I like to cook. I really, really love it. But sometimes, even I can have my limits tested. This past Sunday, Julie Van Rosendaal graciously invited The Backseat Gourmet, Kitchenscraps, Patent and the Pantry, and myself to her place for a party to celebrate the release of the Julie and Julia movie on DVD, and just as an excuse to get together. And why not? So a potluck inspired by Julia Child sounds fantastic, and oh, believe me it was. But then there's the dilemma; what on earth to bring? What will travel well? And since, I think I was the last one to even begin to think about what to bring, the options were getting slim. But have no fear, I finally chose a dish the day before the big event. Lamb Moussaka it was. It sounds easy right? Sure. Yea, about as easy as sitting in a freezing cold car when it's -30degrees Celsius outside before it's warmed up. At first glance, it really did look easy. But then, you find that the recipe is essentially on at least an additional 3-4 pages since you are also required to have all kinds of sauces prepared first. Then, it IS easy. At first, I thought, I would share the recipe with you. But the more I've thought about it, it would be crazy for me, and even crazier for you. I followed the recipe(s), verbatim. As close as one can get. I did make one semi-important change, as I plated the dish in a souffle dish, instead of the charlotte pan that was called for. Okay, okay, I'll give you the boiled down version of this moussaka. But there's really no way I could possibly condense three of Julia Child's recipes all-in-one, or even three posts. Get the book. Just trust me. We started with a sumptuous vichysoisse by Gwendolyn, of Patent and the Pantry. It was so very silky, so very creamy, so, so good. Even if it is a great summer dish, it still hit the spot in the middle of snowbank season. She made it look so pretty too. Pierre's potatoes (Pommes Parisien) were definitely another highlight. Can you go wrong it perfectly shapen little bites of potato sautéed in butter. Crispy, buttery goodness. And, they certainly disappeared rather quickly; I didn't do it, I swear! I was addicted to Pierre's ratatouille with ample amounts of thyme. It was hard to stop! Julie prepared these mushrooms and onions for her beef bourguignon. It smelled delicious, and we could hardly wait to eat. Then, she combined it with the beef, and we were ready to eat. Rich, hearty, and flavourful. Beef bourguignon; a definite winner. Somehow, this poor "lowly" salad, didn't get much love. A little was eaten.... Before, I begin an annotated lamb moussaka epic adventure, I think I should tell you about desssert. Cheryl, of Backseat Gourmet, didn't let us down, nor did her soufflé. But, she still made two desserts, just in case. First up was the Reine de Saba, a chocolate and almond cake, with Glaçage au Chocolat. I mean who wants cake without icing? OK, maybe, but not after this one. And then, just in case there was any doubt if we were full, Cheryl served us the Soufflé au Grand Marnier; and just as good as it looks. Rich, but airy, and just darn good stuff. It didn't last for long; can you blame us? Describing Julia Child's lamb moussaka to anyone is a little tricky. Even trying to wrap my own brain around it was a little bit of an effort. This is NOT a Greek Moussaka. There is lamb and eggplant, and that's about it. It's a molded dish, that takes the shape of the vessel it is cooked in, and then is to reveal the beautiful skins of the eggplants which have been emptied of their contents. I thought for sure they would be very tough, and somewhat terrible, but in fact, were actually incredibly tender and even tasty to boot. Here's the rundown (do follow her instructions exactly, as I didn't change a thing): -make Julia Child's tomato sauce. (Chop, chop, chop, cook, cook, cook, strain, strain, strain.) -make Julia Child's brown sauce. Kind of like a demi-glaze type of idea, and extraordinarily good. (Clarify butter, then chop, chop, chop, cook, cook, cook, strain, strain, strain.) -brown ground lamb -cut 1-pound eggplants in half, and salt them. Roast them with olive oil. Scoop out the flesh being careful not to break the skins. Chop the flesh and add to the ground lamb. -add 2/3 cup of brown sauce to the eggplant, lamb, and now more herbs, garlic, and eggs. -grease a charlotte pan or soufflé pan, and line with the eggplants -fill with the lamb -bake for a few hours -let cool for at least 10 minutes. Pray. Unmold the moussaka on a serving platter, and surround with the tomato sauce. Enjoy, because you'll probably never want to make this again, if only because of the semi-excessive amount of work for one dish. Good, but not without a little bit of painstaking effort. But thankfully, even though I was quite sick of cooking, the moussaka did turn out pretty swell. Phew! Although, the company of other food bloggers, was pretty darn swell too. I am fairly certain that no one was hungry for at least one day, or until we started drooling over the photos we took. So much fun, thanks to Julie for organizing the fun! Great cooking all!