If you haven’t tried Moroccan Harissa before, listen up. It’s a lovely pepper sauce blend made with chili peppers, bell peppers, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, salt. That’s it. And it’s totally delicious.
Harissa is a staple of Tunisian and Moroccan cuisine, and it is the central condiment in kitchens in North Africa used as a spread, a dip or drizzled on top of nearly any dish. Versatile as it is, you can pair it with lamb or pork, fish, chicken or beef as a marinade or base for a Moroccan tagine dish. Drizzle some over couscous and grilled vegetables, or use it as a dressing for potatoes or dip some grilled flatbread or pita in it.
I first tried Mina Harissa Pepper Sauce last year when I met owner and creator Mina from Casablanca Foods at the Just Food Conference, and fell in love. They were giving away samples of their red pepper Harissa sauce that came in three different styles (Mild, Medium and Spicy). It had just the right amount of heat, and tons of flavor from the chilies,bellpeppers and garlic.
They now have a new flavor made with green chilies and green peppers that is equally delicious with a medium spicy heat and tangy flavor. I was lucky enough to sample some of this new green goodness sauce and created a tasty, fun recipe to go with it – Spiced Moroccan Burgers with Green Harissa, Feta and Mint over Grilled Pita. The burgers are mildly spiced with cumin, ancho chile, onion, garlic and mint, then served over grilled pita and topped with the green harissa sauce, crumbly fresh feta, chopped fresh mint and sun dried tomatoes. They’re super easy to make, and super flavorful with the delicious blend of spices, fresh herbs and ingredients. Enjoy!
Spiced Moroccan Burgers with Green Harissa, Feta and Mint
SPICED MOROCCAN BURGERS
1 pound ground beef or lamb
3/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup mint, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ancho chile powder
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons garlic herb infused oil, for basting
1/2 cup Mina Harissa Green Harissa Pepper Sauce
2-4 sun dried tomatoes, for garnish
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, for garnish
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped for garnish
Dash of smoked paprika, for garnish
GRILLED PITA BREAD
2-4 pieces of pita or flatbread
1-2 tablespoon garlic herb infused oil
Sea Salt, for garnish
Smoked paprika, for garnish
Preheat a grill pan over medium high heat.
In a large mixing bowl, combine ground beef or lamb with the next 8 ingredients (through minced garlic).
Gently knead the meat mixture together until ingredients are combined, and make 4-6 burger patties in the shape of an oval, brush burger patties with herb infused oil and set aside.
To make the grilled pita bread: drizzle a tablespoon of herb infused oil on to both sides of the pitas and grill for a few minutes on each side until lightly browned and grill marks appear. Cook each pita separately (depending on the size of your grill pan).
Remove pita from pan and sprinkle with sea salt and smoked paprika, cover with foil to keep warm while burgers are cooking.
Add the burger patties to the heated grill pan, and cook approximately 4 minutes on each side (for medium) until grill marks appear and they are cooked according to your liking.
To serve, place a piece of pita bread on each plate (either whole or broken into two pieces) and place burgers on top of the pita (or in the pita if you prefer).
Top burgers with sun dried tomatoes, feta cheese, green harissa sauce, fresh chopped mint, a dash of smoked paprika, additional salt and pepper if desired, to taste.
There’s a great little place in my neighborhood called Todaro Bros. – a small, locally-owned deli and grocery store that sells fresh and imported Italian food and other gourmet groceries. I usually stop in at least once a week to peruse their cheese department and sample some of their fresh house-made mozzarella, just for kicks (it’s that good!).
It’s impossible to walk in there and just buy one thing – I’m like a kid in a candy store! So I found these gorgeous sun-dried tomatoes marinated in herbs and oil and picked up some fresh basil, oregano, chives, tomato sauce, cream and pasta to make a fresh, tasty summer pasta dish. I made it with spaghetti but you could serve this tasty Vodka Sauce with virtually any pasta you wish. It’s tangy, velvety and full of flavor, and the fresh basil gives it a peppery flavor which is rounded out by the creamy fresh mozzarella and sweet sun-dried tomatoes. I also threw in a few pieces of crumbled cooked bacon into the sauce to give it an extra layer of flavor (which is totally optional but also totally worth it!)
