FRIDAY FEAST with Eleni Konstantine

Ahh, Fridays. I just adore them. After a big week writing there’s something completely satisfying about turning my brain (and belly) to some feasty goodness. And what feasty goodness we have in store!EleniK

This week I’m absolutely delighted to introduce a new guest to Friday Feast. Adelaide writer Eleni Konstantine is not only a talented author and designer, she’s also a total sweetheart. But if her paranormal and fantasy romances are anything to go by, it appears she also harbours a deep dark side. Probably developed form all those wonderful fairytales her mother gave her when she was young, along with her great love for Greek mythology.

Eleni’s latest release is Sealed With A Kiss. Take a look.

 

SEALED WTH A KISS

 

SealedwithAKiss_smCan a gift from her grandmother protect Lise? 

Lise doesn’t believe in vampires. Or so she tells herself. Though, she constantly wears the garnet necklace her grandmother gave her, which wards off the creatures. Andreas, the man she’s attracted to, seems more than a little interested in it. Could there be an ulterior motive?

Intrigued? I am! Thanks to the joy of ebooks, you could have your own copy with just a quick clickety-click. Visit Smashwords where you can download a file for any ereader format, from Kindle to Kobo to your iPad, and others. You can even read it on your computer. Easy!

 

And now, prepare your tastebuds for Eleni.

 

 

Mana’s Pastitio

I love food. Seriously. I’m not one of these people who only views it as substance. After all, why does food taste so good if this was to be the case?! Lucky for me, food is paramount in the culture I grew up in. And I have a mum (mana or mama in Greek) who loves to cook and experiment as well. Lucky me!

But today, I’m going to bring you one of the traditional dishes I grew up with.

Pastitio.

What is pastitio? It’s Greek and is sort of like a mousaka but instead of putting potato and eggplant (aubergine), you have pasta.

There are three layers traditionally

  1. Pasta – bottom layer
  2. Mince sauce
  3. Béchamel sauce (white sauce) – top

But we mix up the bottom two layers.

You will find variations on the web, but this is the one that always makes my mouth water no matter what. I had to pin my mum down for this as she does this off the cuff and changes according to the size of the casserole dish.

The following is for a dish 30cm x 40cm

pastitio

Ingredients

  • 500gm pasta of your choice. We usually go for penne as it mixes with the mince layer really well. Fat spaghetti is lovely as well.
  • 7 eggs  (3 egg whites, lightly beaten for mince/pasta layer; the remainder egg yellows will go in the béchamel  (white) sauce) and 4 eggs in béchamel sauce.
  • 7 cups milk
  • 6 tablespoons melted salted butter
  • 250gms (1 cup) of cornflour
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • salt
  • white pepper
  • grated dried ricotta cheese or Parmesan (to sprinkle on top of the white sauce)
  • 800-1kg mince – we usually do a mixture of Pork and Beef. But you can really have what you like.
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion (whatever type) – grated
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 can diced tomato (or you can put the ready made pasta sauce instead of the diced tomato and tomato paste)
  • ½ cup chopped parsley (continental)
  • 1- 1½ cups water
  • 7 heaped tablespoons corn flour
  • 8 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese or dried ricotta cheese (or a mixture of both)

The mince layer

–          Heat up oil and fry up mince until brown.

–          Add onion and stir

–          Add tomato paste and diced tomato. Stir

–          Add ¾ teaspoon nutmeg.

–          Add salt and pepper to taste.

–          Add chopped parsley

–          Stir until there is little to no liquid left.

–          Take off heat and put to side.

The Pasta layer

–          boil the pasta so it’s al dente. Tip 1: add a few drops of extra virgin olive oil;  Tip 2: when you add the pasta, add some salt to taste.

–          strain pasta

Combining layers

–          Mix the meat sauce and the pasta together.

–          Add the 7 tablespoons of the cheese(s)

–          Add  3 lightly beaten egg whites into mixture and stir.

–          Butter or oil a casserole dish (we use Pyrex) before use.

–          Pour mixture above into casserole dish and flatten out to cover the bottom of the dish.

–          Leave for 10 minutes (basically leave when making the White Sauce)

White sauce

–          Place 6 cups of milk, a pinch of white pepper, ¼ teaspoon with melted butter into saucepan to boil.

–          As this is heating, add into a bowl, the remainder eggs (4 whole + 3 yellows), 1 cup of milk and corn flour and whisk until the corn flour is absorbed.

–          Add the bowl’s ingredients into the saucepan and stir until the milk froths.

–          If there  are lumps in your white sauce, you can sift it through to make it more smooth.

–          Add white sauce to the casserole dish. Spread out.

The Finish

–          Add some dried grated ricotta cheese or Parmesan cheese to top of mixture

–          Put in oven at 180 Celsius(356 Fahrenheit) for an hour.

–          Let it rest for 10 minutes when you take it out of the oven.

–          Cut into how large you want your pieces to be, and serve.

–          A Greek village salad makes a good side dish.

 

Thanks, Eleni, for sharing this wonderful family dish. I’m a huge fan of Greek food and will definitely being giving this one a go. It’ll be perfect for a wintery night snuggle-in.

Now, my lovely Feasters, is there a dish or a food that you go back to again and again? Eleni would love to know. In fact, she’d love to know so much that she’s giving away an ebook copy of Sealed With A Kiss to one lucky commenter.

