Showing posts with label flour. Show all posts
Showing posts with label flour. Show all posts

Vegetarian Lasagna with white sauce or Bechamel sauce

This is a nice vegetarian dish that you can make even during Lent.  You can substitute the lasagna noodles with gluten free lasagna noodles.  You can also omit the mushrooms.  My daughter doesn't like mushrooms, so if I make this dish when she is coming over for dinner, I will omit the mushrooms altogether.  Enjoy!

Ingredients (Makes 12 servings appr. 8.5 oz each serving)
8 oz. lasagna noodles
3 tbs. olive oil
1 cup diced onions
1 tbs. chopped garlic
1 cup diced carrots
8 oz. mushrooms
12 oz. frozen spinach defrosted and drained of all the water
16 oz. cottage cheese
2 eggs
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
3 ¼ cup shredded mozzarella

White sauce or Bechamel sauce
3 tbs. butter
3 tbs. flour
3 cups skim milk
½ cup parmesan
¼ tsp. nutmeg

Directions
Cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions.  When cooked drain the water and set aside to cool. 
In the meantime, peel and wash the onions and carrots.  Dice them and set them aside.  Peel and dice the garlic.  In a large sauce pan, add the olive oil and sauté the diced onions and garlic. Add the diced carrots, mushrooms and spinach. Season to taste.  Remove from heat, let it cool, then add the cottage cheese, eggs and 1 cup shredded mozzarella. Set aside.

Make the white sauce:
In a pan, melt the butter and add the flour, to make a roux.  While stirring with a whisk add the milk and nutmeg, and continue cooking till it thickens, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and add the ½ cup Parmesan. Mix  well together and set it aside.

Assembly:
Layer the lasagna, by putting some of the white sauce on the bottom of a 13x9 oven proof pan, then the lasagna noodles, the spinach filling, some of the white sauce, and repeat. On top finish with noodles, white sauce and 2 and ¼ cups shredded mozzarella. Bake at 350° F for about an hour till the cheese is all melted and it’s heated through.  Remove from the oven and let it cool before serving. 

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 serving (235.8 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 321
Calories from Fat 151
Total Fat 16.8g
Saturated Fat 8.4g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 73mg
Sodium 562mg
Total Carbohydrates 21.2g
Dietary Fiber 1.3g
Sugars 4.8g
Protein 21.7g

 The stuffing

The layers with the stuffing....

.....and the noodles....

....with the shredded mozzarella before it goes in the oven

The final product... ready to eat.  Enjoy!




Koulourkakia Portokaliou-Greek Easter Cookies


Koulourakia Portokaliou - Greek Easter cookies

These cookies are a very traditional treat for Greek Easter. But they are also good for any other occasion or even year round. In Greece while I was growing up, these cookies were only made during Easter to be eaten on Greek Easter Sunday and for the next 50 days until Holy Pentecost. Nowadays, the bakeries in Greece, sell these cookies year round and the locals buy them to offer them to company with an afternoon coffee.

I used to have these cookies for breakfast, dipping them in my milk, while I was growing up in Greece. They usually went quite fast. All of us in my family loved these cookies, and on occasion, my mother would have to bake another batch to offer to visitors while they came over for coffee.

I continue this tradition in my family as much as I can, making them during Greek Easter. They last for about 3 months, but in most cases, they are gone before the time is up. They are called Koulourakia portokaliou (pronounced = koo-loo-rάhk-yah por-toh-kahl-yoo) =  cookies with orange.

Enjoy!


Makes 82 servings (approximately 0.5oz each)

½ lbs. butter
1 ¼ cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tbsp. grated orange peel
¼.cup orange juice
1 tbsp. baking powder
4 ¼ cups flour (keep the ¼ cup for kneading)
2 tbsp. melted butter
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp. water
¼ cup slivered, raw almonds chopped

Bring the butter at room temperature. Don't melt it in the microwave or over the stove. For the cookies to come out well and be pliable, the butter needs to be at room temperature.

Save ¼ cup of the flour for kneading the dough later. Sift the rest of the flour with the baking powder.

