Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Meaty Moussaka.

I just made chocolate pecan pie. It’s in the oven as we speak. I had some chocolate berry sauce left over from the ‘Sweet Sushi Woo’ day, and one can not waste good chocolate can one? There must be some kind of law against that. So I gently melted it and when it was cool enough, mixed in 2 tubs of mascarpone, some cream, two eggs and an extra egg yolk, a knob of butter, a tbsp of flour and poured it into a blind-baked pastry case on top of a layer of pecans. Popped the little tin of naughty-ness in the oven on low for 30 minutes and hey presto! The crew can’t quite believe they’re getting spoons twice in one week.

We’ve been at anchor now for ages. It’s Okay really, you get used to it but I am certainly looking forward to when we leave for Barcelona and have a proper berth attached to the hard stuff, the land. I’ll be able to wander off the boat willy-nilly for little food shops, or for a nice little stroll whenever I please. Ah, the little things in life.

It’s the exercise I miss the most. My waste-line is talking to me and putting a chocolate pecan pie in the oven is really not going to help things is it?

I’ll never learn when it comes to food. I’m obsessed. I really need to tell you about my moussaka too. Delia Smith’s recipe from one of her ‘How to Cook’ series was the best and easiest I have ever made. Actually, it was the first moussaka I ever made, all those years ago, learning to cook. So I must pass it onto you. It’s a real crew pleaser and is a lovely summer night supper with a lovely salad and a glass of wine. I’ve made a few little alterations of my own. I struggle to get minced lamb in France when I don’t have access to a butchers, so last week I made it with cubed leg of lamb instead and it was seriously delicious. Also Delia’s recipe says it will feed 4-6 people; she can’t have ever cooked for a bunch of sailor boys because you need to at least double her recipe to feed 6. So my recipe is bigger and made with cubed lamb instead of minced but essentially this is Delia’s and it is great. Thanks Delia.

You will need;

600-700g lamb, leg steaks or a good equivalent
2 medium onions finely chopped
1 tsp sugar
3 large aubergines
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
3 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
½ tsp cinnamon
500 ml red wine
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 quantity béchamel sauce (see blog, ‘A Glamorous Lunch In Cannes’ for recipe)
500g pot of ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
Parmesan cheese


  • Heat your oven to about gas mark 6. Slice the aubergines into slices a few millimetres thick. Lay them on a baking tray and brush the sides facing up with olive oil. Give them all a little sprinkling of salt and pop into the oven for about 15 minutes. Keep an eye on them. They can burn in seconds when you’re not looking. When they are lightly browned and just about cooked, remove them from the oven and put aside for now.

  • Turn the oven down to gas mark 4.

  • Cut the lamb into smallish pieces, just smaller than bite sized. Sear in a hot pan with some sunflower oil and season. Fry till the lamb is browned all over. Set aside whilst you cook the onions.

  • In the same pan with all the lovely lamby juices still in it, heat some more sunflower oil. Sautee the onions with the tsp of sugar and a sprinkling of salt till they are lightly browned. Add the garlic and the chopped fresh herbs and mix. Pour in the red wine, tomato puree, balsamic vinegar and cinnamon. Tip the lamb back into the pan with the onions and red wine and simmer gently for about 20 minutes. Taste the sauce and season accordingly. It might seem quite thick but this is good.

  • Add the ricotta to the béchamel sauce and take it off the heat to cool before adding the beaten egg. Season and grate in some fresh nutmeg.

  • Tip the aubergine slices into the bottom of your chosen baking dish. Cover with the lamb sauce then pour on the ricotta sauce. Grate some fresh parmesan cheese over the top and bake in the oven for 40 minutes. The ricotta topping will puff up slightly and go a lovely golden colour.

There we are. It is a very good meal with a lovely salad, some crusty warmed bread and a good red wine. I have been known to put slices of par-cooked potato in this before to bulk it out for large amounts of people. And although it may seem like a lot of aubergine to slice up and cook, believe me, it’s worth it. This is one of those meals where my ‘full-up’ message stops working and I could just keep going and going.

I really should start running again. And stop making pies. Speaking of which, I’d better take it out of the oven. I’ll let the boys have it and refrain myself…  oh bother, why is it so hard!? If you could smell it too, you’d understand.

Weak in the presence of good food. Hey-ho, we’ll be racing in a few weeks in Barcelona. Did I mention how excited about that I was?

Thanks for reading, see you before we depart for pastures new and Spanish.