6-8 marinated sun-dried tomatoes, cut into halves or quarters
1 quart tomato sauce (store bought or homemade, pureed smooth)
1 cup of vodka
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced
1 teaspoon fresh chives, chopped
Coarse sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
fresh unsalted mozzarella, torn into medium pieces, for garnish
fresh basil leaves, whole or torn, for garnish
red pepper flakes (optional), for garnish
1 pound package of cooked and drained pasta (spaghetti, linguine or penne)
Cook pasta in a large saucepan according to package directions (until al dente) and drain (reserving a few tablespoons of the pasta water for later); set aside. Meanwhile, cook the bacon over medium heat for about 15 minutes until crispy, drain and crumble.
Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan or pot. Add garlic and shallots, saute until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add crumbled bacon and sun-dried tomatoes, add salt and pepper to taste. Saute for an additional 5 minutes and turn heat down to medium-low.
Stir in tomato sauce and vodka into the same saucepan and let simmer (approximately 20 minutes) until the sauce thickens and cooks down. Stir in the heavy cream, fresh oregano and chives and let simmer on low for another few minutes until sauce is heated through.
Return the pasta back to the large saucepot and ladle some of the sauce into it, along with a few tablespoons of reserved pasta water and toss to coat.
Ladle coated pasta into serving dishes and top with additional vodka sauce. Garnish with fresh basil leaves, mozzarella, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste.
To help home cooks unleash the limitless power of the pork chop, America’s pork producers have enlisted a pro who knows a thing or two about chops. Because this worldly chef is known for blending diverse inspirations from around the globe and the pork chop is one of his favorite go-to meats to cook, the Pork Board asked Chef Madison Cowan to create some fresh global-inspired pork recipes and talk about them with a live demo for a national satellite media tour that was broadcasted on television and radio stations around the country last week (see video clip below to get a behind the scenes glimpse of the live interview).
Chef's Pork Creations
The three most popular types of pork are bone-in rib chops, top loin chops, and blade chops but not all consumers are aware of all the great choices they have when it comes to cooking with pork. To educate and inspire home cooks, the Pork board asked Chef Madison to create some fresh and global inspired recipes with new ways to cook pork chops other than the basic frying and baking techniques.
Chef Madison & Kristen Hess
During the taping, Chef Madison demos his amazing pork recipes, talks about his London, Detroit and Jamaican heritage, his step-mother’s influence on his cooking and his passion and love for food, family and his culinary career. His pork dishes were absolutely gorgeous and tantalizing and colorful!
Amazing Pork Chop Creations
The three main recipes that Chef Madison made on set were Grilled Pork Chops with Manchego Cheese, Chorizo and Date stuffing, Chinese 5-Spice and Maple-Glazed Pork Loin Chops and Moroccan-Inspired Country Style Rib Ragu with Couscous Cakes. (See full recipes below).
Chef Madison Cowan
We had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Chef for an intimate talk about his background and cooking philosophy and he told us about his first cook book “Soul Voyage” which chronicles his philosophy of cooking from the heart as well as his favourite soul food recipes. Chef Madison is truly a talented individual and everything he does is from the heart. He is a true inspiration to me and hopefully all home cooks out there by his pure passion and dedication to his craft.
Check out the video above of Chef Madison Cowan on set taping the live satellite media tour as he discusses the recipes he is making, his inspiration and background for his cooking and culinary career. (Note: the taping is one sided so you’ll only hear the Chef’s answers to the live interview questions he is being asked by the media!)
And to top off all the great photos and videos from the event, Chef Madison has shared his three Pork recipes he made on the tour, which are included for you below. Enjoy!
Moroccan-Inspired Country-Style Rib Ragu with Couscous Cakes
Moroccan-Inspired Country-Style Rib Ragu with Couscous Cakes (photo credit: National Pork Board)
For this pork and beans dish, I’m inspired by the Berber classic from North Africa, named for the earthenware pot traditionally used for simmering lamb or chicken stew. Tagine also refers to the stew itself. Here Moroccan spicing brings out the best in boneless blade chops, which are from the loin nearest the shoulder. These thick chops are well marbled, full-flavored, and often called “Boneless Pork Loin Country-Style Ribs.”
2 large leeks, white and pale green parts, thinly sliced and washed well
2 large carrots, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
2 (3-inch) sprigs of fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon crushed hot red chile flakes
2 bay leaves
6 garlic cloves, sliced
1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes with their juices
1 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint
1 1/2 cup chicken stock or broth
1 cup couscous
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup dried currants
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped chives
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large egg yolks, beaten
3 tablespoons olive oil
For the pork chops: Put pork cubes in a large bowl and toss with oil. Mix paprika, coriander, turmeric, salt, pepper, ginger, and cumin, Sprinkle half of the spice mixture over pork and toss well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 and up to 3 hours. Reserve remaining spice mixture.
