On the Gourmet Trail. Greece: Moussaka

Want a taste of Greece without leaving the country? Try our easy to follow Moussaka recipe.

Ingredients

750g/1lb 10½oz lamb mince

1 onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp dried oregano

1½ tsp dried mint

1 bay leaf

1 cinnamon stick

1 tbsp plain flour

200ml/7fl oz red wine

400g tin chopped tomatoes

2 tbsp tomato purée

2 aubergines, cut into 0.5cm slices

1 tbsp fine sea salt, plus extra for seasoning

100ml/3½fl oz olive oil

500g/1lb 2oz Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

Freshly ground black pepper

For the white sauce

50g/2oz butter

50g/2oz plain flour

400ml/14fl oz milk

25g/1oz Parmesan, finely grated

1 tsp finely grated nutmeg

1 free-range egg, beaten

Method

1. Put the lamb, onion, garlic, oregano, mint, bay and cinnamon in a large heavy-based frying pan and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up the meat.

2. Stir in the flour and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Add the wine, tomatoes and tomato purée and bring to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lamb is tender and the sauce has thickened. Season again if needed and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, place the aubergine slices in a colander and sprinkle with the tablespoon of salt. Set aside for 10 minutes.

4. Rinse the aubergine slices under cold running water and pat dry with a clean tea towel. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large heavy-based frying pan and fry the aubergines for 2–3 minutes on each side, adding more oil when necessary. Remove from the pan and set aside to drain on kitchen paper.

5. Cook the potatoes in boiling water for 5 minutes, then drain in a colander under running water until cold.

6. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6.

7. To make the white sauce, melt the butter in a large saucepan and stir in the flour. Cook for a few seconds, then gradually stir in the milk. Add half the Parmesan and the grated nutmeg. Simmer the sauce gently for 4–5 minutes, stirring regularly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

8. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the sauce to cool. When cooled, stir in the egg.

9. Spoon one-third of the meat sauce into a shallow ovenproof dish large enough to hold 2.5 litres. Cover loosely with a third of the potatoes and then a third of the aubergines – you don’t need complete layers, just to arrange them roughly on top. Repeat the layers twice more, finishing with the aubergines. Pour over the white sauce, making sure it covers everything in a thick, even layer. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan. Bake for 35–45 minutes, or until deep golden-brown and bubbling.

How to Eat Like A Local in Zante

People travel for many reasons – exotic beaches, new cultures and luscious scenery being but a few of them. There’s one reason that pops up increasingly often, though, and that’s indulging in foreign cuisines. Here at Villa Plus, we’re inspired by our customers love of immersing themselves in local food and culture while on holiday. That’s why we’ve launched Eat Like a Local – a partnership with the UK’s top cookery schools geared towards giving you the finest foreign recipes out there.

On self-catering holidays to Zante, the entire gastronomy of Greece falls into your lap. Whether you’re wanting a lighter salad or some fried fish, here’s a selection of dishes from some of the UK’s top cookery schools made to give you a certified taste of this Greek gem.

Cambridge Cookery School

Founded in 2008 by chef and food writer Tine Roche, Cambridge Cookery School staff comprise everyone from Japanese sushi chefs to cordon bleu-trained artisan bakers

Here, Tine sheds some light on how to make a delicious (and easy) melitzanosalata.

Cambridge Cookery School’s melitzanosalata

Ingredients:

4 large purple aubergines
1 lemon – juiced
2 garlic cloves – grated or crushed
Sea salt and ground pepper
125ml olive oil
Dried thyme
Black olives

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius, halve the aubergines lengthways, then place them face up on a large baking tray.
  2. Drizzle with olive oil, garlic and a little thyme, then season liberally with salt and pepper.
  3. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until soft.
  4. In a large bowl, mash the aubergines with a fork, then a wooden spoon to incorporate air and make a fluffy cream. Taste and add as much lemon juice and salt as you feel it needs.
  5. Arrange onto four separate platters, drizzling with olive oil and placing black olives in the

Keep up to date with Cambridge Cookery School on their website and on Twitter.

Cookery School at Little Portland Street

Rosalind Rathouse founded Cookery School at Little Portland Street in 2008. The school trains chefs to cook Mexican, Indian and Spanish cuisine, amongst many other delicacies – including those from Greece.

Whet your appetite a little further with their calamari fritti recipe.

