Saturday, September 27, 2008

Learning Curves

A recipe for an alternative Moussaka in that it is topped with a cheese sauce, and handy in that it can be assembled the day before it is required.
Moussaka with a Cheese topping: serves 6
1 lb (450g) aubergines
3 tblsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 lb (1kg) minced lamb
1 tsp dried marjoram or oregano
1 x 227g can plum tomatoes
5 fl oz (150ml) red wine
salt and pepper
1 pint (600ml) tomato passata
Slice the aubergines and spread out in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and leave for 1 hour. Meanwhile half half the oil in a pan and saute the onions for five minutes, then stir in the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes before adding the lamb. Stir well and cook until the meat has browned. Add the herbs, tomatoes with their juice, the wine and seasoning to taste and simmer for 15 minutes.
Rinse the aubergines under cold water and pat dry with kitchen paper or clean tea-towel. Heat remaining oil in a frying pan and fry the aubergines, a few at a time, until lightly browned on both sides. Drain on kitchen paper.
Assemble the dish by layering the aubergines first, then the lamb and the passata, alternating and finishing with the aubergines. Cover with the topping (see below) and cook in a moderate oven 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 45 minutes.
half pint (300ml) white sauce
2 oz (50g) Parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg
pinch ground nutmeg
Beat topping ingredients together and pour over the Moussaka, following recipe above.

As meatballs can be made in advance and frozen either raw or cooked, these also make good snack or party food. Although the recipe suggests they are cooked in the oven, they can also be cooked on the hob, using shallow oil, turning often. They can be served with a hot pasta type sauce (cream or tomato based) or speared on sticks to dunk into a cold creamy dip.
Lamb Meatballs: makes about 30
1 lb (450g) minced lamb
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp chopped fresh mint
1 shallot, or a couple of spring onions, chopped
salt and pepper
1 oz (25g) fresh white breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
Although the recipe does not suggest this, meatballs (also sausages and burgers) always seem to 'eat' better when made with meat has been run through the mincer twice. So either use the mince as normally bought and mix with the remaining ingredients (using just enough egg to bind) , or pop them all (but the egg) into a food processor and blitz them together, adding enough egg to bind as necessary.
Using floured hands, roll the mixture into 1" (2.5cm) balls. Place on a greased roasting tin and cook for 15 -20 minutes at 200C, 400F, gas 4, until well browned and cooked through.
These can be chilled overnight and re-heated thoroughly in a sauce of your choice, maybe served with pasta or what you will. Or served hot/warm with a cold dip.

Instead of kippers, cooked smoked haddock or smoked mackerel could be used instead. For speed use ready-made pastry, for flavour make the cheese pastry as in the recipe - and even this could be made in advance and frozen to be thawed and rolled later.
Kipper Quiche: (F) serves 6 - 8
9 oz (250g) plain flour
pinch salt
bare 5 oz (125g) butter
2 oz (50g) lard
3 oz (75g) grated Cheddar
1 egg, lightly beaten
Put the flour and salt into a bowl and rub in the butter and lard until like breadcrumbs. Using a knife, stir in the cheese and egg, adding a very little water if necessary until the mixture just holds together. Gather into a ball, wrap in foil or clingfilm and chill for half an hour before rolling out and lining a greased 9" (23cm) flan tin. Prick the base lightly with a fork (the recipe doesn't suggest this, but myself would bake the case blind for 10 minutes, remove paper and beans and give a further 5 minutes, then cool before adding the filling).
3 whole eggs plus 1 egg yolk
5 fl oz (150ml) single cream or milk
salt and pepper
2 onions, cut in half then finely sliced
1 oz (25g) butter
2 - 3 kipper fillets
hot water
Whisk the eggs with the cream and season to taste. Fry the onions in the butter over low heat until soft and transparent. Put the kipper fillets into a jug and pour over hot water. Stand for one minute, then remove, pat dry and scrape the flesh from the skin, making sure all bones are removed. Flake the flesh and add it to the egg mixture. Stir in the fried onion and pour into the pastry case and bake at 190C, 375F, gas 5 for 35 minutes or until the centre is just firm to the touch (it will carry on cooking for a minute or two after being removed from the oven). Eat hot, cold or freeze, and bag up when solid. Thaw at room temperatue and eat cold or re-heated.