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a traditional greek moussaka

My love for Greece is a well known fact. I have been visiting every year since I was 7. My fondest memories are of those in tiny taverna’s with no electricity, just the glow of a few candles to light the table. The chef is your server, you go in, they tell you what they have cooking and that’s it. You get what what’s bubbling away on the stove. One of my favourite greek dishes is Moussaka. Simple yet utterly delicious, the longing for summer has had me craving some Mediterranean delights. The key to this dish is fresh food. Pick out the very best of all the ingredients and while in the kitchen, do a little dance ala Stavros Flatley.

For a Moussaka to easily feed 4 hungry Greeks, you will need:

a large lasagne dish 
2 aubergines, sliced
60ml olive oil
3 large onions
450g minced lamb
4 tomatoes, skinned and sliced
150ml beef stock
45ml tomato puree 
2 eggs
45ml milk
45ml cream
salt and pepper
 

Heat the oven to 180c.

Moussaka’s are all about layering. First you start with your aubergines. Slice them so they’re not too thin and not too thick. Heat half the oil, and in batches gently fry them for a few minutes. When they start to brown, remove them from the pan and start your first layer.

You can be as creative as you like but just make sure the base is completely covered.

The next layer is the meat. Slice your onions and fry in the remaining oil. Then add the lamb and brown off the meat for around 5 minutes on a medium heat. I hope you’re still doing that dance?

Once nicely browned, add the onion and lamb mix over the aubergines to complete layer number two. At this point, take a spatula and gentle compact the layers. You don’t want to press too hard, just give it all a good squeeze.

Finally add your peeled tomatoes. I’ll let you in on a little tip here, instead of spending a painstaking amount of time peeling the tomatoes, with a sharp knife mark an “x” on the top of the tomato and plunge in boiling water for a few seconds. To cool them down, just plunge in a glass of cold water and, ta-da peel the skin away. I did not do this. And it was a nightmare.

Next up, mix the stock with the puree and stir until combined. Pour evenly over the mince, aubergines and tomatoes.

It’s starting to look delicious huh? Pop the dish in the oven for 30 minutes until its bubbling away and smelling delicious.

While you’re waiting, prepare the white sauce. Combine the eggs, milk and cream and season well. Give it all a good mix and one the timers up, pour over the hot, delicious layers and pop back in the oven for another 15-20 minutes.

Serve up in large portions, add a little cheese if you fancy, and kick back and enjoy while dreaming of the med. Ok, add a little tipple of Ouzo if you have to. Cheeky.

This to me in the original greek moussaka recipe. Of course you could mix it up and add in some spices or make it veggie!

 

breakfast of kings

As you may have figured, I’m not much of a morning person. As far as I see it, the weekends are all about lie-ins, and if I had a chance to lay in bed the whole day, I probably would. Damn guilty conscience. Scott usually lures me out of bed with the smell of my favourite breakfast.

I like to call it the Breakfast Of Kings.

Think Eggs Benedict with a twist. One half of a muffin topped with a bacon and the other half salmon.

To recreate his master piece for two, you will need:

2 English Breakfast Muffins
2 Eggs
2 slices of bacon
2 slices of smoked salmon
Peri Peri sauce
Garlic Mayo
Paprika

This is a super quick recipe but very effective. Just pop your muffins in the toaster for a few minutes (to your liking, of course), poach the eggs in a saucepan of boiling water and gently cook the bacon.

Spread a thin layer of Peri Peri sauce over your muffins, carefully place your smoked salmon on one half and the bacon on the other, top with the egg and squeeze over your garlic mayo. Finish off with a dusting of paprika and voila…a Breakfast of King.

 

mum’s flapjacks

I grew up around children. My mum was a child-minder so from the age of 5 I was her little helper with all of the little babies and toddlers we had running around the house. There were lots of things we used to do to keep them entertained like one year making papier-mâché money pots using balloons and of course lots and lots of baking. From as far back as I can remember, my favourite bakery snack has been a flapjack. Gewy, chewy, oaty squares. This was my mum’s signature dish.

Whenever I’m feeling a little under the weather or in need of a bit of cheering up, I’ll pop a batch of these in the oven. To make 12 large rectangular Flapjacks (or many many many more if you’re not as greedy on the potion size as me) you will need:

175g butter
175g Golden Syrup (plus additional spoonfuls for licking)
175g Muscovado sugar
350g porridge oats
1/2 lemon
pinch of ground ginger (optional)
20 cm tin 
 

First of all, get organised. Measure out your ingredients and line the baking tray with greaseproof paper. Heat the oven to 150c.

Then set a saucepan over a medium/low heat and slowly melt the butter. Watch out it doesn’t over heat, you just want to melt it.

Then add the sugar and golden syrup. Try and refrain from eating too much of the syrupy goodness. Too much sugar is no good for you snigger snigger snigger.

Stir, stir, stir until the sugar has dissolved. Ensure you keep the heat low. Again, you don’t want to burn the syrup.

Once the sugar has dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and slowly stir in the oats. Make sure you cover each little oat. This is what makes them deliciously gewy and sticky.

Now for the special ingredient, the juice of half a lemon. Give the mixture a final stir then carefully spoon the mixture into your greaseproof paper tray and compress the mixture into all the corners ensuring it is evenly spread (you don’t want someone else’s flapjack bigger than yours!)

Ok, I got caught licking the spoon.

Pop them in the oven for 35-40 minutes depending on how chewy or crunchy you like them. When their done, you’ll know. The kitchen will be filled with the sweetest syrupy smell. Let them cool for 15 minutes before removing from the baking tray. Chop with a sharp knives and serve warm, preferably with a glass of milk.

 

If you’re feeling more naughty, add chocolate chips or dried fruit and you’ll be in flapjack heaven!