Thursday, 19 May 2016

Vanilla cream terrine with fruit coulis



I'm not really a dessert kind of guy,never have been, but put a bowl of crinkle cut crisps or wasabi peanuts in front of me, however, and I'll have my nose in there like a snout in a trough. I needed a replacement dessert to fill the gap left in the menu plan for a client who hadrejected baba au rhum as the choice of pudding.I dipped into my Delia (why do we always forget Delia).She is so reliable, not always in her method, but in that hour of need when one needs a simple solution she's always there for you.This recipe is a classic Delia "Vanilla cream terrine with raspberries and blackcurrant coulis" I have made it many times before and it has never failed me. I thought I better give it another practice run.It looks like a block of tofu.Tofu's a difficult thing to love but this amazing dessert is so far removed from a soft block of coagulated soya milk that it will take you to heaven and send vegans running.
It´s basically just a big block of cream with some berries drizzled over it.  The base is double cream, Greek yogurt, vanilla and gelatine to set it. Pretty much like a panna cotta panoply.The topping is a blueberry or blackcurrant coulis, with raspberries and mint leaves  This delicious hoover-able dessert consists of an entire carton of double cream, and most of a tub of Greek yogurt, and a whole load of sugar, and thats just for the basic six person serving.I am feeding 20 so I think tub will turn into bucket and carton will turn into jumbo tetra pack.There´s fun, and a shelf of the freezer given up overnight.

Just as a foot note it was a resounding success

Monday, 16 May 2016

Apresentãçao carta -Cha com agua salgada

                                                    (de cima para baixo)     PHOTO JORGE RAIADO

Cheesecake de queijo da ilha de S.Jorge com coulis de pimentos e composto por rucula 
 Folhada de mousse de cavala com betteraba marinada
Tiberna de muxama de atum com laranja e coentros frescos

 Once again this week it was time for Chá Com Àgua Salgada`s menu presentation and the chance for another lovely memorable evening with friends, colleagues and business associates.How quickly this yearly event comes around. Doesn´t time fly when you are enjoying yourself,its always the case.The evening flew by with delicious and inventive  dishes chef Marco created for us from the new menu.The evening even produced a culinary  witticism, "tanned" scallops.Tanned must be the new seared for 2016.So be you the first to know it.Perhaps our dinner plates will soon be sporting tanned food with black accessories.No seriously, to retire from a bout on the beach and partake of a tanned scallop for lunch is just so appropriate.
I had several favourites from the nine course degustation, but  I am not going to give too much away.More on the story of how one can create a new take on watermelon later.Thank you from all of us  to Paolo, Sandra and of course Marco and his team

A nova carta Disponivel a partir de 21maio de 2016
The new menu will be available from 21st may

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Natural cave ripened blue vein cheese remembered

 Are you stuck on Stilton or gaga for Gouda? Do you crave Camembert? And have you come across Cabrales? If so, you just might be what is called a turophile, the ultimate cheese lover. From an irregular formation of the Greek word for cheese, tyros, plus the English -phile, meaning "lover" (itself a descendant of the Greek -philos, meaning "loving"), turophile first named cheese aficionados as early as 1938.
My two all time favourite cheeses are both blue veined and unfortunately happen to be very hard to find.Dolcelatte  is a blue veined Italian soft cheese. The cheese is made from cow's milk, and has a sweet taste. Its name translates from Italian to 'sweet milk' in English.Dolcelatte was developed for the British market to provide a milder smelling and tasting alternative to the famous traditional Italian blue cheese, Gorgonzola,and that is probably why it is impossible to find in the Algarve. My best loved cheese however is the Spanish Cabrales.
All Spanish blue cheeses come from the same geographical area in the Picos de Europa mountain range in north-central Spain or, more specifically, in the triangle formed by the provinces of León, Asturias and Cantabria, a natural paradise for cheese-making. The many natural caves in which the cheeses are stored while ripening offer ideal conditions for spontaneous generation of the mold. Some of these cheeses, such as  Cabrales, are the Spanish contribution to the top-ranking blue cheeses, standing alongside Roquefort, Gorgonzola and Stilton. Last weekend at a party which casa rosada was catering two guests who we had met on a previous occasion hosted by the same person, presented us with a cabrales cheese.How exhilirated was I and thank you so much Philip and Karen of Rippon cheese in London.
The advice given in the proverb 'don't look a gift horse in the mouth is: when receiving a gift be grateful for what it is; don't imply you wished for more by assessing its value.We certainly didn´t. 
If Cabrales is difficult to find in your area, it can be ordered on-line.Tienda.com is one source but it is also available in the Uk from Brindisa and also our kind donors Rippon Cheese

