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Culinary SOS

Get the Hang of Making Moussaka

February 25, 1988|ROSE DOSTI | Times Staff Writer

Dear SOS: I discovered Nickie & Betty's Place, a charming restaurant in Monrovia, where the moussaka is a delight. I can never get the hang of making moussaka because my attempts always end up swimming in grease and all the flavors of the herbs are lost.

--PAUL

Dear Paul: Observe. Nickie Tripodes does this classic Greek eggplant casserole right.

NICKIE & BETTY'S MOUSSAKA

2 medium eggplants

Salt

1 pound ground beef

2 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 teaspoons Greek seasoning

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

Dash cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1/2 cup mashed Italian plum tomatoes

1/4 cup red wine

Oil

1/4 cup grated Romano cheese

Cheese Sauce

Peel and slice eggplants lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices. Sprinkle with salt and set aside on paper towels to absorb moisture. Meanwhile prepare meat sauce. Saute ground beef in butter with Greek seasoning, onion and garlic, crumbling meat until browned. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, parsley and tomatoes and stir well. Add wine, cover and simmer 30 minutes.

Rinse salted eggplant and pat dry with paper towels. Lightly oil skillet and fry eggplant over very high heat. Drain on paper towels.

In greased 9x9-inch baking pan, place layer of eggplant and top with meat mixture. Sprinkle with grated Romano cheese. Continue layering ingredients in same order until all are used, ending with eggplant. Pour Cheese Sauce over layers of ingredients. Bake at 375 degrees 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let stand 15 minutes to set before slicing into 3-inch squares. Makes 6 servings.

Cheese Sauce

2 egg yolks

1 cup milk

1/2 cup grated Romano cheese

Beat egg yolks until frothy. Add milk and cheese, mixing well.

Dear SOS: The coffee shop at Bally's Grand Hotel in Las Vegas serves a fantastic rice pudding. I'd love to make it, if you can get the recipe.

--JOHN

Dear John: We got it, complements of chef Werner Zefferer. This rice pudding using precooked rice is typical of the Scandinavian-type rice pudding, with a fluffy, cloudlike consistency. Also keep the recipe in mind whenever you have some unseasoned leftover cooked rice on hand.

BALLY'S RICE PUDDING

1 cup rice

2 cups water

1 cup milk

1/2 cup half and half

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/4 cup butter

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups softly whipped cream

1 cup raisins

Cinnamon-sugar

Add rice to boiling water and cook until rice is soft and tender. Set aside.

Combine 1/2 cup milk, half and half, sugar and butter in saucepan and bring to boil. Beat eggs with remaining milk in bowl. Slowly add cooked mixture to egg mixture in bowl, whisking to blend.

Return mixture to saucepan and bring again to boil, whisking to blend. Remove from heat and add cooked rice. Cool. Fold in whipped cream and raisins. Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar on top to taste. Makes 10 servings.

Dear SOS: I've lost my favorite recipe for Chili Soup that I had clipped from The Times. Would you kindly reprint it?

--READER

Dear Reader: Certainly. However, we have quite a few recipes for Chili Soup and hope this is the one you want.

CHILI SOUP

1 pound ground beef

1 cup chopped onion

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

1 (1-pound) can stewed or plain tomatoes

1 1/2 cups water

2 (15 1/4-ounce) cans kidney beans

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cumin

Brown ground beef with onion in large saucepan. Drain off excess fat. Stir in tomato paste and stewed tomatoes. Break up tomatoes. Add water, beans, garlic, chili powder, salt and cumin. Mix well. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Makes 9 cups.

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