Category Archives: Groundbeef Dishes

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


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!



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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 …


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


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!!


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.






Zucchini w/Ground Beef & Bechamel

Zucchini w:ground beef & bechamel-finished product-2
Zucchini w/ground beef & bechamel-finished product

Another huge competitor in the comfort food category! (what’s up with me? I’ve been making lots of these lately!!)

It is an all-time favourite with all our friends, and a special favourite of my nieces Maggie & Mona.

This dish can be made with the ground beef/pine nuts mixture, or without; totally vegetarian. It is equally delicious in both versions. The secret is in the quantity of cheese, and in the texture of the bechamel.

I use two kinds of cheeses: finely grated Parmesan as well as coarsely grated Emmental (or Gruyere).

I make my bechamel on the loose side, not too thick, as I like to serve it with Basmati rice, and want the bechamel to behave more like a sauce, rather than a set “pudding” like.


1 large onion chopped

½ kg ground beef

8-10 medium size zucchini

½ cup pine nuts (roasted)

1 cup Parmesan

1 cup emmental

for the bechamel:

4 heaped tablespoons flour

olive oil

4 cups full milk

2 cups water

1 soup cube


saute onion in a bit of olive oil

add the ground beef, brown, cover and simmer till tender

mix in the roasted pine nuts

set mixture aside

P.S. I almost always forget to mention salt & pepper in my recipes, but I can assure you that I season my food well! I always use coarse sea salt, and coarsely ground black pepper. And I do my seasoning as I go along, layering the flavours as I proceed. Not in the end as some people prefer. I believe that the seasoning should be part of the gradual construction of the dish, and not come at its very end, almost as an added “after thought”!!!

back to our dish…….

chop the zucchini into fairly uniform rounds

saute in a bit of olive oil using two spatulas to mix (as if you’re stir frying). Keep an eye on it, and keep the mixing going until the bright green of the zucchini is somewhat “dulled”. Difficult to explain any better, just compare pictures 2 and 3.

add the ground beef mixture to the zucchini in the pot, add a tiny bit of water to cook further, until the zucchini is done to your liking. It is important that most of the liquid be gone before you pour the contents of the pot into your Pyrex dish, otherwise the excess water will affect the consistency of the sauce in the finished dish

set aside to cool

when cool, sprinkle 1/4 a cup of the grated Parmesan

Now for the Bechamel:

I find that the secret of a successful bechamel is to add enough fat (by fat I mean olive oil) in the start, so that the flour/fat mixture be “loose” in the pan, not lumped together like a ball. If you start with this consistency, you almost always end up with a successful bechamel, smooth and with no lumps whatsoever Ofcourse you can use butter instead of olive oil if you prefer, just keep to the loose flour/fat mixture principal. If for some crazy reason you end up with lumps in your bechamel, don’t panic, you can always use a hand mixer to smooth out the lumps.

Heat your fat in the pot

add the flour

mix with whisk until mixture bubbles

add the milk and keep whisking

add the water and keep whisking

let thicken on medium heat

when you achieve the desired consistency, add ¼ cup of grated Parmesan, and ½ cup of emmental

mix well to incorporate

pour the bechamel on the zucchini mixture, making sure to cover all. Your bechamel is not thick at all, so it will penetrate through the entire content of the dish seeping through to the bottom

sprinkle the remaining Parmesan (¼ cup), and the remaining emmental (½ cup)

bake in a pre-heated 200centigrade oven, for as long as it takes for the mixture to bubble throughout, and for the top to be a nice golden brown.

Let cool for at least a ½ hour before serving to acquire a bit of a body, otherwise if you cut through while still too hot the whole dish will just run into each other and look like mush. It will still be delicious but mush nevertheless.

Serve with Basmati on the side.









Shepherd’s Pie:

Shepherd's Pie-finished product
Shepherd’s Pie-finished product

Last night we went to a huge house-warming party. Over fifty people were there! Was also present ofcourse, an overabundance of food and drink. Drink being the key word here!

This morning is so far, obviously behaving like a typical “morning after”…

Yes the fresh crispy Lagana bread was a huge plus for breakfast, but overall, head and tummy, are slightly leaning towards the “delicate” side, and in desperate need of gentle food. Preferably one that also qualifies as comfort food.

Sheppard’s Pie springs to mind and the thought settles well in my tummy. Sheppard’s pie it is then… And maybe a light green salad on the side. Yum yum …

Some people say that the original Shepherd’s Pie requires ground lamb. If you’re going to use ground beef then it is called Cottage Pie. Well!! I’ve always made it with ground beef! And since the Shepherd’s Pie police are not around today, I will continue using ground beef, and will continue calling it Shepherd’s Pie….

My kitchen, my rules!


6 large potatoes (or 8 medium ones)

1 large onion chopped

½ kg ground beef

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup frozen peas

1 tbsp flour

1 cup grated Parmesan



peel & cut up the potatoes, cover with water, and boil until tender. Drain & let cool

saute onion in a bit of olive oil

add the ground beef, brown, cover and simmer till tender

saute the carrots & peas in another pan, add the flour, stir, then add a bit of water to slightly thicken the mixture

combine contents of both frying pans, adjust seasoning, and transfer to your baking dish. Set aside to cool.

mash your potatoes really well, season with salt & pepper, and combine ½ cup Parmesan into the mixture

spread the potatoes on top of the beef mixture, making sure to not leave any uncovered holes

make markings with the edge of a fork

sprinkle the other half of the Parmesan

bake in a pre-heated 200 Centigrade oven until bubbly & golden brown

Serve with a light green salad on the side.