What to drink with Cabrales: Not many wines can accompany the intense flavor of Cabrales cheese without being wiped out on the palate. An aged Oloroso sherry, with sweet hints, is a good alternative to offset the sting and to harmonize with the cheese's creamy texture,my second choice would of course be Albariño. This fragrant Spanish white varietal is a smooth match, and make sure you have plenty of fresh crusty bread to hand.Cabrales is also excellent for melting on a fine steak.

A bite of heavenly Spanish tapas

Bocaditos de Cabrales
100 gr Cabrales cheese
30 gr flour
500 ml semi-skimmed milk
salt
15 gr butter
1 egg
300 gr breadcrumbs
olive oil
Blend the Cabrales cheese, flour, milk and salt in a blender or food processor. Melt the butter in a saucepan and slowly add the mixture of cheese, milk and flour stirring all the time. Cook gently for 10 to 15 minutes or until the mixture reaches boiling point. Pour the cheese paste into a wide dish and let it cool completely. Once the paste is cold, cut it into small bite-sized portions. Dip the cheese bites into the beaten egg and then cover them with breadcrumbs. Fry the cheese bites in a generous amount of hot olive oil. Serve hot.
Thank you again Philip and Karen for "remembering" and presenting us with this great cheese.Needless to say it has all been eaten.
Should you want to purchase some Cabrales yourself,visit their shop pictured above in Pimlico.
020 7931 0628 or 020 7931 0668
Mon - Fri 8.00 - 16.30
Sat 8.30 - 17.00
Sun closed

Monday, 9 May 2016

The new kid on the block "La petite france"


Its always exciting when a new venture opens,particularly after the demise of what was once the charming and rustic Bar Poeta with its mis-matched furniture.Fond memories of a balmy summers evening with a glass of wine sitting on the cobbles outside.Sadly it has now become yet another expat music and sports bar that Tavira so does not need any more of. Well, on the opposite side of the street something promising has opened and caught my eye.The entrance looked inviting,that´s always a good start.It was early evening and a small party of French customers were enjoying a glass of Bordeaux or two.I did not stop as I was in a hurry but kept it in my back head for another day and to share with and recommend to friends.
It is always encouraging to see new places with a difference opening,This is a breath of sunshine. A place where you feel good, enjoy good tapas, and quaff good wines. Congratulations to Bruno for his courage and boldness.With a plate of magret de canard, foie gras  toast and some gorgeousness of wittily cooked egg in front of me what more could I want? Just a glass or two of Bordeaux Blanc perhaps.Well I for sure know which side of the street I want to be on.This is highly recommend as a lovely place to sit and relax with a very helpful and friendly owner.

Um cantinho escondido de cariz Francês perdido no meio de Tavira... 

planchette excellente


R. Poeta. Emiliano da Costa 37, 8800-357 Tavira

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Um petisco típico português… Pica Pau!


In Spain, eating tapas is so much a part of the culture that there's actually a verb for it, tapear, which means to go and eat tapas, particularly moving from one place to another.Here in Portugal the culture is not quite the same, but there is one dish that perfectly fits this remit, and you don`t have to even move from place to place, you can stay right where you are at home. Its called Pica-pau meaning woodpecker in Portuguese.Why the name I dont know but I can have a wild shot at how the dish was so named.There is no woodpecker in it, but the manner in which it is eaten is like pecking small portions. The dish is made up of little cubes of beef and other ingredients that you usually pick at. It is traditionally served with toothpicks (palitos) to pick the pieces and crusty bread to soak up the juices, often in cervejarias (beer houses, the nearest Portuguese equivalent of tapas bars) and open air festivals, where it is usually washed down with lashings of draught beer.This is an informal, fun and social style of eating for any time of the year and for those of you who can remember, reminiscent of those fondue evenings, chicken bricks and "Habitat" lifestyle of the seventies.Traditionally the dish is served with shop bought pickles of which I am not a great fan. A diced gherkin or two is fine, but I opted for serving it with some colourful roasted vegetables- red and yellow peppers red onion,carrots courgette and aubergine with some fennel fronds and thyme.On the side I served a bowl of home made Harissa.
Traditional Pica-pau (Serves 6) 
2 tbsp sunflower oil 
800g good-quality beef tenderloin, cubed 
Sea salt and ground white pepper
2 tbsp unsalted butter
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 
100g banha de porco (pork fat), diced 
1 small brown onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, smashed 
2 bay leaves 
1 tbsp sweet mustard 
Splash white wine 
Splash brandy 
2 tbsp pickled vegetables (shop-bought), diced (optional)
2 tbsp gherkins, diced ( optional)
Half a bunch of parsley, finely chopped 
Good-quality chilli oil, to serve (optional)
Country bread and lemon wedges, to serve

