Tuesday, October 7, 2008

In the Kitchen with Kat: Pastitsio (aka Greek Pasta)

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 350┬║ 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?

post signature

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...


Gina said...

No Prom. My girls and I went "forking" on prom night.
We like mamaliga.
I feel a post coming on. It's Romanian, of course.

Gina said...

Yes, I'm fist. And second.

Gina said...

And third. OK, I'll quit now.

KimmyDarling said...

You look gorgeous in that picture! (And I'm so bummed that I don't remember who on earth he is!)

I don't have any "ethnic" dishes in my repertoire, I'm afraid. It's all pretty much Southern food. My favorites are italian and mexican.

I did go to prom, with friends. John Hinton in 11th, then John Wayne Hardigree in 12th!!!

Jenny said...

I probably like making Indian food best - a dahl is good.
I like eating Thai.

We didn't have 'proms' when I left high school.
We all went out for dinner at a restaurant. People didn't really take partners (unless they had been together already for a while.)
These days, there are 'formals' at the end of high school. I guess they would be like a prom.

PS: It took me a while to work out what Gina's pic was (sorry Gina). I had to enlarge it and study it for a moment.
OF COURSE it is a baby's foot!!

The Joye of Teaching said...

This looks yummy and pretty easy to make. I may try it. Thanks! Love the prom pic. I didn't go bc we were away at a softball tournament. hehehe

I Love Purple More Than You said...

That recipe looks soooo good. I wish I could reach through my computer and eat some!

So whatever happened to Jimmy the Greek?

Yep.. went to prom. With the Prom King, no less. (though sadly, I was not even close to being the Prom Queen)

Finding Normal said...

See, I love the 80s hair. I had the 90s hair in my day, and I still love the way it looked. It'll come back eventually, and I'll be totally curling my bangs!

Yummy dish! I like enchiladas and anything Italian.

Went to 3 proms--2 with the same boy in my junior year (he was a senior) and went to my senior prom with a boy I was friends with and really really wanted to be more than friends with. Alas, no luck. But we did drink a lot of beer that night.

Desi said...

Oh man that looks super good!

sassy stephanie said...

Two proms for me. Jr and Sr year. Sr was WAY too much fun.

Love the classic bright taffeta prom dress!!

This dish looks yummy and has all ingredients my kids would eat. Must try it.

Rhea said...

That looks good, Kat! I love, love, love chicken phad Thai. I don't know if I spelled that right.

I also love a good cajun jambalaya. yum.

My high school was so small we didn't really have a prom. We had like 70 graduating seniors...it was a small, private, half-boarding prep school type.

I love the blue of your prom dress!

Rhea said...

And that red plate you use next to the yummy food is perfect. Nice presentation!

You're slightly neurotic though, measuring everything out before cooking. hehe

Elena said...

Hey look at that you posted a recipe on Try It Tuesday. And your recipe even has "tit" inside it. :) I think this looks VERY tasty. I'm trying it for sure. And I think the reason for adding some eggs then sauce is to bring everything to the same temp so that your eggs don't scramble. Not positive though. LOVED your 80's prom hair, you looked very lovely.

jennifersusan said...

That looks so yummy! My mom makes that too! Okay, I love all food and would happily make pretty much everything I like to eat. Unfortunately I have a husband who doesn't like spices, or even salt in any of his food so I only get to make boring food to eat at home. It makes me really excited to go to my parents because it means I get to eat something extra yummy. :)
As for prom... You look amazing in your prom picture! I love it! I did go to my jr.prom with a group of friends and my nephiew (catherine's oldest) was the crown bearer (sp?). I was actually on the prom court as a sr and forced to go. Fortunately my best friend was a guy and he told me under no uncertain terms that I was going and that he was taking me. He felt so bad about that! It wasn't the worst thing, and since I went with my best friend (who was a cute guy) it made all the girls in my class wonder who the heck he was. Small catholic schools are entertaining like that.

Connie said...

Damn ~ there goes my diet.
Funny, I never went to our prom just went to other school's proms via boyfriends of the moment.

Brian and Staci said...