In a stand-alone mixer, beat together the butter with the sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well together. Add the orange rind and the orange juice. Beat well together. Add the flour and beat well. The dough will be a bit sticky. Remove it from the bowl and flour a clean surface with a little bit of the ¼ cup flour. Knead the dough with the remaining flour until the dough doesn't stick to your hands. Place the dough in a bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Butter the cookie sheets with the 2 tbsp. butter. When the dough is cool, take about 1 inch balls with your fingers, and roll it out into a strand, fold it in half and twist it. Continue until all the dough is done. Mix together the egg yolk and water and brush the cookies. Sprinkle with the chopped almonds. Bake at 375 degree oven for 20 minutes until lightly browned. Cool and store in an airtight container. They can last up to 3 months.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 serving (16.0 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 63
Calories from Fat 27
Total Fat 3.0g
Saturated Fat 1.7g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 15mg
Sodium 21mg
Potassium 32mg
Total Carbohydrates 8.3g
Dietary Fiber 0.2g
Sugars 3.2g
Protein 1.0g





Greek Style Oven Fried Chicken

I was craving some fried chicken the other day. So I decided to make it with my usual Greek twist in it. The oregano, the cumin and the lemon juice shouts Greek. This dish can easily be made gluten free. Use gluten free all purpose flour (like King Arthur's) and gluten free breadcrumbs.

Makes 8 servings (approximately 6.2 oz each serving)

2 ¼ lbs chicken pieces
½ cup flour
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cumin
2 eggs
1 tsp water
2 cups bread crumbs
2 tsp oregano

Wash and skin the chicken pieces or you can buy them skinless and boneless. I used a whole chicken that I cut up into pieces. Whatever chicken I had leftover I boiled it for my little shih tzu and kept the chicken stock in the freezer for future use.

In a bowl, mix together the flour with the ground pepper, salt and cumin. Set aside. Beat the 2 eggs with the water in another bowl and set aside. Mix the breadcrumbs with the oregano into a third bowl and set aside.

Coat the chicken pieces with the flour mixture first. Then dip them into the egg mixture and then into the breadcrumb mixture. Place them on a cookie sheet, lined with aluminum foil, into a single layer. Bake at 400°F preheated oven for about 1 hour. Turn once. Remove from the oven, place the chicken in a platter and squeeze some fresh lemon juice. Serve and Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 6.173 oz (175g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 395
Calories from Fat 109
Total Fat 12.1g
Saturated Fat 3.3g
Cholesterol 154mg
Sodium 471mg
Total Carbohydrates 25.9g
Dietary Fiber 1.6g
Sugars 1.8g
Protein 42.8g


Before it goes into the oven

Ready to eat! Enjoy!

Gluten free Oatmeal Cookies with Craisins and Walnuts

As the holidays are upon us, we rush to finish our Christmas shopping and our baking. When a big snowstorm hits us, we await anxiously for it to pass so that we can finish our shopping. Some of us welcome the onset of a snowstorm that might leave us home-bound. On those days, we take out our baking pans and begin experimenting on recipes. That’s how I came up with this Gluten Free Oatmeal Cookie recipe. I had this recipe in my files along with some of my other old recipes that I have kept over the years. This time I wanted to try making them with gluten free flour. I substituted regular flour with King Arthur gluten free all-purpose flour. I added dried cranberries (craisins) and chopped walnuts. The cookies turned out full of flavor, chewy and crunchy. They go well with coffee or tea during an afternoon break, or as a morning treat. Enjoy!

Gluten free Oatmeal Cookies with Craisins and Walnuts

Makes 30 servings approximately 1.4 oz each

½ cup butter + 6 tbsp. butter melted
½ cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar firmly packed
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1½ cups King Arthur gluten free all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups Quaker oats old fashioned (the ones you cook)
1 cup craisins (dried cranberries)
1 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt the butter. Combine the butter with the sugars in a bowl till creamy. Add the eggs and the vanilla and beat well. Combine the gluten free all-purpose flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together. Add to the mix and blend well. Add the oatmeal, the craisins, and the walnuts. Blend well together.

