The E.V T.V Show

…the food I make, the plants I grow, and the items I create.


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Lamb Moussaka

Lamb Moussaka with quinoa tabbouleh

I have been feeling restless lately, a little stuck. In pursuit of personal development, I have been pushing myself outside of my comfort zone.

I learned a new knitting stitch, increased my running speed, and cooked a dish I love but have always been intimidated to prepare.

Lamb Moussaka with a traditional mornay sauce

Learning a new recipe often also means learning a few new culinary or food science tricks and tips. For this recipe I learned:

  1. If you add egg to a Mornay sauce* it allows the sauce to set, making it more like a custard. The trick here is patience. Once cooked, the custard must cool and set before you dig in. Trust me, it is worth the wait. Adding lemon zest brightens the cream or cheese sauce, the acidity balancing the richness.
    *Mornay sauce is a variation on Bechamel, with shredded or grated cheese.
  2. I also re-learned something I thought I knew. Oh knowledge is a funny thing. I thought the purpose behind salting eggplant was to simply extract the bitter water. I don’t mind this taste, so I never bother with this step. The science behind this never actually occurred to me. The extraction of water allows the eggplant to relax, preventing it from soaking up as much oil during cooking.

Pair lamb moussaka with a glass of Unionville Vineyards Syrah

Being a newbie, I let science overshadow my culinary gut instinct and underestimated the amount of oilstill needed to cook thin slices of un-breaded eggplant and prevent it from sticking to the pan.  Sticking can be prevented by being watchful and flipping it, something I neglected to do as I tried to multi-task.

This recipe may look a bit intense and have a fair amount of ingredients. I promise you it is worth the work and the wait. Break it down into it’s three components and it becomes manageable. This is a lesson I take out of the kitchen. By breaking down new tasks into smaller pieces, I am able to  focus one step at a time.

This rich dish can really go a long way. I serve it over white rice and either invite family over or prepare this in two smaller casserole dishes and freeze one. The Pheasant Hill Vineyard Syrah pairs well with lamb dishes such as this. Enjoy a glass with friends and family as you dig in.

Quinoa Tabbouleh

In what ways do you enjoy pushing yourself? Are there certain hobbies that you enjoy learning more about? Share below.

 

LAMB MOUSSAKA

TOTAL TIME: ~2 HOURS       YIELD: 6 – 8

ingredients

Moussaka

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 medium or 2 large eggplant, sliced
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1.5 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • ½ tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano/marjoram
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1.5 lbs minced lamb (I found some great lamb at a neighboring farm in Hopewell, Beechtree Farm.)
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 16oz can of tomato puree
  • ½ cup Unionville Vineyards Syrah
  • Small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

For the Mornay:

  • 16 oz milk
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup plain flour
  • ½ cup pecorino cheese, grated
  • ¼ cup feta cheese
  • the zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 eggs and 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • ½ tsp grated nutmeg

directions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Cut the eggplant into quarter inch slices. Layer flat on a cookie sheet, salt each layer. Wait 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, if you are using lamb stew meat, cut the pieces bite sized. Then salt and pepper lamb and coat with ¼ of flour. Set aside.
  3. Rinse the eggplant and place in a colander to dry.
  4. Put eggplant slices on a well oiled baking sheet. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Watch and flip slices as needed. Bake for about 20 minutes or until soft, golden and floppy.
  5. Meanwhile, put 2 tbsp olive oil into a large frying pan over a medium high heat. Cook the onion and garlic until browned and wilted. Cook the lamb. Add the cinnamon and cook for 2 minutes. Return the meat to the pan. Stir in the tomato and wine, bring to a simmer, then turn the heat down low and cook for 30–40 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Season and stir in the parsley, oregano and thyme.
  6. Meanwhile, make the Mornay sauce. Melt the butter in another saucepan. Whisk the flour into the butter and cook for a couple of minutes, then gradually whisk in the hot milk. Cook until you have a thick sauce, then stir in the cheese until melted. The feta cheese may take a little longer to melt. Turn the heat down low, and whisk vigorously every few minutes. This will prevent the sauce from burning and speed up the melting.
  7. Take the sauce off the heat and allow to cool slightly, then beat in the eggs, salt, pepper, lemon zest and and nutmeg to taste.
  8. Arrange a third of the eggplant in the base of an oven dish, and top with half the meat. Repeat these layers, then finish off with a layer of eggplant, and top with the sauce. Bake for about 45 minutes until well browned, and then leave to cool for 30 minutes before serving.
  9. Serve with quinoa tabbouleh and a glass of Unionville Vineyards Syrah.

Enjoy!


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Chocolate Lava Cake: My Go-To Dessert Recipe

plated cake

Chocolate Lava Cake

This past weekend, we had a few big celebrations in our house. As I felt the tingling urge to indulge in good cheer – I realized I had only a a few moments to whip something up.

I am not always the best at planning ahead.

So I defaulted, as usual, to my go-to dessert recipe – Chocolate Lava Cake.

This recipe calls for ingredients I generally keep on hand and is delicious.