Oh so yummy!!! Can I just come over the next time you make it? Hmmm..favorite ethnic dish...maybe Rigatoni?? Super simple....maybe that will be a new post!! Hey Thanks! I love anything Italian. Yes...I went to the prom...THREE times...My boyfriend was a Sr. so I got to go when I was a Sophomore. Wasn't I somethin'?! I went with him every year....ahhh! Now I've rambled so much...I don't remember THE ONE thing that was important I had to say...Oh yes, it was about the eggs. I think it is so they don't get scrambled??? But not sure. I also think there is a name for that particular thing, like tempered or something...but again, dunno? That's all I got!

Rhea said...

BTW, I'm not a real cook, so yes, you lost me with your eighties hair. hehe

Rhea said...

Karen snuck up on me again. She must have found a post I didn't subscribe to your comments on. dagnabit.

Jen said...

that looks really good. I am so going to make that.
In case some didn't answer your question, I will. I don't think that I saw anyone sorry if you were told twice. You are tempuring the eggs. If you add hot liquid to eggs they will scramble and that is not good. So you add a little hot to the cold and get the temp more even so that the mixture will be even temp. Now you know.
I love the prom picture. Great.

Rosemary Q said...

You look so pretty! 80's hair looked good on you!

I love making Mexican food. Love to eat it, love to make it.

I did not go to prom. I attended an all girls school so we didn't have a prom.

Susie said...

That looks sooooo good!! I am going to try that soon.

I went to Jr. prom but my boyfriend at the time refused to take me to Sr. prom. And, my hair looked just like that:-)

Jennifer P. said...

Is it strange for me to be crying about a recipe post? I just remember my mom and I making this for "international food day" in 4th grade---and it makes me miss her :( . It looks soooo yummy though---and i know it tastes it too (that bechamel sauce---yum-o!)

Jennifer P. said...

Ah crap! I'm off the list again. I give up! My fingers hurt!!!

Shannon said...

I think tacos are the most ethnic dish I cook...

OMG the song choice for this post cracked me up. You are a riot!

And I went to my prom... but only my senior year.

Dover Fam said...

Greek food is my favorite! I lived in greece for two years and loved the food. I make a greek village salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, olive oil, feta, green peppers, and oregano. Yummy Yummy.

Unknown said...

Ooooohhhh that dish looks good !!!

The Pastitsio looks really scrummy as well (that's kiwi for scrumptious), I'm going to have to try it...

Lke your Prom dress as well. We didn't have Prom at school in NZ. We did have end of the year dances though, which was near enough...

Fish'n Chips ... but because I can't get proper F & C here, I like Indian food and Lasagna.

Now remember that game of tag you used to play as a kid. Well, you're taged so hop on over and play. ;-)

Unknown said...

Took Rhea long enough to wake up, didn't it :-)

Tiffany said...

The recipe looks yummmmmmmmy!

Tiffany said...

And your prom photo is so cute! Your 80's hair looks tame compared to mine back in the day.

Tiffany said...

Oh, I forgot to answer the prom question....

Went to Jr. and Sr. proms. Both with the same guy that I began dating my junior year. We dated for 8 years (2 high school, 4 college and 2 more)before I finally realized he wasn't right for me and broke it off. Prom was alright. We left both years to attend house parties at friends homes. Our proms were huge events though. We had 800+ in our graduating class so there were many post-prom parties to attend.

Tiffany said...

Rhea and Karen are at it again, huh? Just when I think it's safe to go to sleep....

Firefly Mom said...

I *love* Greek food! We have some friends who we go to eat Greek with. Every time a new Greek place opens, we're there. And the wife went to culinary school and does a HUGE Greek spread every year for Easter. It's yummy...

Now I'm hungry!

Firefly Mom said...

See? My brain was so on the food that I forgot to comment on the prom picture. It's not the hair that caught my attention (though I *did* have that same style at one point!) No, the thing that got me was the dress. The oh-so-80's prom dress. My prom dress (that I never got to wear to prom - long story) was that EXACT color blue, but strapless and sheathed in large, white lace. I looked like a hideous cake topper, but at the time I thought it was beautiful!

KimmyJ said...

I am sooo trying this recipe. We cook from all over the map. My hubs is Mexican, I grew up in Cajun country, we lived in Europe for three years. So no telling what you might get at my place.