To make the tagine: Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. .In batches, add pork and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 4 minutes. Transfer pork to a plate.
Add more oil to the skillet if needed. Add leeks, carrots, cinnamon, thyme, chili flakes and bay leaves to the skillet and sauté together about 4 minutes, adding more by the tablespoon, if needed. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in remaining spices and cook for 15 seconds. Stir in tomatoes with their juices, broth, and tomato paste and bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a large sauce pan. Return to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until juices thicken and vegetables are just tender, about 20 minutes.
Stir in chickpeas. Bury the pork in the sauce and cover. Simmer until the pork is just tender, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the couscous cakes: Bring the stock to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the couscous, almonds, currants, chives, lemon zest, salt, and pepper and stir well. Remove from heat and cover tightly for 10 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Fluff couscous with a fork. Stir in yolks. Press couscous mixture into six 3-inch-wide cakes. Transfer to a plate and let stand 5 minutes.
Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Fry cakes, turning once, until golden, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
Remove bay leaves and thyme sprigs and transfer tagine to a serving dish. Sprinkle cilantro and mint on top and serve hot, with couscous cakes.
Makes 6 servings.
Grilled Pork Chops with Chorizo, Dates and Manchego Stuffing
Grilled Pork Chops with Chorizo, Dates and Manchego Stuffing (photo credit: National Pork Board)
In the U.S., stuffed pork chops usually have a breadcrumb filling. This Spanish treatment calls for a unique and flavorful stuffing of spicy chorizo, sweet dates, and Manchego cheese, a sharp cheese from the La Mancha region of Spain. Alternatively use local, affordable cheddar if Manchego is unavailable.
6 double-thick bone-in rib chops, about 12 ounces each
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup sea salt
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
½ gallon iced water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound smoked Spanish chorizo, diced
2 medium celery, finely chopped
1/3 cup pitted and finely chopped dates
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Manchego or sharp Cheddar cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
To brine pork chops: Bring vinegar, brown sugar, salt, mustard, and peppercorns to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve salt. Do not inhale fumes. Transfer to large, deep food-safe container. Let cool until tepid. Stir in iced water. Submerge chops in brine. Refrigerate for 3 hours, no longer.
To make stuffing: Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add celery, dates, and shallot, and cook, stirring often, until celery is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in parsley, sage, and paprika. Transfer to a bowl and let cool completely. Stir in cheese and season with salt and pepper.
Remove chops from brine, rinse under cold water, and blot dry with paper towels. Cut a horizontal pocket in each chop to the bone using a sharp knife. Spoon equal amounts of stuffing into each chop, and close each opening shut with wooden toothpicks. Do not overstuff the chops; you may not use all of the filling.
Prepare a medium fire in an outdoor grill. (For a gas grill, preheat to about 400ºF. For a charcoal grill, let the coals burn until covered with white ash and you can hold your hand about an inch above the cooking grate for 3 seconds.) Brush cooking grates clean. Grill pork, with the lid closed as much as possible, turning occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into the center of a chop reads 145ºF, about 15 minutes. Remove from the grill and let stand for 3 to 5 minutes.
Remove toothpicks and serve.
Makes 6 servings.
Chinese Five-Spice-and-Maple-Glazed Pork Loin Chops
Chinese Five-Spice-and-Maple Glazed Pork Loin Chops (photo credit: National Pork Board)
For this dish I marinate lean and versatile boneless top loin pork chops (also known as “America’s Cut”) in five-spice and finish it in a tangy and smooth maple glaze. This dish pairs well with my Asian Pear and Cucumber Slaw. The Asian pear, native to China, Japan and Korea, has a sweet flavor with a crisp texture, marries well with a variety of flavors and is a quick no-cook side dish option. A plastic V-slicer or mandoline will make quick work of cutting the Asian pears and cucumber into matchsticks.
6 boneless top loin pork chops, 1 1/4–inch-thick (“America’s Cut”)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup Chinese five-spice powder
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 cup maple syrup, preferably Grade B
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Asian Pear and Cucumber Slaw
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon crushed hot red chile
2 Asian pears, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and sliced into matchsticks
3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced on the diagonal.
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup coarsely chopped salted peanuts
To prepare the pork chops: Brush pork chops with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the five-spice powder evenly over pork chops. Place on a plate and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before searing.