In a greased cookie sheet or lined with wax paper cookie sheet, drop the dough by 1 tablespoon. I used an ice cream scooper. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes till the edges are browned. Remove from the oven and wait to cool before removing from the pan.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 serving (40.4 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 166
Calories from Fat 78
Total Fat 8.7g
Saturated Fat 3.7g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 25mg
Sodium 124mg
Total Carbohydrates 19.7g
Dietary Fiber 1.3g
Sugars 7.2g
Protein 3.1g






Kourabiedes or Greek Almond Cookies in Icing sugar

During the Christmas holidays in Greece, my mother used to make these traditional Greek cookies called Kourabiedes drenched in icing sugar. I used to love these cookies growing up. The only problem was that you had to have a plate to eat them otherwise the icing sugar will be all over your clothes or on the floor. I used to sneak in the dining room where my mother kept the kourabiedes on a glass tray to just sample one, but I had to make sure that I didn’t drop any of the icing sugar on the floor or I’d be in trouble. Kourabiedes are very customary cookies to make during Christmas in Greece. Over the years I began making these icing sugar drenched delights for my own family traditions.  Enjoy!

Kourabiedes Greek Almond Cookies in Icing sugar      

Makes 64 cookies (approximately 1oz each)

1 lbs unsalted butter at room temperature
½ cup icing sugar
1 cup ground almonds, toasted
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
3.5 - 4 cups flours (keep the 1/4  -1/2 cups separate)
4 cups icing sugar or as much or less as it takes


In a nonstick frying pan toast the ground almonds with ¼ tsp. of the icing sugar. Toast it for about 5 minutes but do not let it brown. Remove from heat and let it cool.

With an electric mixer beat the butter till soft. Add the icing sugar while continue beating. Add the egg yolks, the vanilla, the baking powder, the whiskey and the cooled ground almonds, while beating continuously. Gradually add the flour and beat well. Turn the mixer off. With your hands knead the dough lightly. Pour a little bit of the 1/4 cup flour on your hands so the dough won’t stick to your hands. Keep kneading the dough by adding the 1/4 cup flour over your hands, till done. Add more flour as needed. When the dough pulls away from the bowl stop kneading.   The dough will be sticky.  If it's too sticky, place in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes so it will be easy to form the cookies.

Take about a spoonful of the dough and roll it between your hands into 1'' ball. Shape them into 1/2 moons or ovals or rounds. Place them in an ungreased cookie sheet and bake them in a preheated 350° oven for 18-20 minutes. The cookies shouldn't brown. They should be almost white on top. When the edges become lightly browned take them out of the oven. 

While still warm, place them in a bowl that’s filled with the icing sugar. Coat them well with the icing sugar and place them in a platter. Shift the remaining icing sugar on top. You will have extra icing sugar left over. You can use it as you serve the cookies to freshen them up.  You can drench them in icing sugar or dip them in melted chocolate. Either tastes equally good. The Greek way is with icing sugar.

Nutrition Facts 
Serving Size 0.878 oz (24.9g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 119
Calories from Fat 60
Total Fat 6.7g
 Saturated Fat 3.8g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 22mg
Sodium 41mg
Total Carbohydrates 13.7g
Dietary Fiber 0.4g
Sugars 8.4g
Protein 1.1g



Right out of the oven


 
Drenched in icing sugar


  
Or half dipped in chocolate!




Merry Christmas! Enjoy!


Salmon with Lemon Artichoke and Capers Sauce

Salmon is such a great fish which is a shame to actually cover it with any type of sauces.  But I got tired of eating grilled salmon all the time so I thought I'd try it with this lemon caper sauce that I sort of came up with a few years ago.  Back then, I used flour.  More like a basic white sauce but with lemon juice.  Over the years, I experimented making it with cornstarch, which takes a lot less time for the sauce to thicken than making it with flour.  It's a great sauce to pour over grilled chicken or any other type of fish.  Another time I baked some tilapia fillets in the same sauce in the oven, but without the cornstarch.  That recipe  in another Greek Fusion Cuisine Blog post.  This is a quick and easy recipe to make if you are crunched for time, or to make on a weekday after work.  Within an hour I had dinner on the table. 