Once you’ve prepared the ingredients for this dish, it’s really fast to make in one pan, so be ready to serve it quickly.
Place a large pan over a high heat and sear the beef very quickly in the sunflower oil, seasoning generously with salt and pepper. Once seared – but not cooked through – move the beef on to a tray, reserving the juices.
Add butter and olive oil to the pan, then the pork fat. Add the onions and cook quickly, stirring constantly. Add the garlic and bay leaves, then the mustard, and stir through. Add the meat, a splash of wine, brandy, pickles,if using, gherkins,and parsley. Adjust the seasoning with salt and white pepper.
Mix everything for 15 seconds, still on high heat, then remove from the stove. Transfer to a warm serving tray and serve immediately with the suggested garnishes.
The twist:
Pica-pau with roasted vegetables
Red pepper
Yellow pepper
Orange pepper
Courgette
Aubergine
Red onion
sprigs of thyme
Fennel stalks and fronds
Cut the vegetables into bite size pieces then toss all the vegetables together in some oil and roast in the oven.When roasted served with the pica-pau as above.


Monday, 25 April 2016

Lets raise a glass of tonic wine and a sponge finger...

  In one of her final appearances Victoria Wood showed off her culinary skills last year on The Comic Relief Bake Off as she attempted to make a tray bake with varying degrees of success but proved to be hilarious. Despite some initial issues with her bakes, she went on to be crowned the queen of cakes.

With the sad and totally unexpected passing of comedian, actress, singer and songwriter, screenwriter and director Victoria Wood this week, its near impossible to truthfully say that no one´s life has  passed without in some way being influenced by her. For many like myself, simply hundreds of her lines have entered into my daily speech.Ever since I started blogging six years ago, rather than taking the first word that came into my head  I have always searched hard and fast for an alternative, something more bizarre that turns a sentence from being mildly amusing into  something that forces the reader to "laugh out loud" Never use a word like biscuit when you can use custard cream or hobnob. She chose every word so carefully to maximise the comic impact.The Thespian was in a restaurant with her once and remarked "Are you not going to finish your pizza, Victoria?"
"I thought I´d pop it in my handbag and toy with it later" was her off the cuff answer.
On Friday 5 August 2011 I included this following paragraph in a blog about cheesecake
......In this case the extra help was a beating on the bottom with a Womans Weekly. Whenever I am stuck for a culinary solution my search engine smacks into Australian Womans Weekly, bend me over backwards on me hostess trolley and my dilemma has become a delicious dessert. I abandoned their suggested base of NICE biscuits and opted for a classic digestive biscuit base.
to which a reader, obviously another massive fan, left the comment
"How on earth did you manage to get the bend me over backwards reference into an article about cheesecake!"

For me it was most often her observations about food that would raise the greatest laugh.
"Never touch prawns; they hang around sewage outlet pipes treading water with their mouths open?"
and of course........   
Is that streaky bacon? Well, it is but it should wipe off...
          What was it Muesli? What was it, muesli? I think so Mrs overall
Yes well, I think muesli is Gods way of making shredded wheat look exciting
I have been meaning to write another cheesecake post for some time now so I thought this was the perfect chance to pay homage to my all time favourite comedian.Cheesecake is a summer favourite and the perfect buttery biscuit base is what it makes it really special, while at the same time making everything around you alright, so just remember the next time you and your partner are having a straight up digestive, try putting the world to rights with a cheesecake.Just remember anything can be solved with a hot cup of tea and a macaroon