To prepare the glaze: Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add maple syrup and vinegar and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring often, until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
To make the slaw: Whisk lime juice, vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, and chile in a medium bowl. Add Asian pears, cucumber, scallions, and cilantro, and mix well. Season with salt. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
Preheat your oven to 350F. Add a little cooking oil to pan and heat over medium–high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, sear the pork chops until brown, about 3 to 5 minutes each side. Place the pan in the oven and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into the center of a chop reads 145ºF, about 10 to 12 minutes. During the last 3 minutes, reheat the maple sauce and brush both sides of the chops until well glazed. Remove from pan from the oven and let stand for 3 minutes.
Sprinkle the slaw with peanuts and serve with a slotted spoon onto 6 dinner plates alongside each chop.
Makes 6 servings.
Every week for the next month, the National Pork Board will showcase a unique chop recipe on PorkBeInspired.com to keep your culinary juices flowing, including exclusive recipes from Chef Cowan. While there, you will find a “Pork Chop Personality Guide” to help you explore a new chop cut and match it with a new recipe for every night of the week. With the versatility of the pork chop, there is a perfect recipe and cut to suit your personality. For additional inspiration this summer, follow @AllAboutPork on Twitter, “like” them at Facebook.com/PorkBeinspired and find them onPinterest.com/PorkBeinspired to unleash the power of the pork chop and for a chance to win pork prizes during the month of May.
This is a non-paid sponsored post by the National Pork Board with The Artful Gourmet for the promotion of Chef Madison Cowan, his recipes and the National Pork Board. All opinions, videos and photography (unless otherwise noted) are by The Artful Gourmet.
I happened to stumble upon this place on my way home one night, lured in by its moody lighting and buzzing atmosphere. Taproom 307 is a bar and restaurant with over 40 varieties of local and domestic craft beers, beer cocktails, wine, unique artisan cocktails and amazing food. I tried their Hawaiian wood-fired pizza which was delicious, served on a wooden board, crispy crust, savory ham, gooey cheese and juicy pineapple. They also have delicious burgers, sandwiches, salads and bar food appetizers, which I”ll be sure to go back to try next visit! Beer Sommelier Hayley Jensen curates at Taproom No.307 - she fell in love with beer after college, and has been obsessed ever since. She discovered old world ales and went abroad to learn more. After moving to London and working in the craft bar scene there, she came back to NYC and joined famed Chef Daniel Boulud, as Beer Sommelier at DBGB Kitchen & Bar. They serve brunch, lunch and dinner every day of the week. Perfect place for happy hour after work with a group of friends!
The name Marimekko is a play on words, yet completely descriptive. ’Mari’ is an anagram of the first name of the company’s founder, Armi Ratia,while ‘mekko’ means ‘dress’ in Finnish. And it was indeed Mari’s dresses that started it all in 1951. This place is a must-see if you ever come to visit NYC. The store in Flatiron District next to Eataly on the corner of 5th Ave and 23rd Street is a mecca full of beautiful, bright patterns and totally irresistable. They have a full line of dining and kitchenware, pillows, clothes, fabric to make your own custom items. Everything in the store is sleekly designed and fun – if you’re a stylist? its a dream come true.
Todaro Bros. is a small, local market in Murray Hill that specializes in Italian imported goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, imported cheeses, epicurean delicacies and fresh prepared foods. There’s also handmade fresh pastas, olives, an extensive range of imported olive oils, sauces, spices and freshly prepared breads. It reminds me of a place you’d see on the streets in Italy and it’s my failsafe place to go when I need fresh meats and fish, fruits and veggies or just some downright delicious food for dinner or a party.
Located in Midtown on 3rd Ave and 40th St, Zengo is my new favorite local hotspot for happy hour. The decor is vibrant and dramatic with decorative full length windows, hardwood floors and contemporary lighting and the cuisine is a lovely mix of Latin-Asian styles and flavors created by Chef-owner Richard Sandoval, whose accolades include Bon Appétit Restaurateur of the Year and Mexico’s Toque d’Oro. Chef Sandoval spins regional ingredients into beautifully balanced dishes designed for sharing – you’ll find small plates on the happy hour menu such as Sushi, Shrimp-Vegetable potstickers, an assortment of flatbreads and churros. The beverage menu features innovative, hand-muddled cocktails as well as Latin wines, Japanese sakes and over 400 Tequilas. There are three bars inside – one in the main level and one downstairs, and their Sake & Shochu lounge upstairs is a great place for groups or private parties where you can experience a tasting of their many varieties of imported Sake or Shochu.
