Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Food Coma- Vegetarian Moussaka


I've been pretty good these last few months. My reward being that I can now slide out of most of my jeans. Including the ones I'm wearing, but that was before Erin and D came over for dinner. Just because you cook doesn't mean you can't overeat. But they made for the most delightful guinea pigs and I'm pretty sure it's not the last time we'll do it:)

Holy moly. I'm full. I'm full of wine. I'm full of moussaka. I'm even full of lemon sorbet. Blurgh. It was fun though:) Finally the dinner party of Wicker Park bloggers (we live within a block of each other) two weeks before E's big move. And after all the trials at planning something, go figure that last minute is what worked the best.

As I've said before, I crave food that reminds me of whoever I'm thinking about. I'd also been dying to try to make my own moussaka after having such a spectacular experience at Venus. Success:) Messy kitchen but success all the same. Thank God they were willing to take home leftovers. And I've frozen a little something extra for the object of my affections...

Goodnight. I'm too full to type.

Makes 8 servings.

ingredients
3 1/2 pounds eggplant, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds

1/2 cup (about) olive oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 cup finely chopped peeled carrots
1 cup finely chopped celery
4 garlic cloves, minced
12 ounces portobello mushrooms, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with added puree
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter 7 tablespoons all purpose flour 3 1/2 cups whole milk 4 large egg yolks

preparation
Cover 2 baking sheets with paper towels. Sprinkle both sides of eggplant rounds with salt. Arrange eggplant in single layer atop towels. Let stand 30 minutes.Position first rack in bottom third of oven and second rack in top third of oven and preheat to 425°F.
TKTC Note: Do NOT skip this step. Sounds arbitrary but it's so easy and the eggplant holds so much water that it MUST dehydrate to bake properly.

Remove eggplant and paper towels from baking sheets. Pat eggplant dry. Oil same baking sheets. Brush both sides of eggplant rounds with 1/4 cup oil. Arrange in single layer on baking sheets. Bake 10 minutes. Turn eggplant and rotate pans in oven. Continue baking until tender, about 15 minutes longer. Cool. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

Meanwhile, heat 1/4 cup oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots and celery. Sauté until onion is very tender, about 12 minutes. Mix in garlic, then mushrooms. Sauté until juices evaporate, about 10 minutes. Mix in oregano and cinnamon. Add tomatoes and parsley. Cook until mixture is thick, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Lightly oil 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Arrange half of eggplant rounds in single layer in dish. Spoon half of tomato mixture evenly over eggplant. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cheese. Repeat layering with remaining eggplant, tomato mixture and 2 tablespoons cheese.Melt butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour. Stir 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk. Simmer until sauce thickens, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Whisk in 1/2 cup cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk yolks in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in hot sauce. Pour sauce over vegetables in dish. Sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese over sauce. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.)Bake moussaka until heated through and sauce is golden brown on top, about 45 minutes (or about 55 minutes for refrigerated moussaka). Cool 15 minutes.
Lightly oil 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Arrange half of eggplant rounds in single layer in dish. Spoon half of tomato mixture evenly over eggplant. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cheese. Repeat layering with remaining eggplant, tomato mixture and 2 tablespoons cheese.

Melt butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour. Stir 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk. Simmer until sauce thickens, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Whisk in 1/2 cup cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk yolks in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk into hot sauce.

Pour sauce over vegetables in dish. Sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese over sauce. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.)
TKTC Note: I did NOT need all of the bechamel sauce. Erin can confirm that I used maybe half of it. It's the heaviest part of the recipe so if you can cover the vegetables in the baking dish, toss the rest.

Bake moussaka until heated through and sauce is golden brown on top, about 45 minutes (or about 55 minutes for refrigerated moussaka). Cool 15 minutes.

5 comments:

Alexa said...

i am SO impressed. i have never tackled trying to make "moose caca" (get it? from my big fat greek wedding)

anyways, sounds like you had fun!!

L Sass said...

You greektrash! I used to love moussaka, vegetarian and otherwise, but totally OD'd on it at a favorite greek restaurant in Paris.

That was -ahem- 2002, though so maybe I should be giving it another shot?

pbandrazz said...

I am totally eating the leftovers as I type this. YUM.

So glad we finally did this.

And also, can you give me the secret for how you are sliding out of your clothes? Thx.

d said...

so delish. so, so delish. thanks for the food, and call me a guinea pig for life.

ToKissTheCook said...

Alexa: It wasn't that bad- bechamel was the hardest part and I just need to pay attention!

Sass: Umm, I think we can fix this.

PBR: Me too! TO the leftovers and the Finally! Also- I'm loose in the jeans because I don't cover anything in bechamel sauce very often.

D: Alright...now you know the drill!