Moussaka

Next to Hummus, Moussaka must be one of the best dishes ever. The combination of eggplant, red wine, cinnamon, ground meat and béchamel sauce is just divine. As for most Mediterranean recipes, many different versions exist, the one below comes closest to the Greek one.

Moussaka
Serves 4-6

Moussaka

Ingredients:

2 eggplants
Olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
500 g ground beef or lamb
1 1/2 ts cinnamon
1 can tomatoes, diced and peeled, sieved
2 TS tomato paste
4 TS parsley, finely chopped
150 ml dry red wine
1 TS oregano
salt and pepper
3 TS gluten-free flour (or all-purpose flour)
500 ml rice, soy or cow milk
2 eggs
100 g feta, crumbled (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.

2. Wash the eggplants and cut them into thin slices. Spread the slices on a prepared baking sheet, sprinkle with 3 TS of the olive oil and salt and bake on the middle rack for about 20-25 minutes until soft and roasted around the edges. (You can also fry them in a pan but I find this to take much more time and oil.)

3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 TS olive oil in a big pan and fry the onions until golden. Add the ground meat and sear for a couple of minutes. Add the cinnamon, sieved tomatoes, parsley and wine and season generously with salt and pepper. Let braise for about 15 minutes.

4. In a small pot, heat 3 TS of the olive oil. Add the flour and stir with an eggbeater until slightly browned. Add the milk and keep stirring while bringing to a boil. Let boil for a couple of seconds, then turn off the heat, not removing the pot from it. Keep on stirring until the mass thickens. Add the two eggs (and feta cheese) and stir well. Season well with salt and pepper (you will have to use more salt if you go without the feta).

5. Grease a large and shallow baking dish with some olive oil, remove the eggplant slices from the oven and add a layer to the dish. Turn down the oven heat to 180°C. Remove the meat from the heat and evenly spread across the eggplant layer in the dish. Finish with another layer of eggplant slices. Pour the béchamel sauce over the eggplant slices and let bake on the middle rack for about 45 minutes.

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Foodie Pen Pals January / Salted Chocolate Tart

After a Foodie Pen Pal pause in December, I received a truly wonderful January package from Lauren from West Sussex. Really everything she chose is just wonderful:

It contained

Duchess Grey Tea
A wonderful alternative to the usual Earl Grey with a much more elegant taste.

White Tea Elderflower
I haven’t tried it yet, but it smells amazingly summerly.

Sea Salt with Mixed Peppers
I think that one can’t have enough spices, this is a wonderful addition to my selection and really yummy with pasta, garlic and olive oil.

Strawberry Clotted Cream Cookies
These are gluten-free and went along very well with the Duchess Grey tea.

Bakewell Slices
These are gluten- and dairy-free and will be served next time I have friends over for coffee/tea.

Jamie Oliver Tellicherry Black Pepper
We’d just ran out of pepper when Lauren’s package arrived so this came in very handy and I absolutely love the fruity note this pepper has!

Roast Potato Seasoning
I’ve never seen this seasoning in any supermarket in Germany yet and I’m excited to find out what different it makes to the roast potatoes.

Teabag Holder
I love teabag holders, they always remind me of England. This is an especially lovely one.

Postcard
Lauren also included this cute postcard with descriptions of every item she chose that showed how much effort and consideration she put into assembling this package.

Thanks again so much Lauren for this very special package!

 

Salted Chocolate Tart
(for a 26 cm spring form)
adapted from Healthy Green Kitchen

Ingredients:

Crust:
250 g all purpose flour
125 g butter or vegetable margarine
125 g raw cane sugar
1 package vanilla sugar
1 egg
1 ts baking powder
500 g raw beans for blind-baking

Filling:
275 ml full-fat coconut milk
2 TS raw cane sugar
1 pinch of fine salt
180 g dark chocolate, chopped
1 large egg, beaten
coarse sea salt or smoked sea salt

Directions:

1. For the crust mix all ingredients in a bowl and fold until well combined. Place the dough on the bottom and around the edges of a prepared spring form (26 cm) and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

3. Remove the crust from the refrigerator, fill it with the raw beans and transfer into the oven to bake for about 30 minutes.

4. For the filling, heat the coconut milk, sugar and a pinch of salt in a pot over medium heat. Add the chopped chocolate, let it melt a little on its own, then start stirring to combine well with the coconut milk. Remove the pot from the heat and add the beaten egg – the mixture will thicken.

5. Remove the crust from the oven, remove the beans from the crust and pour the coconut milk mixture into it.

6. Turn down the oven heat to 150°C and bake the tart for about 15-20 minutes until the filling is set, it may only wiggle a little in the center.