622 3rd Ave (btwn 40th St & 41st St) New York, NY 10017 (212) 808-8110
If there was ever a store I’d like to just move right into, this is the one. Yep, don’t even need to pack my things – they’ve got everything in there imaginable to live a deliciously luxurious life. If you’ve never been to ABC Carpet and Home in NYC you MUST visit next time you’re here. All I can say is when you walk in the store you feel like Alice in Wonderland that just fell down the rabbit hole into a beautiful, glittery, artistic place that you’ve never experienced before. Or got swept away to the Land of Oz like Dorothy did, minus the midgets and ugly witch. All joking aside, this is probably my favorite home store in NYC – there’s homemade pottery and glassware, linens, pillows, jewelry, soaps and candles, fabrics, rugs, furniture – you name it. And everything in the store is artisan-made (which yes, lends to its hefty prices) – even if you just buy ONE thing, you’ll make your kitchen or home that much more beautiful. THE BOMB.
I have been going here ever since I lived in NYC and its still one of my favorite Italian restaurants in the city. Located centrally in the Flatiron District, Stuzzi is an authentic Italian restaurant that specializes in Italian cuisine from all different regions and has an amazing bar and a daily happy hour from 4-7 pm – buy a drink and you get a small plate for free! Chow down on some Crostini with Ricotta and Honey, Meatballs, Risotto Balls, Cheese plates, Salumi plates with Soppressata and Parma Prosciutto, Flash-fried Roman style Artichokes, Battered Cod with Lemon Aioli…and the list goes on. My go-to drink is an Aperol Spritz made with Prosecco, Aperol bitters and a lemon twist – perfect pairing with the delicious appetizers! Of course they have an extensive Italian wine and beer list too. It’s never too crowded and the atmosphere is beautiful with gorgeous lighting, dark wood and brass. There’s a larger dining room in the back or you can just sit near the bar or outside patio and enjoy a drink and a quick bite. One of the best and reasonably priced for a great Italian place in the city.
Fishs Eddy is a purveyor of Dinnerware, Glassware, Flatware, Serveware, & Sturdyware, born in 1986 by the owners finding antique goods in Upstate NY and hauled them back in a van to the city to open this awesome shop. Millions of edgy, unique and incredibly fun dishes and glasses have come in and out of their doors. Retro patterns and prints, bright colors, classic styles and fun unique kitchen items are what you’ll find here. The best part is you can buy one-off items if you wish – a single piece of flatware, a fun kitchen towel, quirky straws, canning jars – you name it, they got it. And you won’t find this cool stuff anywhere else but here. As a food photographer and stylist, I’m in heaven in this store – and I guarantee you won’t walk out of here with a million fun and cool gadgets for yourself, without breaking the bank. Talk about FUN!
So if you’re in the mood for some amazing, authentic Mexican food in NYC, this is the place you need to be. Located in Nolita; you can’t miss the old movie theatre style sign on the corner of Lafayette and Kenmare with its bright neon lights. Think street-style Mexican – grilled fresh corn with spices and cojita cheese, lovely tacos in every flavor, homemade guacamole, tortas, quesadillas, ceviche, grilled chorizo, chile relleno, tortilla soup, fresh salads- all made with fresh tasty ingredients. The Taqueria in front has a few bar stools and offers takeout, or you can sit in the Brasserie or Cafe for a full meal. Definitely top on my list for the best tacos in town – and its fairly priced too! Oh, and you just might happen to run into a celebrity while you’re here – Claire Robinson, Chef on Food Network, was enjoying lunch and margaritas right outside on the patio while I was there! Awesome grub for an awesome price – don’t miss this one!
Now here’s a cool place I discovered recently – who would have ever thought that the MOMA Design store would have such cool stuff for the kitchen and a serious cook? An extension of the Modern Museum of Modern Art, the store is a mecca for high design. Kitchen tools, glassware, silverware, dishware, cookbooks, bowls and baskets made of modern metal design, funky kitchen gadgets, all brightly colored and sleekly designed with modern materials (metal, plastic, glass, silicone, etc.) by notable artists and designers. I wouldn’t go here to stock up your kitchen though, as the prices are a bit steep – but if you’re looking for a collectible kitchen or home item that you can actually use and proudly display, this is the place to go.
Last but not least, is a really fun place I discovered down in Nolita – Le Labo fragrance lab. Originating in France, this store makes high-end custom fragrances in the store based on your preferences and desired scent. Made from natural ingredients and essential oils like lavender, vanilla, lemon, bergamot, rose, patchouli, orange blossom – each fragrance has a unique scent. They do have about 10-15 pre made fragrances to choose from too but its too cool that you can make your own – and they even print your name on the bottle label so its truly a personalized scent! Check out their online store if you can’t make it to NYC. Too cool to ignore.
