ΜΑΚΑΡΟΝΆΘΑ ΜΕ ΚΙΜΆ /SPAGHETTI WITH MEAT SAUCE — GREEK STYLE

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MEAT SAUCE:
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 large sweet yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large can tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine (NOT cooking wine)

SPICES FOR SAUCE:
Spice selection is important in making this spaghetti sauce. The spices give it its unique flavor. I always use dried herbs unless I have fresh herbs on hand. Be aware that fresh herbs impart a very different flavor. Experiment until you get the flavor profile you like. Finally, I apologize in advance for not being able to give you definite amounts for each herb. I will give approximate amounts. I add herbs until it tastes good. That’s just the way we Greeks cook.

1 teaspoon Cavender’s Greek Seasoning
1 teaspoon Mediterranean oregano leaves, crushed (crush by rubbing your hands together
1/2 teaspoon thyme, crushed
1/2 teaspoon basil, crushed
1/2 teaspoon rosemary, crushed
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Three bay leaves
2 tablespoons sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS FOR SAUCE:
Put olive oil in pan and allow to begin to heat. Add the onions, 1 teaspoon of the sugar, Cavendars, salt and pepper and sauté on medium to low heat until onions are transparent, about 5 minutes. Do not let the onions brown. Add the minced garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook until it browns.

Skim off excess fat by tilting the meat mixture to one side and letting the grease gather on the other side. Place a wad of clean paper towel in the grease and let it absorb it. Repeat until you have removed most of the grease.

Drain the canned tomatoes, saving the juice. Place drained tomatoes in the meat mixture and sauté them for about a minute. Add the wine to deglaze.

Add the tomato paste, the reserved tomato juice, and enough water to make a slightly thick sauce. It will thicken as it cooks down. Add the bay leaves, the rest of the spices, and the sugar. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Let sauce simmer on very low heat for about 30 minutes. While the sauce simmers, taste and adjust spices as needed.

PREPARING THE SPAGHETTI:
This part is very important in cooking Greek style spaghetti.

1 lb. package spaghetti
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
(Please do not substitute prepared, previously grated parmesan.)
Salt to taste

Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Do not skimp on salt here because the spaghetti gets its slightly salted flavor only while it is boiling. Greek style spaghetti is NEVER made with angel hair pasta. Use regular spaghetti or, if you must, thin spaghetti. (And no fancy-shaped pasta for this recipe, please.)

When water comes to a rolling boil, add the pasta, stirring as you add it. Stil often and let the pasta boil gently until it is al dente. Drain and rince in a collander, using your hands to make sure the pasta strands are not sticking together.

In the meantime, melt butter over high heat. Use the same pan (rinsed) you used for the pasta. Sprinkle a little salt in the melting butter and watch it carefully. You want to see it get very frothy and then scorch. Remove from heat and stir the pasta into the browned butter. As you continue stirring, add half of the grated parmesan and salt to taste.

SERVING:
Remove bay leaves from the sauce. Plate the pasta, ladling the sauce on generously. Sprinkle on parmesan before serving.

Yia’ sou!  Γειά σου!

 

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ΣΠΑΝΑΚΟΡΙΖΟ / SPINACH AND RICE

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1/4 cup olive oil

2 sweet vidalia onions, chopped

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon Cavenders Greek Seasoning

1 teaspoon oregano

2 pounds fresh spinach, rinsed and stemmed

1 can tomato paste

2 cups water

Salt and pepper to taste

3/4 to 1 cup uncooked Uncle Ben’s rice

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place onions in the skillet. Add sugar, Cavenders, oregano, salt and pepper to the onions and sauté until translucent. Add spinach, and cook stirring for a few minutes, then add the tomato paste and water. Bring to a boil, and adjust seasonings. Stir in rice, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until rice is tender. Add more water if necessary.

Serve with fresh lemon juice, a Greek salad, crusty bread and, if you’re lucky, keftethes.