My go-to food is a fresh rice noodle dish made with chilli bean paste and pork that I adapted from a Neil Perry recipe that was featured in a Gourmet Traveller several years back. It’s hot, healthy, fast and luscious to eat. A household favourite.

So share away and you could win yourself a short tasty read!

Giveaway closes midnight AEST, Tuesday 21st May 2013. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about Eleni and her stories, please visit her website. You can also connect via her Eleni’s Taverna blog.

 

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Jenny who has won a copy of Eleni’s Sealed With A Kiss. Thanks to all who visited and left comments. Always lovely to see you. Hope you all enjoy your pastitio!

0 thoughts on “FRIDAY FEAST with Eleni Konstantine

  1. Avatarchristinestinson

    Great post, thank you, Cathryn and Eleni. The best possible combination, a good book and good food. Love the sound of your mum’s pastitio, Eleni, will definitely be making it! The go to dish around here is usually spaghetti with meatballs. As per Eleni’s pastitio, any kind of mince you prefer for the meatballs, a good cup of fresh grated parmesan cheese mixed in with the mince, homemade red sauce and I’m on a winner every time.

  2. AvatarEleni Konstantine

    Hey Christine! Gotta love the spag bol. It’s a staple in our house and for those who are on gluten free diets, we use the San Remo gluten free pasta. It’s delicious. Though not a pasta you can really eat cold.

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      Ooh yes, the perfect combination, Chrisitine: a good book and good food, but mustn’t forget the good wine too!

      And yes, hard to go past a comforting bowl of spaghetti. Mmmm.

      1. AvatarCathryn Hein

        Let us know how you get on, Paula. I have it on my to make list too. Looooove Greek food. One of these days I might actually get to eat some on location.

      2. AvatarPaula Beavan

        I made it last night and it was gorgeous. I should have realised by the ingredients that it would be a great dish to make when I’m expecting hoards of visitors LOL, not just myself and a girlfriend. My husband is due home tonight, and I don’t have to cook, I can just whip out one of the 4 casserole dishes and Da Daaa! Dinner is served 🙂

    1. AvatarEleni Konstantine

      Ah, yes, this is a generous size. The good thing is you can have leftovers the next day. If using normal pasta, I like to eat cold from the fridge. 🙂 GF pasta isn’t good for that though.

      1. AvatarCathryn Hein

        Very yummy sounding, Coleen. It’s deliciousness it probably why the serve is so big. Everyone will want seconds!

        Although, would it freeze okay, Eleni? It’d be a handy thing to have in the freezer if it did.

  3. Avatarkerriepaterson

    Oh yum – that looks delicious! Thanks for the hint on the GF pasta – I’m trying to get back to eating GF (or at least wheat-free) and its a bit of an adjustment!

    1. AvatarEleni Konstantine

      No worries, Paula. When I started with GF pastas years ago, they were barely edible. Now, things have improved. San Remos does the best and does penne, and lasagne sheets as well. Good luck with it!

      1. AvatarCathryn Hein

        I imagine that must take some dedicated shopping, Kerrie. Although, are there recipes out there for home-made GF pasta? Pasta making is such fun, although rather messy if you’re me. I always seem to get flour everywhere.

  4. AvatarJanineR

    Sounds delicious, Eleni. Thanks for your recipe. In keeping with the pasta theme, Puttanesca is a favourite in our house. I’ve heard it was named after the ‘ladies of the night’ who took a break from work to cook it. Don’t know if this is true or not, but the story does add a touch of spice to the dish. 🙂

      1. AvatarCathryn Hein

        Yes, that’s right, Janine. At least, that’s what all my Italian cookbooks proclaim. I made puttanesca a few months back, when I had some leftover anchovies, and it was superb. Beautiful strong flavours and took no time to whip up. Must do it again.

  5. AvatarJuanita Kees

    Yum, yum! To both the pastitio and Sealed with a Kiss. You already know how much I loved reading this story. Awesome! Love your work.

    Since we’re talking Greek, the place I love to go back to over and over is Eat Greek in Fremantle. The kitchen is run by a real Mana who oversees all the dishes personally. Delicious! Equally delicious is her two gorgeous sons who very kindly perform the Zorba to entertain the crowd. A good reason to only take small serves from the buffet and keep going back for more 😉

    I am so going to try this recipe! Anyone have a Greek fireman I can borrow…just in case?

  6. AvatarKandy Shepherd

    Hi Eleni and Cathryn
    Eleni, you have me totally wanting to eat that pastitsio right now!
    There is nothing like a shared, traditional recipe handed down through the generations to make a memorable meal. I can’t wait to try it!

      1. AvatarCathryn Hein

        It’s so moreish looking, isn’t it. Kandy? All that luscious bechamel with it’s lovely golden crust. Then there’s that delicious pasta with its full-flavoured meaty sauce. Sigh. Beautiful Greek comfort food.

  7. AvatarHelene

    Yum! The perfect dish for a cool autumn evening in Cairns! I love the idea that your mum changes it to suit the size of the dish, Eleni 🙂 More recipes for the iPad!

  8. AvatarLouise Reynold

    That sounds and looks delicious! I’m a huge fan of combined dishes like this that just need a little salad on the side and you’re done. Thanks for the recopie, Eleni!