September and the Labor Day weekend has me thinking about the end of summer and I’m hard pressed not to mutter with A.A. Milne’s lovable character Winnie the Pooh. “Goodbye? Oh no please. Can’t we just go back to page one and start all over again?”
The end of summer had us spoiled with warm days in the sun, lush gardens with produce brimming, farmers markets, and endless supplies of colorful fruit and vegetables for any meal or occasion. The cook is tempted to splurge on gathering all this bounty in the kitchen and come up with a burst of colorful and flavorful meals before the seasonal changes in menus.
This recipe originally came from Craig Clairborne’s NY Times cookbook as “Moussaka a la Grecque,” but during the years has considerably slimmed by losing 1 cup butter and an egg and ricotta topping and acquiring several additions.
Since both Greeks and Turks claim moussaka as their dish, I renamed it simply as Mediterranean. This moussaka also has lost breadcrumbs to accommodate the gluten-free diet of our son. It acquired sliced potatoes after eating a delicious moussaka on our trip to Crete. It is now gluten free. I prefer using Japanese eggplant since it does not need to be peeled. The proportions here are for a 7-by-11-by-2-inch Pyrex baking dish. Feel free to scale up for 9-by-13-by-2 dish, but it will take a bit longer to bake.
Parboil 2 medium potatoes sliced in 1/4 inch slices for 2 minutes, drain, and set aside.
Slice 3 large Japanese eggplants and 1 medium zucchini in 1/2 inch slices, place in a shallow pan, lightly spray with oil, sprinkle with garlic salt, and broil, turning once until both sides are browned. Set aside.
Brown 1 lb ground lamb (or beef) in a large pan and set aside. In the same pan, saute 2 large, chopped onions in 2 tbsp butter for 5 minutes until golden, stir in 2 chopped garlic cloves, 12 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 3 tbsp tomato paste, and 3/4 cup red wine. Stir to blend, add back the meat, and add 1/4 cup chopped parsley. Cook on low heat until most of the liquid is absorbed.
To assemble, lightly butter the baking pan, layer the potatoes, 1/4 meat sauce, a layer of zucchini-eggplant, 2 tbsp fresh grated Parmesan cheese, and another 1/4 meat sauce. Repeat eggplant, Parmesan, and sauce two more times. Dot the meat sauce by tablespoon in spots, not necessary to spread even. Cover all completely with rounds of sharp provolone and press everything down lightly with your hands.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Can be made ahead and reheated covered in a 325-degree oven for 30 minutes.
Our summer abundance of fresh peaches in Maine is a result of more winter hardy varieties of peaches and recent less severe winters. This colorful and fragrant fruit lends itself to peach crumbles and pies. Here is a peach-raisin-almond cobbler, similar in appearance to my plum cobbler, but with a totally different and tantalizing flavor.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Unroll a sheet of deli crescent dough and gently stretching fit in a 9-inch pie plate. There will be a sizeable overhang on two of the edges. In a small bowl stir together 3/4 cup sugar with 2 generous tbsp cornstarch.
Blanch 4-5 peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds, slip off the skin, remove the pit, and slice each half in 4-5 slices in a large bowl and add 1/4 cup raisins. Toss with 2 tbsp lemon juice and 1 tsp lemon extract. Then toss fruit with the sugar-starch mix and turn all in pastry lined plate. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup slivered almonds and fold the pastry over the fruit from all sides leaving the center open.
Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn the heat down to 350 degrees and continue baking for additional 12-17 minutes until liquid around the fruit bubbles. Remove from the oven and serve warm or cold.
(I. Winicov Harrington, of Waldoboro, is the author of “How to Eat Healthy and Well for Less Than $5.00 a Day: The Smart-Frugal Food Plan.” For more information, go to winicov-harrington.com.)