Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Greek Night - Moussaka and A Movie

Breading the Eggplant

Preparing the Sauce

This past Sunday a very pleasant afternoon was spent in cooking a very tasty Greek meal. The menu was comprised of Moussaka, (an eggplant based casserole), Saganaki, (a breaded and fried cheese dish), and a  crisp Greek salad , It was followed by a delightful variation (more on this later)  of a traditional Baklava recipe.  

I took advantage of my two chefs in training (see photos ) to help in the prep of the Moussaka, an extremely labor intensive dish involving chopping and sauteing vegetables and meats as well as breading and frying eggplant slices.  All these ingredients are layered into a casserole dish and then topped with a cheesy Bechemel sauce.

The finished products, if I do say so myself, were quite tasty, and my young helpers seemed to enjoy learning the fine points of chopping, sauteing and frying.  Next time, I'd add even less olive oil than than already reduced amount I  used in the moussaka.  The recipe called for  3 "teacups" of olive oil in all, and with only 1 1/2 added, it was still a little heavy for me.    

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The Cooks and their Masterpiece
Dessert was delicious, a lighter and very tasty hand holdable variation of Baklava.  To his dismay, on the morning of the dinner, Rich found out that traditional Baklava preparation involves soaking the dish in honey for 1-5 days.  Pressed for time, he devised an ingenious little treat of phyllo dough sachets filled with delicious almond apricot filling.  He promised  to rise to the challenge this weekend and provide us a version of the real thing this weekend.  Yum!

We finished the evening relaxing in front of the fire watching "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." and I am sure no one will ever look at Windex in the same way again.

Our next culinary adventure is Indian - one of my favorites - stay tuned!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Bye Bye Beige

Today, my creative adventure was to "de-beige" the guest room. When we moved into this house 7 years ago, every room in the house, excepting the kitchen and the library was painted a nice, neutral beige. Acutally, there may have been more than one shade of beige, but to me, a lover of color, its just one step up from different shades of gray. This is not to say that gray or beige are bad colors, and when used appropriately, they can be very effective. and charming.

In this case, painting the entire house beige was a terrific selling feature - it was a blank canvas - it gave the effect of walking into a brand new house - nothing to clash with our colorful uphostered furniture. Plenty of time to live with the house and it's lighting and learn what colors might enhance each room.

But, after 7 years of beigedom, it is time to embrace COLOR!!!!! My plan for the winter is to select a new color or texture for each of the remaining beige rooms (3 bathrooms, living room and guest room). I really like the shade of creamy beige in our bedroom and it is well suited to the decor - soft moss green, pink , raspberry and white fabrics and decor along with worn woods and burnished gold metal furniture and mirrors. So, that beige escapes the paint brush, for now! (To tell the absolute truth, I have long toyed with painting the bedroom a subtle and delicate shell pink, but I think that would just my husband right over the edge. ) It's the least I can do to allow him some space.

Today's project involved painting the guest room a shade of light blue with a violet/gray cast. As usual, I couldn't find exactly the right color at the paint store, so I mixed a bunch of tester jars I had, added some white, painted it on a piece of foam core board, and brought it to my paint store to color match it. I had already purchased some beautiful blue and yellow french and English fabrics for draperies several years ago, and a lovely blue needlepoint chair and a couple of area rugs. I've also been collecting some French fashion prints and English blue and white china to hang on the walls. At a local thrift store I picked up a lovely reversible blue and white duvet cover for the bed. I also plan to somehow integrate a large lacy tablecoth somehow - perhaps as a headboard canopy of sorts.

Check back tomorrow for photos of this ongong project.

Also tomorrow -

Teatime with friends.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Mexican Rice

"Food is the most primitive form of comfort".
- Sheila Graham

Here is one of our favorite winter dishes. I usually have all these ingredients on hand, so it's one of those things I can make I have planned ahead much but I still have a little time to cook. It also makes enough to feed my family of four for 2 nights ... terrific for one of those days when I really don't have time to cook. It also freezes well, so you can freeze leftovers if you like for another day.


1 to 1 1/2 lbs. browned, drained ground beef
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 yellow or sweet onion, chopped
3 cups cooked white or brown rice.
2 tsp.cumin
1/4 tsp.cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black or white pepper
2 1/2 tsp.chili powder
1/2 lb. frozen corn (1/2 bag)
1 cup beef broth or bouillon

If you haven't browned your ground beef or cooked the rice earlier in the day, or like me, happened to have these items as leftovers from the day before, you can get them going and then start as follows:

Heat 2 T of olive or other oil in a large skillet. Saute the onions on medium high heat until they are golden and slightly wilted. Turn heat to high and add the two cans of tomatoes, salt, and spices. Saute until the onions are soft and most of the liquid is gone.

Add the ground beef, broth, and corn, stirring and heating through until the corn is cooked, and most of the liquid is evaporated. Now, you can add the rice, stirring well until it absorbs the remaining liquid.

Cooking the liquids away serves a couple of purposes - first, it thickens the sauce, and second, it concentrates and enhances the tomato and beef flavors. since not all in my family are lovers of hot and spicy food, I didn't add any cayenne pepper to this, but about 1/4 tsp. would give this a nice bit of heat to warm you up on a cold winter evening.
Happy Eating and a Happy New Year!!!