you could use a 13 x 9 pan using a smaller pan will result in a thicker casserole.
  2. Peel the eggplants then slice 1/4-inch thick (a little thicker won't hurt).
  3. Brush cookie sheet with olive oil.
  4. Coat each side of sliced eggplant with olive oil then season slices with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  5. Place the eggplant slices on cookie sheet; broil under the broiler until brown; turn and broil the other side, brushing with oil if needed; repeat with all eggplant slices.
  6. In the bottom of the prepared baking dish arrange half of the eggplant slices.
  7. In a large skillet, combine beef and onions; cook stirring until the beef is no longer pink and the onions are soft; drain fat.
  8. Add in the garlic, tomato sauce, oregano, 1/2 tsp salt and black pepper to taste; pour mixture over eggplant slices.
  9. Arrange the remaining eggplant slices over the beef mixture.
  10. Melt the butter in a separate saucepan, whisk in flour, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper to taste; gradually stir in half and half or milk, cook and stir over medium heat until thick and bubbly.
  11. In a small bowl, beat egg; stir in some of the hot sauce, then add egg to sauce mixture, mix well; add in Parmesan cheese, and stir again.
  12. Pour the cheese sauce over mixture in baking dish.
  13. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 45 minutes.
  14. Cut into squares.


Gyro
  • ½ onion, in chunks
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp sea salt

  1. Place the onion in a food processor, and process until finely chopped. Scoop the onions onto the center of a towel, gather up the ends of the towel, and squeeze out the liquid from the onions. Place the onions into a mixing bowl along with the lamb and beef. Season with the garlic, oregano, cumin, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, black pepper, and salt. Mix well with your hands until well combined. Cover, and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours to allow the flavors to blend.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  3. Place the meat mixture into the food processor, and pulse for about a minute until finely chopped and the mixture feels tacky. Pack the meat mixture into a 7x4 inch loaf pan, making sure there are no air pockets. Line a roasting pan with a damp kitchen towel. Place the loaf pan on the towel, inside the roasting pan, and place into the preheated oven. Fill the roasting pan with boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the loaf pan.
  4. Bake until the gyro meat is no longer pink in the center, and the internal temperature registers 165 degrees F (75 degrees C) on a meat thermometer, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Pour off any accumulated fat, and allow to cool slightly before slicing thinly and serving.

Baklava
  • 1 lb phyllo pastry, thawed if frozen
  • 1 cup butter, melted at room temp
  • 3⁄4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups chopped walnuts
  • 1⁄2 cup water
  • 1⁄4 cup lemon juice
  • 1⁄4 cup honey

  1. Preheat oven to 325. Layer half of the sheets of phyllo one sheet at a time, in a greased 11x7x2 baking pan, brushing each sheet evenly with butter and folding ends over if necessary to fit into pan.
  2. Keep unused sheets covered with plastic wrap while assembling baklava to prevent drying.
  3. Mix 1/4 cup of the sugar and cinnamon; stir in walnuts.
  4. Sprinkle nut mixture evenly over buttered phyllo in pan.
  5. Layer remaining phyllo, one sheet at a time, over nut mixture, brushing each sheet evenly with butter.
  6. Cut diagonally into squares, cutting completely through all layers.
  7. Bake in preheated oven until crisp and golden, about one hour.
  8. Combine remaining sugar, the water, lemon juice and honey in small saucepan; cook and stir over low heat until sugar dissolves.
  9. Heat to boiling; pour evenly over hot baklava.
  10. Let stand loosely covered 8 hours or overnight.
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