“You,” she said, “could do the world a big service by coming up with a quick and easy moussaka.”
Moussaka is, in short, an eggplant and meat casserole, one of Greece’s national dishes
But it’s not just the guests who will be happy. The whole dish comes together in about 20 minutes. Really! Truly!
“The old people, they say that before, they didn’t drink coffee; they had some pulque, tortillas and beans and that was their breakfast,” he said.
Braising is a long-honored method of cooking which coaxes out tenderness and deep flavors from tougher cuts of meat. The basic technique involves a Dutch oven and four main steps: brown the meat and remove, cook the mirepoix (chopped onion, celery and carrot), deglaze the pan with liquid, and finally return the meat to the Dutch oven, cover and let cook low and slow in the oven or on the stovetop until tender. Pork shoulder, brisket and short ribs are excellent candidates for braising with high fat content and tough flesh that need hours to soften.
Falafel is rooted in a long tradition, and its devotees are protective of that tradition. At The Culinary Institute of America, students are encouraged to research the history of the falafel to ensure that their modern interpretations maintained the integrity of this ancient food. It is a dilemma they will face time and time again in their careers: respecting a traditional recipe while using their style and creativity to make it fresh and appealing to a new customer.
The slow-roasting process provides you with ample time to make a succulent sauce from the bird’s giblets, neck and wings. Those parts are browned in a saucepan along with onions, carrots and garlic, then simmered in red wine and chicken broth, and finally finished with green peppercorns and Dijon mustard. (You’re welcome to lose the peppercorns if they’re too hot for you.)
My mother made Spritz cookies every Christmas for as long as I can remember. She always made the simple butter cookies in both chocolate and vanilla and we decorated them with colored sugar sprinkles. My favorite shape was the poinsettia, because you could eat the cookie, one petal at a time.
This dish is assembled much like a quiche, so the components should look familiar. The tart dough can be made weeks ahead and frozen — you can even roll it and freeze it in the pan, so you don’t have to clean up stray flour the week of your party. The filling is a simple egg custard, layered with caramelized onions.
Short ribs can be butchered three ways: English, flanken or boneless. In English style, the ribs are cut parallel to the bone, with one bone per cut. In flanken style — which originated with the Jews of Eastern Europe — the ribs are cut across the bone. With English style, you get relatively uniform chunks of beef. With flanken style, you get a sauce with more body and flavor because the cut bones enrich it.