233 Elizabeth St New York, NY 10012 (212) 219-2230
Classic Greek Moussaka, (pronounced moos-sah-KAH) is one of the most well known of all Greek dishes and a staple “comfort food” and main course meal in Greece (as is Lasagna in Italy). This tasty Greek delight is a culinary experience to those who sample it for the first time. I first tried it when I worked at a Greek diner in Buffalo, New York during college, and then once again on a trip to the Greek Islands a couple of years ago. Needless to say, the real Greek Moussaka blew the Buffalo diner version to pieces, so I decided to take a stab at making it myself for my Big Fat Greek Birthday dinner party.
One of the most delicious versions of Moussaka I tasted was in Santorini, Greece. It was served in a glazed clay pot, and had a perfect mixture of spicy meat at the bottom, layered with potatoes and tender eggplant, and tons of béchamel and gooey cheese on top. The vegetables were steaming as I dug into this gorgeous meat and vegetable pie – my mouth watered at the sight and smell of it.
Moussaka can be made in many variations, but the classic recipe uses layers of eggplant, potatoes, a spicy meat and tomato sauce with a touch of cinnamon and a rich and delicious béchamel sauce and bubbly kefalotyri cheese on top. Other variations are Moussaka with zucchini or artichokes instead of eggplant, ground lamb instead of ground beef, or vegetarian-style with zucchini, eggplant and ootatoes without the meat. Either way you make it, with its warm and rich flavors and gooey cheese you’ll be hooked.
I made this recipe with zucchini and potatoes, and combined ground lamb with ground beef together. The combination of all the spices from the meat and seasonings soak into the vegetables and once you layer some creamy béchamel and gooey cheese on top, you’ve got yourself a delicious heartwarming dish. Be careful to pat dry the vegetables though before layering in the baking dish, as you don’t want the liquids to make the Moussaka too watery as they are cooked down in the oven.
You’ll need a lot of time and kitchen space to make this dish, and if you’re cooking for a crowd, you’ll be safe to double the recipe and make two large rectangular baking dishes of it, as it won’t last long. The flavors in this dish really improve if you make it a day ahead. It’s also a very filling dish, so you may want to serve it as the main course, and accompany it with a Greek Salad, some Stuffed Grape Leaves and Tzaziki for a light side dish along with some Garlic Lemon Hummus and grilled pita. Serve with a red Greek wine and a shot of Ouzo as an aperitif.
3 large zucchini (or eggplants)
3 large potatoes
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 lg onions, chopped fine
1 lb ground lamb
1 lb ground beef
3 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup red Greek wine
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Fresh ground black pepper
1/4 lb butter
6 tbsp all purpose flour
1 quart of milk
4 eggs; beaten until frothy
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
2 cups ricotta or cottage cheese
1 cup fine bread crumbs
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
Cut the zucchini and potatoes into slices about 1/2 inch thick. If using eggplant instead of zucchini, peel the eggplant first. Brown the zucchini slices quickly in 1/4 cup of the oil. Set aside.
Heat the remaining oil in the same skillet and cook the onions until they are golden brown. Add the ground meat and cook 10 minutes. Pour off excess fat.
Combine the tomato paste with the wine, parsley, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Stir this mixture into the meat and simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, until all the liquid has been absorbed. Remove the mixture from heat and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Make a white sauce by melting the butter and blending in the flour, stirring with a wire whisk. Meanwhile, bring the milk to a boil and add it gradually to the butter-flour mixture, stirring constantly. When the mixture is thickened and smooth, remove it from the heat. Cook slightly and stir in the beaten eggs, nutmeg and ricotta.
Grease an 11×16-inch pan and sprinkle the bottom lightly with crumbs. Arrange alternate layers of the zucchini and potatoes and meat sauce in the pan, sprinkling each layer with parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. Pour the ricotta cheese bechamel sauce over the top and bake 1 hour, or until top is golden. Remove from the oven and cool 20 to 30 minutes before serving. Cut into squares and serve.
Kristen Hess is a NYC-based food stylist and photographer, writer.
Her professional background is in advertising, design and creative direction, marketing and social media for many well-known food and beverage brands.
She is passionate about food and travel, art and design, photography, theatre and film and all things creative.
Food Styling & Photography Portfolio: http://www.kristenhess.com