Monthly Archives: June 2019

Stuffed Tomatoes, Peppers & Eggplant

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So … Maggie & her friends went to Santorini for a few days. Before they left I asked her if she would like me to cook for them on their return. “What about Stuffed Tomatoes?” she asked the next morning. “Yes ofcourse!” said the woman living inside my body, who thinks she’s still in her thirties with tons of energy to spare!

So there we all are with two big trays of stuffed veggies and one fairly long preparation process!! And why 2 big trays when one would have been more than enough? Don’t ask, I honestly don’t know! My guess is that having grown up in a fairly large family, my eyes are so used to seeing big quantities that I still can’t judge the correct size of “enough”!

I prepared the veggies one day before, covered the trays well and refrigerated them, ready for stuffing the next day.

So once again, I add the same comment I’ve been making in a lot of my recipes it seems: keep in mind that the quantities below are for 2 large trays (which you see in the pictures) so half or reduce as needed!!!

 

Ingredients:

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9 tomatoes

6 peppers

3 eggplants

6 medium potatoes

2 medium onions or 1 large

3 or 4 garlic cloves

a bunch of parsley

500 grs ground beef

round rice (roughly 1 level tablespoon for each vegetable)

4 tsps tomato paste

2 soup cubes dissolved in 2 cups hot water

olive oil

salt & pepper

 

Method:

first the tomatoes:

wash & dry well, cut the tops off but keep them

scoop out the inside of each tomato (as per picture) & cover it with its own lid

Note 1*

the inside that you scooped out goes into the food processor,

add to it the 4 tsps tomato paste, salt, pepper, a bit of olive oil, and give it a few whirls

put in a bowl and set aside for later.

Next the eggplant:

if they’re large, cut it in two first, cut a topper for each, level a bit of the bottom (so it can stand in the tray without toppling over), and start scooping out the inside (as per picture)

make sure you have a top for each

Note 2*

the inside that you scooped out goes into the food processor

chop roughly and put it in a frying pan

next put the onions & garlic and process as well

add to the eggplant in the frying pan

salt, pepper, some oil, and saute lightly just to blend well and release the flavours

put the mixture in a large bowl and set aside for later

Next the peppers:

cut off tops, clean out the inside veins, & cover each with its own lid

Now the main work has been done!! you can stop here, cover the lot very well, and keep refrigerated till next day.

Next the potatoes:

peel and cut, put in a tray, salt, pepper, olive oil and mix together.

Set aside.

For the stuffing:

In your large bowl that contains the eggplant/onion/garlic mixture, add the following:

chopped parsley

ground beef

rice

a few tbsps of the tomato mixture in Note 1* above

1 cup prepared broth

salt, pepper, & a bit of olive oil

mix very well with your hands

you might need to add some water if necessary (the mixture should be on the loose side, not firm and packed together like a hamburger).

Now you’re ready to assemble.

Stuff each veggie, leaving a little bit of room at the top (see pictures), cover each with its lid and place in a tray

wedge the potatoes in between the veggies to fill the spaces and to keep the veggies straight up

pour the rest of the sauce in Note 1* above all over the veggies & the potatoes

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Place uncovered in a 200centigrade oven and bake till done. It should take around 1.5 to 2 hours.

Every half hour I get the tray out, and baste each veggie with the liquid that has now formed all around it. A turkey baster does the job perfectly.

I check the sides of some of the veggies with the edge of a sharp knife every now & then to make sure its done. I also taste a smidgen of the stuffing to ensure that the rice is ready.

When the tops are nicely coloured, take the tray out, and cover it well with silver foil to keep warm until you’re ready to serve.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

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Kathleen’s Pastichio (Pasta w/ground beef & béchamel)

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Sol’s wife, Kathleen, was my best friend. Ever since we first met in their house in Canada, we took an instant liking to each other. A liking that grew stronger through the years. Fourty of them to be precise.

She decided to up and go as well, less than two years after Sol!

Will there ever be an end to missing all the wonderful people that you got to know and love? The people that affected and shaped your life into an infinitely better version than it would have been without them? Does the missing ever stop? Certainly not. You just learn to live without them, and to carry their memory not only inside your heart, but in your everyday life as well. By remembering them, by talking about them, by cherishing the time that you’ve had together, and by sharing your wonderful memories with others. They may be absent physically, but their spirit & their essence is now part of you. Who you are today is a product of all of them combined.

Now back to the pastichio! And I can’t think pastichio without thinking Kathleen. She certainly wasn’t a big lover of cooking, and tended to steer clear of the kitchen as much as possible, but… she had a few signature dishes that only she could make. Pastichio was one of them.

Pastichio has ofcourse become a universal dish, shared by many nationalities and many countries across the globe. It is a biggy in Greece ofcourse, but doesn’t stop there. Each of us “knows” of a different version, carrying a different name, and made slightly different.

Maggie, my niece and her family & friends, are here visiting. And there is no first day of Maggie in our house without Patischio, greek salad, and tzatziki! I usually make two big trays: one for that day, and another that I stash away in the freezer for her “last” day. This is for you Mag, we are so happy you guys are here!!

This is going to be a sort of a wing-it kind of situation, as I can not give you precise quantities of anything. It really all depends on the size of your baking dish. But not to panic, I assure you that it is simple and easy, just read on and look at the pictures. Believe me you can not go wrong.

P.S. Please keep in mind that quantities below are for 2 large baking dishes!!! so half or reduce as needed!

Ingredients:

penne…

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I never ever measure the pasta! I first decide what dish I’m going to use, then I put in it the uncooked pasta, just to cover one loose layer. No more than one layer (see picture).

ground beef …

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again I just wing it, knowing that I like a lot of meat and sauce in this dish. For instance for these two big dishes, I have used 1kg ground beef.

Bechamel sauce:

2 litres full fat milk

olive oil

6 tablespoons flour (heaped)

200 grs grated cheddar

200 grs grated emmental

1 soup cube

Method:

boil your pasta al dente, rinse, drain and put in your baking dish

prepare the meat sauce and mix with your pasta. Be generous!

Now your bechamel:

heat the olive oil

add the flour & stir. Don’t be afraid to add more oil if needed. The flour mixture should be loose and not lumped up in a ball (look at the picture)

 

add the milk gradually stirring all the time

add the soup cube for a bit of an extra flavour

keep stirring often, until the mixture thickens. A word of caution here: you do not want your bechamel too thick as it will sit on your pasta in a separate layer and end up looking like a pudding.

Once you’re happy with the consistency (see the picture) add about ¼ of the cheese and stir to incorporate in the bechamel

now back to your pasta & meat sauce already sitting in the dishes:

sprinkle some cheese on the pasta

pour in ½ of the bechamel

at this point I like to pock it with a back of a fork in various places to make sure that the bechamel has gone through and will be present in every bite

add the remaining bechamel to smooth the surface

sprinkle the cheese on top

your pastichio is now ready for baking!!

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Since I almost always make two dishes at a time, at this point I let one of them cool nicely, cover it well, and put it in the freezer for future use.

Pre-heat the oven to 200 Centigrades, bake pastichio until bubbly and nicely coloured on top.

Enjoy!!