The baking time was inadvertenly omitted from this recipe in last Thursday's food section. GALATOBUREKO (Custard in Phyllo Pastry) 10 egg yolks 3/4 cup sugar 3 tablespoons cornstarch 1 1/4 quarts milk, scalded 4 tablespoons farina, or Cream of Wheat 2 tablespoons butter Rind of 1 lemon 1 pound butter, clarified 3/4 pound phyllo pastry (about) Beat egg yolks until frothy. Gradually add sugar and continue beating until sugar is dissolved. Dissolve cornstarch in 1/2 cup milk and set aside remaining milk. Add farina and lemon rind to yolk mixture and mix well. Add scalded milk (including milk with cornstarch) gradually to yolk mixture and blend. Transfer to saucepan and cook over medium heat until thick. Remove from fire, dot with butter, place paper towel over pan, cover and set aside to cool. Brush a 13-by-9-by-1 1/2 inch pan with clarified butter, bottom and sides. Place phyllo sheet in pan and brush with butter. Continue until about 12 sheets have been used. Butter top sheet well and spread custard over this. Drizzle butter over custard and top with about 15 sheets, brushing each with butter. Cut through top layer (diamond or square) and drizzle more butter over cuts. Bake in a pre-heated 350-degree oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven and pour over this a syrup made with 2 1/2 cups sugar, 1 1/2 cups water and 1 tablespoon lemon juice, boiled for 20 minutes. Serve at room temperature. Do not cover or it will get soggy.
NICHOLAS PAPPAS has never forgotten the taste of the Greek dishes he learned at his mother's knee, and from time to time he shares them when he cooks some of her recipes for company. One such occasion took place last month when a group of 10 persons assembled at his Dupont Circle apartment.
Greeks don't eat when they entertain, they feast. Pappas presented stuffed grape leaves, two types of olives, cheese, pastry-wrapped cheese triangles and taramasalata , the carp-roe dip, as a warm up before leading his guests to table.There they were served artichokes with an egg and lemon sauce, a leg of lamb with vegetables, a spring salad and cheese.This led, inevitably, to a pair of desserts plus strawberries, and Greek -style coffee. With the after-dinner liquers, the thoughtful host passed dried figs for nibbling.
No one had a chance to leave hungry. Pappas' mother, Katherine, would have approved. The guests were not overwhelmed by such largess. They are part of an informal group that means three or four times a year for the purpose of sharing wine and food. Originally it was a male clique dedicated to tasting wine. In time, food and wives were added to their gatherings. Those present at the Greek dinner are part of what Pappas playfully called "the preservation mafia." They were Donald Miller, assistant secretary of the Commission of Fine Arts, and his wife, Ellen, an interior designer, James Masses, executive director of the Historic Homes Associaton of America, and his wife, Consultant Shirley Maxwell; John Poppeliers, chief of the Historic American Building Survey and his wife, Julia, a travel agent; Hamilton Morton, an architect, and his wife, Terry, vice president for publications at the National Trust. N. Reed Price, minister of music at Grace Reformed Church, performed the sommelier's chores, no easy task as nearly a dozen wines from Greece and Cyprus had been assembled.
Pappas is an architect himself, a partner in the firm of Yerkes, Pappas and Parker. Not surprisingly, he is a precise man, given to lists and neat outlining of chores, even cooking chores. The problem was, as in real life, that although the architect had delivered his plans, construction had fallen behind schedule. By 6 p.m., with guests due at 7:30, only two items had been crossed off the list carefully taped to a kitchen cabinet.
The chef was calm, even as he noticed that the still-unseasoned lamb was already half-an-hour late for its appointment with the oven. "There's an old Greek saying," he said with a grin: "Eh who runs, stumbles.' That's a loose translation, but when there's nothing else to do, you might as well be calm. These are friends. They're coming for the entire evening. They'll understand and maybe I'll just drop a few items. They won't be missed."
(In the end, some cucumbers were left unstuffed and unserved. Everything else appeared.)
"Most of Greek cooking is not difficult," Pappas continued, "it's just time-consuming.There is one cardinal rule, though. You must use top quality ingredients. For that reason, I rarely go to Greek restaurants or buy prepared Greek foods. They will take a shortcut, use margarine or shortening instead of butter, and it shows up in the taste."
