Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Maggie Beer's Moussaka - Cookbook Challenge Week 1 - Citrus

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

Lamb Mince
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

Cheese Sauce
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.


John said...

Looks/sounds great Adam!

hhmmm really like the idea of those preserved Lemons... tell me more :)

Adski said...

Hey mate,
Check out www.taste.com.au, there's some preserved lemon recipes on there. Basically just salt, lemons, lemon juice and some spices like Cinnamon, bay leaves and Cloves.

Kristina said...

Hi Adski,
The Moussaka looks amazing! I just created a blog and was hoping you could help me out getting connected with other melbourne bloggers.. I really love your blog!

My blog is:
Consumed with a Love for Food
http://consumedfoodlove.blogspot.com/ :)

Adski said...

Hi Kristina, Welcome to the crazy world of food blogging!
If you want to hook up with other Melbourne Food Bloggers, you could check out the Blog Roll on the right hand side of my page or jump onto Twitter, there's a whole bunch of us on there too. You can follow me @redvespa
Good luck with the blogging!

chitchatchomp@yahoo.com.au said...

Definitly going to have to try this recipe out as I few jars of preserved lemons to get through myself - looks delicious! Leigh

Nina said...

Thanks Adski :)

Adski said...

Hey chitchat,
I was actually inspired to make my Preserved lemons by a Goat Tagine that I had at the Wye River General Store, which I've reviewed previously, it was amazing! I'm going to have to attempt to re-create that soon!

Agnes said...

I love moussaka and neither would have thought to put preserved lemons in it. It sounds great!

PS: Brown food is SO hard to photograph. I find it hard to photograph cooked meat too (probably due to the whole brown thing). It's so frustrating sometimes! :)

Rilsta @ My Food Trail said...

Thanks for joining the Cookbook Challenge! I have added you to the list of participants and also this post to the Week 1 wrap up.

Great recipe! I'm intrigued as to what it would taste like with the preserved lemon and lemon rind - unusual!

Kitchen Butterfly said...

Hello. Cookbook lover here! Love the grilled aubergines....yummy moussaka

Melissa said...

I've been following your blog for quite a while and enjoying your wealth of good recipes. When Foodista announced that they are going to publish the best food blogs in a full color book that will be published by Andrews McMeel Publishing Fall 2010, I naturally thought of you. This recipe would be a good submission! You can enter here: http://www.foodista.com/blogbook/submit


Editor and Community Developer
Foodista.com -- The Cooking Encyclopedia Everyone Can Edit

Emma said...

I made this last weekend - and the comments I got were fantastic - although I might tweak it a bit next time, maybe add some cut potato, as this is great in moussaka.....overall- tasty, tasty, tasty..!!