Cook N Bake Greek Series: Moussaka

Rometti Limoncello Cook N Bake Greek Series Moussaka

Welcome back to our second week of our journey through the Greek cuisine!
Our Greek Series would not be complete without the recipe of one of the most famous Greek dishes, and probably the Greek Dish per excellence, the Moussaka!
The name originates from the Arabic, and it means “chilled”. It’s also found in Greek Turkish and South Slavic languages. This shows that Moussaka is also present in other cuisines, however the Greek version of it, a layered casserole with potatoes, eggplants (aubergines) and lamb has become the most popular. Some people add also nutmeg, garlic and spices to season the vegetables and the meat.

Moussaka is a dish that incorporates the bitterness of the eggplant which contrasts with the sweetness of the potatoes. Both the flavors work very well with meat, and moreover the creamy, milky béchamel on top just adds that delicious, soft details that makes Moussaka a perfect dish for the entire family!

Ingredients:

2 eggplants
1280g(45 oz) potatoes
640g (22 oz) minced meat – lamb, beef or a mixture of both
3 tablespoons butter
480g (17 oz) tinned tomatoes or 1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup grated cheese – cheddar, parmesan or kefalotiri
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
oil for frying
salt, pepper
approx 8 tablespoons ground french toast (friganies), or dried breadcrumbs

For the béchamel sauce:
125g (4.5 oz) butter
4 tablespoons plain flour
1l (about 4 cups) warm milk
2 egg yolks
salt, pepper
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Wash and peel the potatoes, then cut them in 1/4 inch round slices. Fry them on both sides and lay them on a papertowel to absorb the oils. Do the same with the eggplants cut in thin slices.
In a saucepan melt the butter and add chopped onions and the meat until browned. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper, parsley. Cover and simmer until the juices are dried up.

Remove from the heat, add 1/3 of the cheese and 3-4 tablespoon of breadcrumbs.

Get a baking tray, sprinkle the bottom of it with breadcrumbs. Lay the eggplants and sprinkle them with grated cheese. Do the same with a layer of potatoes. Pour the meat sauce over the potatoes, and cover the meat with another layer of eggplants, and potatoes.

In the meantime prepare the béchamel sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan. Slowly stir in the flower until it becomes homogeneous. When it starts to bubble remove the pan from the stove, and gradually add the milk. Put back on the stove at a very low heat and keep stirring until the sauce thickens.
Season it with salt and pepper, and once cooled add the egg yolks and stir until they are mixed in.

At this point, pour the béchamel on top of the potatoes, add some grated cheese and bake in a medium oven at 180 C (356 F) for 30-40 minutes until golden. Remove, let rest for about 10 minutes and serve with a crispy green salad!

~Enjoy!

Recipe from http://www.ultimate-guide-to-greek-food.com/moussaka.html

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Happy Hour Tuesday: Limoncello Tea

Rometti Limoncello - Limoncello TeaHappy Hour Tuesday!

Since we have been talking in our Cook N Bake blog about how therapeutic herbs and spices are, we were thinking: how about a limoncello tea? Especially now that we officially ended the Summer season and entered the magical, colorful Fall season, when spices are indeed what define this time of the year. So here it is, this week our recipe is called Limoncello Tea.

Limoncello Tea can be either a hot or a cold drink. In both cases all you have to do is to mix a cup of tea with one ounce of Rometti Limoncello. Easy enough, isn’t it? But if you like it chilly, you can also enjoy some variations of the recipe, such as adding two ounces of cranberry juice, orange juice or crushed berries. Delicious!

If, instead, the weather is a little too cold for ice tea, then simply pick you favorite tisane flavor (apple, pomegranate, passion fruit…) and add one ounce of Rometti Limoncello. Some honey or simple syrup may be perfect to increase the sweetness of you tea.

Ingredients:

1 oz Rometti Limoncello
1 cup of tea or enough to fill a glass
1 slice of lemon

To a glass filled half with ice, add your favorite tea and mix it with one ounce of Rometti Limoncello. Add a slice of lemon to garnish.
Serve either hot or cold.

~ENJOY!

Cook N Bake Greek Series: Baklava

Rometti Limoncello Cook N Bake Greek Series Baklava

Dear Readers,

I know you have been waiting and wondering for a whole week about what the next series will be! Well, time has come to unveil the mystery and introduce.. the Greek Series!

Located in the Mediterranean area, Greece’s traditional cuisine was very much influenced in history by the Romans, thus is very similar to other Mediterranean cuisines, such as Italian and Turkish. Olives, eggplants, zucchini, herbs, grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine are the main and most recurrent ingredients. The use of honey, nuts and phyllo pastry are characteristic of Greek cuisine. And it’s on these ingredients that we are focusing our attention this week: phyllo pastry, chopped nuts and honey are in fact combined together in a sweet dish called Baklava.