Love the hair, I resemble that photo at my own prom - the shiny blue dress, yeah, I've done that. :)

Meaghan said...

Stopping by from SITS! I think I'm gonna have to try that recipe.


Nissa said...

I love the prom pic! Your 80's hair is no worse than anyone else's.

The pastitsio looks kind of like a greek lasagna- cool!

If I was a good cook, I'd cook many great ethnic foods. I make a decent chicken fried rice, I'd love to learn to make sushi...*drool*. The only authentic Mexican food I make is posole, but it's an acquired taste & my Michael doesn't enjoy it, so I don't make it often. I should've been born Asian instead of Hispanic.

I went to my proms.

Heather said...

My favorite song EV.ER. I'm dancing right now and then I've got to go try this recipe. I love anything that mixes beef with pasta. You crack me up.

Mama Dawg said...

I adore any and all ethnic food. My fav is a toss up between sushi, thai fish cakes and moussaka.

Mama Dawg said...

Oh, wait, stuffed grape leaves are good, too.

Rhea said...

Can you come cook for me? Please?

Rhea said...

And, look at you rising from the SITS archives! You rock!

Rhea said...

And you've got to let me know which post Karen is sneaking up on me with.

Anonymous said...

Jimmy. your hair. i remember that hair had a lot of spray. and then more and more and more. and royal blue dresses were such the thing.sigh

Lula! said...

Love the picture. Love that you're going to cook this dish for me when I come to visit.

Yeah...not only did I invite myself, I also requested a meal. That's SO ME!

Lula! said...

p.s. Can I stay in your newly redone guest room? Or with Katie? Thanks.

Britt said...

Okay, I don't cook much .. but I read this entire post because you crack me up. And you know you rock when you can make recipes interesting to me ;o)

I totally love your 80's hair and that dress is rocking .. love the electric blue! I was homeschooled, so no prom. I got asked to three or four throughout highschool, but turned them all down. The boys were all cute, but I freaked at the thought of dress/hair/makeup/shoes/dancing/ .. my friends totally thought I was a freak :o)

Unknown said...

That looks NUMMY!!!!

I need to do that recipe post we talked about at your house!

Anonymous said...

Ohhh Maaan...I thought I was going to be all smart w/ cooking knowledge and tell you about tempering the eggs but 3 or 4 peeps beat me to it!

Looks good! My husband's italian so I do a lot of different variations on pasta. Nothing beats good ole fashioned spaghetti and meatballs though!

Don't wanna talk about prom:(

I just saw a comment you left on "This is the day" about Val Kilmer. That's so weird cause I've had an idea in my head about him that I'm gonna post about. Don't worry, not X-rated :)

Brandy said...

~scratching head~ Bear with me...I'm working on about 4 hours of sleep. I cannot think of a dang thang that would be considered "ethnic" that I make but I KNOW in my heart there is something.

No prom for me. It was stupid not to go and now I wish I would have. So I could have rocked some 80's hair. I mean I graduated in 94 but I still would have rocked the hair.

Becky W said...

Thanks for coming my way via BATW yesterday. I am not an Elvis fan, either, but it comes with the territory!! This recipe looks yummy by the way!!

@TiffanyRom said...

Looks fabulous.


Went to like 5 proms total...I like to date older guys. And guys from different schools. Plus, since I was super outgoing, I was easy to take. Not easy like "baw chika baw waw"... easy like" we won't lack conversation and the girl can dance."

Rhea said...

I finished a big free lance writing project yesterday evening. It was loong. Now, this morning, I'm working on a new one, for a different company. Crazy huh?!

Rhea said...

But, I think it's time to either go to the bookstore or curl up for a short nap before doing laundry.

I can't decide.

Both options sound WONDERFUL.

Sugar said...

proms look scary. I'm glad I'm homschooled

Angie's Spot said...

Mmm, that looks yummy! My fave ethnic dish to cook & eat would be my cheesy chicken enchiladas. Great, now I'm hungry again. I went to both my Jr & Sr proms. Jr was great, Sr, not so much. Long story there!

John Deere Mom said...

I gotta be honest...the cinnamon scares me a little.