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Moussaka

A little bit about Vernon Wade

There are lots of cooks out there who actually know what they are doing. I pretty much taught myself to cook, out of necessity. I haven’t a clue most of the time, but I do love to eat. 

I have made everything posted here. If I can do it, you certainly can. Someday, if there is enough interest, I will gather all these recipes into a cookbook. In the meantime, in the spirit of dashes, dollops and three-fingered pinches, I present them here for you to try. Let me know what you think.

The Food Stamp Gourmet by Wm. Brown has been out of print for years, but you can still find it on-line at a reasonable price. I have had my copy since the seventies; it contains some of my favorite recipes. Every so often, I pull it out and choose one of them. Saturday, I chose to make the moussaka.

You might notice I put the cost of my ingredients in the recipe list. The Food Stamp Gourmet was first published in 1971. This recipe is supposed to make 8 servings and they estimated the cost per serving sixty-five cents, or five dollars and twenty cents total cost. Grocery prices have risen since then. Assuming a value of twenty-five cents for the seasonings and spices that I already had, my total cost was $23.30 or $2.91 per serving (I had some filling left over, which I made into four handpies the next day, so my actual cost preserving was a little lower).

 

Ingredients

  • 3 eggplants ($5.97)
  • 1 ½ lbs. ground lamb ($13.58)
  • 2 small yellow onions (.81c)
  • ¼ lb. mushrooms ($1.12)
  • 2 tb. tomato paste (.17c)
  • 1 ½ tsp. dried parsley -I had this already
  • 2” butter (.30c)
  • 2 tb. olive oil (.74c)
  • 1 clove garlic (.10c)
  • 2 12 tsp. salt -I had this already
  • ¼ tsp. pepper -I had this already
  • 1/2tsp. thyme -I had this already
  • 1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg -I had this already
  • 2 eggs -I had this already but 2 eggs would have been .26c at the store
  • ½ cup water -I had this already

 

Cut the green tops off the eggplants and slice them lengthwise in half or thirds. Heat 2 tb. oil over medium heat in a large skillet and place the eggplant, cut side down in the skillet. Add ½ cup water and1/2 tb salt. Cover the skillet and cook for 15 minutes.

When the eggplant is done, remove it from the pan and drain it. Use a spoon to scoop and scrape the eggplant pulp free, being careful not to damage the skins. Set the pulp and skins aside.

While you were precooking the eggplants, you should have been preparing for the next steps: peel and slice the onions, wash, dry, and finely slice the mushrooms lengthwise, peel and slice the garlic clove crosswise.

Dice the pre-cooked eggplant pulp into ½” cubes.

Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat and throw in the sliced onions and mushrooms.

Beat the eggs.

When the onions are transparent, add the garlic. One minute later add the cubed eggplant pulp and the ground lamb. Stir in the tomato paste, beaten eggs, parsley, salt, pepper, thyme, and nutmeg. Cook for five minutes, stirring.

Butter the sides and bottom of a tin loaf pan and line with the eggplant skins, purple side out. Let any excess skins flop over the edge of the pan. Pack the mixture from the skillet into the pan and fold those excess bits of skin back over the top. Cover with foil.

The recipe calls for an oval roaster filled with water. You float the pan filled with eggplant in the roaster and place it in a preheated 350f oven and bake for 1 ½ hours.

I did something a little different this time. I filled my Crock Pot with hot water, floated the pan in that, and left it covered on low for two and one-half hours. This worked perfectly!

At the end of the cooking time, remove the moussaka from the water bath and let it cool for ten minutes, then turn it over on a large platter. The loaf should slide easily from the pan. That platter needs to be large enough to contain the moussaka and the juices that will inevitably drain from the loaf.

Slice and serve. This pairs well with Retsina or Ouzo.

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