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Greek cuisine

14 March, 2015

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Greek cuisine

Traditional greek recipes.Local ingredients. A great variety of Cretan and Geek recipes. Some of them , difficult to find in a commercial kitchen.
We use products as : greek yoghurt, krokos kozanis(saffron), avgotaraxo mesologiou (fish roe), talagani cheese, feta (DOP), fava beans (santorini), apaki (cretan smoked pork) , siglino and many more greek Delicacies.

Directions

  1. Wash, peel, and cut the eggplant and the potatoes into
    long, thin slices. Salt them and immerse them in salted water (about ¾ ounce [21 g] salt per quart of water). In
    a food processor, grind the tomatoes, separating some 3½ ounces (100 g) of core and seed (that is, without
    the watery liquid).
  2. Prepare the béchamel in a saucepan. Begin by melting the butter at a low temperature and preparing a light roux. Slowly blend the flour into the butter, stirring so that they froth together for 2 minutes and taking care not to let the mixture brown. Remove the béchamel from the heat and put it aside so that the bubbling stops.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the milk to 180°F (82°C). Add the milk to the roux all at once. Beat the mixture vigorously with a wire whisk to blend the liquid and roux, making sure to gather all the grainy bits sticking to the pan.
    Set the sauce over moderately high heat and stir with a whisk until it comes to a boil. Boil for 1 minute while
    stirring, remove from the heat, and add salt and pepper to taste.Heat some olive oil in a frying pan. Stir-fry the onions. When they become golden brown, add the 3½ ounces of reserved tomato core and seeds. When these
    dry up and start to fry, stir in the chopped veal. Add salt to taste and shallow-fry until the color changes from
    red to brown. Add pepper and the rest of the ground tomato (including the liquid) and leave simmering
    onmedium-low heat for half an hour, until most of the water is absorbed. Add olive oil in another pan and fry
    the eggplant and potatoes. Remove the fried eggplant and potatoes to a stainless steel sieve for draining.
  4. Spread 2 tablespoonfuls of olive oil on the bottom of a large baking pan and lay in the potatoes slices to form a solid layer. Spread half the chopped meat across the potatoes. Then place a layer of eggplant on top of the chopped meat. Add the rest of the meat on top. Cover with another layer of eggplant. Finally, pourthe béchamel in a thick layer over the eggplant. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the surface of the sauce is dark brown. Remove from the oven, allow 10 minutes for the béchamel to set, and then cut into portions and .

Ingredients

  • 2 kg) eggplant, preferably large
  • 1 kg) potatoes, preferably large
  • (1 kg) tomatoes
  • (155 mL) olive oil
  • 2 large onions
  • (1 kg) chopped veal
  • Salt and pepper
  • (21 g) butter
  • 28 g) all-purpose (wheat) flour, 500 mL) milk