Cookery School at Little Portland Street’s calamari fritti

Ingredients:

500g calamari (preferably tentacles) cleaned and cut into rings
2 cups of flour or semolina
½ a teaspoon of salt

Method

  1. Season the flour with salt and mix well, then use it to coat the calamari.
  2. Heat the oil in a dry, deep sided saucepan to prevent it from splashing.
  3. When the oil is sufficiently hot, add the calamari. You can test if it’s hot enough by adding a small piece of bread into the oil. If it browns quickly, then you’re ready to fry the calamari.
  4. Fry a handful of calamarai at a time so that the oil temperature isn’t reduced, and the fish crisps up well. Once it turns a light golden colour, remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon. By cooking them quickly they’ll remain tender, but still be crisp.
  5. Serve with pieces of chopped, fresh lemon.

Find out more about Cookery School at Little Portland Street on their website and follow them on Twitter.

Manna from Devon Cookery School

Ran by David Jones and his wife Holly, Manna from Devon Cookery School specialises in wood-fired cooking, fish cookery and breadmaking, alongside taking guests on foodie adventures across Europe.

Manna from Devon Cookery School’s Zakynthos-inspired slow-cooked octopus

Here’s David’s recipe for slow-cooked octopus…

Ingredients:

1kg cleaned octopus, squid or cuttlefish
1 green pepper
15ml olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
2 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
180ml red wine
600ml chicken or shellfish stock
30g cornflour
30g pitted and chopped black or green olives
1bsp chopped fresh parsley leaves
Salt and pepper

Method

Salt and pepper

  1. Heat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius, gas mark three.
  2. Slice the octopus (or squid or cuttlefish) into 1cm strips.
  3. Mix all the ingredients together in a large ovenproof pan and season well with salt and pepper.
  4. Put the lid on the pan so it’s well sealed, put it in the oven and shut the door.
  5. Come back in two hours, take the lid off the pan and test that the octopus has become tender. If it needs a bit longer, put the lid back on the pan and cook until it’s ready.
  6. When it is, sprinkle a little more chopped parsley over the slow-cooked octopus and serve with good bread and a green or tomato salad.

Stay up to date with Manna from Devon Cookery School on their blog or follow them on Instagram.

Philleigh Way – baked feta

Philleigh Way is a Cornwall-based cookery school and restaurant ran by brothers-in-law James Martin and chef George Pasco.

The school is inspired by generations of old Cornish recipes, but this time, they’ve tried their hand at Greek baked feta…

Philleigh Way’s baked feta

Ingredients:

200g feta cheese
1 pinch of dried red chilli flakes
Extra virgin olive oil
A handful of finely chopped oregano leaves
Two cloves finely sliced garlic
A handful of sliced cherry or plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon of tomato puree
½ a tablespoon of capers
½ a red onion, finely sliced
A handful of torn basil leaves
A handful of Kalamata black olives

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius, gas mark six.
  2. Tear off a large section of tin foil, place the block of feta in the centre and assemble the rest of the ingredients on top
  3. Pull up the sides of the foil and crimp along the top, forming an airtight pouch.
  4. Place on an oven tray and bake for 12 minutes. Serve with warm crusty bread to mop up the juices.

Check out Philleigh Way’s website and follow them on Twitter.

Avenue Cookery School – chickpea salad

Established in 2004, The Avenue Cookery School is a family-run school, teaching students to scrap the cookery books and use them only as a means of inspiration.

With a recipe for chickpea salad this good, they must have been inspired by the best…

Avenue Cookery School’s Chickpea Salad

Ingredients:

20ml olive oil
150ml cider vinegar
1 red chilli
2x 400g tins of chickpeas
6 cloves of garlic, pureed
1 bunch of fresh chopped coriander
2 finely sliced onions
1 bunch of fresh chopped parsley
1 bunch of fresh chopped mint
4 finely sliced spring onions
Extra virgin olive oil
100g crumbled feta

Method

  1. Sautee the onions until soft then add the chilli and garlic, cooking for a further two minutes until the garlic is cooked.
  2. Add the vinegar and cook until it has reduced
  3. While still warm, pour over the chickpeas.
  4. Just before serving, mix in the coriander, parsley, mint and spring onions. Season and sprinkle with the feta.

Keep updated with The Avenue Cookery School on their blog and follow them on Instagram.

Ready to take your foodie fantasies to the next level? Look at Villa Plus offerings in Zante and get ready to taste the wonders of Greece.