This week in geography, Katie is studying about Greece. And Sunday we went to the Greek festival. Where we mostly ate amazing Greek food. (Click here to see what Katie has to say about it) And it got me thinking about a Greek dish I have been making for a while.
Speaking of a Greek dish - have I ever told you about Jimmy the Greek? Sigh. A story of unrequited love. I went to high school with him. And he was in my Russian class. We constantly flirted in class. I am amazed that we learned anything since we only paid attention to each other. I was so enamored. I am sure he was simply amused. The next year I continued with the language and he went off to college. And I somehow got the gumption to invite him to my high school prom. And he graciously agreed to go to.
Aren’t we cute? I hope my 80’s hair does not make you lose your appetite.
I wish I could say that I got this recipe from his mother. But I am sure that she would not have shared with me. As I was not a nice Greek girl. And I am sure that she was confused by me. And my lust for her son. And his friendship with me.
My how I digress. Mention Greeks and I get all discombobulated.
Where were we? Oh, yes. I am going to show you how to make Pastitsio.
Here is our cast of characters.I think that’s all of them anyway. Some might still be shy. And hiding in the fridge. Which is where I like to hide when I am being shy. Of course the fridge is always a good place to go. No matter what.
I got the noodles going. And then browned the meat and garlic. I don’t like onions – so I just add a little flavor of them with some of the minced dehydrated variety. Sacrelidge I am sure. But I really don’t like onions.After the meat is browned, drain it. And then add the tomato sauce and spices.Okay. Let’s take a small side trip. I know we took one at the beginning. Sigh. Jimmy the Greek. But…let’s talk about prep work. One of my favorite kitchen tools are these little prep bowls. I find that if I have everything pre-measured before I start cooking, I have less problems.But then when I have to stop and photograph things. Well, that can lead to a whole new set of problems. Notice that there is no camera in the ingredients. That is a good thing.
Where were we? Oh, yes. We've browned the meat. Added tomato sauce and spices. Discussed Jimmy. Are your noodles done yet? Drain them and put them in a big bowl.Notice those ever so helpful prep bowls? Just add the egg and cheese to your noodles.And mix. Looks yummy, yes?Set this aside, and let's make our sauce. First melt that butter. And then add flour and cinnamon. Stir until smooth. Stopping to take a picture is not a good idea.Then you gradually add in the milk. It kinda looks lumpy at this point,but just keep stirring. Okay...who else can now hear Dory saying "just keep swimming, just keep swimming?" E-Scap-AY.
There are many digressions when we cook. I think it's a rule. Or something.
After all the milk is blended and it's thickened, you add a little of the sauce to your eggs. And then add the eggs into the sauce. I have no idea why you do this. Maybe someone who is a real cook will enlighten me. And us. Anyone? Hello? Did I lose you all with my 80's hair?
After you add in the eggs, remove the sauce from the heat and add the rest of the cheese.
Next you are going to layer your ingredients in a baking dish. First add half the macaroni.Then all of the meat sauce.And finally the rest of the macaroni.You top off the whole thing with your white sauce.When I first cooked this, I thought the white sauce would "filter" down to the other layers. But it does not. The pasta stays in four distinct layers. Opa!
Here is my simple recipe:
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped (optional)
1 garlic clove, minced
8oz can of tomato sauce
½ cup water
1 tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp pepper
1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
1 egg, beaten
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup butter
¼ cup all purpose flour
¼ tsp cinnamon
3 cups milk
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cook the beef, onion, and garlic. Drain.
Stir in tomato sauce, water, and seasonings
Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
In a bowl, combine macaroni, egg, and parmesan cheese. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, melt butter.
Then stir in flour and cinnamon until smooth.
Gradually add milk.
Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes.
Remove from the heat.
Stir a small amount of the above into the two beaten eggs. And then add the eggs to the saucepan.
Cook and stir for 2 minutes.
Remove from the heat.
Stir in the cheese.
In a greased 3 qt. dish, spread half of the macaroni mixture.
Top with beef. And then add the remaining macaroni.
Pour sauce over the top.
Bake at 350º for 45-50 minutes. Let it stand for about 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
So…what about you? What is your favorite “ethnic” dish to make? To eat? Did you go to your prom?
Theme song: The Bee Gees - Grease. Cause Greece is the word. What do you mean it's not the same word?! And it reminds me of high school...