A couple of teaspoons of cinnamon in your Apple Pie recipe? Of course. A heaping tablespoon of cinnamon for Snickerdoodles? Absolutely!
But cinnamon with chicken? With eggplant? Not so much...Unless you know better. Unless you know the wonders of this fragrant spice when applied with a Greek culinary sense of savory.
Take for example, Mama Vamp's recipe for Pastitsio -- the Greek version of lasagna that pairs a tomato and cinnamon-imbued stew of ground lamb and beef with tubes of pasta and a blanket of sharp grated cheese. Once layered, it goes into the oven to bake, crowned with an eggy, rich bechamel scented with nutmeg.
Don't resist. The recipe is below. Time to break out the cinnamon for more than Rice Pudding and Coffee Cake. Go grab a stick or two of the stuff and get your Greek on!
2 onions, finely diced
1/2 cup butter
1 lb ground chuck
1 lb ground lamb
2 1/4 cups tomato sauce
2 teaspoons salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 sticks of cinnamon
16 oz. box of ziti
1 1/2 cups Locatelli Romano cheese, grated
Saute onions in butter until golden. Add meat and saute until browned. Add tomato sauce, salt, garlic and sticks of cinnamon. Simmer for 30 minutes. Allow to cool and refrigerate overnight. Remove any hardened grease that has settled on the top and warm gently on the stove top. Cook ziti per package instructions, strain and rinse. Place a layer of the stewed meat at the bottom of a 13x9x2 baking pan. Alternately layer ziti with more sauce and cheese. Make bechamel.
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
3 cups milk
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup Locatelli Romano cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
salt and pepper, to taste
Melt butter in a large saucepan. Stir in flour and then slowly stir in milk. Cook until thickened. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add cheese. After adding a bit to the yolks to temper them, stir entire mixture into egg yolks.
Pour bechamel over meat and ziti. Bake for 40 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Serve.