Thursday, November 15, 2012

Aunt Lia's Moussakas

Moussakas will always hold a special place in my heart as it was the first thing I ordered for Mari when I finally took her out  on our first date.  She thought it was disgusting!  I guess they didnd't eat much eggplant back then in Minnesota, so I ordered her some calamari, which really freaked her out!  In the end she really loved the calamari and has developed a taste for moussakas, as my sister Lia makes the world's best!!  Thank God the  Greek music and my good loooks saved the night!!!

Aunt Lia's Moussakas
The back of this photo reads: "1975. Moussaka evening !"
2 eggplants
4 medium zucchini
1 lb.large potatoes
1 1/2 lbs. ground round
2 medium onions, grated
2-3 Tables. butter
1/4 cup white wine
3 ripe tomatoes,grated and drained
1 Tables. tomato paste
1 small can tomato puree
salt & pepper,dash of vinegar, pinch of sugar,dash of ground cinnamon
3 Tables. water
Dancing off the bechamel sauce
1/2 cup finely ground bread crumbs
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup grated cheese (Kefalotyri or hard cheese)
1/2 cup olive oil
sea salt or salt

Slice the eggplants into one inch strips, salt the surface and let them rest for 40 minutes so the acid can be removed.  In the meantime, saute the onions in 2-3 T. butter and add the ground round to the onion, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the meat is broken down into small pieces and browned; add wine and cover for a minute or two. Uncover and add tomatoes, paste and puree.  Add 2 T. water, splash of vinegar,pinch of sugar, salt and pepper ,and a dash of cinnamon and let it simmer , uncovered, for 1/2 hour or untill the
liquids are absorbed.    When meat has cooled off, add 2 beaten egg whites.  Wash the  zucchini and slice 1/4 inch; dip slices in flour and saute in olive oil and butter (half and half).  Fry the eggplants and potatoes that have been sliced into rondelles.  Butter a lasagne pan, sprinkle with bread crumbs and place the eggplants in a
layer,sprinkle the eggplants with 1/4 cup cheese, spread the meat mixture over and layer the rest of the vegetables on top of the meat;sprinkle that layer with the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese.  Spread bechamel sauce over, making sure to seal the edges .

Bechamel Sauce
4 cups hot milk
6 T. flour
1/2 cup butter
salt and pepper
Melt butter in a pan,add flour and stir until smooth.  Lower heat and gradually add the hot milk, stirring constantly until it thickens. Season with salt and pepper and for moussaka add a dash of nutmeg.
      Generously sprinkle the spread bechamel sauce with cheese-about a cup is good.  Bake at 350 F. or 180C. for 45 minutes or untill golden brown on top.  Let the moussaka stand for 15-20 minutes before cutting.  Serve with a salad, rose or red wine, and, of course, vast amounts of crusty bread!!!  You can use any combination of vegetables.
We've adapted this classical Greek recipe to accommodate Mari's difficulty with the consistency of eggplant.  This is admittedly, quite a labor of love, but so worth it!! It'll be even better tomorrow-reheated or room temperature!

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