Spice Route Moussaka

April, 2017

Spice Route Moussaka

Spice-Route Moussaka

Serves 6 to 8

This vegetarian recipe is based on the classic Anatolian dish. Slices of roasted eggplant and cumin-scented carrots are layered with a spicy tomato sauce and topped with creamy Béchamel Sauce with Parmesan Cheese. The vegetables and sauce can be made a day ahead then the dish can be assembled and baked to bubbling perfection.


For the vegetables

2 to 3 Italian eggplants (about 3 pounds), unpeeled

3 tablespoons kosher salt

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for brushing

2 pounds large carrots

1 tablespoon ground cumin


For the tomato sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup finely chopped Poblano pepper

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with their juice

2 tablespoons tomato paste

½ cup dry white wine or water

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley


1 recipe Béchamel Sauce with Parmesan Cheese (See below.)


Heat the oven to 400°F and line two large baking sheets with parchment. Cut the eggplants crosswise into ½ -inch slices. Place in layers in a large colander, sprinkling each layer with the salt. Let the eggplants sit for 30 to 60 minutes to prevent excess water in the finished casserole.


Rinse the eggplant slices with cold water and pat dry. Brush each side of the slices with ¼ cup olive oil and place on the prepared baking sheets in a single layer. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes, flip, and then roast for another 10 to 15 minutes until the eggplant is tender but not too soft.


Re-line the baking sheets with fresh parchment. Peel and thinly slice the carrots on the diagonal to create large slices. Put on the baking sheets and add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cumin. Toss to coat well and spread the carrots in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets. Roast the carrots for 30 minutes or until soft but not browned.


Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.


To make the sauce: Put a heavy pot over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the onions and sauté until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and poblano peppers and sauté for 5 minutes more. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste and wine, then stir in the cinnamon, Aleppo pepper, salt and black pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes.


Add the sugar and the parsley; season to taste and simmer for another 15 minutes. The sauce should be somewhat thick and chunky; if you prefer a smoother sauce, process with an immersion blender.


Make the Béchamel Sauce with Parmesan Cheese and keep warm. (See recipe below.)


Evenly distribute a thin layer of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish. Place 1/3 of the eggplant slices in a single layer over the sauce, and 1/3 of the carrot slices on top of the eggplant. Spoon 1/3 of the tomato sauce over the carrots. Repeat the layering process twice more with the remaining ingredients, ending with the tomato sauce.


Evenly spoon the béchamel sauce over the dish to cover and spread evenly across the top. Bake the moussaka for 1 hour, until the tomato sauce bubbles and top is slightly browned.


Let the moussaka sit for about 15 minutes before cutting.


Béchamel Sauce with Parmesan Cheese

Makes 2 ½ cups

Béchamel sauce first appeared in chef François Pierre La Varenne’s eponymous cookbook in 1651. On one of our visits to Topkapı Palace in Istanbul, a guide told us that béchamel was perfected in the Ottoman kitchen of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. Admired for his refined palate, Suleiman ruled the Ottoman Empire during its Golden Age from 1494 to 1566.


Deceptively simple to make, béchamel is a versatile base for many other sauces, including this one with added cheese. It’s a delicious sauce for pasta and vegetables dishes, and adds a beautiful creamy texture to Spice-Route Moussaka.


3 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups whole milk, warmed

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

½ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon white pepper

1 large egg


Over medium heat, melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Add the flour and stir vigorously until smooth. Cook 2 to 3 more minutes, stirring continuously so the roux does not begin to brown.


Slowly add half the milk, stirring to avoid lumps. Add the remaining milk and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Remove the sauce from the heat and add the cheese, nutmeg and pepper.


In a small mixing bowl, lightly beat the egg. Pour ½ cup of the sauce into the beaten egg, stirring all the while to warm up the egg. Add the egg mixture to the saucepan and whisk until fully incorporated.