7. Remove the tart from the oven, let cool for about 15 minutes and garnish with the coarse (smoked) sea salt.

8. When the tart has cooled completely, remove the sides of the form and cut into slices.

 

Dinner Party / Hummus

Last weekend I threw a dinner party at our apartment for 7 of my best friends.
We had:

Flatbread
Hummus (please see recipe below)
Puréed Beets with Yoghurt and Za’atar (Jerusalem: A Cookbook)

Chermoula Eggplant with Quinoa and Yoghurt
Spicy Carrot Salad

Rice
Slow-cooked Veal with Prunes and Leek (Jerusalem: A Cookbook)

Clementine and Almond Syrup Cake (Jerusalem: A Cookbook)

I obviously can’t get enough of that cookbook. The hummus recipe below is, however, different from the one in the book – I guess there are a million different ways to make hummus, depending on region, family tradition etc. I’ve been making hummus as in the recipe below for ages.

Hummus
(1 serving)

Ingredients:

1 can chickpeas, about 400g
4 TS tahine
Juice of 1 lemon
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
neutral oil like sunflower or rapeseed oil
1-2 TS cumin
1/2 TS chile
1 TS curry
1/2 TS sweet paprika, ground
salt and pepper
roasted sesame seeds to garnish

Directions:

1. Drain the chickpeas in a sieve and keep the liquid.

2. In a large bowl or food processor, combine the chickpeas, tahine, garlic, lemon juice (don’t add all the juice in the beginning, rather add half of it and add more to taste later), 1 TS of the chickpea liquid and 3 TS of the oil. Process or purée well with a hand blender until soft and creamy. If the texture is not creamy enough, add more of the chickpea liquid.

3. Add the cumin, chile, curry and sweet paprika and stir in well. Season to taste with salt and pepper and more of the lemon juice.

4. Transfer the hummus into a serving bowl and garnish with the roasted sesame seeds.

Chermoula Eggplant with Quinoa and Yoghurt / Spicy Carrot Salad

After all the  traditional German Christmas food (roulades, red cabbage, potato dumplings, Sacher torte etc.), the recipes from “Jerusalem: A Cookbook” just came in right for a contrast. I highly recommend this book to everyone who is interested in the Jewish kitchen or just likes wonderful, easy to prepare, non-fancy but still amazing food that tickles your taste buds with all its different and rich flavors.

Chermoula Eggplant with Quinoa and Yoghurt
(serves 2)
adapted from Jerusalem: A Cookbook

Eggplant3

Ingredients:

1 clove garlic, crushed
1 ts cumin
1/2 ts chile flakes
1/2 ts sweet paprika
1 tsp finely chopped preserved lemon peel (I used lemon zest)
70 ml olive oil
1 big eggplant
75 g bulgur (I took quinoa for a gluten-free version)
25 g raisins
2 TS fresh cilantro, chopped
2 TS fresh mint, chopped
25 g pitted green olives, sliced
15 g sliced almonds, toasted
1 green onion, chopped
3/4 TS freshly squeezed lemon juice
60 g Greek yoghurt (I used sheep’s yoghurt instead)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.

2. For the chermoula, mix together in a small bowl the garlic, cumin, coriander, chile, paprika, preserved lemon (zest), 2/3 of the olive oil and 1/2 ts salt.

3. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise. Score the flesh of each half with deep, diagonal crisscross scores, making sure not to pierce the skin. Spoon the chermoula over each half, spreading it evenly, place on a baking sheet cut side up and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes until completely tender.

4. Meanwhile, cook the bulgur/quinoa according to the instructions on the package.

5. In a small bowl cover the raisins with hot water and let soak for 10 minutes.

6. When the bulgur/quinoa is ready, let drain in a sieve and in a bowl mix together the bulgur/quinoa with the drained raisins, olives, remaining oil, herbs (leave some for garnishing), almonds, green onions, lemon juice and a pinch of salt.

7. When ready, transfer the eggplant halves on a plate each, cut side up, and spoon the bulgur/quinoa mixture on top. Garnish with yoghurt, some sprinkles olive oil and the remaining herbs.
 

