I thought it fitting to post this moussaka recipe, after Neil and I went to the Greek restaurant, Mourayo in DC this past weekend. It's been open for a few years, but we never got around to checking it out. But last week, Neil came across an awesome deal from Groupon. If you haven't signed up for this, you really should. The deals come in daily and signing up is free. He basically paid $20 for a $40 coupon to Mourayo .

We enjoyed Mourayo overall. They serve traditional greek cuisine as well as some interesting twists. For example, the moussaka is made with ground duck in stead of lamb. We ordered the dip assortment, "Symposium" as an appetizer. It had about 5 dips...all tasty except for the hummus, which was dry and bland. The pita isn't freshly made , but it's served herbed and warm. For main course, I got the duck moussaka, which was tasty, although the flavor of duck was masked by the spices. I wouldn't have even known it was duck if I didn't read it on the menu. Neil got the winner of the evening, which was pork loin medallions served with Greek cheese, fig sauce and honey. It was a perfect marriage of flavors, and I ended up eating half his plate! I'm definitely going to try to replicate this one at home. The wines offered are all Greek. I'm not a fan of Greek wine, but we ordered a Cab/Syrah mix that wasn't bad.

Other dishes that are suppose to be popular are the crab/cheese in phyllo app, ground lamb and feta in phyllo entree, and the salt encrusted whole, fresh fish.

The restaurant is small and intimate. There is a little bit of a "cheese" element in that the waiters are dressed as sailors, and the restaurant has "portholes" on the walls. But, service was attentive and our waiter was knowledgeable too.

Would I return again? Probably not for a while, but if we get another groupon, it's a sure thing!

Anyways, I really do love a traditional moussaka, and this recipe is great. I never posted it before because the pictures are horrible. I was so hungry that night that I didn't have the patience to let it set or get a decent shot. But, trust me, if you like moussaka, this recipe is a keeper.

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Spinach & Potato Gnocchi

I relish the lazy Sundays where I can do whatever I please. Usually, my days are so routine and scheduled...get up at 6:30 am, exercise at 6:35 am, shower at 6:55 am, eat cereal at 7:30 am, go to work at 7:40 am, tea and muffin at 10 am, ...and the robotic routine goes on. It's my own fault, because I'm a creature of routine. But, when I get a "lazy Sunday" opportunity, I wake up whenever, and don't even bother to shower...which is pure freedom in itself! I put on some loud 80's music, an apron, and get to work on a fun recipe. It's my own little world where I forget about everything but the task at hand.

Making gnocchi is perfect for a Sunday! Gnocchi is one Italian pasta that I've had the most difficulty mastering at home. The ingredients are so simple (potato, flour, egg), but the technique is so tricky. In fact, majority of restaurants haven't gotten it right either. Most I've had are too heavy, gummy, or chewy. Gnocchi should be tender, light, fluffy pillows that melt in your mouth. You'll find various recipes out there with completely different proportions of potato/flour/egg. This recipe is the closest I've gotten, but I'm still in the practicing stage.

I sauteed the gnocchi in butter/oil, and served it with a truffled mornay sauce and the slow roasted tomatoes from last week. See, I told you those tomatoes were versatile! Truffled mornay sauce is just a fancy title for bechamel sauce that has been transformed into a "mornay" by melting/mixing in cheese at the end...in this case, a truffle cheese. Anyways, the dish shows so beautifully and the combination of flavors was pure bliss.

Uncooked gnocchi also freezes great. I think it's time I buy a separate freezer for all these Sunday experiments. If freezing, make sure you freeze them on a tray first, and then after they are frozen, you can transfer them to a freezer bag. They can go straight into boiling water from the freezer.

Here are some tips to perfecting gnocchi at home:

- Use Yukon Gold or Idaho potatoes
- Bake your potatoes versus boiling them. This is so you don't have any water in the dough, which will completely ruin it, contributing to the gummy/chewy texture. You can also bake them on a bed of coarse salt to draw out even more moisture.
- Always rice your potatoes using a potato ricer. This will result in a fluffier, lighter gnocchi. Mashing the gnocchi can result in a gummy texture.
- Don't use ricotta in your gnocchi unless you have completely drained it of any water. You should drain your ricotta in a cheese cloth overnight.

Cheers to Sundays :)

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Slow Roasted Tomato Crostini

We're in the heart of tomato season, so I thought it was appropriate to post this delectable, summer bite. What makes these so tasty are the slow roasted tomatoes. These are so much better than store bought sundried tomatoes. Store bought ones have the the texture of beef jerkey and completely mask the true taste of tomatoes. Tomatoes scream "fresh" to me, and slow roasting them takes the inherent freshness to another level. After discovering how easy homemade slow roasted tomatoes are, I've sworn off sun dried tomatoes. The flavor concentrates, popping in your mouth, and the texture is so soft and delicate. I don't know how else to describe it. These are very versatile too. I have them pictured on crostini, but I've also used it in sauces, pasta, and pizza. Or you could do what Neil does, and just pop them in your mouth :) A hummus made with these tomatoes would also be fantastic. Make these by the trays and freeze them for the cold months. Ugh, I hate thinking that far ahead! We still have a good while to bake in the summer sun, right?

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