Note: To make this dish vegan, omit the Béchamel Sauce with Parmesan Cheese and add 2 tomatoes sliced. Layer on the top and sprinkle with ¼ cup chopped parsley then proceed with the recipe. For a meat version, sauté ¾ pound ground lamb, beef or turkey in a medium saucepan to 10 to 15 minutes, until just cooked and nicely browned. Drain off any fat and set the meat aside. Stir the meat into the tomato sauce just before assembling the moussaka.


Copyright Tree of Life: Turkish Home Cooking, Quarto/Burgess Lea Press – 2017

Tree of Life by Joy E. Stocke and Angie Brenner

Joy E. Stocke


Joy E. Stocke

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In 2006, Joy E. Stocke founded Wild River Review with Kimberly Nagy, an outgrowth of the literary magazine, The Bucks County Writer, of which Stocke was Editor in Chief. In 2009, as their editorial practice grew, Stocke and Nagy founded Wild River Consulting & Publishing, LLC.

With more than twenty-five years experience as a writer and journalist, Stocke works with many of the writers who appear in the pages of Wild River Review, as well as clients from around the world.

In addition, Stocke has shepherded numerous writers into print. She has interviewed Nobel Prize winners Orhan Pamuk and Muhammud Yunus, Pulitzer Prizewinner Paul Muldoon, Paul Holdengraber, host of LIVE from the NYPL; Roshi Joan Halifax, founder of Upaya Zen Center; anthropologist and expert on end of life care, Mary Catherine Bateson; Ivonne Baki, President of the Andean Parliament; and Templeton Prizewinner Freeman Dyson among others.

In 2006, along with Nagy, Stocke interviewed scientists and artists including former Princeton University President Shirley Tilghman and Dean of Faculty, David P. Dobkin for the documentary Quark Park, chronicling the creation of an award-winning park built on a vacant lot in the heart of Princeton, New Jersey; a park that united art, science and community.

She is president of the Board of Directors at the Cabo Pulmo Learning Center, Cabo Pulmo, Baja Sur, Mexico; and is a member of the Turkish Women’s International Network.

In addition, Stocke has written extensively about her travels in Greece and Turkey.  Her memoir, Anatolian Days and Nights: A Love Affair with Turkey, Land of Dervishes, Goddesses & Saints, based on more than ten years of travel through Turkey, co-written with Angie Brenner was published in March 2012. Her cookbook, Tree of Life: Turkish Home Cooking will be published in March, 2017 by Quarto Books under the Burgess Lea Press imprint . Stocke and Brenner are currently testing recipes for a companion book, which will feature Anatolian-inspired mezes from around the world.

Stocke’s essay “Turkish American Food” appears in the 2nd edition of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America (OUP, 2013).  The volume won both International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) for Beverage/Reference/Technical category, 2014; and the Gourmand Award for the Best Food Book of the Year, 2014.

She is the author of a bi-lingual book of poems, Cave of the Bear, translated into Greek by Lili Bita based on her travels in Western Crete, and is currently researching a book about the only hard-finger coral reef in Mexico on the Baja Sur Peninsula. She has been writing about environmental issues there since 2011.

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, with a Bachelor of Science in Broadcast Journalism from the Agriculture Journalism School where she also received a minor of Food Science, she participated in the Lindisfarne Symposium on The Evolution of Consciousness with cultural philosopher, poet and historian, William Irwin Thompson. In 2009, she became a Lindisfarne Fellow.



Works by Joy E. Stocke in this Edition


The Eagle of Ararat
The Eagle of Ararat-Part II: The Meaning of Freedom


Where Were the Shells Fired From?


