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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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