Like probably every other food blogger in the world, I love cook books. I own LOTS of cook books. If someone asks me what I want for my birthday or for Christmas, inevitably I always ask for a cook book. I sat down one day and added up how much my collection would be worth new. Let's just say that I probably should increase my contents insurance coverage! The problem with having all these amazing and expensive cook books is that, while they are all pretty to look at, some of them I have never cooked a single recipe out of them!
This is where the inspiring Rilsta from My Food Trail comes in. She has come up with the Cook book Challenge! 52 recipes in 52 weeks is the plan. Each week is a different theme. Last week's theme, which I am already late in posting is Citrus.
Ok, so you're wondering how Lamb Moussaka is going to be Citrus based? Well, firstly there's grated lemon zest in the actual filling. I know what you're thinking... that's not enough to call this a Citrus dish! Well, the reason I wanted to try this dish is because last month I got some amazing organic lemons, which I preserved in a jar with some cinammon, salt and cloves. They sat for a month and they were ready just in time for this week's recipe.
So, the other citrus in this recipe is actually preserved lemon. You only require a tablespoon, but it cuts through the richness of the lamb sauce and gives off a slightly 'lemonadey' aroma.
If you've never made your own Preserved Lemons before, definately give it a go. It's so easy, all it takes is patience.
This Moussaka recipe is the best I've ever had. Such depth of flavour and slightly different from the authentic one, which I like.
Remember how Donna Hay said on Masterchef that Brown food is hard to photograph and make look appetising? She was definately right!
This recipe is from Maggie Beer's book, Maggie's Kitchen. $59.95
3 medium eggplants
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
500g minced lamb
1/2 cup red wine
1 tbls tomato paste
1 cup tomato sugo
4 tbls freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tbls lemon thyme
Zest of one lemon grated
1/2 inch piece of fresh cinnamon, pounded
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil to roast eggplants
50g unsalted butter
50g plain flour
1 1/4 cup full cream milk
1cup chicken stock
Pinch of grated nutmeg
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
2 tbls grated parmesan
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 tbls chopped lemon thyme
1 tbls preserved lemon, skin only, finely chopped
Cut eggplant into thin 1cm slices. Brush slices with oil, season with salt and into the oven at 250C, or as hot as you can go, for 6 minutes until golden. I put mine on a griddle pan instead as I like the charcoal type flavour that you get from the bars.
Saute onion at moderate temperature for 5 minutes - add garlic and cook another 5 minutes. Put onion and garlic aside, salt and brown meat in batches at a high temperature - you don't want the mince to 'boil'. Put all meat back into the pan, add cinnamon then and onion and garlic, tomato paste, deglaze with wine at high temperature. Then add lemon zest, tomato sugo, the parsley, and lemon thyme and simmer for 20 minutes for flavours to combine.
To make the bechamel or cheese sauce, melt the butter in a pot and then sprinkle the flour over it, stirring well to combine. Continue to cook for a little while until the flour colours slightly and it loses that raw flavour. Remove from the heat and pour the milk first, then stock in slowly, at first, whisking continuously to avoid lumps. Return pot to the heat after every inclusion. Return to the stove and continue to cook until thickened - stirring often until thickly coats back of the spoon. Add the nutmeg and seasoning and lay a piece of plastic wrap or kitchen paper directly on top of the sauce so that it doesn't form a skin, set aside until needed.
To make the moussaka, spray an oven proof dish with non-stick cooking spray or a little evoo. Place a layer of eggplant on the bottom of the dish and then a layer of lamb mince over this. Continue to alternate between eggplant and lamb mince, finishing with a layer of eggplant. Pour the cheese sauce over the eggplant then mix the breadcrumbs with the grated Parmesan & preserved lemon & lemon thyme and generously sprinkle this over the top of the Bechamel. Bake in a pre-heated 200C oven for half an hour.