The word Baklava seelms to be of either Turkish or Persian origin. The origin of the word is still unclear, but it most likely means “to tie, to wrap up”. And it’s inTurkey that the dish Baklava seems to have originated, although many documentations date it back to the ancient Mesopotamia. There are different versions of dishes similar to Baklava throughout Iran, Afghanistan, Cyprus, Armenia, Syria and India. If you remember our past blogs, you might remember the Italian Torta Salata, which is not too much different either! Gastrin, made with nuts, seeds and pepper between two sheets of dough was the ancient version of Baklava as known in the island of Crete.

Baklava is a deliciously flaky and sweet dish, where phyllo alternates in layers and gives a crunch to this unbelievable crunchy treat. Used either in weddings or as Easter treat with 40 layers of phyllo (yes, the preparation of Baklava differs from region to region!), we are sure that you’ll enjoy it anytime of the year!

Ingredients (serves 24):

For the filling:
1 lb. of chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, or pistachios are best, or use a combination of them)
1 lb of phyllo dough
olive oil
1/3 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon of ground cloves

For the syrup:
1 cup of water
1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of honey
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
Finely ground pistachios for garnish (optional)

Warm up the oven to 350 F.
Take the thawed phyllo and cut it in half to fit in a 9×13 pan that you have previously greased with olive oil. While preparing the filling keep the phyllo covered with a damp towel so it won’t dry out.
In a food processor put the nuts, sugar, cinnamon and cloves.
Place the first sheet of phyllo into the pan and spread some olive oil on top of it. Place 7 more and brush some olive oil on top of each sheet. Spoon on a thin layer of the nut mixture, on top of which you’ll put two sheets of phyllo, and repeat until you finish the filling. Make sure that the last layer is 8 sheets of phyllo, each one greased with some olive oil on top.
Use a sharp knife to cut 24 squares, and bake for 30-35 minutes until slightly crispy.
While baking, prepare the syrup by combining cinnamon, sugar, lemon juice, honey and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium low heat and let it simmer for 7 minutes. The syrup needs to be a little thick. Remove the cinnamon stick and let it cool.
Sppon the syrup on top of the Baklava and let it cool for 4 hours. Garnish with some nuts or crushed pistachios.

~ENJOY!

Image by David Loftus Limited

Happy Hour Tuesday: Lavander Lemon Champagne Cocktail

Rometti Limoncello - Lemon Lavander Champagne CocktailHappy Hour Tuesday!

This week we would like to present you a very delicate drink for special events, a light and refreshing mix that will add an unforgettable accent to you cocktail party, wedding reception, or Sunday get together.

Lemon Lavander Cocktail is a champagne based cocktail with a lavender aroma that will caress your palate at every sip. Lavander is part of the mint family and maybe not a lot of you know that although being used for scents and perfumes, it is also wonderful when paired with some selected dishes! Chefs use it for baked desserts, chocolate, milk, marshmallows, fruit and of course, herbal tea.

Lemon Lavander Cocktail with its delicate and subtle lavender flavor infused within the citrusy essence of Rometti Limoncello is the perfect drink for a relaxing time with friends and family. And, surprisingly, men love it too!

Ingredients:

2 sprigs of lavender flowers

1 oz gin

1 oz Rometti Limoncello

1/2 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice

Champagne

Ice

In a cocktail shaker combine lemon juice and Rometti Limoncello. Strip the lavender flowers from the stem and muddle them into the lemon mixer. That way they will release their aromatic oils. The longer you leave the flowers into the mixer, the stronger the lavender aroma. Add the gin and ice and shake well. Pour the mixer into a champagne glass and top it with champagne. Add a lavender flower to garnish.

~ENJOY!

Recipe courtesy of http://www.drinkoftheweek.com/drink_recipes/lemon-lavender-cocktail/
Photo by Amy and Stuart Photography

Cook N Bake French Series: French Macaron

Dear Reader,

sadly this week we say goodbye to our French series. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did while researching and picking some of the most interesting recipes of the French cuisine. To conclude this journey and to reward you from being such a great supporter and follower, we would like to present you a little treat, the French Macarons.

French Macarons are smooth, egg based, almond flavored, cookie-shaped meringues filled with jams, buttercream or ganache. The shells are incredibly soft and airy that melt in your mouth, while the cream makes it chewy and..yes, quite addicting!