Moussaka as an Introduction to Food Chemistry
by christos ritzoulis
The modern recipe is composed of raw materials originating from places as diverse as South America and Southeast Asia. Most spices, of course, come from Southeast Asia. Eggplant was known in the
southeastern Mediterranean and Middle East by late Roman times, where the plant had been introduced via the spice road that joined Indonesia and India to the Red Sea and hence the Mediterranean. Eggplant was well known to both Byzantines and Arabs, and it has always been considered a luxury upper-class food. Potatoes, a later
ingredient in moussaka, originated in the Andes Mountains on the western coast of South America and had come to the eastern Mediterranean by the seventeenth century. By the eighteenth century, potatoes were not considered exotic to Ottoman Constantinople (now Istanbul). In the southern, more isolated parts of Greece, potatoes were
introduced more recently, apparently during the nineteenth century. I believe potatoes found their way into moussaka at a much later stage. Perhaps the most recent addition to moussaka is the béchamel (white) sauce. In the early twentieth century, Nikolaos Tselementes,a French-influenced chef, wrote a series of cookbooks
so successful that in modern-day Greek, the word Tselementes is practicallysynonymous withcookbook. The master
chef was among the first toadvise the use of béchamelsauce as the final toppingon the eggplant–chopped
meat–potato dish, thusgiving us moussaka as weknow it today.Gastronomy is dynamic:
no recipe has been or everwill be carved in stone.The way we cook moussakatoday will certainlychange in the next few
hundred years. Retainingsome mental placeholdersto allow for additionsin the years to come, thisis the dish as we currentlyknow it.Now, let us reexaminethe process from the start,a bit more diligently, startingfrom the chopping of
the ingredients.As the onions arechopped, their cells aretorn apart and the enzymespreviously isolated in restricted
parts of the cellsnow get intermingled withother substances. Theseenzymes readily turn somesulfur-containing ompounds
into volatile molecules. The flying onionmolecules seek and dissolveinto any aqueous solutionaround—yes—including
the tears in our eyes. Uponcontact with the eyes, theonion molecules stimulatesensory neurons, creatinga painful burning sensation.e reflexively rub oureyes with our fingers. Alas,our fingers being saturatedwith sulfur compounds
from the sliced onion onlymakes things worse. Ourreflexes do not stand idle,however: tear production immediately commences, and the troublemakingmolecules get diluted and washed away.Unlike the onion, chopping up the eggplant and the potato will notmake us cry. This action will, however, cause the vegetables to turnblack because chopping destroys cell walls. In defense, the cells releasespecialized enzymes that readily look for phenolic compounds,
which abound in these vegetables. The enzymes will turn these phenolicagents into dark and sometimes bitter compounds, which arean antimicrobial defense line of the injured cells. Still, they spoil the
look of our food. Cut up an apple or a banana, and leave it out:
enzyme activity will soon turn it dark. The best way to avoid this is
to denature, or inactivate, such enzymes (that is, destroy their shape
and, essentially, their functionality). Denaturing is easily achieved by
heating (this is why we blanch vegetables) or by exposing the enzymerich
food to a solution of high salt concentration (brine). This is one
of the reasons why salty water will preserve the color and taste of
eggplant and potatoes.Of course, a good deal of other enzyme-denaturing techniques are
used in a range of foods. Take pickled foods, for example: enzymes,
being basically proteins, are sensitive to changes in pH; exposing
food to acidic solutions, such as lemon juice or vinegar, will denature
and render these oxidizing enzymes inactive, despite the rupture of
the cell walls, thus preserving the color of the food.
Now, let us heat up some olive oil and stir in the onions: chemical
reactions that take place within the onions lead to darkening, the
medium-low heat for half an hour, until most of the
water is absorbed. Add olive oil in another pan and fry
the eggplant and potatoes. Remove the fried eggplant
and potatoes to a stainless steel sieve for draining.
Spread 2 tablespoonfuls of olive oil on the bottom
of a large baking pan and lay in the potatoes slices
to form a solid layer. Spread half the chopped meat
across the potatoes. Then place a layer of eggplant on
top of the chopped meat. Add the rest of the meat on
top. Cover with another layer of eggplant. Finally, pour
the béchamel in a thick layer over the eggplant. Bake
at 350°F (180°C) for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the
surface of the sauce is dark brown. Remove from the
oven, allow 10 minutes for the béchamel to set, and
then cut into portions and serve.
Mo u s s a k a a s a n I n t r o d u c t i o n t o F o o d C h emi s t r y 49
development of a rough texture, and the formation of small volatile
molecules that give the characteristic flavor of do-pyaza (a Punjabi
okra dish) or stifado (a Greek meat stew). How is this new color,
flavor, and texture created? The basis of these changes from raw to
cooked food is a series of very complex chemical reactions between
the amino-acid components of the proteins and the individual sugars
of the carbohydrates, collectively known as the Maillard reaction (for
a detailed account of these reactions, see chapter 13). These reactions
can follow a wide range of paths, leading to different final products,
depending on the composition of the sugars and proteins, the pH, the
temperature, and of course, the duration of cooking. As a simple example,
among the end products of the reactions are volatile molecules
that can be perceived by our noses as the familiar pleasant smell of
food being cooked.Maillard and caramelization (degradation reactions involving only
sugars) reactions lead also to the development of color: one may say
that the dark brown color of fried onions, the brown-black color of
roasted meat, and the dark brown color of roasted béchamel are, to
a large extent, due to products of such reactions. The molecules in
the food yield color depending on their chemical structure. As white
light shines onto them, they absorb specific colors, while at the same
time they reflect the other colors. As new molecules are formed during
cooking, new colors are absorbed by the food. As more and more
colors are absorbed during cooking, less are reflected, leading to a
loss of color during the later stages of cooking. This is how most
foods turn darker as cooking proceeds. Food texture (that is, development
of crust) and, occasionally, development of new flavors are
also related to Maillard and caramelization reactions.
So far, we have visited the world of molecules one-billionth of a
meter in size. We have addressed things such as color and smell, all
related to the world of molecules. Other amazing events are bound
to unfold, but to witness these events, we must zoom out to the scale
of microns (one-millionth of a meter). A brave new world opens up,
composed of huge agglomerates of molecules, oil droplets, and tiny
bubbles. And there is an entity out there that has it all: béchamel.
As we have shown, béchamel sauce is made by mixing roux and
milk. Roux is a mixture of fat (from butter) and flour, which contains
particles with long chains of molecules (originating from gluten proteins
and starch carbohydrates). Milk is a dispersion of fat droplets
in a solution of sugars, proteins, and other minor constituents. Mixing
of the two results in a complicated colloidal system containing all these different particles and molecules. In addition, whipping can
incorporate some air droplets. So, béchamel could also be called a
foam.
Cooked béchamel, basically long chain molecules (and smaller
molecules) in solution together with a number of fat droplets, is
elastic: if one applies a gentle pressure to the sauce, say, with the
back of a flat spoon, it will deform, only to spring back once the
spoon is withdrawn. Resistance to the movement of the spoon will
increase as the deformation increases. That is called elastic behavior,
which is characteristic of solids. So, is béchamel solid? Well, if one
applies a greater pressure by hanging a set béchamel in the air from
one side, like a carpet, allowing it to hang loose, the béchamel’s
own weight will cause it to elongate. If we put this poor béchamel
back on the table, it will not spring back to its original length. An
amount of the energy applied to the béchamel has been used to
break bonds that held the former tight structure together. This is a
typical behavior of fluids, so béchamel can be said to be both solid
and liquid. To a large extent, it is the delicate interplay between the
solid and liquid character that gives every food its particular texture
and mouthfeel.
As we finish what we started, from a historical narrative of a dish
followed by a Tselementes cookbook recipe, we can summarize our
trip in this way: we have zoomed out from the molecular level (structure,
light–matter interactions) to the colloidal level (long chains of
sugar-type molecules, fat droplets, air bubbles) and in the end to what
we call the macroscopic world (shape, color, smell, taste, texture).
The examples in this chapter serve to demonstrate that cooking,
along perhaps with metallurgy, are the earliest true forms of chemistry
and that no culinary skill is irrelevant to a laboratory activity.
In fact, chemistry, like its cousin medicine, spent most of its lifetime
as an empirical art rather than a science. And, indeed, chemistry has
been successfully explored and exploited by cooks, metallurgists, dye
makers, and alchemists. The good news is that a cook can lay claim
to chemistry as much as an alchemist, a dyer, or a metallurgist ever
could.

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