It is the brand of biscuit you select that is crucial when making a cheesecake.Obviously many varieties have been tried.Certainly not the Rich Tea,with its austere reputation  of being the unadorned biscuit to accompany you to bed with a mug of Horlicks.It is as basic a biscuit as has ever been devised just like its counterpart, the Spanish Maria.These two  would constitute a very different and totally wrong crumb base as opposed to the more favoured "Plain Digestive".
Don´t get me wrong,I have always had confidence in Maria´s capabilities of producing the optimum Bolo de bolacha.  Smart modern chefs, when it comes to cheesecake, have recently turned their desires to more adorned biscuits such as the Oreo,such fun.The Americans however opt for "Graham crackers"which are hard if not impossible to find this side of the pond.Isn´t it lovely  tho' that we all try to convert our favourite recipes so that others can have a go too.
We (the British) are very much a biscuit nation (probably something to do with a cup of tea being too wet without one!) so the dunking possibilities are endless!
Anyway so, Cheesecake baked or chilled? I am a cold setter.
Baked or cold-set, cheesecakes offer chefs endless opportunities for individual creations.What I have learnt recently is that cheesecake is a perfect example of a speciality that evolved from a practicality.
Migrant tribes in Eastern Europe and Asia devised cheesecakes as a way of using up the surplus of their basically made cheeses.While cheesecakes have now become far more sophisticated, the essential choice is between baked or cold-set.
Here are 3 cold-set cheesecakes that I am sure she would have liked....

RIP Victoria Wood

Strawberry and lemon geranium cheesecake 

Seville orange cheesecake 

Cardamom cheesecake with fresh fig topping

 




Sunday, 17 April 2016

Bolo de Nesperas,the easiest cake in the whole world

Its not often one encounters such luck as finding someone has cut down a fruit tree and left all the fruit on it.This is what happened to me just yesterday.The tree in question was a nespera (loquat / medlar )
Originating in China and Japan, the medlar is produced mainly in the south of the Iberian Peninsula, and is therefore very common in the Algarve. 100 grams contains only 45 calories.and the greater excitement of it is that it is the first fruit to ripen in the spring time.

The taste of the loquat is of a peach mixed with apple. It is a very sensitive fruit that should be eaten immediately after being picked and mostly fresh, to enjoy all the nutrients. It is extremely moisturizing (almost 75% of its composition is water), and rich in potassium, which helps detoxify the body and eliminate liquids.
 It is eaten as a fresh fruit and mixes well with other fruits in fresh fruit salads.I find them quite labour intensive.I  prefer to peel them before eating and then of course the stone or in many cases two has to be removed The fruits are also commonly used to make jam, jelly, and chutney, and are delicious poached in light syrup.My windfall yesterday was of the firmer less mature fruit and therefore more suited to pies tarts and cakes.I settled for a cake as the recipe is so simple,just seven ingredients that every cook has to hand.


Bolo de Nesperas  
500 gr deseeded nesperas in halves,(peeled optional but not necessary)
4 large eggs
200 gr sugar
200 gr flour
1 bsp baking powder
2 tbsp milk
5 tbsp olive oil (extra virgem)

Beat the eggs and the sugar
add flour, baking powder, milk and oil and mix well
fold in the fruit
bake at 180 degrees C for 40 to 45 minutes
check with skewer for doneness

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Sweet corn fritters,can be so much more

