Papoutsaki, the most delicious shoes ever

The greek flavours are coming come back to my blog. This time in the form of papoutsakia. The little fancy shoes are great either as main dish or as an appetizer. This dish came to mind when I have seen the September challenge of the  Dulce Romanie Project . unfortunately, I couldn’t participate to this contest during the previous months even though I would’ve loved to do it, the proposed ingredients were simply great. This time, the dishes had to contain one of the following ingredients: eggplant and/or pear. As I couldn’t find any pears at the market and all the greek flavours that I encountered during my holidays in Greece were still fresh in my mind, I made some papoutsakia.

Papoutsakia consists mainly of stuffed eggplants topped with bechamel sauce.

The name – little shoes come from the fact that the eggplant sliced in half and stuffed with aromas, veggies and meat resembles some pretty shoes. Ok, ok  – not really Manolo Blahnik material, but pretty damn tasty ones.

papoutsakia

serves 2

Stuffed eggplants

2 large eggplants

1 big onion

2 garlic cloves

2 chicken breasts chopped in small pieces or 250 grams ground meat

one can of tomatoes or 300 grams chopped tomatoes

olive oil

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

salt, pepper, oregano

graviera or kefalotyri cheese

Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise and scoop out most of the eggplant flesh using a spoon and a knife. Sprinkle the eggplant shells with salt and let them “sweat”for 10 minutes, Meanwhile chop the scooped-out eggplant flesh and cook them olive oil, in a pan over medium fire, until browned and wilted.

Separately, pat dry the eggplant shells and then grill them until they soften slightly without loosing their shape.

In a pan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil and over medium high heat, cook the onion until golden brown and soft. Add the garlic, cook it for 30 seconds and then add the ground meat and continue cooking for about 5-10 minutes, or until the meat is cooked. Add the cooked eggplant flesh, season everything with salt and pepper and then add the chopped tomatoes. Add the cinnamon, oregano, sugar and balsamic vinegar. Cook for 30-40 minutes until sauce has thickened. Remove pan from heat and set meat sauce aside.

 
Bechamel sauce

30 grams butter

30 grams flour

250 ml milk

1 egg

125 grams graviera or kefalotyri  cheese

1 half teaspoon nutmeg

salt, pepper

Melt the butter in a pan, over low heat, and as soon as it starts bubbling stir in the flour,  whisking constantly until the flour gets slightly toasted. Add in the milk and continue whisking for about 8–10 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken. Remove from heat, add 125 grams of graviera or kefalotyri  cheese and the egg. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Pre-heat the oven at 170-200C. Set the eggplant shells in a baking tray, spoon the meat sauce in the shells.  Spoon bechamel sauce over the shells, sprinkle graviera or kefalotyri  cheese (gouda  and parmesan cheese in my case, since I couldn’t find any greek cheese around) and bake for about 20-30 minutes or until the top of the eggplants reaches a golden brown colour and the eggplants are tender and cooked throughout.

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Back from heaven

I am back from my little heaven called the Danube Delta. This little corner of the world, the newest land of Europe is my “place”.  I just love the peacefulness that surrounds it, the endless blue sky, the lonely birds flying high and the permanent taste of vast amounts of water and green plants that get you dizzy with their freshness.

The Danube Delta is the reason why I abandoned my blog lately. For the past weeks I went back home, to Romania for a short holiday. Luckily enough I went on a small trip to the Danube Delta, very close to Murighiol on a charming and welcoming floating hotel (http://www.sageata-apei.ro/) , in the middle of the running waters of the Danube. I will not start telling you about the amazing food I had during this trip, it consisted of various fish dishes, all married with home-grown veggies in a perfect harmony that matched the gorgeousness of this place.

And because I abandoned my blog for so long, I decided to make a little coming back cake that reminds me of the summer and of fresh sunny days.

vanilla sponge with blackberry and lime curd mousse

 

Vanilla sponge

3 eggs, separated

125 gr sugar

80 gr flour

50 ml milk

vanilla

Separate the eggs and set the whites aside. Mix the egg yolks with the sugar and vanilla until thick, creamy and it doubles in volume. Add the flour and mix it gently with a spatula until the flour is totally incorporated.

Beat the egg whites until it forms stiff peaks. Gently incorporate the egg whites into the batter.

Bake the sponge into a baking pan lined with parchment paper in the oven at 170C for about 15-20 minutes. The sponge is ready when the testing stick comes out clean or the cake returns to its shape when softy pressed. Set the sponge aside and let it cool down.

Lime curd mousse

4 egg yolks

1/4 cups lime juice

120 gr sugar

150 gr butter

200 ml whipped cream

Mix the egg yolks with sugar and lime juice in a bowl. Place the bowl over simmering water and boil the mixture whisking continuously until it starts thickening and coats the back of a spoon (about 10 minutes). Do not overcook the curd, otherwise it would become scrambled eggs and it will start smelling of bad omelet. Set aside and start incorporating gradually the cold butter. Transfer in a clean bowl, cover it with cling film and let it cool down in a freezer.

To make the mousse – mix 2/3 or the entire quantity of curd with 200 ml of whipped cream.

Blackberry mousse

200 grams blackberry

5 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons of water

350 ml whipped cream

3 sheets of gelatine

Place the gelatine for 10 minutes in cold water. Meanwhile mix the blackberries with water and sugar and boil them over slow fire until the mixture reaches a syrupy consistency. Set aside and let it cool down for few minutes and then incorporate the gelatine into the mixture. When it cools down mix it throughly with the whipped cream.

To assemble the cake just use your imagination, I cut my sponges in two equal disks, placed the blackberry mouse in between the two halves and covered everything with the lime curd and decorated it with tempered chocolate, strawberries and blueberries.