Moussaka-μουσακά 

Moussaka is an eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dish that consists of sauteed eggplant, tomato and ground beef, arranged in layers somewhat like lasagna.

Creamy, juicy and absolutely delicious.. Greek moussaka (mousaka) is one of the most popular dishes in Greece, served in almost every tavern and prepared in every household on special occasions and big family meals and for good reason! To prepare a traditional Greek Moussaka recipe, luscious layers of juicy minced beef (or lamb) are cooked in a tomato based sauce, layered with sweet eggplants and creamy béchamel sauce and baked together until golden perfection. This easy to follow Greek moussaka recipe never fails to impress and is always a crowd pleaser. 

The creamy béchamel sauce is the most essential part for a traditional Greek moussaka recipe and probably the trickiest part too. To achieve the perfect texture for your béchamel sauce, add the milk (preferably lukewarm) a little bit at a time whilst constantly stirring. The perfect béchamel sauce for your moussaka should be smooth and creamy. The key is to whisk the sauce constantly to allow each time the flour to absorb the milk, so that it doesn’t get lumpy. Cook the sauce over medium-low heat in order to prevent it from burning and sticking on the bottom of the pan, but be careful to cook it enough, until you can’t taste the flour and is thick enough.

The base for a traditional Greek moussaka is most commonly fried eggplants. Some moussaka recipes also use sliced potatoes, so if you like potatoes, try adding a layer of sliced potatoes as the first layer to this amazing dish for some extra comfort during the winter months. The traditional Greek moussaka recipe calls for fried eggplants (and potatoes), but for a lighter alternative, try drizzling the aubergines (and potatoes) with some olive oil and bake them for 20 minutes instead of frying them. Some eggplants may be bitter, so it is very important to remove the bitterness by seasoning with salt and letting them stand for half an hour in a collander.

Health benefits include:

Protein

Ground beef is rich in protein, so moussaka is a high-protein dish. A serving of this dish provides 25 g of protein, more than four times the amount in an egg. Protein builds and repairs your body’s tissues, so it’s important to consume protein daily.

Dietary Fiber

A serving of moussaka provides 5 g of dietary fiber, a nutrient essential for proper health. Dietary fiber may help you manage your cholesterol and blood sugar levels, keep your digestive system healthy and the nutrient also promotes regular bowel movements and feelings of fullness.

Base ingredients

6 eggplants

vegetable oil (for frying the eggplants)

For the meat sauce

750g minced beef or lamb (26 ounces)

2 red onions (chopped)

2 cloves of garlic (chopped)

1 tin chopped tomatoes (400g/ 14 oz.)

2 tbsp tomato puree

1 teaspoon sugar

1 glass of red wine

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 bay leaf

a pinch of cinnamon or one cinnamon stick

1/4 of a cup olive oil

For the béchamel sauce

900ml milk (3 and 1/2 cups)

120g butter (3.5 ounces)

120g flour (3.5 ounces)

a pinch of nutmeg

2 egg yolks

100g Parmigiano-Reggiano or Kefalotyri (3.5 ounces

Directions 

1. To prepare this Greek moussaka recipe, begin by preparing the eggplants. Remove the stalks from the eggplants and cut them into slices, 1 cm thick. Season with salt and place in a colander for about half an hour.

2. Rinse the eggplants with plenty of water and squeeze with your hands, to get rid of the excessive water. Pat them dry and fry in plenty of oil, until nicely colored. Place the fried eggplants on some paper, in order to absorb the oil. (For a lighter version of the traditional Greek moussaka try drizzling the aubergines with some olive oil and bake them for 20 minutes instead of frying them).

3. Prepare the meat sauce for the moussaka. Heat a large pan to medium -high heat and add the olive oil. Stir in the chopped onions and sauté, until softened and slightly colored. Stir in the garlic, tomato puree and the mince breaking it up with a wooden spoon and sauté. Pour in the red wine and wait to evaporate. Add the tinned tomatoes, the sugar, a pinch of cinnamon, 1 bay leaf and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down and simmer with the lid on for about 30 minutes, until most of the juices have evaporated.

4. Prepare the béchamel sauce for the moussaka. Use a large pan to melt some butter over low-medium heat. Add the flour whisking continuously to make a paste. Add warmed milk in a steady stream; keep whisking in order to prevent your sauce from getting lumpy. If the sauce still needs to thicken, boil over low heat while continuing to stir. Remove the pan from the stove and stir in the egg yolks, salt, pepper, a pinch of nutmeg and the grated cheese. Whisk quickly, in order to prevent the eggs from turning into an omelette!

5. Assemble the moussaka. For this moussaka recipe you will need a large baking dish, approx. 20*30 cm). Butter the bottom and sides of the pan and layer the eggplants. Pour in the meat sauce and even out. Add a second layer of eggplants, top with the béchamel sauce and smooth out with a spatula.

