A lazy recipe writer's guide to moussaka


I've decided that it's more taxing to write a recipe for moussaka than it is to make the damn thing. Although the moussaka photo has been up on my flickr page for a few weeks now, I've been putting off writing the post because, ugh, who can be bothered? It's not that the recipe is even that complicated. Sure it is a multi-part recipe with grilling, bolognesing, béchamel saucing, and baking but you've done all of that before. What gets me is the futility of trying to perfect amounts. Your baking dish is bigger than mine, your eggplants are smaller than mine, but none of that matters. What this recipe boils down to is the following:


1. Cook some bolognese with cinnamon and cloves1, about 750 g of meat's worth.
2. Make a big batch of bechamel sauce, maybe 75 g of butter's worth2. Mix it with half to 1 whisked egg & a generous grating of nutmeg.
3. Season and grill a few layers worth of sliced eggplant.
4. Layering from the bottom up: Thin layer of bolognese, the eggplant, a sprinkling of dried Greek oregano, a thicker layer of bolognese, and the béchamel custard. Finally sprinkle with grated hard cheese, such as Greek kefalotiri (reggiano works fine, too).
5. Bake in a 175ºC/350ºF oven for an hour or until golden on top.

But is that enough? There has to come a point where a certain level of knowledge can be safely assumed, particularly with readers as talented as your fine selves. Are you flattered enough yet to forgive my laziness?

(1) I recommend my summer bolognese, adding 5 ground cloves and 1 whole stick of cinnamon at the beginning with the onions. A mixture of half lamb mince and half beef mince works well for this. Finish with a grating of nutmeg.
(2) We've made béchamel before, for macaroni cheese and tuna mornay. Make the sauce using butter, flour, milk, salt, and nutmeg, but unlike those recipes stop there and don't add cheese and such. Mario Batali, unsurprisingly, has also made it.

Hello world


I slept for close to 16 uninterrupted hours last night. A new personal best. Now that my night shifts have finished I'm looking forward to rejoining the real world. Work during gentlemanly hours, lunch during daylight, no physiological drops in core body temperature to herald the three-quarter point of my shift — it's going to be good. I've also been lucky that my return to normality seems to have coincided with a boost in the weather. It's springtime down here, and while we've oscillated between downpour and lovely, I have a feeling that things are about to hit their sunny stride.

To commemorate spring I made green, broad-beany falafel. I don't know why it took my so long to make falafel a second time. The first time it worked out perfectly — crisp on the outside, warm and soft on the inside. Hearty enough to make a meal on its own, and of course perfect as an economical vegetarian filling for pita bread. They were tasty this time as well, but I think the recipe could do with some small adjustments. Apparently making falfel with cooked beans is a recipe for disaster (too much moisture for deep frying), but perhaps incorporating some cooked chickpeas into the soaked bean mixture would boost up the creamy/nutty factor and soften the slightly raw edge these falafel had. I'll keep you informed.

I served these simply, with cucumber, tomato, and some sauces. For kick there was everyone's favourite sriracha, and for relief a tahini yoghurt sauce made from mixing tahini, greek yoghurt, lemon juice, salt, ground cumin, and a little olive oil. The exact amounts escape me but go ahead and experiment — it's really more of an art than a science.


Recipe inspired by and almost an exact replica of this felafel recipe from Buffalo Buffet (now One Big Kitchen).


  • 1.5 cups of dried broad beans, soaked overnight
  • 1.5 cups of dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • 1/2 cup of fresh coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup of spring onion (scallion), chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp of cumin, ground
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper, ground
  • Vegetable/peanut oil for shallow frying

1. Remove the skins from the broad beans. If a couple are hard to remove and the bean is too tough to pierce with a sharp knife, throw it away.
2. Place all the ingredients except for the oil into a food processor and process until finely ground. The result should have the consistency of finely minced garlic and stay together when pressed into a ball. Don't stress out of there are a few slightly larger chunks on bean in there.
3. Heat 1-2 inches of oil in a heavy pot to medium-high heat. You'll need to experiment with what heat works for you, but it should take about a minute each side for the falafel to brown. Shape the felafel1, and cook in batches in the hot oil. Cook for a minute on each side, then remove to drain on kitchen paper and keep warm to serve.