The origin of macarons seems to be contended between France and Italy, where they appeared in the 18th century, probably forwarded by a French Carmelite monastery during the revolution. Someone attributes their origin to Catherine de Medici. It’s even told that her granddaughter in Nancy, France, survived starvation thanks to the macarons. Later they were also served in the Versaille Court in Paris to the royalty, a fact probably contributed to make them popular in the 1830s. Today they are famous thanks to the patisserie Laduree, known all around the world for their delicious treats. Each season they create a new flavor, as they use different ingredients for their filling based on the availability of the season.

If you wish you were in Paris but cannot afford the trip, then bring Paris into your home with this delicious macarons recipe!

Ingredients (for about 16):

for the meringue:

1 1/4 cups plus 1 teaspoon confectioner sugar

1 cup finely ground sliced, blanched almonds

6 tablespoons fresh egg whites (from about 3 extra-large eggs)

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup granulated sugar

for the filling:

3 large egg whites

1 cup sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar and ground almonds. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites with salt on medium speed until foamy. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar. Continue to whip until stiff glossy peaks form. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the confectioners’ sugar mixture until completely incorporated.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Fit a pastry bag with a 3/8-inch #4 round tip, and fill with batter. Pipe 1-inch disks onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies. The batter will spread a little. Let stand at room temperature until dry, and a soft skin forms on the tops of the macaroons and the shiny surface turns dull, about 15 minutes.

Bake, with the door of the oven slightly ajar, until the surface of the macaroons is completely dry, about 15 minutes. Remove baking sheet to a wire rack and let the macaroons cool completely on the baking sheet. Gently peel off the parchment. Their tops are easily crushed, so take care when removing the macaroons from the parchment. Use immediately or store in an airtight container, refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

While baking, you can make the filling.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk egg whites and sugar. Set mixer bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and heat mixture, whisking often, until it feels warm to the touch and sugar is dissolved, 3 to 5 minutes.

Transfer bowl to the mixer, and fit with the whisk attachment. Whip on high speed until mixture is stiff and shiny, 3 to 5 minutes. Add butter, one piece at a time, and continue mixing until butter is thoroughly incorporated. The filling can be kept, covered and refrigerated, up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before stirring. You can add finely ground fruit to it or mix in some flavored jam.

Fill a pastry bag with the filling. Turn macaroons so their flat bottoms face up. On half of them, pipe about 1 teaspoon filling. Sandwich these with the remaining macaroons, flat-side down, pressing slightly to spread the filling to the edges. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

(Recipe by Martha Stewart Recipes)

~ENJOY!

Happy Hour Tuesday: Raspberry Basil Limoncello Cocktail

Rometti Limoncello - Raspberry Limoncello Cocktail

Happy Hour Tuesday!

Have you ever felt like the week has just started and Saturday already couldn’t come soon enough? If you need a drink that regenerates you from the stress of  work, traffic, and everything in between then we recommend this vibrant escape.  This week our refreshing cocktail called is the Raspberry Basil Limoncello Cocktail.

Created by the American chef Bobby Flay, the drink pairs fresh basil leaves with fresh raspberries. Herbs play such a fundamental role in dishes: they add unbelievably flavorful aromas, while balancing ingredients and reminding us of the season we’re in, and depending on the origin of each herb they can take us on a multitude of journeys throughout the world. This recipe is a great example of how fresh food ingredients can play well in the sand box of many drinks,  including the play yard pals of mojito, martini, margarita, etc.

Raspberry Basil Limoncello Cocktail is a mixture of minty and almost spicy unmistakeable taste of basil, and the flowery sweetness of raspberries. We highlight the zesty taste and color of Rometti Limoncello which provides some great balance to the citrus vodka.

Great if paired with cold pasta salads, herbal tartlets, crackers covered in creamy cheese, and dont forget tiramisu!

Ingredients:

1 pint fresh raspberries, plus more for garnish

12 fresh basil leaves, roughly torn, plus sprigs for garnish

1 lemon, cut into sixths, plus wheels for garnish

1/4 cup simple syrup, chilled (more if you prefer the cocktail a little sweeter)

2 ounces Rometti Limoncello

4 ounces citron vodka

Crushed ice

Sparkling rose wine, chilled

Combine the raspberries, basil, lemons and simple syrup in a small pitcher and muddle until the raspberries are mashed. Add the Rometti Limoncello and vodka. Let chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Put crushed ice into rocks glasses and add some of the raspberry mixture. Fill to the top with sparkling wine. Garnish with lemon and raspberries and basil sprigs if desired. (Courtesy of Bobby Flay)

ENJOY!~

Image taken from http://www.somedrinksrecipes.com

Cook N Bake French Series: Beef Bourguignon

Rometti - Cook N bake French Series - Beef Bourguignon

Here we are with the second to the last Cook N Bake French Series!