lovely little pops of sweetness
 There are few things better than summer sweet corn.... one has recently come to the fore, being able to eat sweetcorn out of season.When Columbus reached Cuba in 1492, the native Indians greeted him with ears of corn, which he claimed were "most tasty whether boiled, roasted or ground into flour". Some believe that Columbus introduced corn to Europe, where the variety of maize grown was largely fed to livestock. To this day, many  Europeans still see it as something fit only for cattle. This prejudice is rather surprising, because sweeter maize varieties (what we call sweetcorn) have an almost addictive succulence.
Well goodbye Columbus and hello technology.Food manufacturers have now found a healthy way to enable us to eat sweetcorn in the heart of winter. I don´t mean the ubiquitous sandwich filling of tuna with tinned sweetcorn and mayo that one makes suffice for a Pret a Manger office lunch on the trot.What I´m talking about is
 the corn on the cob being boiled and packed in sterile conditions after the harvesting.There are no extra additives apart from salt and a very small amount of citric acid to increase the level of antioxidants..There is a wonderful sensation to eating corn, whether it be gnawing the kernels whole off the cob or shaving  off the kernels first and enjoying their tender, juicy sweetness combined with other ingredients.
Ever since I watched Nigel Slater on one of his cookery shows pan frying sweetcorn fritters on the beach I wanted to make them, not without embellishment though. The recipe brought to mind a supper dish my mother used to make for us of scrambled eggs with grated cheddar cheese and chopped tomatoes, to this I added green chillies and self raising flour, which would transform the dish from just scrambled eggs to something of more substance - fritters. I also felt the Slater version just might have been a tad dull and just a little bit plain, but with the added ingredients I made a supper dish to remember.There is no cheaper supper I can remember.Be sure you allow about a third of the total for the ´Knaves of hearts ´that pass the table as they are being made.
NOTHING QUITE beats the taste of golden yellow, crunchy sweet corn, freshly picked, thrown straight in the pan and served immediately, swimming in cholesterol laden butter. If you are health conscious (and decide to act on your knowledge), miss out the butter, it’s still a tasty sweet vegetable and healthy too.The trick to successful sweet corn is picking it at the right time and the speed with which it leaves the plot and arrives on the plate. If this time is minimised to 10 minutes or less, the corn will taste sweeter, softer and more flavoursome than you could ever imagine. - See more at: http://portugalresident.com/sweet-corn-%E2%80%93-50-fresh-cobs-for-10-minutes-work-a-day#sthash.VXeXsd8m.dpuf
NOTHING QUITE beats the taste of golden yellow, crunchy sweet corn, freshly picked, thrown straight in the pan and served immediately, swimming in cholesterol laden butter. If you are health conscious (and decide to act on your knowledge), miss out the butter, it’s still a tasty sweet vegetable and healthy too.The trick to successful sweet corn is picking it at the right time and the speed with which it leaves the plot and arrives on the plate. If this time is minimised to 10 minutes or less, the corn will taste sweeter, softer and more flavoursome than you could ever imagine. - See more at: http://portugalresident.com/sweet-corn-%E2%80%93-50-fresh-cobs-for-10-minutes-work-a-day#sthash.VXeXsd8m.dpuf
NOTHING QUITE beats the taste of golden yellow, crunchy sweet corn, freshly picked, thrown straight in the pan and served immediately, swimming in cholesterol laden butter. If you are health conscious (and decide to act on your knowledge), miss out the butter, it’s still a tasty sweet vegetable and healthy too.The trick to successful sweet corn is picking it at the right time and the speed with which it leaves the plot and arrives on the plate. If this time is minimised to 10 minutes or less, the corn will taste sweeter, softer and more flavoursome than you could ever imagine. - See more at: http://portugalresident.com/sweet-corn-%E2%80%93-50-fresh-cobs-for-10-minutes-work-a-day#sthash.VXeXsd8m.dpuf
f you are health conscious (and decide to act on your knowledge), miss out the butter, it’s still a tasty sweet vegetable and healthy too.The trick to successful sweet corn is picking it at the right time and the speed with which it leaves the plot and arrives on the plate. - See more at: http://portugalresident.com/sweet-corn-%E2%80%93-50-fresh-cobs-for-10-minutes-work-a-day#sthash.WHJQ522w.dp
Sweetcorn fritters with tomato cheese and chilli
Makes 6
2 kernels of fresh not tinned, cooked corn de-kernelled
a few cherry tomatoes
grated cheddar
2 green chillies
leeks / spring onions optional
2 eggs plus two extra egg whites
salt and pepper
1 heaped tbsp self raising flour
Remove the kernels from a couple of large heads of sweetcorn with a large knife. Put them into a mixing bowl with 2 whole eggs, a little salt and pepper and 1 heaped tbsp of self-raising flour. Beat the egg whites until stiff then fold it into the sweetcorn. Melt a little butter in a nonstick frying pan. When the butter sizzles, place large tablespoons of the batter in the pan and leave for a couple of minutes to brown lightly. Flip them over with a palette knife and cook the other side. Lift out, drain on kitchen paper, then eat immediately.  

NOTE: Always use fresh sweetcorn. Tinned corn is too soft, and the necessary crunch will be lost. Don't over-mix the batter, which would result in heavy cakes. For a lighter but more fragile fritter, add another beaten egg white. Cook in butter, not oil. Sweetcorn loves butter more than any other cooking medium.