Μουσακά / Mousaka

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3-4 eggplants, about 4 lbs. total
1 lb. potatoes
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef (or lamb)
2 large onions, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
Cavendars Greek Seasoning (to taste)
1 teaspoon oregano
3 bay leaves
Salt and pepper (to taste)
1 cup grated Kefalotyri or Parmesan cheese

Béchamel Sauce:
1 cup salted butter (2 sticks)
1 cup flour
4 cups milk, warmed
8 eggs, lightly beaten
Pinch of ground nutmeg (to taste)
Salt and pepper (to taste)

Using a sharp peeler, partially peel the eggplants, leaving strips of peel about 1 inch wide around the eggplant. Slice the eggplant in to 1/2 inch slices. Place the eggplant slices in a colander and salt them liberally. Cover them with an inverted plate that is weighted down by a heavy can or jar. Place the colander in the sink so that excess moisture can be drawn out. They will need to sit for at least 15-20 minutes.

Peel the potatoes and slice into 1/4 inch slices. Saute them in butter until they are partially tender and golden. They should not get too soft, just cooked enough so that they no longer crunch. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil and grease lightly.

Rinse the eggplant slices and dry with paper towels. Brush slices on both sides with olive oil and place on baking sheets. Bake at 400 degrees until slightly tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

When eggplant is finished cooking, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

 

Make the Meat Filling:

In a large sauté pan, saute the onion until translucent. Add the the ground beef (or lamb) and cook until the pink color disappears.

Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add wine to pan and allow it to simmer and reduce a bit before adding cinnamon, allspice, parsley, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, oregano, bay leaves, Cavendars and sugar. Allow the sauce to simmer uncovered for approximately 30 minutes so that excess liquid can evaporate. It should be a drier, chunkier, tomato sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Make the Béchamel Sauce:

Melt butter over low heat. Using a whisk, add flour to melted butter whisking continuously to make a smooth paste. Allow the flour to cook for a minute but do not allow it to brown.

Add warmed milk to mixture in a steady stream, whisking continuously.

Simmer over low heat until it thickens a bit but does not boil.

Remove from heat, whisk milk mixture into beaten eggs very slowly. Add pinch of nutmeg. Return to heat and stir until sauce thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble the Moussaka:

Lightly grease a large deep baking pan (lasagna pan). Leaving a 1/4 inch space around the edges of the pan, place a layer of potatoes on the bottom. Spread half of meat sauce on the potatoes and sprinkle with 1/4 of the grated cheese.

Top with a layer of eggplant slices.

Add remaining meat sauce on top of eggplant layer and sprinkle with 1/4 of the grated cheese. Top with another layer of eggplant slices and sprinkle once again with 1/4 of the grated cheese.

Pour the béchamel sauce over the eggplant and be sure to allow sauce to fill the sides and corners of the pan. Smooth the béchamel on top with a spatula and sprinkle with remaining grated cheese. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes or until béchamel sauce is a nice golden brown color. Allow to cool for 15 – 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

You can make this dish ahead up until the béchamel sauce and refrigerate. Make the béchamel sauce right before you intend to bake it.

Παστίτσιο / Pastitsio

Pasta:
1 pound dry ziti pasta or elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 dash ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 stick butter

Meat Sauce:
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon Cavendars Greek Seasoning
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 can tomato paste
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Bechamel Sauce:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

Melt 1/2 stick butter. Add salt to pan and cook until scorched. Add pasta, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, salt, pepper and toss well; allow to cool. Add eggs and toss again; set aside.

To make meat sauce: Gently fry onion and garlic in olive oil in a skillet until onion is soft. Increase heat and add ground beef, Oregano and Cavendars, stir well. Cook until meat begins to brown. Add tomato paste, wine, broth, parsley, sugar, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

To make bechamel sauce: Melt butter in saucepan, stir in flour and cook gently for 2 minutes. Pour in milk all at once and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil gently for 1 minute. Add nutmeg, salt, pepper and cool slightly before stirring in beaten eggs. Transfer 1/2 cup of this sauce to the meat sauce.
To assemble pastitsio: Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish. Spoon a very thin layer of meat sauce in the bottom. Add half of the prepared pasta and spread evenly over the meat. Top with remaining a meat sauce. Top that with remaining pasta. Pour on cream sauce and spread to completely cover pasta. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.

Bake in a preheated oven for 50 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting into squares to serve.