My great Moussaka and fries

I learned that the word Moussaka comes from Arabic language “Musaqqa’a”, meaning “chilled”. The Arab region is between Asia and South Africa. In Turkish it is spelled musakka but in other languages they call it eggplant casserole. In some countries they use tomato instead of eggplants.

I chose moussaka because I wanted to try to cook it on my own. My father also said ” Eco I want you to cook moussaka for dinner”. Then I asked ” why po?” he said “because it’s so delicious I want to eat Moussaka again”. So that’s why I cooked Moussaka for dinner.

When I was going to cook my Moussaka, I saw a lot of mess on the table. I can’t really prepare properly because my mother and sister were cooking leche flan cake. So I took the things that they didn’t need anymore and put it in the sink, then I prepared my Moussaka. I did not have the list of ingredients we used for Mousakka in my Mediterranean cooking class so I just did everything from memory.

Oregano leaf

Oregano leaf


Basil leaves

Basil leaves

First, I sliced the eggplant, mozzarella cheese, onion, garlic, oregano leaves and basil leaves. It was the first time I saw fresh oregano leaves because we always used the dried oregano from a McCormick bottle. It looked interesting with its pointy edges.

Me cooking the onions and garlic

Me cooking the onions and garlic


Second, I cooked the onions and garlic.

Third I put the ground beef, salt, pepper, sugar and cooked it until the meat is brown.

The stewed tomatoes and meat sauce

The stewed tomatoes and meat sauce


Tomato sauce

Tomato sauce

Fourth, I put the stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, basil and oregano leaves.

Me putting the eggplants

Me putting the eggplants

Fifth, I put the meat sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Then I arranged the eggplants on top of the meat sauce , followed by the ground beef with tomatoes. I put the mozzarella cheese on top and covered it with foil.

The mozzarella cheese

The mozzarella cheese

Me putting the mozzarella cheese

Me putting the mozzarella cheese

Then I put it in the oven and baked it for 45 min. Finally, I cooked fajita fries for 5 minutes until it was brown, in a deep frying pan on medium high heat. I served the Mousakka with fries but cooked rice too for anyone who likes that better. Mmmm….so delicious:-)

My Mousakka

My Mousakka


The Fajita fries

The Fajita fries


Now you know how to cook Mousakka. My father loved it so much, all he said was mmmmmmmmm…… My mother commented that the eggplants were sliced just right. They said it tasted almost the same as the one I cooked in my cooking class with Chef Ernest Gala. But mom liked it a bit more because it’s still hot and the cheese is still melted and bubbling. My siblings , specially my youngest sister really loved the mozarella cheese on top. She didn’t even notice the eggplants.

My youngest sister eating mousakka

My youngest sister eating mousakka

I will give my own Mousakka five stars out of five for the taste and 4 stars for level of difficulty because it took a lot of time.

Me tasting my home made Mousakka

Me tasting my home made Mousakka

The empty baking dish

The empty baking dish

THANKS FOR READING MY BLOG BYE OR ADIOS BLOG READERS :-D.

Mediterranean Cooking with Chef Ernest Reynoso Gala

Me and Chef Ernest Gala

Me and Chef Ernest Gala

As an aspiring chef, my mom said I had to try cooking and eating different kinds of food. We are big fans of Japanese food, so we eat at Yakimix a lot. One of the cuisines which we seldom have is Mediterranean food. Some of the few Mediterranean dishes I have ever tried was the Roka Salata, a delicious, memorable salad composed of fresh arugula, Romaine lettuce, toasted walnuts, sun-dried tomatoes, pears, blue cheese, parmesan and Greek vinaigrette, and the Mixed Meat Gyros, or meat wrapped in pita bread. Papa brought these home from Cyma, a Greek restaurant at Trinoma mall, days before. So when I saw that Chef Ernest Gala was going to have a Mediterranean cooking class, I asked my mom if I could attend.

Mediterranean food originates from countries like Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Greece, Turkey and other cultures around the Mediterranean sea. Mediterranean diet is dominated by breads, rice, couscous, polenta, bulgur, and other grains, and potatoes.

Vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, cheese, yogurt and olives are also common in meals. They eat little poultry, fish, eggs and sweets. They consume red meat only a few times per month, and they want it lean, not fatty. Wine and water are also an important part of Mediterranean diet.

Mom asked me to pose

Mom asked me to pose

I have never cooked Mediterranean food before, so last Saturday, July 2, 2011, I attended Mediterranean Cooking classes at the Sylvia Reynoso Gala Culinary Training Center at Shaw Blvd. I was happy and excited because not only was I going to cook something entirely new, I was also going to cook with a chef who is also a star. Chef Ernest Gala graduated at several prestigious chef schools all over the world. He is also a well-known chef in this country.

I learned many things in the class:
– If raw lamb is brown in color and smells bad , it means it’s already 9 months old.
– To ensure that meats (lamb, pork and beef) are tender, I must boil them first .
– While grilling always brush with marinade.
– The common ingredients in Mediterranean food are basil and oregano.

We cooked flame broiled pork baby back ribs, slow oven baked Monterey BBQ beef short ribs, oven-baked lamb riblets, moussaka and spanakopitas and tiropotas, Greek appetizers.

Orange Dutch Oven and Pressure cooker

Orange Dutch Oven Pans and Pressure cooker

We used cooking equipment that I have never used before , like pressure cookers and the orange dutch oven pans. We only used wok, non stick pan, pots, oven, and gas stove at home. We also used ingredients I have never used before, like feta cheese, molasses , lamb, and ricotta cheese.

Lamb riblets with baby potatoes

Lamb riblets with baby potatoes

Before I attended the cooking class, I thought that cooking lamb was hard, but it was really very easy.

BBQ Short Ribs

BBQ Short Ribs

While I was cooking my BBQ beef short ribs , Chef Ernest’s mother told me that I cooked like a professional chef. I felt happy that they called me a profesional chef. I remember another cooking class that I went to – the chefs said exactly the same thing.

Pork Baby Back ribs

Pork Baby Back ribs

We cooked the pork baby back ribs with pressure cookers – that’s why it turned out very tender. The sauce for the baby back ribs is interesting because it uses molasses, an ingredient used commonly in cuisines in the Middle East.

Spanakopitas/Tiropitas

Spanakopitas/Tiropitas


Can you say “spanakopitas”? My mom keeps saying it because she likes the sound of it. Spanakopitas are a Greek appetizer that has feta cheese, parmesan cheese, ham and onion, wrapped in a filo sheet and baked in the oven.

Tiropitas are also Greek appetizers wrapped in filo pastry and contains feta cheese, cream cheese, quickmelt cheese , ricotta , and cottage cheese, plus basil.

Waiting room

Waiting room

Mom waited for me to finish the 3-hour cooking class in the waiting room outside before coming inside to take photos of me.

We took home a generous amount of food after the classes. We had those for dinner, along with fried chicken that my Papa had cooked. The beef short ribs meat is hard outside but tender inside. Maybe it needs to be in the pressure cooker for a longer time. But the sauce is yummy. The lamb riblets are tender and the sauce is spicy, but I like it . Even my Papa likes it, although he thought he was eating beef :-). My mom’s favorite was the pork baby back ribs because it was tasty and tender. The vinegar and molasses combination gave it a sweet and sour taste.

My mom asked me what moussaka was and I said it was pasta, but it did not have pasta. What I meant was that it looked like lasagna because it has meat sauce in it and had cheese on top, but it had no pasta. Instead it had egg plant and onions. I guess that’s why it’s called Greek style lasagna. I wasn’t really sure if we were supposed to eat it with rice or just eat it on its own. The moussaka was my baby sister’s favorite because it had lots of cheese.

It was my mom’s and my siblings’ first time to eat these kinds of Mediterranean dishes. My mom says I will enroll in Chef Ernest’s class again next week. I guess she liked the food I took home.

Mediterranean Cooking with Chef Ernest Reynoso Gala- Two thumbs up!