• 2 large eggplant (about 1 ½ pounds each), sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds • 1 tablespoon plus 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt, divided • 2 large russet potatoes, peeled • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped • 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef • ½ cup dry white wine • 3 to 4 ripe medium tomatoes, chopped • 1 tablespoon tomato paste diluted in ¼ cup water • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley • ¾ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper • ¾ cup bread crumbs • 1 recipe Béchamel Sauce (see below) • ½ cup grated kefalotiri or Parmesan cheese • ½ cup brine-packed Greek feta, crumbled
Full Moussaka Recipe:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with foil or unbleached parchment paper. Lightly oil a 9x13-inch baking pan.
In a large mixing bowl, toss the eggplant with 1 tablespoon of the salt. Transfer to a large colander, and sprinkle any salt left in the bowl over the top of the eggplant. Set a small plate on top of the eggplant, and put a weight (such as a large can of tomatoes) on top of the plate to help squeeze out more water. Set the colander in the sink to drain for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in a large pot of liberally salted water for 13 to 15 minutes. Make sure they are still firm enough to slice without crumbling to pieces. Lift the potatoes out with a slotted spoon, and run under a gentle stream of cold water until cool enough to handle. Slice into ¼ to ½-inch rounds, and set aside.
Rinse the eggplant well, and pat dry with paper towels. Arrange the eggplant slices evenly in 1 layer on the prepared baking sheets. With a large pastry brush, very lightly brush the eggplant with 4 tablespoons of the olive oil. You may not need all of the oil. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned, flipping the eggplant halfway through baking. Monitor closely so the eggplant does not burn. Remove from oven, and set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
To make the meat sauce, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until it is translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the ground beef, breaking up any large pieces with a spatula or wooden spoon, and cook until the meat is browned, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the white wine, chopped tomatoes, diluted tomato paste, parsley, remaining 1 ½ teaspoons of salt, and pepper. Stir to combine well, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until all the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
To assemble the moussaka: Prepare the Béchamel Sauce (see below). Arrange all the sliced potatoes in an even layer at the bottom of the prepared baking pan. Cover the potatoes with half of the eggplant slices, arranged in even rows. Gently spread all of the meat sauce over the top of the eggplant. Top the meat sauce with half of the bread crumbs and half of the cheeses. Cover the bread crumb–cheese layer with the remaining eggplant slices, again arranged in even rows. Top the eggplant with the remaining bread crumbs and cheeses. Pour the Béchamel Sauce evenly over the top of the entire dish.
Bake for 55 to 60 minutes until heated through and the top begins to brown in spots, monitoring closely to ensure the top does not burn. Remove from oven, let cool for 10 minutes, slice, and serve.
Horta with Latholemono Dressing Serves 4 Ingredients: • 1 scant tbsp sea salt, plus more to taste • 1 large bunch dandelion greens • ¼ cup kalamata olives, for garnish • 1 lemon, sliced, for garnish
Wash the dandelion greens in several changes of cold water, and shake to remove excess water.
Cut the greens into thirds and boil for 25-30 minutes, or until very tender.
With tongs, a slotted spoon, or a small strainer, carefully remove the greens from the water, allowing excess water to run back into the pot.
Remove the water from the heat, let cool, and transfer to a pitcher or a bowl.
Set aside to chill in the refrigerator.
Arrange the greens on a large platter and drizzle with the Latholemono dressing to taste.
Sprinkle with additional sea salt if desired, and garnish with the Kalamata olives and the lemon, if desired.
Latholemono Dressing Serves 6-8 Ingredients: • 4-6 tbsps freshly squeezed lemon juice, depending upon how tangy you like it • ½ tsp sea salt, or to taste • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste • 1 clove garlic, minced (optional) • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice, salt and pepper, and garlic (if using).
Then very slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking constantly to emulsify.
Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.
Karithopita – Classic Walnut Cake Yields 24 pieces Cake Ingredients: • 3 cups walnut halves
• ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature • 1 cup granulated sugar • 4 large eggs • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice • 2 cups all-purpose flour • 1 teaspoon baking soda • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder • ¼ teaspoon sea salt • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon • ½ cup milk
Syrup Ingredients: • 2 cups water • 2 cups sugar • 1 (1-inch wide) slice lemon peel, 2 inches long • 1 cinnamon stick
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9×13-inch baking pan.
Process the walnuts in a food processor or high-performance blender, pulsing until they are coarsely ground. They should retain a slight texture, not become a very fine meal. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low, and add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and lemon juice, and mix until combined. Pause to scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple of times during mixing.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir in the walnuts, coating them well in the flour. With the mixer running on low, add the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with the milk, and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple of times during mixing, mixing only until just combined. Take care not to over-mix.
Transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan, and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Bake until the cake is golden brown and a wooden skewer or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool 20 minutes.
While the cake is cooling, combine all of the syrup ingredients in a medium, nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until the mixture resembles a light maple syrup. Cool for 5 minutes, then carefully remove and discard the lemon peel and cinnamon stick.
Pour the hot syrup over the cooled cake, and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour so that cake can soak up the syrup.
Cut the cake into 24 pieces, and serve.
Béchamel (BEH-shah-mel) Sauce Yield 4 cups Ingredients:• ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
• ½ cup flour
• 4 cups hot (not boiling) milk • 2 egg yolks, beaten • ½ teaspoon sea salt • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper • ¼ cup grated kefalotiri or Parmesan cheese • ¼ cup brine-packed Greek feta cheese (optional)
Melt the butter slowly in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, being careful not burn or brown it. Slowly add the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon, and mix until smooth. Continue to cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the flour is golden and smells toasty. Do not brown.
Remove from heat, and very slowly pour in the hot milk, stirring constantly. Set the sauce back over medium heat, and simmer while stirring constantly until the sauce is smooth and thick, about 7 to 10 minutes.
Remove from heat. Temper the egg yolks in a large, heatproof mixing bowl by slowly adding about 1 cup of the hot sauce to them, stirring quickly. Then slowly stir the tempered egg yolks to the milk mixture. If the béchamel seems too thick at this point, do not panic. Continue to stir and stir, and eventually it will lighten up and become smooth again. Add the salt, pepper, kefalotiri or Parmesan cheese, and feta (if using), stirring to combine well. Use immediately.
Make sure you follow Debbie Matenopoulos on twitter