Our version of vegetarian moussaka takes a lot of effort to make; neither the man or I is keen to do it often. I miss it quite a bit and want a bite. The man said, "Find me some nice people and we'll do dinner." So I found some dear friends and special new ones to make a table on a Sunday evening. It's pretty obvious that none of us cared very much for F1 or any of its fringe events.
The man tried out a green minestrone soup. It was an easy vegetable soup finished with a dollop of homemade pesto meshed with parmigiano-reggiano. He's very particular about not adding store-bought pesto. Since we would be having moussaka with tomato ragoût, it wouldn't be wise to add a tomato-based soup. A portion of the huge pot of vegetable stock was put to good use- stirred in a variety of lentils, onions, carrots and cabbages to make a light soup. A spoonful of pungent pesto would flavor the soup further upon serving.
As fun appetizers, there were easy homemade guacamole, and pumpkin fritters done in olive oil and a battery of lightly spiced curry powder, garnished by curry leaves from our plant out at the balcony. We assumed these would complement each other. In case the fritters didn't go with the guacamole, we added a store-bought packet of lentil chips for some crispy punch. I forgot all about the homemade fruit chutney in the fridge till after the friends left. Arrrgh.
The mains were cute-but-not-so-small slabs of vegetarian moussaka. Depending on the stomach capacity of each guest, each slab was either too much or just enough. Muahahahha. Layer by layer, we made the ingredients- boiling the lentils, stirring up the ragoût, frying the zucchini and eggplants, potatoes, and trying to shape each one as neatly as possible.
Did you think I cooked? Of course not! I simply stirred and did whatever the man instructed. We're not pedantic cooks. He'd say,"Add salt to the stock, will you?" Oddly, I don't need to ask how much. I'd just sprinkle, by instinct. Portions too, are done by instinct. If you ask me what the soup lacks, I'd know whether it needs- nutmeg, cinnamon, lemon juice or even raw sugar. As for the exact quantity, I go by a pinch, a dash, a handful, etc. Heh. After all, as a kid, I did squat in the grandmother's kitchen to be ordered around like a little stove elf.
After finishing the layering, I felt rather proud of my handiwork. Oof. It was kinda fun! Had to take a photo of the tray before topping it up with the béchamel sauce bubbling in the pan, and grated parmesan cheese. The tray sat quietly aside. It would go into the oven 40 minutes before the guests arrived. Then it would be all piping hot and ready to be served after the soup.
We haven't had anyone over for dinner properly for some months. This was a random perfect excuse to have the friends meet, eat and chat, and hopefully didn't bore the hell out of one another. :P When the soup was almost ready, I went out to an empty dining room. Where's everyone?! They had trooped to the music room to hear one tinkle with the piano. Easy jazz sounds. He's a great 'by-the-ear' player who's got an astounding touch on the keys. He randomly played some bars from 'Phantom of the Opera'. See why I love my friends- they can entertain themselves perfectly. Heh.
The girlfriend called dibs on dessert and brought over a gorgeous strawberry cake. No photos of it here. I hate the lighting. Won't do it justice. She greatly reduced the amount of sugar in the mixture, and placed extra strawberries on the cake. YAYYY! By the time dessert rolled around, we had a tiny bit of space to squeeze in a couple of bites, fueled by more bottles of Croucher ale and single malts.
(Not the best photo of the moussaka. There's a clearer one from 2008.)