(1) It's up to you how you shape these. In the middle eat there is actually a little mechanical device designed to shape felafel, or you could use the devices at the ends of your arms to form them into rounded patties about an inch thick. I used a two-spoons quenelle technique because it's mess-free and easy once you're used to it. Either way, just make sure your falafel are firmly formed together so they don't fall apart in the hot oil.

Dip bonus round: Feta ghanoush & grilled pita

Feta ghanoush

Peeking in through the bottom-right corner of my hummus post was another dip, one I like to call feta ghanoush. The inspiration was born out of a surplus of spoilable pantry items before a short trip out of town, but I owe the name to Ivy and her tasty-looking Fetatziki. Think of the possibilities! Olive fetapenade! Baked fetato skins! Umm... Fetarte tatin?

Other than the addition of marinated feta & honey, this doesn't deviate far from a standard baba ghanoush. Grilling the eggplant couldn't be easier if you have a gas stove — poke a few holes in the eggplant skin and set it directly over a medium-low flame for 10 minutes, turning once. It will hiss, spit, become wrinkled and smell of smoke (like your Mum!), but once cooked the skin comes off easily and you can use it in dips, or seasoned and mashed as a simple side for grilled meat.

Baba ghanoush and hummus are traditionally served with some kind of flatbread such as pita. It could be total heresy for all I know, but I like to grill one side of the pita quickly under a very hot broiler, so one side is crisp and smokey while the other is chewy and warm. If that's wrong then I don't wanna be right.

Feta ghanoush


  • 1 roasted eggplant, skin removed
  • 150g marinated feta1
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Salt & black pepper, to taste

1. Combine everything in a blender and blitz until smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste, then serve drizzled with olive oil.

(1) Mine was marinated in pepper, Greek oregano, parsley, and olive oil, but really it doesn't have to be with anything in particular or marinated at all.

To whom it may concern,


We drank wine from McLaren Vale, bought cheese from the central markets, played beach cricket at Henley, danced to Curtis Mayfield at Supermild. You went off to explore Australia and when you came back you stayed with me while looking for a house. I'd come home from work to find you lounging around on the couches like a pride of lions and I would cook you dinner. When you found a cute cottage in Gilberton we went out for pizza to celebrate — Andy in that green jacket looking like you'd won the PGA masters, Daphne and Maggie looking beautiful as always.

Daphne, Andy, and Maggie, this post is for you. Although we've only had a year together, what an amazing year it's been. I'll miss you guys, but I understand that you are needed by your respective countries to solve all of their problems with your awesomeness.

See you in Greece,


P.S. Dapho, Here's that hummus recipe I forgot to give you.



  • 400g of cooked chickpeas1
  • 1.5 tbsp of tahini
  • 3 tbsp of lemon juice
  • 2 clove of garlics, minced
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • Pinch of turmeric
  • Pinch of smoked paprika
  • Salt, to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil & smoked paprika to garnish

1. Combine all but the last 2 items on the ingredient list in a food processor and blend until smooth. Salt to taste, and if necessary adjust the tahini and lemon juice to taste.
2. Drizzled with extra virgin olive oil & dust with some smoked paprika. Serve alongside warm toasted pita breads.

(1) My name's Tim and I use Savings brand canned chickpeas for my hummus (Hi Tim). Those of you from other countries or, god forbid, other hemispheres who don't know Savings brand would be familiar with its international equivalents. Savings brand is Coles supermarket's budget range. It inhabits the brand sub-basement far below their (respectable) "You'll Love Coles" range, on the bottom shelf where its sparse, Soviet-inspired labels are mostly hidden from view. I was brought up in a "Oh don't be silly, it all comes from the same factory" household, but let me put it this way: with Savings brand, you get what you pay for.

But you know what? Good on Coles for cutting corners and passing the savings on to you (me). Their chickpeas — cooked enough to taste good but not enough to be considered done — have exactly the right amount of inferiority for hummus. We're not talking about hard here, just a slight bite that gives the puréed hummus a rustic mouthfeel. Trust me on this.

(Slightly undercooking chickpeas from dry should give similar results)