For another interesting twist try this Indonesian recipe for crab,corn and coriander fritters.The quantities here make about 45 5cm /2in fritters so if you are not catering for a party adjust the quantities accordingly

85g/3oz crab meat
6 ears of fresh sweetcorn
1 medium onion,grated
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
1 tsp ground coriander
2 cloves garlic,crushed
3eggs,lightly beaten
40g /1.5 oz plain flour
salt and freshly ground szechuan pepper
groundnut oil 

Cut the sweetcorn kernels from the cob with a sharp knife.Mix together all the ingredients,except the oil.Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Heat a spoonful of butter in a frying pan and drop in spoonfuls of the batter.Fry briskly till browned,then turn and cook the other side.Drain the fritters on paper towel and keep warm until all are cooked.Serve immediately.

 

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

From bacalhau to beignet with a gentle tap

At first glance you might well be excused for thinking you had got lost and ended up in a scrap yard. Rigid as cement, it looks gray and ghastly and smells even worse, but do not flinch.This is how bacalhau appears on a market stall.First you have to ask for it to be  cut into a useful size for soaking. Soak in cold water, with frequent changes, for 24 - 36 hours. If you have a stream running through your garden so much the better.Chance would be a fine thing. Boil the rinsed fish for 20 - 30 minutes until flakeable. Remove skin and bones and flake the flesh.
So now that you know much of what there is to know about salt cod, it's time you tried to cook with it. See how appetising it becomes once cooked.It is said that there are a thousand recipes for cooking it but there are just as many recipes for what you serve with it.Here I have found a recipe that makes the salt cod into beignets made with sweet potatoes, which I served up with a colourful red pepper tapenade

what a make over from lost cause to stunning appetizer

FOR THE BEIGNETS
450g/1lb bacalhau/salt cod,soaked and rinsed
450g /1lb White fleshed sweet potatoes (use ordinary potatoes if not available)
1 bunch of spring onions, finely chopped
2 eggs
Flor de sal and freshly ground black pepper

FOR THE RED PEPPER TAPENADE 
2 red peppers
25g/8oz pitted black olives
1tbsp Dijon mustard
55g /2oz anchovy fillets
55g /2oz capers,drained 
150ml /1/4 pint extra virgin olive oil 

First make the tapenade.Skin your red peppers by having roasted them in a hot oven and then put them in a plastic bag to sweat until cool.Having removed the skin of the peppers,chop them up.Place all the ingredients, except the olive oil in a food processor and process together until you have a thick gravelly consistency.Drizzle in the oil slowly as you would when making mayonnaise and blend the tapenade until it holds a grainy,fairly coarse texture.You will have more than you need for this recipe so bottle it in a screw top jar and keep in the refrigerator.
Simmer your soaked cod in fresh water for ten minutes,then drain,remove any skin and bones,and flake with a fork.
Ensure your sweet potatoes are fresh or they will discolour.Peel and boil in salted water until soft-( they take about twice as long as as regular potatoes) then drain and mash them well.
Mix together the fish,mashed potatoes,spring onions and eggs in a food processor.Form the mixture into small bite sized fritters and deep fry in batches in a deep fat fryer until golden brown on both sides (about 6 minutes) serve piping hot with your home made tapenade.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Achilles' meal

