Bosnian Moussaka (Bosanska Musaka)

FullSizeRender

I really wanted to prepare a moussaka, preferably one like my mother used to make but my memory of the recipe was a bit fuzzy so I started doing some research. I realized quite quickly that there are many moussaka recipes, most stemming from Greece, as most would expect.

Traditionally, Greek moussaka is a baked lamb and eggplant casserole covered with a thick layer of bechamel sauce that becomes golden and crispy. It can be made with other ingredients as well, such as lamb and eggplant, using beef, or vegetables like zucchini or potatoes.

Greeks believe that the moussaka was introduced when the Arabs brought the eggplant, although Arabs, especially in Lebanon, think of the dish as Greek. Moussaka is also found in Turkey and differentiates itself by sautéing the eggplant and using strictly minced beef. The Ottoman empire played a significant part in the way many cultures would adapt and create their own version of the moussaka.

The Bosnian version (as well as Serbian & Croatian) is quite simpler than the traditional Greek moussaka. It is made with minced beef and sliced potatoes. Bosnian or former Yugoslavian food tends to not use too many spices and is generally quite a simple cuisine that uses simple ingredients and preparation, making it quite accessible.

Bosnian people, like their Slavic counterparts, love their meat and potatoes so it makes sense that the moussaka would include those ingredients. The Russians also have their own moussaka, however their version does not include an additional layer of sliced potatoes but rather cheese is used to top the minced beef.

It seems that most cultures have adapted their own moussaka but the Bosnian version is closest to my heart and frankly, one of the easiest to make. Here is how I made the Bosnian version and it turned out quite delicious.

INGREDIENTS

  • Ground Beef (400 gr. or 14 oz)
  • Minced Onion (1)
  • Potato (3 – large)
  • Egg (1)
  • Milk (1 cup)
  • Melted Butter (1-2 tbs)
  • Salt & Pepper (1-2 tbs or as desired)

PREPARATION

Sauté minced onion and add ground beef. Add salt and pepper. Put aside and heat oven to 375 Fehrenheit.

Cut potatoes into small slices and start layering it on a buttered surface in a deep pan. Once the first layer has fully covered the pan’s bottom surface, add all of the sautéed beef. Spread the beef evenly over the potatoes. Repeat the same process, covering all of the beef with the remaining potatoes. Spread melted butter on the top surface of the potatoes so that they can become brown and crispy.

In a separate bowl, mix egg with milk and salt and pepper. Set aside.

Bake moussaka for 15 minutes while covered with aluminum foil. Add the egg and milk mixture over the entire moussaka and cook for another 30 minutes uncovered.

Let moussaka stand for 10-15 minutes as it will be very hot. You can also add some shredded cheese if desired.

Prijatno!

 

Delicious Balkan Treat: Oblatne w/ Toddler

Oblatne, aka wafers with creamy chocolate filling, have been one of my favorite deserts when I was a little girl. I remember the delicious taste of the chocolate filled wafers delightfully enticing my taste buds during each bite. Once I realized how easy oblatne are to make and how much my toddler loves to participate in kitchen matters, I decided to make him my sous-chef de cuisine. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 eggs
  • Butter – 200 grams or 7/8 cup (room temperature)
  • Sugar – 300 grams or  1 cup
  • Chocolate – 100g or 3.5 ounces
  • Wafers – 1 pack (buy here)

The melting of the chocolate with the eggs and sugar should ideally be done in a glass bowl over a pot with boiling water for about 15-20 minutes to ensure that everything is thoroughly melted and cooked. Make sure that you stir continuously. Add the chocolate mixture to a separate chilled bowl – let it cool down a bit so that it does not fully melt the butter but rather creates a creamy consistency and add the softened butter while thoroughly mixing everything together.

The next steps should include a toddler  – spread the chocolate on each wafer. Place the oblatne for a few hours in a fridge and serve cold or at room temperature. I prefer cold but they are equally delicious when left at room temperature. The consistency is bit thicker when it is cold and seems slightly less messy.

Prijatno!

 

Spanakopita with a Cheesy Twist

img_4173

As a fan of dough and all things cheese related, I thought why not give the traditional Spanakopita a little cheese boost. Here is familiar recipe with a slight twist – a cheesy one.

