the appetizer:

The Culinary Institute of America Cookbook by the Culinary Institute of America presents over 375 recipes for the home chef, including Buckwheat Flapjacks with Hibiscus Honey; Bibimbap (Korea); and Vegetarian Moussaka (with Seitan and Eggplant).

Cookbook Profile

Vegetarian Moussaka
(with Seitan and Eggplant)

Makes 8 servings



Seitan is a protein-rich food made from wheat, with a dense, meaty texture that makes it an ideal vegetarian substitute in traditionally meat-based dishes. You can find it in the produce section of many larger supermarkets, or in natural or health food stores.

1. Peel and slice the eggplant about 1/4-inch thick. Place in a colander, sprinkle liberally with kosher salt, and let rest until the salt begins to draw out some of the liquid, about 20 minutes. Rinse the eggplant thoroughly, let drain, and blot dry. (See note "Preparing Eggplant for Cooking," below.)


LEFT TO RIGHT Keeping the eggplant slices in a single layer in the pan, saute until golden brown. When assembling the moussaka, make sure that the eggplant and potato slices are evenly spaced and layered. Add the white sauce to the dish one ladle at a time, allowing it a chance to infuse through the layered vegetables and reach the bottom; if desired, you could also gently tap the bottom of the dish against a hard surface to force any trapped air out of the casserole. The finished moussaka should have a slightly bubbly sauce and rich golden brown color.

2. While the eggplant is draining, prepare a white sauce: Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir well to make a smooth paste. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture has a light blond color, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the milk gradually, whisking as you add it, until it is all incorporated and the sauce is smooth. Simmer over medium-low to low heat until the sauce is thick and smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and reserve.

3. Put the potatoes in a pot and add enough water to cover them; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer until a skewer or paring knife can be easily inserted about halfway into the potato, about 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and set aside until they are cool enough to handle. Remove the skin and slice the potatoes into 1/4-inch-thick rounds; set aside.

4. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the eggplant slices in batches (do not allow the slices to touch or pile up on top of each other). Fry on the first side until a light golden brown, about 2 minutes. Turn and fry on the second side until golden brown, another 2 minutes. As the slices are cooked, remove them to a paper lined pan to absorb any excess oil. Add more oil to the pan as necessary as you fry the eggplant. Continue to fry until all of the slices are done. Set aside.

5. In the same pan, heat enough of the oil to generously coat the pan until the oil shimmers. Add the onion and sauté, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to sauté, stirring frequently, until there is a good aroma from the garlic, another 1 or 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook over medium heat, stirring from time to time, until the tomatoes have a rich aroma and turn a deep rust color, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the wine and broth and simmer until the liquid reduces by about half. Add the crumbled seitan and continue to cook just until evenly moistened and heated through, about 2 minutes. Stir in the raisins, pine nuts, parsley, thyme, oregano, and cinnamon. Taste the mixture and adjust as necessary with salt and pepper.

6. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

7. To assemble the moussaka, brush a casserole or baking dish with oil. Add a thin layer of the seitan mixture, followed by a layer of potatoes, then another thin layer of the seitan mixture, followed by a layer of eggplant. Continue to layer in this sequence until you have used all of the ingredients, ending with a layer of the seitan.

8. Blend the egg yolks into the white sauce and pour in an even layer over the top of the moussaka. Bake until the potatoes are very tender and easy to pierce with the tip of a paring knife, 1 to 1-1/2 hours. (Cover the moussaka loosely with foil if the top layer is browning too quickly.)

9� Remove the moussaka from the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.


Preparing Eggplant for Cooking

Many recipes instruct you to salt eggplant before you cook it. Some say this step is necessary because it draws out any bitterness in the eggplant. We think it's a good idea, even if the eggplant isn't large or bitter. Drawing out some of the moisture in eggplant collapses the vegetable a little, so it doesn't act as much like a sponge for oil when you fry it.

Peel the eggplant if you wish and slice the eggplant to the required thickness. Place the slices in a colander and put the colander in a large bowl. Sprinkle the slices liberally with kosher salt and let them rest until the salt begins to draw moisture to the surface, about 20 minutes. Rinse the eggplant thoroughly, let drain, and blot dry.


Vegetable Broth

Makes about 2 quarts

The light flavor of this vegetable broth is far superior to that of commercially prepared vegetable broths, which always seem to taste like the can they came in. In addition to its role in making soup, vegetable broth can be used to prepare grain or bean dishes, instead of water or chicken broth. It is also good as the cooking liquid for pan-steamed vegetables. The vegetables listed here should be thought of as suggestions. Feel free to use other vegetables, as long as they will not give the finished broth a strong odor or color (for instance, beets and beet greens might not be appropriate). Starchy vegetables may make the broth foam over as it simmers. Beyond that, let your own taste be your guide.

1. Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until they are translucent, 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Add the remaining ingredients and bring slowly to a simmer. Cook until the broth has a good flavor, about 1 hour.

3. Strain the broth through a sieve. Allow it to cool completely before storing in the refrigerator.

NOTES: This broth can be prepared in large batches, then frozen for later use. Be sure to label and date the containers so that you use the oldest broth first. Freeze the broth in ice cube trays, then store the frozen cubes in large freezer bags so you can thaw exactly the amount needed at any given time.

When preparing vegetables for other dishes, save any wholesome trim or peels that you want to put into the broth. Then every few days, put on a pot of broth. You will get a nutrient boost, as well as avoiding the use of canned broths that might be higher in sodium that you'd like.


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This page created December 2008