Sunday, March 3, 2013

Galakto Boureka

This is a very time consuming Greek dessert, but totally worth the effort. My first challenge was to figure out what farina was. I didn't google it, as I should have, so last Friday afternoon found me trolling the baking aisle at Safeway looking for what I thought was a type of flour. Luckily, I ran into Basil, my neighbor, and asked him what farina was. "It's a cereal," the dear man replied.
Sure enough, there in the hot cereal section, on the box of Cream of Wheat, was the word farina. I trotted home with the farina, the phyllo pastry and the  extra butter, and carefully left the frozen phyllo pastry out to thaw. I guess I first tried to make something with phyllo pastry four or five years ago. That was when I learned you have to defrost it. That time, I ended up throwing the whole shredded mass away.
Saturday afternoon, after I got back from the fish store with the lobsters, I tackled the recipe. First, as you will see, I boiled two cups of milk with sugar (I cut the recipe in half. I figured we didn't need three to four dozen of these things for five people,) and began stirring in the farina.
Hewitt's good old standby, "cook until thick," in this case means for about 20 to 25 minutes. You want a solid mass, something that will retain the shape of the amount scooped out of the pan. It is important to stir constantly, although the recipe does not tell you this. If you don't, you will burn the bottom of the pan. At the same time I was madly stirring farina, I boiled the syrup.
After about 40 minutes spent on the filling and syrup, I was ready for the phyllo. I have never worked with gold leaf, but I have talked to people who have, and phyllo is something like gold leaf made of flour. It dries as soon as you look at it and shreds like crazy even if properly defrosted. Also, it is folded up inside the box in a manner that defies unfolding it. My husband, who was trying to polish the silverware, constantly had to stop and wash his hands to put the rest of the dough back on the plate and recover it with the wet towel.
Some recipes for phyllo pastry tell you to paint the phyllo with butter before shaping it. This one tells you to dot the edges with butter before folding it. I folded, dotted, and rolled. It took another half hour to turn out ten phyllo rolls. Note that one puts on the syrup after baking the rolls. I put it on before, which did not create a huge problem, although Bob was afraid it would.
The guests really liked this. If I had made another ten, I believe they would have gotten scarfed up. I say, get some Cream of Wheat and go for it.

Galakto Boureka

1 cup sugar
4 cups milk, boiling
1/2 cup farina (Cream of Wheat)
1/4 cup butter
Grated rind of half a large orange
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 stick cinnamon
1 pound phyllo pastry
1/2 cup melted butter

1. To prepare filling, add the sugar to the boiling milk and bring to a boil, stirring. Gradually stir in the farina and cook until thickened. Stir in the butter and orange rind.
2. Add a little of the  hot mixture to the eggs. Return all to the pan and cook one minute longer. Allow to cool to room temperature.
3 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
4. To prepare syrup, combine the sugar, water and cinnamon stick and bring to a boil. Boil five minutes. Set aside to cool.
5. Remove one leaf of the phyllo pastry at a time, keeping remaining leaves covered. Dot edges with melted butter, fold in half, dot edges with melted butter again and fold in half again.
6. Place two tablespoons of the cooled filling mixture at one end of the pastry. Dot edges of pastry with melted butter. Turn in the sides and roll up like a jellyroll. Continue shaping rolls until all filling is used.
7. Place rolls with space between in a well-oiled baking pan.
8. Bake about twenty-five minutes, or until golden brown. Spoon the cooled syrup over the hot pastries. Makes three to four dozen.

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