Ingredients

  • Phyllo Dough (1 pack)
  • Olive oil (2 tbs)
  • Melted Butter (2-3 tbs)
  • Salt & Pepper (2 -3 tbs)
  • Baby Spinach (12 oz)
  • Ricotta Cheese (7 oz)
  • Crumbled Feta Cheese (6 oz)
  • Shredded Mozzarella (3-4 tbs)
  • Shredded Cheddar (3- 4 tbs)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 Onion
  • 3 Garlic Cloves

Preparation

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and brown the garlic and onions. Finely chop the spinach and add to the skillet. Mix this mixture with the eggs (beat in a separate bowl), add the salt & pepper, ricotta cheese, crumbled feta cheese, shredded mozzarella, and shredded cheddar.

In a non stick pan, add a 1/4 of the phyllo dough with a 1/3 of the spinach mixture. Continue until you add the last layer of phyllo dough and brush it with the melted butter to give the top layer an extra browned and crispy crust.

Cook for 34-40 minutes on 350 degrees.

Enjoy!

 

 

Quick & Easy Seafood Paella

img_4076

This recipe is really quick to make and takes about 10-15 minutes to make!

INGREDIENTS (Serves 2 people)

  • Cooked Spanish rice (2 cups)
  • Olive oil (2 tbs)
  • Saffron (2tbs)
  • Paprika (1-2 tbs)
  • Salt & Pepper (1-2 tbs)
  • Crushed Garlic*
  • Calamari (1/2 cup)*
  • Shrimp (1 cup)*
  • Muscles (1 cup)*
  • Peppers (1/2 cup)*
  • Peas (1/2 cup)*

*I used frozen vegetables and seafood to make this quick and easy. 

DIRECTIONS

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the frozen crushed garlic, calamari, shrimp, muscles, peppers, and peas and saute until they are thawed. Add the cooked rice and season with saffron, paprika, salt, and pepper.

Mix everything together, cover, and cook for about 5 minutes with the rice on low heat. Serve.

Enjoy!

Rigatoni with Creamy Mushroom Alfredo

img_3980

Tonight I decided to make some rigatoni with creamy mushroom alfredo sauce. This is a simple recipe that is pretty quick to make and does not require many ingredients – perfect for a family dinner on a lazy Sunday!

 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb rigatoni pasta
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1-2 cups milk, depending on desired thickness
  • 1-3 tbs flour
  • 1/2 lb pound mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup onion
  • Salt & black pepper
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan

 

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta, stirring occasionally, about 10-13 minutes.

While the pasta is cooking:

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add butter to skillet along with the garlic and onions. Add salt and pepper. Once the garlic and onions are slightly browned, add the mushrooms. Cook for 3-5 minutes until they are soft.

Add the milk and add a spoon of flour to control the desired thickness. Add the parmesan. Garnish as desired.

Buon Appetito!

 

Fun Twist on French Fries

Home made french fries are by far the most delicious and today I decided to cut up some leftover baby potatoes since they are delicious and colorful. They are a little harder to peel and cut because of their size but the extra effort is worth it. And I love the extra touch of color! Great addition to any meal.

fries

Just peel and cut baby potatoes, fry in olive oil and vegetable oil (50/50), add some salt and serve! 

Quick & Easy Blueberry Muffins From Scratch!

My son is obsessed with Blueberry Muffins and I wanted to make something healthy, quick, and delicious for him that he can snack on.

This recipe is based on the Jordan Marsh recipe, which allegedly has a bit of history. The original recipe was used by Gilchrist but was adopted by The Ritz-Carlton in Boston.

It turned out that after Marian Burros wrote an article “The Battle of the Blueberry Muffins”, one reader said that they were actually not from the Ritz-Carlton but from the Jordan Marsh department store.

This version has a lot more sugar and butter, as well as fewer eggs than the Ritz-Carlton muffins. It also requires that the blueberries are meshed which makes them more moist and allows them to stay fresh longer.

I kept the sugar out one time and only sprinkled it on top. I also didn’t mesh the blueberries and both times they came out delicious!

Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup softened butter
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 cups blueberries, washed, drained and picked over
  • 3 teaspoons sugar

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat the oven to 375.
  2. Cream the butter and 1 1/4 cups sugar until light.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla.
  4. Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder, and add to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk.
  5. Crush 1/2 cup blueberries with a fork, and mix into the batter. Fold in the remaining whole berries.
  6. Line a 12 cup standard muffin tin with cupcake liners, and fill with batter. Sprinkle the 3 teaspoons sugar over the tops of the muffins, and bake at 375 degrees for about 30-35 minutes.
  7. Remove muffins from tin and cool at least 30 minutes. Store, uncovered, or the muffins will be too moist the second day, if they last that long.