Makes approximately 6-8 servings depending on how big you want your serving. 6 servings are approximately 8 oz each. The Nutritional information below is for 6 servings at approximately 8oz each.

1.5 lbs salmon fillet
 2 tbsp olive oil
4-5 lemon slices

Preheat oven to 500° F. (Broil) Put a grill pan – big enough to fit the salmon fillet- in the oven to get hot. When hot remove from the oven and brush with the one-tablespoon olive oil. 



 In the meantime, wash and pat dry the salmon. Put the salmon, skin side down on the pan and brush with the remaining olive oil.  Top the salmon with the lemon slices. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the pan back in the oven and broil for 8-10 minutes.  

Lemon Caper sauce with Artichoke hearts
¾ cup chicken stock
¼ cup lemon juice (fresh squeezed)
2 cups artichoke hearts quartered (from a jar will do fine)
1 tbsp cornstarch
¼ cup water
1.5 tbsp butter
2 tsp capers
Salt and pepper to taste

In a sauce-pan add the chicken stock, lemon juice and artichoke hearts. Heat through. Dilute the cornstarch in the ¼ cup water and add to the sauce stirring till slightly thickened. Turn the heat off. Add the butter and stir till the butter is melted.  Add the capers.   Remove the salmon from the grill pan and place in a serving platter.  Pour the lemon-artichoke-caper sauce on top.  Serve over hot rice   


 Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
1 serving (255.1 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 345
Total Fat 21.8g
Saturated Fat 5.4g
Cholesterol 79mg
Sodium 285mg
Total Carbohydrates 10.6g
Dietary Fiber 4.3g
Sugars 1.2g
Protein 27.8g

Fried Cod in Beer Batter



Makes six servings (about 6 oz each)

1.3 lbs cod fillets

Beer Batter

¾ cup flour

¾ cup beer

2 tsp fresh dill finely chopped

2 tsp fresh parsley finely chopped

½ cup canola oil for frying

Salt and pepper to taste (you can add the salt and pepper in the batter. I don’t put much salt on this dish, since fish to begin with is salty).

Rinse the cod fillets and pat dry with a paper towel. Set aside.

In a bowl and with a whisk, mix together the flour, the beer, the fresh dill and the fresh parsley. Mix well, so there are no lumps.

In a non-stick frying pan, add the ½-cup canola oil. Let it heat through, but not too hot. Coat the cod fillets with the beer batter, and drop carefully in the hot oil. When the fillets crisp on the outside, lower the heat and let the fillets cook for a couple more minutes. Make sure that the oil is not too hot, as the batter will burn and the fish will not cook inside. If unsure, take a piece out of the frying pan and cut it with a fork. If it’s flaky, then the fish is cooked. If not, put it back in the frying pan and let it cook a little longer. The cooking time depends on how big the cod fillets are. If the fillets are small then the cooking will take less time, if big it will need more time to cook through.

When all the fillets are fried, place them in a platter lined with a paper towel to absorb the extra oil. When ready to serve, remove the paper towel or place them in another platter, drizzle some fresh squeezed lemon juice and serve with lemon wedges.



Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 5.732 oz (162.5g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 334
Calories from Fat 173
Total Fat 19.2g
Saturated Fat 1.5g
Trans Fat 0.1g
Cholesterol 54mg
Sodium 79mg
Total Carbohydrates 13.2g
Dietary Fiber 0.5g
Protein 24.3g

Greek Style Veggie Pizza



Even though pizza is considered the ultimate Italian dish, it actually originated in ancient Greece.  Ancient Greeks used to cover flat breads with herbs, oil and cheese.  Later on, during Byzantine time, they called it “pita” meaning pie.  And the Romans topped their pizza dough with honey, bay leaves and cheese.  Everyone will argue of where the pizza came from.  Greeks can argue that it is their own invention.  Italians can argue that it originated in their country. In fact, the pizza that we eat today has originated in Italy.  Naples to be precise.  Which leads us to believe that it originated from Greeks, since the city of Naples (Neapolis in Greek) was founded by the Greeks.

