This post could also be called Why You Should Live Close To Your Mom.
I created my own winter boot camp this weekend. The boy and I had a glorious snowy day of skiing at Lake Louise on Friday. I followed that up with a super long run Saturday, thanks to sunny skies and a new running watch (thanks, Santa). On Sunday — which was supposed to be my recovery day — we set off on a leg-busting cross-country ski around Pocaterra Trails in Kananaskis. Here’s a photo from Trail Peaks:
By the time we got back to Calgary, we were sweaty, sore and starving — and just in time for Sunday dinner at my parents. My wise mom (knowing we’d be starving) made moussaka for dinner. If you’ve never had it, it’s like a Greek lasagna but instead of cheese, pasta and tomatoes, it’s made with creamy bechemel, eggplant and potatoes. In other words, it’s precisely the type of hearty comfort food that’s needed after a day of skiing.
Like much Greek fare, moussaka recipes differ based on region. Some chefs use potatoes, some don’t. Some make it with beef, others prefer lamb. My family relies a Cypriot recipe with optional potatoes, optional zucchini and lamb. It comes from a small cookbook called The Taste of Cyprus, by Gilli Davis, that my mom, sisters and I own and love.
- 2 lb (1kg) aubergines or courgettes or a mixtures of both, trimmed and sliced lengthwise in thick slices
- 2 large potatoes, cooked, peeled and sliced (optional)
- 1/2 glass/100 mL olive oil
- 2 medium onions, sliced
- 1 lb (450) minced beef or lamb
- 2 large tomatoes, grated or 1 -400 g tn of tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon or 1 stick cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 glass/100 mL of red wine
- salt and fresh ground black pepper
For the White Sauce:
- 3 oz/75 butter
- 4 level tablespoons flour
- 1 pint warm milk
- ground nutmeg
- 2 eggs
- 1 glass/2 oz grated cheese — halloumi, kefalotiri or tasty cheddar
1. Immerse the aubergine slices in lightly salted water for 30 minutes, and then rise and squeeze them gently, pat dry with a kitchen towel. The courgettes need no attention.
2. Fry the aubergine or courgette slices in 3/4 of the oil, turned the slices so that they brown but don’t cook through. Leave them to drain on kitchen paper.
3. In another pan, fry the onions till soft in the rest of the oil, then add the meat and stir to break it up. Add the tomatoes, herbs, spices, seasoning and wine and continue to cook for 25 minutes when the liquid should be absorbed.
4. For the white sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in the flour and then add the warm milk gradually, whisking hard to remove any lumps. Take the saucepan away from the heat and stir in the seasoning, spices and cheese. Make sure that the sauce has cooled before adding the eggs.
To assemble the moussaka
Either use a 10″ x 10″ baking dish or six individual pots and line the base with slices of cooked aubergine or courgette. Add a layer of cooked potato if you are using it.
Now spread the meat in a layer over the aubergine and cover with the remainder of the aubergine and potato.
Cover the top of the moussaka with the white sauce and bake in a moderate oven, 350 F for about 50 minutes until the top is a good crusty brown.
Pour glass of wine. Enjoy.
PS – Those who know me well are sure to comment about the fact that I posted a recipe with potatoes as I have a lifelong hatred of potatoes. Of course, I didn’t eat the potatoes. S. ate them on my behalf.