Suzanne Opton and Michael Fay – The Human Face of War


Katherine Schimmel: A Meeting in a Garden and a Mystic Pen


Anatolian Kitchen: Cuisine at the Crossroads – For the Love of Beets


ABULHAB – Arabic from Left to Right: An Interview with Type Designer, Saad Abulhab

BELBRUNO- Ed Belbruno – The Colors of the Universe: Microwaves and Art

CLARKE – Rock & Roll, Cybernetics, and Literature: Bruno Clarke’s Intersecting, Interconnecting World

COMBS – Hazard: A Sister’s Flight From Family and a Broken Boy

FREYMAN & PETERSON- Your Life is a Book: How to Craft and Publish Your Memoir

EARLE – An Extraordinary Hope Spot: Sylvia Earle on the 20th Anniversary of Cabo Pulmo Marine Park and the Future of the World’s Oceans

FULBRIGHT –  Harriet Mayor Fulbright- World Peace through Education

JOSEPH GLANTZ –  Inner Lights, Electric Kites – The Sparks of Philadelphia’s Creativity

HALIFAX – Joan Halifax, Roshi – Letting Go, Letting in Light: Halifax Talks about Her Life & Groundbreaking Book, Being with Dying

HONEY – The New York Hall of Science Hosts 1001 Inventions – Muslim Heritage in Our World: A Conversation with Dr. Margaret Honey

KUPCU – How to Weave a Culture: The Art of the Double-Knot with Murat Küpçü

Jonathan Maberry’s Ghost Road Blues

MAJOR – A Landscape Critic in the Gilded Age: Judith Major and Mariana Griswold Van Rensselaer

MAURO – New World Monkeys: Primates, Boars, and a Conversation with Author, Nancy Mauro

MEHTA – Talking about Global Healing with Political Scientist Vipin Mehta

OLSEN – Greg Olsen – Reaching for the Stars: Scientist, Entrepreneur, and Space Traveler

SHOR – Music in Stone: Jonathan Shor Constructs a Lithophone for Quark Park

SMITH – ROLEX ARTS INITIATIVE-Poet Tracy K. Smith: Memory, Creation, Mentoring, and Mastery

SODERMAN – The Solace of Vacant Spaces: An Interview with Visionary Peter Soderman

EVAN THOMPSON – Waking, Dreaming, Being: Philosopher Evan Thompson Explores Self and Consciousness in Neuroscience and Meditation

TIMPANE – This Has Never Felt Like A Job
Poetry, Science and the Big Bang: John Timpane Goes to Cambridge

YUNUS – Opening the Gates of Capitalism: In Ecuador with Economist Muhammad Yunus, “Banker to the Poor”

ZALLER – Robert Zaller – Cliffs of Solitude – A World of Activism: Talking of Troubadours and Poetry with the Historian

Every River Tells A Story: Founders Kim Nagy and Joy Stocke

Dorion Sagan and Tyler Volk – Death and Sex: Dorion Sagan and Tyler Volk Get Intimate about Their New Book

Orhan Pamuk – The Melancholy Life

Per Petterson: Language Within Silence


Istanbul, Memories and the City: by Orhan Pamuk, Translated by Maureen Freely
The Road to Home: Rachel Simon’s The Story of Beautiful Girl


Anatolia – Istanbul’s Flaming Horn
End Times Down at the Kingdom Hall
Reclaiming Friday the 13th


Love Affair with Turkey

Anatolian Days and Nights – The Steamy Side of Istanbul


The Bath: Athens, Greece


The Euphoria of Ignorance: Being Jewish, Becoming Jewish, The Paradox of Being Carlo Ginzburg
Fountain of Curiosity: Paul Holdengraber on Attention, Tension and Stretching the Limits of Conversation at the New York Public Library
Paul Holdengraber – The Afterlife of Conversation


 2013 – Three Questions: Festival Director Jakab Orsos talks about Art, Bravery, and Sonia Sotomayor
Critical Minds, Social Revolution: Egyptian Activist Nawal El Saadawi
INTERVIEW – Laszlo Jakab Orsos: Written on Water
Tonight We Rest Here: An Interview with Poet Saadi Youssef
Georgian Writer David Dephy’s Second Skin
On the High Line: Diamonds on the Soles of Our Shoes
Car Bombs on the West Side, Journalists Uptown
New York City – Parade of Illuminations: Behind the Scenes with Festival Director Jakab Orsos
The Pen Cabaret 2008: Bowery Ballroom — Featuring..


