I have already mentioned how much we love Greek food in our house, so it may not come as a surprise to you that Tessa Kiros’ latest book – Food From Many Greek Kitchens, is a new favourite.
The recipes are very traditional and authentic – straight from a Yia Yia’s kitchen, into my own. I live in a greek neighbourhood and the divine cooking smells that waft from houses, particularly when a lamb spit is roasting in the backyard, are just sensational. When I cook from this book I can’t help but feel that I’m contributing to the tasty neighbourhood cooking aromas.
Recipe adapted from Tessa Kiros’ – Food From Many Greek Kitchens
4 eggplant (similar size)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
400g minced beef
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup red wine
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
4 tbs flat leaf parsley, chopped
40g plain flour
300ml milk, heated
a big pinch of nutmeg
3 tbs of grated haloumi cheese
Cut the eggplants in half length ways, sprinkle the cut sides with salt and leave them upside-down in a colander for half an hour or so to drain away any bitter juices.
Drizzle some olive oil into a large non-stick frying pan and when hot, add half the eggplant halves. Fry until deep golden and soft on both sides. Remove to a platter and fry the remaining eggplant halves. When cooled scoop out the flesh (very gently) using a sharp edged spoon, leaving a 6-8mm border. Chop the flesh and put aside.
Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the fry pan and saute the onion until golden. Add the mince and fry until browned. Add the garlic, cook for a moment more, then add the wine and let it simmer for a minute or two. Add 1 tin of tomatoes and the parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring a couple of times, for about 20 minutes or until thickened. Add the chopped eggplant and simmer for another 10 – 12 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Preheat the oven to 180C. To make the bechamel, melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan over low heat and stir in the flour. Whisk the milk in gradually to ensure no lumps. Add the nutmeg and season with salt and a little pepper. Whisk until thick.
Empty the remaining tin of tomatoes over the bottom of a lasagna or roasting dish and add a little salt. Line up the eggplant shells on top, cut side up, and sprinkle with a little sea salt.
Divide the mince mixture among them. Dollop 3 tablespoons of bechamel on each, scatter with the haloumi and pour 1/2 cup water around them. Bake until roasty and golden on top, about 30 minutes.