Jessie Kanelos Weiner_Moussaka_They draw and cook 2

Whenever I have a lull in my work, my first response is a backbreaking downward spiral of questioning my life choice of being a professional zucchini illustrator. My second is considering going back to school. Why wouldn’t I need a pastry certificate from Le Corden Bleu ? Sticker Jessie Kanelos Weiner_persimmons and pencils_thefrancofly.comshock. Nevermind. Once the panic wears off, I am always reminded that slow moments have often been my most fruitful times. And probably some of my happiest. I have a free moment to impulsively hop on a silly illustration idea I have in the back of my head. Persimmons ? Pencils ? Get it ? Ok neither do I, but it has me thinking about abc books of fruits, vegetables and inanimate objects. Don’t steal that one, ok ?

On my to-do list has been creating an illustrated recipe for They Draw & Cook, a vast collection of illustrated recipes from all around the World. From a distance, it has been an encouraging presence on my Instagram feed seeing what other professional zucchini illustrators have their hands on. Nevertheless, I gave it a shot with my favorite moussaka recipe (from a previous post about an unbelievable, international flea market discovery). But I challenged myself to do it in the style of my forthcoming coloring book Edible Paradise : A Coloring Book of Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables (Universe)…

Preorder Edible Paradise here.

Jessie Kanelos Weiner_Moussaka

MOUSSAKA adapted from Greek Cooking for the Gods by Eva Zane


3 eggplants

2 pounds ground lamb or beef

2 onions, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

1 can tomato sauce (8-ounce)

1/2 cup red wine

olive oil

salt and pepper

4 cups bechamel sauce

grated parmesan cheese

Peel and cut the eggplant lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices; sprinkle with salt and set aside on paper towers to absorb the moisture.  Meanwhile prepare the meat sauce.  Saute the ground meat in butter with salt, and pepper, onions and garlic, crumbling the meat with a fork.  When the meat is evenly browned, add 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, parsley and tomato sauce; stir, mix well, add wine, and simmer for 20 minutes. Wipe the salted eggplant; lightly oil a skillet with pastry brush and quick fry the eggplant over high heat; lay on paper towels to drain.  In a greased 9×13×2” baking pan, place a layer of eggplant, top with meat mixture, sprinkle with grated cheese, cover with the remaining eggplant, sprinkle with grated cheese, and cover with bechamel sauce.  (Add 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg to the bechamel, and for an exceedingly rich sauce, add 3 egg yolks to the sauce after it is cooked.)  Top moussaka lavishly with grated cheese and bake at 350° F for 1 hour.  Allow to cool, and then cut into 3-inch squares.  Variations: Substitute 2 pounds zucchini, sliced lengthwise and fried, for the eggplant.  Or, substitute 2 pounds potatoes, peeled, cut in 1/4-inch slices and fried, for the eggplant.

For 12 servings


Right in time to ring in the holidays, it is my latest publication Punchs et rhums arrangés, Editions Marabout!

© Richard Boutin

© Richard Boutin

It is a tutti frutti exploration somewhere between fantasy and reality, captured beautifully by photographer Richard Boutin.

© Photo Richard Boutin

© Photo Richard Boutin

Including 30 recipes for punch, infused rhum and cocktail-inspired finger foods, it inspires the libations and imaginations of the holidays to come.

© Kathrin Leist

© Kathrin Leist

In French bookstores November 4th, 2015.

Preorder a copy here.


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