If you're a food writer, and you're writing about food that exudes fat or oil, you have to use the word unctuous or unctuousness whether you understand what it means or not. Ironically, another meaning for the adjective is, "Characterized by affected, exaggerated, or insincere earnestness."
Easter is over and its back to finding ideas for fulfilling weekday suppers.Moussaka seems the perfect choice for this time of year, like a parmigiana; a dish which simultaneously manages to taste of sunshine, and boast the warming qualities of cinnamon and allspice, sufficient to bring you in from the cold wind and unexpected spring shower.Funny that having just had an exceptional leg of new season Alentejan lamb for Easter and over purchased on aubergines for a pre-Easter catering job which involved individual parmigiana starters, all was in place for eating fresh products in the right season.
Eyebrows might be raised at the mention of leftover lamb, but I am sure that a lot of us have found ourselves left with a plethora of the stuff Easter dinner was made of. Moussaka is generally made with fresh mince, like a rather superior sort of shepherd's pie, but reading between the lines, both dishes can be immeasurably improved by using meat that has already been cooked and I am sure that is how they were first made. My mother used to have a little hand mincer that was permanently clamped on to the end of the kitchen work table: the point of it was not to do as Mrs Lovatt did in Sweeney Todd ( a little home butchery) but to grind up the remains of the former roast for recycling into a shepherd's pie or a Moussaka
Lamb leftovers are slightly trickier to use up than beef or chicken. The meat is very fatty, which makes it unctuous and flavoursome when hot, but too greasy to nibble as a cold snack or use in sandwiches and salads.Instead, your best bet is to recook it and turn it into something new.
If I was a Masterchef contestant,(which I was once) for my calling card,in which the amateur chefs are asked to cook up a dish that’ll make Gregg use the phrase “nice plate of food”. I would cook a cracking Moussaka.
Mousaka incorporates some essential basic techniques, such as making a good meat ragout and learning how to  make a good white sauce,there is even a bit of knife work with vegetables and also a bit of egg cookery, all of which should excite the novice cook and Gregg to boot
 Even to an old hand, it is a dish that gives huge satisfaction to make. It is one of those composite dishes, like cassoulet or a navarin of lamb, in which the coming together of two or three ingredients produces something transcendent and unique. Alchemy is afoot in the transformation of a couple of aubergines, a bit of old roast lamb and a white sauce into something so aromatic and satisfying.
Twice cooked lamb moussaka
Serves 6
Although I have specified cooked meat in this recipe, raw lamb mince would be fine. But fry it well in a little olive oil before adding it to the softened onion - and extend the cooking time by 20 minutes.
    750g (1lb 10oz) cooked lamb
    2 onions
    olive oil
    1 tbsp tomato purée
    1 cinnamon stick
    1/2 tsp allspice
    1 dsp dried oregano or 1 tbsp fresh
    250ml (9fl oz) stock or gravy from the roast
    3 large aubergines

      For the topping
        50g (2oz) unsalted butter
        50g (2oz) flour
        300ml (10fl oz) milk
        2 bay leaves
        generous pinch of nutmeg
        half an onion
        6 cloves
        200g (7oz) Greek yoghurt
        75g (3oz) feta cheese, finely grated
        25g (1oz) parmesan, finely grated
        2 egg yolks

          Mince the meat coarsely in a mincer. If you don't happen to possess a mincer, cut the meat into small cubes and then chop them finely in a food processor using the pulse button, taking care only to chop and not to make a purée of the meat. Peel and chop the onions finely. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a frying-pan and sweat the onions for five minutes until soft. Add the meat and turn it briefly with the onions before adding a good seasoning of salt and pepper and the tomato purée, the cinnamon stick, the allspice and the oregano. Stew these together for a couple of minutes, add the stock and cook for 30 minutes.
          Slice the aubergines crossways  into 7mm (1/3in) slices.Drag these through some flour and fry them in olive oil until golden brown on both sides (alternatively brush the aubergines lightly with oil and grill them in a dry griddle pan). Once cooked, drain the aubergines well.
          To make the topping, melt the butter in a small but heavy saucepan and add the flour. Stir well over a gentle heat for a couple of minutes until it acquires a sandy consistency then add two or three tablespoons of the milk. Work this to a smooth paste with a wooden spoon and then pour in the rest of the milk. Whisk this well as it comes to the boil. Add the bay leaves, the nutmeg and the onion studded with cloves. Simmer the white sauce gently for 20 minutes. Whisk together the yoghurt, the feta, the parmesan and the egg yolks in a bowl. Once the white sauce is cooked, pour it through a strainer into the yoghurt mixture and whisk it together well. Allow it to cool.
          Assemble the moussaka as follows.  Cover the bottom of a large oven-proof dish or tray with a layer of aubergines and then with half the meat sauce and then with a second layer of aubergines. Repeat the process - a layer meat and aubergines - and then pour the white sauce over the top in a single thick layer. Bake the moussaka in a medium oven (200C/400F/gas mark 6) for 35 to 4o minutes,until bubbling brown around the sides and acquiring a golden crust on topThe dish is best served after it has been out of the oven for 20 minutes. A green salad is all you need to accompany the dish,but a tomato and onion salad would be even better.