During the early 1900’s pizza was introduced to Americans.  Even though pizza was originally Greek, it took a few centuries for Greeks to eat the Italian version of pizza.  When I first had pizza in Greece, many, many years ago, I was not too impressed.  I actually thought that I’d never have pizza again.  But when I tried the American style pizza I was hooked. 

As with everything else, that has progressed, so has the pizza and its toppings.  Traditional pizzas have the basic tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese, but that’s not quite the norm any more.  We can have stuffed crust pizza, deep-dish pizza, thin crust, round and square shape, toppings like pineapple and anchovies, or Cajun chicken and pork sausage.  As with everything else in my Greek Fusion cuisine, I had to incorporate something Greek, Italian and American to my pizza.  I give you a Thin Crust Vegetarian Pizza, with roma tomatoes, artichoke hearts, spinach, and of course mozzarella and feta cheese.  It turned out delicious and quite easy to do. 

Enjoy!


Pizza dough from scratch


This will make two (2) 14 inch pizzas

1 packet dry active yeast

1 ¼ cups warm water

Pinch of sugar

1 tsp salt

4 cups flour

2 tbsp olive oil

In 1 ¼ cups warm water dissolve the dry yeast. Add the sugar. Stir till well blended and let it stand for 10 minutes.

In another bowl, sift the flour and the salt together. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture. With an electric mixer that has a dough hook begin blending the yeast/water mixture into the flour mixture. Add the olive oil. Continue beating until the dough is firm and has absorbed all the liquid. You will know that the dough is ready when it pulls away from the bowl.

On a slightly floured surface, begin kneading the dough for about 10-15 minutes, till the dough is smooth, elastic and springy when trying to pull. Put it in a floured bowl and let it rise in a warm place for about 1 ½ - 2 hours. This will make two (2) 14 inch pizza’s. (You can freeze 1/2 the dough before letting it rise. It will last for about 1 month in the freezer).

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 1 serving(34.8g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 87
Calories from Fat 12
Total Fat 1.3g
Saturated Fat 0.2g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 98mg
Total Carbohydrates 16.0g
Dietary Fiber 0.6g
Sugars 0.1g
Protein 2.2g

Toppings for Greek style vegetarian pizza from scratch - these ingredients are for one (1) 14" pizza 

12 servings – this will make one (1) 14-inch pizza

1 tbsp olive oil

½ tsp oregano

1 cup shredded mozzarella

4 roma tomatoes sliced (about 1 cup)

¼ cup red onion thinly sliced

1 small can (4 oz) mushrooms

1 cup artichoke hearts quartered (packed in oil or frozen)

1 cup spinach, washed and roughly chopped

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. I use a 15 inch pizza stone. You can use any 14-15 inch round pizza pan.

Preparing the ingredients:

Wash, pat dry and roughly chop the spinach. Set aside. Shred the mozzarella; set aside. Slice the roma tomatoes and set aside. Thinly slice the red onion. If you are using frozen artichoke hearts, make sure they are defrosted and warmed up by heating them in a little bit of water in the microwave. Crumble the feta cheese and set aside.

Roll out the dough to a round shape. No need to use any flour. The dough will be elastic and will stretch to the round shape. If you are using a pizza stone, make sure that it’s already preheated in the oven. If you are using a pizza pan, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to use it for a pizza. Some might have a coating on it, and there is no need to brush the pan with oil. If not you might need to, so that the pizza won’t stick to it while baking.

Assemble the pizza:

Brush the pizza dough with the olive oil. Sprinkle with the oregano. Sprinkle with the mozzarella. Spread the roma tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, artichokes, spinach and the crumbled feta on top.
The pizza assembled before it goes in the oven 

 Return to oven and bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about half ( ½ ) hour or until the edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let it cool before cutting it. 

  The pizza hot out of the oven

Nutrition Facts 

Serving Size 1serving(62.5 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 70
Calories from Fat 41          
Total Fat 4.5g
Saturated Fat 2.3g
Cholesterol 11mg
Sodium 141mg
Total Carbohydrates 3.8g
Dietary Fiber 1.4g
Sugars 1.1g
Protein 4.5g

Note: The Nutrition facts are separate for the dough and separate for the toppings.  

