A late lunch comes together quickly when you opt for tried and true. Roast breast of chicken, provolone, smashed avocado and butter lettuce on whole wheat bread is a simple sandwich that doesn’t disappoint. A salad of mixed baby greens, diced Granny Smith apples and Gorgonzola is lightly dressed in a balsamic vinaigrette. My clients tell me I am a Godsend.
The afternoon goes swiftly as I clean up the lunch dishes, empty dishwashers, do a little light housekeeping and start making mental notes about a shopping list for next week. I begin my mise en place around 3:30pm, as clients request dinner around 6:15p. Clients are entertaining again tonight, three adults and one child will be dining with them. I opt for a dish similar to lasagna, called pastichio, that (I hope) will be agreeable to a 5 year old! I begin by making my meatsauce. I decide to use lean ground beef instead of the customary ground lamb. Beef, diced onion, tomato sauce, cinnamon, oregano, salt, pepper and a little red wine. Cook down for 10 minutes to let flavors meld. Set aside. Now the béchamel sauce. I make a roux with a stick of butter and some white flour, then I slowly add half and half or whole milk while whisking furiously to prevent lumps. I continue to whisk until mixture thickens and allow to boil about one minute. I stir in some salt, white pepper and nutmeg (secret ingredient!) and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, once cooled, I whisk in 2-3 eggs. Béchamel is ready.
Last step in process..and it is a process just like lasagna… Is boiling the pasta. I opt for penne, but classic dish is made with a long, large macaroni that looks like large spaghetti! When the pasta is cooked to al dente, I drain it and turn it out into a greased high sided baking pan. Pour the meat sauce evenly over the top of the pasta. Finally, pour the béchamel over the entire mess. Top with a sprinkle of a strong hard cheese like kefalotiri or Parmesan. The pastichio takes about 45 minutes to bake at 350°(the only temperature of Greek ovens obviously as every recipe in a Greek cookbook requires a 350°oven!).
A simple tossed salad and side of green beans sautéed with pancetta and mushrooms completes dinner today.