Anatolian Days and Nights: A Love Affair with Turkey, Land of Dervishes, Goddesses and Saints
Daring Collaborations: Rolex and LIVE from the NYPL at the New York Public Library Composing a Further Life: with Mary Catherine Bateson

Quark Park

Algorithms, Google & Snow Globes: David Dobkin

WRR@LARGE: From the Editors – UP THE CREEK

Up the Creek: Volume 1, Number 1
Up the Creek: Volume 1, Number 2.5
Up the Creek: Volume 1, Number 3.3
Up the Creek: Number 4.4
Up the Creek: Beautiful Solutions
Up the Creek: Blind Faith, July 2009
Up the Creek: Create Dangerously
Up the Creek: What Price Choice?
Up the Creek: Before and After: September 11, 2001
Up the Creek: Candle in a Long Street
Up the Creek: Crossing Cultures: Transcending History
Up the Creek: Man in the Mirror; A Map of the World
Up the Creek: Stories and the Shape of Time
Up the Creek: The Divine Road To Istanbul
Up the Creek: What It Means to Yearn


UNESCO World Heritage Site Under Threat of Mega-Devlopment Sparks International Protests
The Other Side Of Abu Ghraib — Part One: The Detainees’ Quest For Justice
The Other Side of Abu Ghraib – Part Two: The Yoga Teacher Goes to Istanbul


Conservation – East of an Aquatic Eden and into the Desert
Controversial Marcellus Shale Gas Pipeline Threatens Delaware River Basin and Rural Communities in the Northeast


Migration, Remittances and Latin America


The Slow Web Movement: Wild River Review’s Philosophy on the Media


Rumi and Coke


Post-Thanksgiving Plane Ride with a Soldier on His Way to Iraq
Turkey – Of Protests and Fruit: A Report & Updates from Istanbul

Angie Brenner

Angie Brenner

Angie Brenner

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Freelance writer and illustrator, Angie Brenner, is a contributor to the online magazine, Wild River Review, covering PEN World Voices Festival and Los Angeles Times Festival of Books events, international topics, current events, political issues, and author interviews such as those with Orhan Pamuk, Elif Shafak, and Pico Iyer.

Brenner is currently writing a cookbook with co-author and Wild River Review founder, Joy E. Stocke, Anatolian Kitchen: Turkish Cooking for the American Table, to be published by Burgess Lea Press in the fall of 2016. Her first book, a travel memoir, also co-authored with Stocke, Anatolian Days and Nights: A Love Affair with Turkey, Land of Dervishes, Goddesses, and Saints was published in March, 2012, by Wild River Books.

Brenner left the security of a managerial job to follow her passion and opened a travel planning service, Journeys by Angie, where she created personalized travel itineraries for clients that included researching history, art, and cuisine. Later, she bought and operated a travel bookstore, Word Journeys, in Del Mar, CA. For nearly ten years, Brenner nurtured her inner travel bibliophile by buying and selling travel literature. She closed her store in order to travel and write.

With a business background, Brenner worked in the health care industry in Southern California for several years, and later as Business Manager for a public school district. Yet, a love of travel and a curiosity of foreign cultures led her to explore Europe, East Africa, Vietnam, and South America. For over twenty-five years, she traveled the four corners of Turkey, and became immersed in all aspects of Turkish culture from food, to politics and religion. She is a member of the Turkish Women’s International Network.

It was during a research trip to Turkey that Brenner began to sketch and watercolor, and to create the illustrations that are included in her memoir. A certified yoga instructor, Brenner lives, writes, and facilitates weekly yoga classes in Julian, California.