Enjoy!!!!



Eggplant and Penne with Bechamel Sauce - Greek Style

This is my version of moussaka.  Instead of layering the eggplant with the meat sauce, I decided to do a vegetarian version.  I took the eggplant and made a tomato base sauce with it.  Instead of the eggplant as the base of this dish (the layering), I used penne pasta.  Covered it with the bechamel sauce and mozzarella cheese and baked it in the oven.  It came out delicious.  

This could be quite an intimidating dish to make for the novice cook.  It's not that difficult, but one needs to be organized.  You can start by having all the ingredients on hand, before you even begin to make this dish.  Once all the ingredients are ready, you start making it without any difficulty following the instructions.  This dish takes me about two hours to make from start to finish.  An hour to prepare the sauce and assemble and an hour in the oven.  But I do have a couple of the elements on my stove burning at the same time.  While the sauce is simmering I boil the pasta.  Once the pasta is done and the sauce is almost there, I drain the pasta and begin on the bechamel sauce.  I pay full attention to the bechamel sauce.  I want it to be perfect without any lumps.  In the meantime, the sauce is off the hot stove and the pasta has drained well.  When the bechamel sauce is done, I begin the assembly.  And from there it's just baking it in the oven... and the one thing that all of us don't like to do, is washing and cleaning up all the pots and pans.  In the end, though, you have a wonderfully tasting good dish.  Serve it with a romaine lettuce salad, or a spinach salad.  it actually tastes good the next day too and packs well as lunch for work or school.  Just reheat in the microwave.    


Enjoy!!!   


Eggplant and Penne with Bechamel Sauce Greek Style         

Eight (8) servings (approximately 13 oz/per serving)

½ cup olive oil + 1/3 cup olive oil for the tomato sauce
½ cup chopped onion
1 tsp chopped garlic
4 cups diced eggplant
½ cup parsley
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper
1 14.5 oz box of multi grain penne

Peel the eggplant, in stripes (1).  Rinse under cold water, pat it dry and dice it.  In a heavy saucepan, over high heat, add the ½ cup of olive oil.  Add the chopped onion and chopped garlic.  Sauté, until transparent.  Add the diced eggplant.  The eggplant will absorb all the oil.  Sauté until the eggplant is moistened with the oil (look at the picture below)  



Add the fresh-diced tomatoes, the chopped parsley, the canned diced tomatoes, the tomato sauce, and the extra 1/3 cup of olive oil.  Add the salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer until the eggplant is tender but not mushy (approximately 30-40 minutes) (See picture below).  Remove from heat. 



In the meantime, bring a big pot of water to a boil.  Add salt, if you prefer in the water (2), and then add the pasta (penne).  Cook according to the package directions.  When cooked, remove from heat, drain and rinse under cold water, if you added salt.  The rinsing will rinse the extra salt off the pasta but without leaving it bland.  Set aside.

Bechamel Sauce (White Sauce)
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
2 cups milk
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (I buy the part skim milk/low moisture mozzarella)

In a small saucepan over medium high heat, melt the 4 tbsp. butter.  Add the 4 tbsp. flour stirring constantly.  Gradually add the 2 cups of milk stirring constantly with a whisk.  Lower the heat to low and continue cooking and stirring to avoid any lumps (3).  Continue cooking over low heat until the sauce thickens.  Remove from heat.  While still hot, add the 1 cup shredded mozzarella, and continue stirring with the whisk until the mozzarella melts and the sauce becomes velvety smooth.  Set aside. 
The Bechamel Sauce

The assembly
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
In a 13x9 (4) pan, layer half the pasta, then the eggplant/tomato sauce and then the rest of the pasta.  
The penne pasta layered with the eggplant tomato sauce

Pour the béchamel sauce on top, covering all the pasta. 


Bake in the oven for about one hour and a half or until it’s bubbly and the top golden brown.  Wait to cool a bit before serving. 
 Baked, out of the oven.  


Serve when cool.

