As a busy, always-on-the-go family, we’re constantly seeking out new ethnic recipes that are somewhat simple, yet healthier than fast food or Hamburger Helper. We found one for Moussaka in One-Pot Meals, a cookbook filled with relatively simple low-fat recipes, but Mary altered it a bit to make it more traditional.
Moussaka, also known as eggplant casserole, is popular in Greek, Turkish and South Slavic cuisines, common throughout the Balkans, Mediterranean, and the Middle East. The modern Greek version was probably invented by Tselementes in the 1920s and has three layers: A bottom layer of sautéed eggplant slices; a middle layer of cooked ground lamb cooked with onion, garlic, chopped tomatoes, herbs and spices; and a top layer of béchamel sauce or egg custard. Mary’s version mixes lean turkey with lamb, but for an even healthier vegetarian version you can eliminate the meat altogether and substitute potatoes.
INGREDIENTS: 3 medium eggplants, peeled • 1 cup onion, finely chopped • 2 garlic cloves, minced • 1 tbsp olive oil • 1 lb lean lamb, ground • 1 lb turkey, ground • 1 cup drained canned or fresh tomatoes, or 3 tbsp tomato paste • 1/3 cup parsley, chopped • 1 cup white wine • ¼ tsp allspice • 1 tsp cinnamon • black pepper, freshly ground • 3 eggs, lightly beaten• 2 cups plain Greek yogurt • ¾ light cream
DIRECTIONS: Cut eggplant lengthwise into ¼ to ½ inch thick slices, place in colander and set aside. • Meanwhile, sauté onion, garlic and ground meats in olive oil. • Add tomatoes, parsley, and white wine and simmer gently about 45 minutes. • Add allspice, cinnamon and black pepper. • Quickly sauté eggplant until lightly browned on all sides. • Assemble ingredients in a 9’ x 13’ baking dish, layering eggplant, meat, and eggplant again. • In a medium bowl, combine yogurt, eggs and cream. • Season with salt and pepper and pour over casserole. • Let sit for 10 minutes before baking at 375 degrees for 30-40 min, until top is browned (or microwave on High for 25 minutes). • Let rest until lukewarm.
Last week we had the opportunity to do a tasting at Barcelona Wine Bar, a hip new Atlanta restaurant from the Connecticut-based chain. We adored Executive Chef Mike Blydenstein’s upscale take on traditional Spanish-style tapas, especially delectable dishes such as Potato Gnocchi (with tender duck confit, Swiss chard and tiny Hon Shimeji mushrooms) and Berkshire Pork Cheeks (lightly seasoned with coriander and a touch of citrus and served atop creamy Mahon Grits). But we were blown away when they gave us a copy of The Barcelona Cookbook: A Celebration of Food, Wine & Life, along with permission to reprint our favorite recipes here on GGT. We’re starting with Spanish Clams With Chorizo, a simple but delicious dish with just 6 ingredients. Authors (and Barcelona co-owners) Sasa Mahr-Batuz and Andy Pforzheimer recommend removing the clams from the pan as they open, so they don’t get overcooked. Hope you enjoy this savory taste of Spain as much as we did!
INGREDIENTS: 24 littleneck or Manila clams • Two 4-inch-long links smoked Spanish chorizo sausage • 2 Tbls olive oil • 3 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced • 2 cups dry white wine • Leaves from 5 springs fresh thyme, coarsely chopped
DIRECTIONS: Scrub the clams under cold running water. • Drain and dry the clams. • Slice the sausage links lengthwise into 3 pieces and then slice across the sausage pieces into strips about 1/2 inch wide. • Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat and, when hot, add the olive oil. • Add the chorizo slices and sear for about 3 min, or until nicely browned. • Add the garlic and cook for about 2 min, or until browned. • Add the clams, wine and thyme, shake the pan carefully and cover with a lid, aluminum foil, or plate and cook for 7 to 8 min, or until all the clams have opened (discard any that do not open). • Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove the clams from the pan and divide evenly among 4 shallow serving bowls or put in on large bowl. • Turn the heat to high and cook the sauce for 4 to 5 min, or until slightly reduced and thickened. • Pour the sauce and sausage slices over the clams and serve. (Serves 4)
Back in the early 1800s, England and Spain invaded Haiti, which was then a French-controlled island known as Saint Domingue. A self-educated former slave named Toussaint L’Ouverture made a pact with the French powers-that-be: If they would guarantee the freedom of the island’s African slaves, he would train them as an army and kick the invading forces to the curb.
After L’Ouverture held up his end of the bargain and tried to issue Haiti’s first constitution in 1801, diminutive dictator Napoléon Bonaparte sent a huge battalion to restore French rule on the island. But when L’Ouverture was imprisoned in France and it became clear that the cheating brie-eaters were intent on bringing slavery back, revolution erupted, lasting for two years before the French were ultimately defeated.
So, you ask curiously, what’s all this got to do with soup? Well, like a Seinfeld scene-stealer, the French forces were all “NO SOUP FOR YOU!” before they got their butts kicked, forbidding the Haitians from eating pumpkin soup because it was considered too sophisticated a delicacy for the slaves’ pedestrian palates. So, when Jean-Jacques Dessalines declared Haiti a free republic in January of 1804 (making them the world’s first black-led free republic), pumpkin soup became a symbol of Haitian freedom from oppression. Now, every year Haitians make this delicious Pumpkin soup recipe in January in celebration of Haitian Independence Day!
This Crock Pot Carnitas recipe could not possibly be easier: You just throw the ingredients in a crock pot, cook for 4-6 hours and savor the intoxicating aromas that fill the house upon your return. Every time we eat them, it takes me back to a delicious meal we had when we visited Mexico’s Riviera Maya…
INGREDIENTS: 3 lbs pork shoulder or pork butt • 4 cups chicken broth, hot • 2 tablespoons garlic powder • 2 tablespoons onion powder • 2 tablespoons cumin • 1 tablespoon chili powder, medium hot • 2 teaspoons ground coriander • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper • 1 tablespoon lime juice • 1/4 teaspoon salt (to taste)
DIRECTIONS: Add hot chicken broth to crock pot. • Add spices and lime juice to crock pot and mix well into chicken broth. • Add pork to crock pot. • Cover and cook on High for 4 to 6 hours or until most of water is reduced and a sauce thickens. • Pull meat apart with two forks. • Put meat in oven, under the broiler, for a few minutes to crisp them up. Enjoy! –Bret Love
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