Doll them up with fresh fruit, fruit compote, or home-made whipped cream. For an extra special treat, pair this dessert with a delicious local Port.

ingredients

Yield: 2-3 cakes      Time: ~35 min
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter, plus more for muffin tin
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for muffin tin and serving
  • cocoa powder for dusting
  • 1 ounce semisweet baking chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 1 ounce bittersweet baking chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • nonstick spray

directions

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  • Spray your muffin tin with a nonstick spray, such as PAM.
  • Dust the muffin tin with confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder.
  • Place the butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high in 20-second increments. Use a whisk or fork to stir after each increment.
  • While the butter and chocolate is melting, whisk together the egg, egg yolk, sugar, espresso powder, and salt. Once the chocolate mixture is melted whisk it into the egg mixture to combine. Add flour, and whisk just until combined – take care to not overmix.
  • Pour batter into prepared muffin tins. Make sure you fill the empty muffin tins with water so that your lava cakes cook evenly.
  • Bake until the top has just set and a toothpick inserted in center comes out wet, 5-6 minutes. It is better to under-bake than over-bake!
  • Cool cakes for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Use a knife to loosen the cakes and serve inverted immediately top with Raspberry Mint Compote.


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Caramelized Brussels Sprout Salad

Roasted anything is delicious. Roasted brussels sprouts is hands down the most delicious of all! Their little leaves become crispy like potato chips.

Drizzled in maple syrup and sprinkled with chili powder, this smokey sweet treat is perfect. By turning a traditionally hot dish into a salad, you are able to make this ahead for parties or holidays. The red onion and feta cheese add depth bringing both the kids and the adults to the table.

CARAMELIZED BRUSSELS SPROUT SALAD

total time ~ 45 minutes  yield 4 servings

ingredients

  • 3 lbs of brussels sprouts halved – the key here is uniform size
  • 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tsp of chili powder
  • 1/4 cup of feta cheese
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of cracked black pepper
  • 1 red onion – minced
  • balsamic glaze

directions

  • Preheat oven to 400F. While the oven is preheating prepare the brussels sprouts. Using a sharp knife, cut off the woody end. Remove any damaged outer leaves and cut in half
  • Place the brussels sprouts in a mixing bowl and add the olive oil, chili powder, salt and fresh cracked pepper.
  • Place the brussels sprouts on a sheet pan and put in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Shake the pan every 10 minutes to ensure even cooking. When the brussels sprouts are finished they will be slightly browned and crispy.
  • When the brussels sprouts are finished remove from the oven. Toss in a mixing bowl with the minced onion and 1/2 tbsp of maple syrup. Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Transfer the brussels sprouts to a serving bowl and top with feta cheese and a generous drizzle of balsamic glaze. Serve along side your Thanksgiving dinner or as a side to any meal for an extra special pop!


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Roasted Sweet Potato Risotto with Browned Butter

Warm fall dishes fill the house with the aroma of the onions, garlic, and herb merry wonderfully with the roasted sweet potato drizzled in maple syrup. Savory yet sweet.

ROASTED SWEET POTATO RISOTTO WITH BROWNED BUTTER

total time ~1.5 hours yield 4 servings

ingredients

  • 3 cups of arborio rice
  • 3 small sweet potatoes – cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme – minced
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh marjoram – minced
  • 1 tsp of cracked pepper
  • 1/4 cup of Pinot Noir Reserve 
  • 1 tsp nutmeg (hole nutmeg grated is preferred over powder)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp salt divided
  • 2 tbsp salted butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 small yellow onions – finely diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic – minced
  • 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of browned butter
  • 3 quarts of stock of your choice – I used chicken
  • maple syrup for drizzling

directions

  • Preheat your oven to 400F. While your oven is preheating, dice your sweet potatoes into quarter inch cubes.
  • Place the sweet potato in a mixing bowl and toss with the nutmeg, paprika, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tsp of salt, and some fresh ground pepper. I would say a few good turns of the grinder.
  • Spread the sweet potato on a roasting pan and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Shake the pan every 10 minutes to ensure even cooking. At the 20 minute mark, drizzle maple syrup over the sweet potatoes before shaking. To know whether or not it is done feel for texture – soft yet slightly browned and crispy.
  • While the sweet potato is cooking, begin the risotto. Set a skillet over medium heat. Pour the stock in a sauce pan over medium – high heat. Add two tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet. Once the oil is hot, add the diced onion and minced garlic to the pan and sprinkle with 1 tsp of salt. Turn down the stock pot so it is just under a simmer.Cook the onion and garlic until browned – about 5 minutes.
  • Once the onion and garlic have browned, deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup of Pinot Noir Reserve. Add the herbs. Cook until the sauce is reduced in half. In the pan, melt the two tablespoons of butter.
  • Once the butter is melted, add the arborio rice. Toast the rice in the butter until it is translucent – about 5 minutes. Stir constantly.
  • Now start adding the stock a 1/3 of a cup at a time. Stir the rice until the stock is just barely absorbed before adding more. Note the time. After 20 minutes check rice. When done, it should still have some texture but no crunch. If you run out of stock, heat up a sauce pan of water.
  • Once the rice is cooked to your liking, stir in the finished sweet potatoes and browned butter.
  • Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve in a large bowl. Garnish with Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!