Butter, from my observations in the Pappas kitchen, plays a major role in Greek cooking. "Olive oil is very important, too," Pappas said. "I think which you use depends on what part of Greece you come from. My mother came from Chios, an island near Turkey, and many of her recipes call for butter and lemons." Pappas clarifies butter by the pound and uses it lavishly in dishes employing the paperthin pastry dough called phyllo. "If you don't clarify the butter," Pappas explained, "There is a residue of solids that may burn in the oven and spot the pastry or even cause a bitter taste."
He was using a knife to break the pastry skin atop his custard dessert, "to allow the steam out and the syrup in. Greek women pride themselves on their pastries," he continued, "but they are served with coffee sometimes during the day. Meals usually end with fruit. I don't make these desserts often, and when I do I take the leftovers to the office. It's better [for the wasteline] not to have them around."
Pappas's own eating routine is considerably less ambitious than his menu of that evening would suggest. "I don't cook as much as I used to," he said, "I'm too busy. So I usually do what's quickest, maybe a simple pasta in brown butter with cheese, or I eat dinner at a Chinese restaurant. That's my favorite cuisine, but I find it awfully messy to cook at home. I don't eat packaged food, but for only one reason. It bores me. You eat something once and you know what it will taste like every time thereafter."
It wasn't that way when Pappas was growing up in Shreveport, La. "My mother didn't use this," he said, pointing to the box of phyllo. "She made it from scratch. She kept bedsheets tucked away. When she made the dough, they would go over every table and bed that was free and she would spread her phyllo over them. All she used was flour, water and salt. She would break off a chunk of dough and reach under it and pull until it covered the whole table. I don't do it because unless you know how, there is a problem with the timing. The dough dries out before you are finished unless you're really fast."
Pappas' father and mother were both Greek, but met in this country when his mother and grandmother came on a visit to relatives in New York City and Mississippi. Luckily, something of the Old World was preserved in the New when Pappas' mother wrote down the family recipes as dictated by her mother. "I have the lined notebook she wrote them in," Pappas said. "It's wonderful but frustrating. She wrote things like 'add enough flour,' or 'add flour until it looks right.' I can use some of them, but someday I'm going to test and translate all of them."
He described her method with lamb as he worked: Stud a leg of lamb with lots of garlic slivers, season it with lemon juice, thyme, salt and pepper, then put it in a hot oven. Lower the temperature after a few minutes and cook until done as desired. Remove lamb, pour off fat and add orzi (a tiny pasta), tomatoes, water, salt and pepper. When the orzi is cooked, yogurt is added to it and it is served with the carved lamb.
Inspired by a salad the women of the Shreveport Greek community made each spring, a mixture of fresh greens such as dandelion and wild watercress dressed with olive oil and lemon juice. Pappas fashioned a "spring salad" from chicory, watercress and belgium endive. He also served his mother's baklava, and while he has been kind enough to share several of her recipes, he chose not to disclose that one:
"Mom had a secret ingredient," he said apologetically. "She gave me the recipe, but she never told anyone, so I guess I won't." DOLMADAKIA NISTISIMA (Meatless Stuffed Grapevine Leaves) 1 jar (8 ounces) grapevine leaves 2 medium onions, finely chopped 1/2 cup olive oil 1/2 cup rice 2 tablespoons fresh dill weed (or 1 teaspoon dried) 1/4 cup chopped parsley 1 bunch scallions, chopped (including some of green portion) 1 cup finely shredded iceberg lettuce 1 teaspoon salt Pepper Juice of 1 lemon
Saute onion in 1/4 cup olive oil, until semi-transparent. Remove from fire and add rice, dill, parsely, scallion, lettuce, salt, pepper, and half the lemon juice. Mix well.
Rinse grapevine leaves thoroughly and drain. (I plunge them in a large bowl of water and carefully separate). Cut off thick portion of stems. Place one heaping teaspoon of filling on underside of leaf at base, fold over, fold in sides, and roll.
