My mom, Ann, who appeared on the Morning News several times, raised her four sons, worked full-time all of her life and then would come home to make an incredible feast for four or 40 people. She loved it. Food equals love. Cooking and baking were her passions.
She passed away last week on Sept. 15. I guess my love of cooking came from her and from her mother, Afrodite.
This week, in honor of my mom, I’m making her favorite dish, the Greek lasagna, Pastitsio.
Here’s her recipe and also the link to when my Mom joined me on the show in 2012 to teach me how to make it “her way,” village style.
- 1 lb. #43 Penne pasta
- 6 tablespoons melted butter
- 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2/3 cup milk
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 lb ground beef – 80% lean
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 cup water
- 1 shot cognac
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried mint flakes
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp Allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/3 teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
- 1 stick butter
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups warm milk
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
Cook pasta al dente; drain, add olive oil to lightly coat and return to pan. Do not overcook
Stir in the melted butter, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, 1/3 cup milk, and the egg; set aside.
In a skillet or large saucepan, cook ground beef and onion until meat loses its pinkness and onion is soft; drain excess fat.
Stir in tomato sauce, tomato paste, wine, water, cognac, salt, mint flakes, cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper; set aside.
Cook down until liquids are nearly gone and flavor is enhanced.
Cool and mix the meat mixture with the pasta. Set aside.
In a saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons butter, then mix in flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Slowly stir in the 2 cups milk, stirring well after each addition so that no lumps form.
Cook and stir on medium high until cream sauce starts to thicken; stir for one minute more, then remove from heat.
Beat egg in a small bowl, then pour into cream sauce, stirring briskly.
Blend in the 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese.
Layer 1/3 the pasta/meat mixture in an 11″ x 7″ baking or lasagna dish.
Top evenly with grated parmesan cheese
Repeat with the 2nd and 3rd layer of mixture.
Pour cream sauce over top, to cover completely.
Add one more layer of parmesan, bread crumbs and dot evenly with butter.
Bake, uncovered, at 350F for about 45 minutes, or until hot and lightly browned.
Let stand for 10 minutes.