27 October 2009

Recipe: Eggplant Wrapped Moussaka

this recipe at Sasha's request!

First, I'd like some credit for cooking something without bacon.  Thanks in advance.
Second, this recipe comes from The New Basics Cookbook, which is quite possibly my favorite out of the many I own.  Jamie Oliver's oeuvre comes in a somewhat-close second, and I use Betty Crocker and Silver Spoon for reference, but this is the cookbook I actually cook from.  This is the cookbook that taught me (and is teaching me) to make soups.  I got it at a Books Not Bombs Used Book Sale I helped organize at SHU and it's followed me around a few rented places and now back home -- it was a 1992 wedding present to a prof and her husband.  This cookbook is from 1989, which could be considered dated (like the recipes Judith Jones includes in The Tenth Muse -- dated recipes and she didn't like Julie Powell!) but actually, I think it was ahead of its time, because the recipes really encourage home- or local-grown produce, and seasonal cooking, among other things that are in vogue right now.
Which brings me to Third, some of the ingredients I used for this recipe came from our garden! Others were grown elsewhere in Pennsylvania! Yay!
Fourth, I am retyping the recipe from the cookbook.  I mostly followed it, but left a few things out (beef stock, fresh mint leaves and currants and mint in the yogurt sauce) and it still was amazing.

So without further adue:

2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup milk
1 large eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch-thick slices
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/3 cup sliced almonds with skins
1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
1 cup homemade beef stock or canned broth
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/3 cup dried currants
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
1 acorn squash, halved, seeded and cooked until soft
1/2 cup cooked white rice
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Minted Yogurt Sauce (recipe follows)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Lightly grease two baking sheets and a 10-inch round, 2-inch-deep casserole (preferably glass).
  2. Combine the cumin, ginger, paprika, cinnamon, and cayenne in a small bowl.  Blend thoroughly.
  3. Combine the flour, 1 1/3 tablespoons of the spice mixture, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl.  Mix well.  Pour the milk into another shallow bowl.
  4. Dip each eggplant slice first in the milk, letting any excess drip off, and then in the flour mixture, pressing lightly so it is evenly coated.  Shake off any excess flour, and arrange the slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets.  Bake until soft, 30 minutes.  Remove the eggplant but leave the oven on.
  5. In the meantime, heat the oil in a large skillet.  Stir in the onion and almonds, and cook over medium heat until the onion is soft and the almonds are toasted, 8 to 10 minutes.  Add the lamb, raise the heat slightly, and cook, stirring and breaking up the meat, until browned, about 10 minutes.  Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from the skillet.
  6. Stir the remaining spice mixture into the meat, and cook 1 minute.  Then stir in the tomatoes, stock, apricots, currants, and mint.  Scoop the squash into the mixture in chunks.  Stir in the rice, lemon juice, and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt.  Remove the skillet from the heat.
  7. Arrange a layer of cooked eggplant on the bottom and up the sides of the prepared casserole.  Fill with the lamb mixture, and top with the remaining eggplant.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake 1 hour.
  8. Remove the casserole from the oven and allow it to stand, still covered, for 15 minutes.  Then uncover and invert the moussaka onto a serving platter.  Cut it into wedges, and serve with the Minted Yogurt Sauce.
Minted Yogurt Sauce
1 1/4 cups plain yogurt
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 tablespoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Mix it all together and refrigerate covered until ready to serve.

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