Place parsley stems, left-over pieces of grapevine leaves, and a few lettuce leaves in bottom of sauce pan. Place dolmadakia, folded side down, in layers. Cover with a heavy plate. Add remaining olive oil and lemon juice. Fill with water to just above plate. Bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer for about 45 minutes. Add more lemon juice to taste. Serve at room tempeature plain, or with sour cream or yogurt. Taramasalata (carp Roe Dip (Makes 1 1/2 to 2 cups) 1 jar (4 ounces) tarama* 8 slices white bread, crusts trimmed off 1 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup) Juice of 2 lemons 1 to 1 1/2 cups olive oil
Moisten bread with water and squeeze out excess. Mash tarama with a fork and scrape into processer bowl fitted with steel blade. Break up bread in pieces and add. Add onion and a litle olive oil. Process for about 10 seconds.Scrape down solids. Through feed tube, while processor is running, pour alternately the lemon juice and olive oil and process until cream colored. Taste, and add more olive oil or lemon juice as desired.
Serve with pita bread, heated, and cut in wedges.
*Available in Greek speciality stores Tiropitakia (Cheese Triangles) (Makes about 60) 1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled or grated 8 ounces ricotta cheese (pot cheese or sieved cottage cheese may be subsituted.) 1/4 cup grated kefalotiri (or parmesan) cheese 2 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and clarified 1/2 pound phyllo pastry
Blend feta with ricotta. Beat eggs and add along with kefalotiri. Mix well.
Cut phyllo sheets in three equal portions, crosswise, and use only about one-third at a time. Keep the rest in refrigerator until needed. Keep portion in use covered with a damp, well-squeezed-out towel.
Take one sheet of phyllo, place on a flat surface and spread with butter (butter should be clarified, warm and liquid, but not hot), using a pastry brush.Fold the long sides toward the center, overlapping, to make a 2-inch-wide strip, and butter that. Put about 1 teaspoon of feta mixture on the end of phyllo strip. Fold in triangle shape, and continue folding, maintaining triangle shape.Repeat this process until all feta filling and phyllo are used.
Arrange on a shallow baking pan and brush tops with more butter. Bake in pre-heated 400-degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
Serve warm. Anginares avgolemono (Artichokes with Egg-Lemon Sauce) (10 servings) 10 artichokes 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter 4 cups chicken broth Juice of 1 lemon, or more to taste 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper 1 tablespoon cornstarch (dissolved in 2 tablespoons water) 3 eggs
Remove outer leaves of artichokes, trim base and cover in water acidulated with 2 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar until ready to use. Melt butter in saucepan. Drain artichokes well and saute in butter over low flame about 15 minutes. Add broth, salt and pepper, and simmer until done, about 30 minutes. Remove artichokes.
Add lemon juice and cornstarch mixture to pan. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir a little broth into the beaten eggs and return to pan. Stir over very low heat until eggs are cooked and sauce is thick. Do not allow sauce to boil or over-cook. Pour sauce over artichokes and serve right away. GALATOBUREKO Custard in Phyllo Pastry) 10 egg yolks 3/4 cup sugar 3 tablespoons cornstarch 1 1/4 quarts milk, scalded 4 tablespoons farina, or Cream of Wheat 2 tablespoons butter Rind of 1 lemon 1 pound butter, clarified 3/4 pound phyllo pastry (about)
Beat egg yolks until frothy. Gradually add sugar and continue beating until sugar is dissolved. Dissolve cornstarch in 1/2 cup milk and set aside remaining milk. Add farina and lemon rind to yolk mixture and mix well. Add scalded milk gradually to yolk mixture and blend. Transfer to saucepan and cook over medium heat until thick. Remove from fire, dot with butter, place paper towel over pan, cover, and set aside to cool.
Brush a 13-by-9-by-1 1/2 inch pan with clarified butter, bottom and sides. Place phyllo sheet in pan and brush with butter.Continue until about 12 sheets have been used. Butter top sheet well and spread custard over this. Drizzle butter over custard and top with about 15 sheets, brushing each with butter. Cut through top layers with sharp knife in desired shape (diamond or square) and drizzle more butter over cuts.
Bake in pre-heated 350-degree oven and pour over this a syrup made with 2 1/2 cups sugar, 1 1/2 cups water and 1 tablespoon lemon juice, boiled for 20 minutes. Serve at room temperature. Do not cover or it will get soggy.