September and Labor Day weekend make me think of late summer and I find it hard not to mumble to AA Milne’s adorable character, Winnie the Pooh. “Goodbye? Oh no please. Can’t we just go back to page one and start all over again?”
Late summer has blessed us with warm days in the sun, lush gardens with overflowing produce, farmers markets and endless supplies of colorful fruits and vegetables for any meal or occasion. The cook is tempted to splurge to gather all that bounty into the kitchen and deliver a flurry of colorful, flavorful dishes ahead of seasonal menu changes.
This recipe originally came from Craig Clairborne’s NY Times cookbook as “Greek-Style Moussaka”, but over the years it has slimmed down considerably losing 1 cup of butter and an egg filling and with ricotta and acquiring several additions.
Since the Greeks and Turks claim moussaka as their dish, I renamed it simply Mediterranean. This moussaka also lost breadcrumbs to accommodate our son’s gluten-free diet. He acquired sliced potatoes after eating a delicious moussaka during our trip to Crete. It is now gluten free. I prefer to use Japanese eggplants because they don’t need to be peeled. The proportions here are for a 7 x 11 x 2 inch Pyrex baking dish. Feel free to increase for a 9 by 13 by 2 dish, but it will take a little longer to cook.
Boil 2 medium potatoes cut into 1/4 inch slices for 2 minutes, drain and set aside.
Cut 3 large Japanese eggplants and 1 medium zucchini into 1/2 inch slices, place in a shallow pan, lightly spray with oil, sprinkle with garlic salt and grill, turning once, until tender. both sides are golden. Put aside.
Brown 1 lb of ground lamb (or beef) in a large skillet and set aside. In the same skillet, sauté 2 large chopped onions in 2 tbsp butter for 5 minutes until golden, stir in 2 minced garlic cloves, 12 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp of cumin, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, 3 tablespoons of tomato paste, and 3/4 cup of red wine. Stir to combine, add the meat back and add 1/4 cup chopped parsley. Cook over low heat until most of the liquid is absorbed.
To assemble, lightly butter the pan, layer the potatoes, 1/4 of the meat sauce, a layer of zucchini-eggplant, 2 tablespoons of fresh grated parmesan and another 1/4 of the meat sauce. Repeat eggplant, Parmesan and sauce two more times. Sprinkle the meat sauce by the tablespoon in spots, not necessary to evenly spread. Cover everything completely with rounds of pointed provolone and lightly press it down with your hands.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Can be made ahead and reheated covered in a 325 degree oven for 30 minutes.
Our summer abundance of fresh Maine peaches is the result of more winter-hardy peach varieties and milder recent winters. This colorful and fragrant fruit lends itself to crumbles and peach pies. Here’s a peach-raisin-almond cobbler, similar in appearance to my plum cobbler, but with a totally different and mouth-watering flavor.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Unroll a sheet of deli crescent pastry and gently stretch it out into a 9-inch pie plate. There will be a significant overhang on two of the edges. In a small bowl, combine 3/4 cup sugar with 2 generous tablespoons cornstarch.
Blanch 4-5 peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds, remove skin, remove pit and cut each half into 4-5 slices in a large bowl and add 1/4 cup raisins. Mix with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of lemon extract. Then mix the fruit with the sugar-starch mixture and return everything to a plate covered with puff pastry. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup slivered almonds and fold the dough over the fruit on all sides, leaving the center open.
Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 350 degrees and continue cooking for another 12-17 minutes until the liquid bubbles around the fruit. Remove from the oven and serve warm or cold.
(I. Winicov Harrington, of Waldoboro, is the author of “How to Eat Healthy and Well for Less Than $5.00 a Day: The Smart, Frugal Eating Plan”. For more information, go to winicov- harrington.com.)