6. Sprinkle with grated cheese and bake the musaka in preheated oven at 180-200C for about 60 minutes, until crust turns light golden brown. Even though it will be really hard.. you should wait for the moussaka to cool down for a while before cutting into pieces.

7. Serve the Moussaka with a nice refreshing Greek feta salad and enjoy over a glass of wine! 🍷

http://www.livestrong.com/article/504996-the-nutrition-of-moussaka/

http://www.mygreekdish.com/recipe/mousakas/

Melomakarona- Greek Christmas Cookies μελομακάρονα 💙

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups of sunflower oil

1 cup of sugar

3/4 cup of fresh orange juice

1/4 cup of brandy

3 cups of all-purpose flour

1 cup of fine-ground semolina

1 teaspoon baking soda

grated peel of 1 orange

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of grated cloves (or ground cloves)

Preparation:

To make the cookies

Preheat the oven to 320F (160C) with a convection oven, or 350F (180C) with a conventional oven.

Dissolve the baking soda in the orange juice.

Put all the dry ingredients (flour, semolina, sugar, spices) in a bowl and mix until blended with a whisk. In the middle, create a well and add the liquid ingredients (oil, brandy or flavoring, orange juice). Knead the dough until it sticks to your hands.

To shape the cookies (see photos), take a fistful of dough and make it into a log. Press the dough gently with your fingers on one side to flatten slightly. The shape of the cookies can be rounded, oval, or a small log shape.

See photos below

Place the cookies well spaced in a greased cookie sheet (or on parchment cooking paper, or on a non-stick cookie sheet), place on the middle rack in the oven and bake until browned (about 15-20 minutes}. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on baking racks.

For the Syrup and Topping:

2 cups of water

2 cups of sugar

2 cups of honey 

1 stick of cinnamon

3-4 whole cloves

2 cups of finely chopped walnuts

The cooled cookies will be dipped in the hot syrup, so don’t start the syrup until the cookies have cooled.

Put the water, honey, sugar, cinnamon stick, and cloves in a wide pot (like a deep frying pan) and bring to a boil over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Turn the heat down to low. (As soon as it starts to boil, a foam rises to the top – scoop this off and throw it out.) Remove the cinnamon stick and cloves.

Put in cookies (as many as will fit on the bottom) into the hot syrup and use a spatula to hold them down for about 45 seconds to a minute, depending on how syrupy you want them to be. Once the cookies have been soaked, remove them with a slotted spoon, letting some of the syrup drip, place on a large serving plate in layers, sprinkling each layer liberally with the finely chopped walnuts before adding another layer on top.

Melomakarona are not refrigerated. Cover them well with plastic wrap or store in tins so they don’t dry out, and they’ll last for several days – if they aren’t eaten by then.

Greek Santorini Salad- Σαλάτας τις Σαντορινι 💙

Ingredients

2 punnets (400 g) cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1 Lebanese cucumber, thinly sliced

10 anchovy fillets, drained

50 g (½ cup) capers, drained

6 caper leaves (see Note), rinsed, drained

⅓ cup shaved kefalotiri (see Note) or kefalograviera (see Note)

½ tsp dried Greek oregano (see Note), lightly crushed

60 ml (¼ cup) extra virgin olive oil

Cook’s notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Directions:

Place tomatoes and cucumber on a platter. Top with anchovy fillets, capers, caper leaves and shaved kefalotiri. Scatter with oregano and drizzle with olive oil, to serve.

Notes

• Caper leaves come packed in salt or brine and are available from Mediterranean delis. If unavailable, substitute extra capers.

• Kefalotiri and kefalograviera are available from delis and select supermarkets.

• Dried Greek oregano (rigani) is available from delis and select supermarkets.

💙Anti-aging 💚

A repost on Mediterranean diet and anti-aging. 

Among the many benefits of the Mediterranean diet, researchers have found it is linked to slower aging.

Women who ate Mediterranean foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, unrefined grains, fish, and olive oil had longer telomeres in their blood cells. (Refining removes much of the fiber linked to longevity, as well as Vitamin E and B.)

*Telomeres are sequences of DNA that form protective caps at the end of chromosomes.

*Telomeres get shorter every time a cell divides and factors like stress and inflammation in the body may also shorten telomeres.

Mediterranean Diet is rich in anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which help prevent inflammation in the body.

The women studied were ranked on a scale of 1 to 10, based on their adherence to the Mediterranean diet, 10 being the highest. With each level higher, telomere length corresponded with about 1.5 years less aging for the woman. Conclusion: more adherence to the Mediterranean leads to longevity and anti-aging.

For the full article, please click the link below.

http://www.healthfitnessrevolution.com/anti-aging-effects-mediterranean-diet