Notes:

(1) When I peel an eggplant I don’t peel all the skin away.  I will peel it in stripes.  I will cut the stem first, then I will peel it lengthwise; leaving about half an inch of skin, peel another half inch, and so on.   
(2) Adding salt when boiling pasta.  I usually add 1 tsp of salt when I boil the pasta.  This way there is some flavor in the pasta.  Afterwards I rinse it in cold water.  Some of the salt will rinse off, but the flavor of the salt will stay with the pasta.  If you try to add salt after the pasta is cooked, it will not flavor it.  This is on individual tastes.
(3) If by any chance you get any lumps on the béchamel sauce, take a fine mesh strainer and pour the sauce through it, to another pot, while the strainer holds back any lumps.  Return to heat, and continue cooking and stirring, till it’s velvety smooth.  
(4)  The pan measurements are inside the pan.
(5) The nutrition facts below include the béchamel sauce.

Nutrition Facts (5)
Serving Size                                         1serving (355.9 g-approximately 13 oz)
Amount Per Serving
            Calories                                               563
Calories from Fat                                              307                              % Daily Value
Total Fat                                                           34.1g                           52%
Saturated Fat                                                   9.4g                             47%
Trans Fat                                                          0.0g
Cholesterol                                                       28mg                           9%
Sodium                                                             1009mg                       42%
Total Carbohydrates                                         58.1g                           19%
Dietary Fiber                                                     6.4g                             26%
Sugars                                                             9.1g
Protein                                                             12.8g

Ravani - Greek Semolina Cake


I have been craving this cake for quite some time now.  So today, I decided to make it.  My mother used to make it often, while I was young.  The semolina gives it a different texture than any typical flour cake.  The lemony syrup (you actually don’t taste it a bit), gives it that extra flavor.  It’s not too sweet but it goes well with coffee, or as an afternoon snack. 

Enjoy!!!

Ravani – Greek Semolina Cake with Lemon Syrup 

32 pieces (approximately 2.5oz each)

For the cake

1 cup unsalted butter melted, or at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 eggs separated
1 cup milk
1 cup semolina flour (durum wheat)
1 and ½ cups flour
4 tsps baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
Rind of one lemon

For the syrup

2 cups sugar
2 cups water
Juice of ½ a lemon

The cake

Heat the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grease a 9x13 ovenproof glass pan.

Preparation ingredients

Prepare the flour mixture by mixing the flour, semolina, and baking powder together.  Set aside.

Beat together the butter and sugar till creamy.  Add the egg yolks one at time, beating well after each addition.  Add vanilla extract and the rind of one lemon.  Add the flour mixture alternating with the cup of milk.  Beat well.  Set aside.

Beat together the egg whites until soft peaks form.  Fold the egg whites into the batter mixture until blended.  Pour the batter into the pan and bake at 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until it is lightly golden brown.  Or, if a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  (The cake will rise while baking). 
The batter and the greased pan

The batter in the oven proof pan, before it goes in the oven


The syrup

While the cake is baking prepare the syrup.  Pour the sugar and water in a pan and bring to a boil stirring constantly.  Lower the heat to medium and let it cook for 10-15 minutes while stirring.  The syrup should be clear by the time you are done, and very slightly reduced.  Remove from heat.  Add the lemon juice and stir until dissolved. 

When the cake is done, let it cool for a while.  Cut into diamond shape pieces or squares and while it is still warm pour the syrup on top.  The cake will absorb all the syrup.  Serve with some icing sugar sprinkled on top, or just plain.

Out of the oven, cooled with the syrup and with some sprinkled icing sugar on top. 


Nutrition Facts*
Serving Size                                         1 serving(66.7 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories                                              176
Calories from Fat                                  59                                % Daily Value
Total Fat                                               6.6g                             10%
Saturated Fat                                       3.9g                             20%
Cholesterol                                           39mg                           13%
Sodium                                                 53mg                           2%
Total Carbohydrates                             27.8g                           9%
Dietary Fiber                                         0.4g                             2%
Sugars                                                 19.2g
Protein                                                 2.3g

*The nutrition facts include the syrup.