Spicy Carrot Salad
(serves 2 as a side dish)
adapted and amended from Jerusalem: A Cookbook

Ingredients:

3 large carrots, grated
1 1/2 TS olive or rape oil
1/2 onion, fine chopped
1/2 ts harissa
1/4 ts ground cumin
1/4 ts sugar
1 1/2 ts apple vinegar
salt
sunflower seeds

Directions:

1. In a salad bowl whisk together the oil, onion, harissa, cumin, sugar, vinegar and salt.

2. Add the grated carrots and sunflower seeds and toss well to combine.

 

And I thought it was winter…Blossoms

Quick Tuscan Shrimp Soup

Quick Tuscan Shrimp Soup
(serves 3)

Soup_

Ingredients:

1 TS olive oil
1/2 small zucchini, finely diced
200ml fish stock (I used the remainings of the mussel fond)
100ml cream or milk (I used soy milk)
400ml sieved tomatoes
100g shrimps
10 green olives, sliced
2 ts capers
2 TS basil, chopped and more to garnish
salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat, add the zucchini and fry until lightly golden. Deglaze with the fish fond.

2. Add the sieved tomatoes, cream/milk, shrimps, olive slices, capers and basil, bring to boil and let simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes.

3. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve in deep plates with baguette and garnished with more basil.

(If you don’t have fish fond, I assume that vegetable stock + white wine (half and half) works, too, but the soup will taste less fishy. You should also add 1 garlic clove.)

 

Foodie Pen Pals November / Quinoa-stuffed Squash

For November I received a lovely FPP package from Charley from Brighton containing three different kinds of gluten- and dairy-free cookies (lemon zest, stem ginger and macaroons), a raspberry brownie (I’ve got to find out where to get these in Germany!), a Brighton candy cane and beautiful fairy cake cases. Thanks so much, Charley for all those wonderful and yummy items!

FPP2

In turn, I sent a package to Nic from London, here’s what I picked for her:

FPP1

 

Quinoa-stuffed Squash
(serves 2)

Squash

Ingredients:

1 Stripetti squash or 1 big hokkaido
1 TS olive oil
1 small onion, diced
a handfull of pistachios or pine nuts
6 dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
3/4 ts cinnamon
110g quinoa, rinsed to wash off bitterns
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

2. Cut the squash in half (the Stripetti squash has a very hard skin, you’ll need a really sharp knife) and scoop out the seeds. Place the pumpkin face-down on a prepared baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes until the flesh is tender.

3. Meanwhile, cook the quinoad according to the instructions on the package. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat, add the onions and sauté until they’re golden. Add the pistachios/pine nuts, dates, cinnamon and lemon zest, sauté for another minute, stir in the cooked quinoa and season to taste with salt and pepper.

4, Turn the squash upright on the baking sheet and stuff with the quinoa mixture. Bake for another 20 minutes.

5. Serve warm, garnished with more pistachios/pine nuts and lemon zest.

 
Looking forward to this:

Pomegranate, Pomegranate

Wintertime is pomegranate time. During this season, the fruit grows in Spain and Italy and markets here are flooded with it. So a couple of days ago, when I hadn’t received my copy of Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem: A Cookbook yet, I found a wonderful recipe by them (which is not included in that book though) that contains pomegranate, fennel (a winter vegetable, too) and quinoa (gluten-free). And since the pomegranate I bought was so big and I only needed half of it for the recipe, I also made a pomegranate and olive relish inspired by The Kitchn.

Jerusalem

 

Quinoa, Pomegranate and Fennel Salad
(Serves 2)

Quinoa

Ingredients:

3 TS olive oil
1 medium fennel bulb, cut lengthwise into thin slices
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 TS lemon juice
1/2 ts ground cumin
1/2 ts raw cane sugar
110g quinoa, rinsed to remove bittern
1/2 green chile, seeded, chopped
3 TS chopped fresh cilantro
3 TS chopped fresh mint
1/2 ts chopped fresh dill
seeds of 1/2 pomegranate

Directions:

1. Heat 2 TS of the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the fennel and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fennel is tender and lightly golden (about 10–12 minutes). Stir in the lemon juice, cumin, and sugar and cook for about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, bring the quinoa and 270ml water to a boil in a pot. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until quinoa is cooked (about 10 minutes). Set aside and let cool.

3. Gently mix the quinoa with the remaining 1 TS olive oil, add the fennel mixture, chile, pomegranate and herbs. Toss gently to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper.

 

Pomegranate Olive Relish
(makes one small bowl)

Relish

Ingredients:

110g green olives, sliced and pitted
40g cup roasted pistachios (I used pine seeds)
110g pomegranate seeds
1 TS minced shallots
2 ts finely chopped fresh mint
2 TS olive oil
2 ts pomegranate molasses (I used maple syrup instead)
dash of lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Coarsely slice the green olives and chop the pistachios/pine seeds to roughly the size of the pomegranate seeds or a bit smaller.

2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and season to taste. Depending on the flavor of the pomegranates and olives, you may need more or less lemon juice and salt.

3. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to a day before serving.

4. Serve with crackers, bread, or pita chips. Delicious on crostini with goat cheese.


Stornoway