Monday, 1 May 2017

Dairy Free Lamb Moussaka

Moussaka isn't one of those dishes I've cooked very often, especially in recent years since I found out I was allergic to milk so it's probably been a good three to four years. And that's all cool I've not really had a hankering for it until Saturday and I just really fancied it which was perfect as I had some friends coming over for dinner.

Since I'm allergic to milk, the recipe below is completely dairy free and gluten free providing you use gluten free flour - I recommend this one it's brilliant.

D A I R Y  F R E E  M O U S S A K A

Obviously this isn't meat free, just dairy free but I'm actually going to have a go at making a vegan moussaka in a few weeks time so if it's any good I'll post the recipe on here.


3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely sliced
500g minced lamb
100ml white wine
1 x 400g tin of tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried mint*
1 tsp hot paprika
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 large aubergine
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp plain flour
400ml oat milk or soya milk (unsweetened)
1 tsp English mustard
Salt and pepper to taste


1 - Pre-heat the oven to 180C / 375F.

2 - In a large saucepan, add the 3 tbsp olive oil over a low - medium heat and add the onions. Leave them to cook out for at least 8-10 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and stir for a few more minutes over a medium heat. Next add the minced lamb and stir around to break up, cooking until well browned. If there is excess liquid remaining, drain off. Then add the white wine and scrape the pan to get all the stuck on bits off the bottom of the pan. Next add the tomatoes, bay leaf, thyme, oregano, mint, paprika, nutmeg and about a teaspoon each of sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Simmer gently for 30 - 40 minutes.

3 - Add 2 tbsp olive oil to a non stick pan over a medium heat. Turn the heat down to low and add the plain flour - this is the same method as a bechamel sauce so you'll need to really beat the oil and flour together - keep over the heat until it's all melded. Then start adding the milk a little at a time - at first the sauce will be one lump but keep adding and beating with a wooden spoon and you'll soon have a white silky sauce. If you add too much liquid at a time it will go lumpy, to correct this simply reduce the sauce down to one lump again and then start re-adding the liquid. If you run out of milk add water or stock. Add the salt and pepper and mustard and leave over a low heat.

4 - With a sharp knife, cut the aubergine into slices about 0.5cm thick. Place a large non-stick pan over a medium heat and then dry fry the aubergines. I don't add oil because I don't like them all soggy and greasy but if you prefer that go ahead and add oil. Don't overcrowd the pan as they will sit okay on a wooden board while the others are cooking.

5 - Take a oven dish - I do love the 28cm oval ones by Le Creuset but I actually used an enamel bake pie pan from Falcon Enamelware which cooks things like lasagnes and moussakas absolutely perfectly. Also really easy to wash and comes out of the dishwasher gleaming ever time. Anyway, get a dish and start layering the moussaka mix and aubergines until you get to the top - then pour over the sauce. Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes until it's really nicely browned and all the meaty moussaka mix has bubbled up on the edges.

I served this with stir-fried greens with sea salt and pepper and added a little chopped mint at the end, along with some crusty San Fransisco style sourdough from Gail's bakery in St. Albans.

The First Monday in May

It's the fashion world equivalent of the Oscars, or the Super Bowl, and it happens each year on the first Monday in May - I am of course referring to the Met Gala - an annual fundraising event at the Metropolitan Museum of Art which celebrates the Costume Institute’s magnificent new exhibition on a changing theme. It started in 1946, and over the decades has become the party of the year with the biggest designers, models and Hollywood stars who collectively celebrate the new exhibition and embrace wholeheartedly the year's theme.

While I love the fashion and I love to see how guests interpret the theme, the thing I find so engaging and so compelling is the overall process of organising the gala and how the entire event is brought together. In the documentary, The First Monday in May, director Andrew Rossi gives a brilliant insight into the inner workings of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.

The documentary follows the progress in 2015 of the Met Gala preparing to launch the new exhibition at the Costume Institute entitled China Through The Looking Glass. This exhibition explored the impact of Chinese aesthetics on Western fashion and how China has fuelled the fashionable imagination for centuries.

In this collaboration between The Costume Institute and the Department of Asian Art, high fashion was juxtaposed with Chinese costumes, paintings, porcelains, and other art, including films, to reveal enchanting reflections of Chinese imagery.

There's a moment during the documentary where Anna Wintour is discussing the entrance to the gala with her team at her home after reviewing the table settings, and it all seems so effortless and collaborative and then you see the finished effect and it's just completely breathtaking.

The seating plan alone is a massive operation with planning beginning in December of the preceding year and this brilliant article will tell you everything you need to know about what goes into organising the met gala seating chart.

I wish I'd had the opportunity to visit this exhibition it just looked absolutely incredible and completely breath-taking and the glimpses of the actual exhibition in the documentary are so compelling. You can watch the First Monday in May here.

The 2017 Met Gala will celebrate the works of phenomenal Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons. The exhibition will showcase 150 of Kawakubo’s most extraordinary designs dating as far back as the early 1980s. It’s a showcase of fashion as told through the lens of our contemporary culture - click here for more information.

Images: 1 & 2 - Eric Bowman, 3 - David Pruden