Moustalevria: Grape Must Jelly

The two baskets of ripe grapes we gathered from our old vines were too few for wine and too seedy to eat; so Costas and I decided to press them and take the juice to drink, freeze some to make granita, and certainly make moustalevria, the traditional grape must jelly our mothers used to make each year. 

 

The old recipes ask for a lengthy process of simmering and clarifying the grape must with wood ash, which I always skip. I much prefer a fruity-tasting moustalevria, so I briefly boil the juice with the cornstarch, just until it thickens, much like I do when I make my orange ‘cream’ in the winter. You can use any nice grapes you like to make the juice, but I wouldn’t use the canned concord grape juice available everywhere in the US as I am not fond of its taste and aroma.

 

Serves 8-10 (more…)

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Oven-cooked Eggplants and Peppers in Tomato Sauce

A kind of Greek, rustic ratatouille that can be made with any combination of summer vegetables. I particularly like it with just eggplants and green bell peppers plus plenty of onions and garlic, all baked slowly in my fragrant tomato sauce.

 

 

We can find all kinds of delicious eggplants here and choose whichever we want for our summer dishes. For this I prefer the long ones –which are similar to the Chinese and Japanese– because they better retain their shape. But any kind of eggplant is fine, and I strongly suggest you use the fresher you find in your farmer’s market —Molly Stevens explains beautifully the flavor variations between the various eggplants, which make little difference for this particular dish.

 

 

 

Serves 4-6 (more…)

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Veal Stew with Quinces (Moschari Kydonato)

This is my favorite winter stew. Quinces are equally delicious in savory and sweet dishes, and Greek islanders cook all kinds of meats with quince.

On Chios, they pair quinces with free-range chicken; on Crete, with lamb; and on Lesbos, with veal. As with most stews I make on Kea, our local veal shank is my first choice; but I also make pork with quince. I give the meat extra flavor by tying the cores of the fruit in cheesecloth and adding them to the cooking broth.

The combination of meat with quinces is not new. In the Roman cookery of Apicius we find similar stews, and quinces have been quite common in old traditional Greek cooking. (more…)

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Aglaia’s Mousaka (or Moussaka)

My Mousaka (or moussaka) with layers of eggplants, potatoes, and peppers, is topped with yogurt and olive oil béchamel. I recently added the spicy and smoky Kea sausage to the lamb, to deepen and enrich the flavor.

 Read HERE about the origin of this iconic Greek dish.

‘Pseudo-moussaka’ is the meat-less, vegetarian version of the dish that my mother often prepared in the summer (scroll down to see this delicious Variation).

 

Mousakas-pot-CUT-S

See the video of My moussaka from Joanne Weir’s Plates and Places.

 

Little did we know how idiosyncratic the name of the vegetarian version were to our home.  We all loved it and I thought the term ‘pseudo-moussaka’ was common until my first husband burst into wild laughter upon hearing the name of my family dish! After much investigation he concluded that it was family jargon, but it was ours, and it was delicious.

 

I serve large spoonfuls, as with all gratin dishes; not perfectly cut squares. If you prefer a more elegant presentation make it in individual clay pots.

 

 

Makes 6 servings

 

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