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Double Potato and Halloumi Bake



Some of my favorite foods include stews, risottos, and roasts. Unfortunately, it's always too hot in the summer to even attempt any of these (who wants to turn the oven on when it's 90 degrees out?). But as soon as the temperature starts to dip, I'm whipping out the arborio rice and the roasting pans. We made this dish recently to bring to accompany some delicious steaks (thanks, Jack!). This recipe is a tried-and-true favorite, done up in true Nigella style with simple ingredients and a super-fast prep time. You don't even have to peel the garlic cloves! But please don't skimp on the halloumi, and do eat it as soon as you can without burning the roof of your mouth off.

Double Potato and Halloumi Bake:

Serves 6

1 large sweet potato
1 large Desiree potato, or other red/firm potato
1 red onion
1 yellow pepper
1 red peppers
1/2 head Garlic
4 tbsp Olive oil
1 pinch Pepper
125g halloumi cheese, sliced as thinly as you can

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. Cut the sweet potato into rough 1.5" cubes and the Desiree slightly smaller (1") as the sweet potato will cook more quickly.

3. Halve the red onion then cut the half into 4-6 segments, discarding any tough outer skin.

4. De-seed the peppers and cut into 1" squares, and separate the cloves of garlic.

5. Put everything into a large roasting tin or whatever you want to use (it should be big, otherwise use two dishes) and, using your hands, give the vegetables a good coating of olive oil. Season with black pepper, but no salt as the cheese will make it salty (and anyway, the salt will make water leech out).

6. Cook for 45 minutes, by which time the vegetables should be cooked through and here and there tinged with brown.

7. You'll need to turn the oven up to maximum, or light the grill for the endgame: so place the thinly sliced cheese on top of the bake, and put it back in the very hot oven or under the grill until the cheese has melted and turned slightly brown on top, about 5-10 minutes. Serve straight out of the roasting tin.




Recipe originally from Nigella Bites. She states that the recipe feeds 3, but if you're using this as a side dish, you'll easily get at least 6 servings out of it.

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Potato Salad with Ginger and Cilantro



Every dish at the potluck last week was amazing, and we still managed plenty of compliments because of this potato salad recipe. We hadn't made the recipe before, but the additions of ginger and cilantro encouraged us to try it and the results were great. If you're tired of dill in your potato salads, give this a try. You'll be the talk of the potluck.

Potato Salad with Ginger and Cilantro

3 1/2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes

1 cup chopped shallots (about 3)
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 cups (packed) roughly chopped cilantro leaves

Boil potatoes until cooked through, about 25 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours. Can be made 1 day ahead.

Puree shallots, mayonnaise, ginger, and lemon juice in a food processor. Transfer puree to a small bowl and stir in 1 1/2 cups cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Peel potatoes and cut them into 1/2-inch cubes. Place in large bowl, add dressing, and toss to coat. Refrigerate until cold, about 4 hours. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with remaining cilantro and serve.

Makes 8 servings.

Recipe from Bon Appétit August 2004

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Moussaka



One of our favorite restaurants is the Happy Greek in Columbus -- just ask any of our relatives who happened to visit us when we lived in the city. Their avgolemono soup (a lemony broth-based rice soup) is always amazing, as are their gyros. But our most-loved dish was their moussaka. Now that we live in Cleveland, we've been forced to get creative, and find our own recipe!

Moussaka is fairly similar to the Italian lasagna, only with vegetables replacing the lasagna noodles. There are countless variations on this dish, but we picked one that makes the most of a rampant summer vegetable -- zucchini. Moussaka is also usually topped with a creamy bechamel sauce that browns nicely in the oven. In this recipe, a lower-fat version of this sauce is used.

I have to confess that I don't really care for Parmesan cheese. I find the acidic taste it develops when it's aged too much (or has been sitting in the refrigerator too long) a little disgusting. Instead, we like to use Grana Padano cheese, which is prepared very similarly to Parmigiano Reggiano. We buy it at Whole Foods, but have found it at larger grocery stores before.

White Sauce:

2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup milk
dash of ground nutmeg
2 tbsp grated grana padano cheese
1 egg yolk

Whisk flour in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Slowly add the milk, whisking all the while, until the mixture is smooth. Add the nutmeg. Continue whisking the mixture until it thickens and comes to a boil (this will take about ten minutes). Take the pot off the heat, and add the nutmeg, cheese and the egg yolk. Set aside.


Moussaka:

olive oil
1 large eggplant, trimmed, peeled and sliced lengthwise (1/2" thick)
2 medium zucchini, trimmed and sliced into 1/4" thick rounds
1 large russet or red potato, peeled and sliced into 1/4" thick rounds

1 tsp olive oil
1 cups chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 to 3/4 lb ground beef or lamb
1 14 oz can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup plain dry white breadcrumbs
1 egg white
dash ground cinnamon
White Sauce
grated Grana Padano cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet or two small ones with parchment paper, brush with olive oil. Lay out eggplant, potato and zucchini slices on the baking sheets, allowing them to overlap slightly. Brush vegetables generously with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 375 degrees F.

While the vegetables are roasting, heat 1 tsp olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add onions and garlic, and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add ground beef and brown, breaking up the beef with the back of a wooden spoon. When the meat is completely brown, add the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until the sauce is thickened. Add half the breadcrumbs, the cinnamon, and the egg white.

In a glass 8" x 8" x 2" dish, sprinkle breadcrumbs over the base of the pan. Arrange the potato slices in a layer over the bottom of the pan, overlapping if necessary. Spoon half of the tomato sauce over the potatoes. Arrange the eggplant in a layer on top of the tomato sauce, and spoon the remaining sauce over the eggplant. Finish off with a layer of zucchini. Pour the white sauce over the whole dish, and sprinkle with cheese.

Put the moussaka in the oven and bake for about half an hour, until the top is nicely browned. Let sit for 15 minutes after leaving the oven, then slice and serve.

Serves 3 or 4.

Bon Appétit, February 1998

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