Rometti’s passion for turning every meal into a celebratory moment and create everlasting memories simply couldn’t avoid taking into consideration a dish that is synonymous to celebration, Beef Bourguignon. This dish is a harmonic combination of aromatic vegetables, spices, sauce and wine which create a delicious, savory bed for the beef.
Beef Bourguignon is a typical French dish that originated in the eastern Burgundy region (Bourgogne in French). Burgundy is also the kind of wine that is traditionally used to braise the beef (typically cut into small cubes), to which a broth of garlic, onions, and mushrooms is added towards the end of the cooking. Bacon is also another important ingredient that adds flavor to the beef.
Just like many other dishes, Beef Bourguignon was a creation of the lower class, and later it got introduced into restaurants for the upper class. The reason why the simmering of the beef takes so long was in fact because the cuts were not of tender meat (reason why it was not served in the “haute cuisine”) which needed to be moisturized and softened.

Beef Bourguignon is similar to the Italian spezzatino, or the Hungarian goulash. In America Beef Bourguignon was popularized by Julia Child, it can be served immediately after cooking or can be served later. And it’s to honor Julia Child that we decided to use her original version of the recipe as it appears in her “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” recipe book.

You will be unbelievably pleased by the aromatic smell and wine-infused, rich taste of such a homely dish! Whether you decide to cook it on a rainy day, or at Christmas to share it with your beloved ones, you will be blown away by how deliciously all the ingredients work together! As long as you are patient enough to cook the beef perfectly!

Ingredients:

6-ounce chunk of bacon
9- to 10-inch fireproof casserole, 3 inches deep
1 tablespoon olive oil or cooking oil
Slotted spoon
3 pounds lean stewing beef cut into 2-inch cubes
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups of a full-bodied young red wine, or a Chianti
2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 teaspoon thyme
Crumbled bay leaf
Blanched bacon rind
18 to 24 small white onions, brown-braised in stock.
1 pound fresh mushrooms, quartered, sautéed in butter
Parsley sprigs

Remove rind, and cut bacon into lardoons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 cups of water. Drain and dry.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Sauté the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef.

Dry the beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.

In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sautéing fat.
Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in the middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

Stir in the wine and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.

When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.

Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If it is too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for the seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.
Recipe may be completed in advance to this point.

For immediate serving: Cover the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles or rice and decorated with parsley.

For later serving: When cold, cover and refrigerate. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.

~ENJOY!

Copyright image: Gareth Morgans

Happy Hour Tuesday: Limoncello Beerita

Rometti Limoncello - Limoncello Beerita

Happy Hour Tuesday!

Although we have already started the month of September and the Summer is almost winding down, Rometti is not quite yet ready to say goodbye! As a result, this week’s drink is still a fun and laid-back Summer cocktail that you do not want to miss!

Beerita (also known as Corona Margarita or Corona Rita) has been raising quite a few eye brows because of its presentation. Some places will deliver the Beerita with an upside down beer bottle! If the look of it is something that doesn’t pass unnoticed, the question “did they clean the bottle?” doesn’t go unnoticed either! Well, we surely hope that that the bartender does!, however just in case you preferred to make the cocktail at home and be bottle-strees-free, don’t worry, you can just simply add the beer!

Beerita is a drink that’s been around for a few years, the origins are still uncertain. It’s been seen in Minnesota, Florida, Boston, and quite a lot in Texas! As you probably already guessed, it’s a mix between margarita and a Mexican beer, usually Corona. We made our own version by adding to the original recipe by using Rometti Limoncello in places of simple syrup / lime juice and or tonic water!
What’s special about the Limoncello Beerita is that it combines three refreshing drinks into one. The addition of beer with its bitter flavor balances out the sweetness of the margarita and Rometti Limoncello increases the zesty flavor of lemon and lime while providing that extra kick! If it’s hot outside and you’re undecided whether to have a beer or a margarita, Limoncello Beerita allows you to have both!

Ingredients:

1/8 (12 fluid ounce) can frozen limeade concentrate

1/4 cup tequila (Añejo, Blanco / Silver, Agave work well)

1/4 cup beer (mexican)

1/4 Rometti Limoncello

1/8 Grand Marnier Float on top

1/8 lime, cut into wedges (1-2)

Salt rim of glass

Wet the border of a lowball glass with a slice of lime and dip it into some salt.
Pour limeade, tequila, Rometti Limoncello and beer into a large pitcher. Stir until the ingredients are completely blended. Pour the mix into a glass filled for half with ice (or blend) and garnish with a lime wedge.
Adjust with tonic water if needed.

~ENJOY!
image taken from; http://exhaustedmomdiary.blogspot.com/2011/08/thirsty-thursday-corona-rita.html