Category Archives: Greece

My Favorite Greek Breakfast Pastry

titleAbout this time 7 years ago I was prepping for my first trip to Europe. I was so excited and so incredibly nervous. I was going to Greece to study abroad for 4 months. I didn’t know anyone else going, and I had barely left the country before (except for a walk across the border into Mexico).

Greek culture was so different than what I was used to, and I constantly find myself longing to go back for a visit. I miss the laid back life style of Greece (late starts to the day, afternoon nap time, and the last meal of the day between 9-11pm), and the food…definitely the food. I wasn’t vegetarian back then, so I ate whatever I wanted (but never the skewered lamb…seeing the whole lamb impaled through the eyeball grossed me out). I think one of the best things was a simple gyro that I got almost every day down the street from the university. It was about 2 USD, and so simple and so delicious. Another favorite was a Greek breakfast pastry that they sold at a bakery near the university.

Side note: There were a lot of really cool shop owners there that loved to help us learn Greek. The owner of the grocery underneath my apartment, would not speak to me in English even though he spoke it very well…he always made me practice my Greek. The same with the bakery owner near the university, it took me forever to learn the word “bougatsa”. Upon googling, it looks like it’s also referred to as galaktoboureko, and apparently Athens has “the worst”…I can only imagine what “good” bougatsa tastes like.

greece

Every few months I find myself dreaming of this amazing breakfast pastry made of phyllo dough and custard (although now I think of it as dessert because I try not to devour sweets as a healthy breakfast). I finally decided to try to veganize it last week. I was hesitant because ethnic foods never taste as good when they’re not made with the same local ingredients as in their native land, but I figured even if it was close, I’d be happy.

I made the custard with semolina flour, almond milk, vanilla extract, and coconut sugar. Usually you can’t just leave out eggs in a recipe and have it still come out, but this wasn’t too bad. I’d like to try it with a powdered egg replacer, but I was all out at the time. The custard was a bit runny, and a little bit of arrowroot probably would’ve thickened it up, but since I was going to bake it, I left it as it was.

Although, I wouldn’t say it was 100% authentic, it came out tasting really good. The custard filling wasn’t as thick and chewy as the original, probably due to the lack of eggs. Next time, I’m going to try adding some heavy cream (Probably Silk creamer), and will use Ener-g egg replacer to make it a little thicker. Even though it wasn’t exact, it was sooo good, so definitely a win in my book!

 ingredients

vanilla DSC_0326dough

I used a bread pan since I didn’t want to make too much of it, just in case it didn’t come out right. I put a phyllo sheet on the bottom of the pan and then hung it over the edge. I overlapped the bottom of the sheets (spraying w/cooking oil each time), and then simply layered the hanging part of the sheet over the custard for the top.

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pouring

After I poured in the custard, I layered back over the sheets of dough that I hung off the side.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon semolina
  • 1-1/4 cups almond milk (I used Original)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (I used coconut, which I think made it a little bit darker)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • phyllo sheets (I used 5, and folded them over)
  • cooking spray (I used olive oil because it’s what I had, but a less flavored one like canola might turn out better. You can always use butter/margarine, cooking spray is just super easy.)

Directions:

*Note: Make sure you read the directions on your phyllo dough. I have been storing mine in the fridge, but if you keep it in the freezer, you’ll have to defrost it for a few hours.

  • Preheat oven to 385°F.
  • Make the semolina custard by mixing the semolina and milk slowly over medium heat. I added the milk about 1/3 at a time.
  • Stir in the sugar and vanilla and continue to stir until custard thickens.
  • After about 15 minutes, the custard should be slightly thicker, remove from heat and cool in the fridge.
  • Spray pan (I used a loaf pan) with cooking spray.
  • Layer one sheet of dough and then spray with cooking spray.
  • Continue layering half of your dough, spraying between each sheet.
  • Pour the custard onto the dough.
  • Fold over the dough sheets, one at a time, still spraying between each. (See above picture for a better explanation.)
  • Spray final layer with cooking spray and bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown.

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Greece Update 2

Agora

I want to write every day and tell of my great Greece adventures, but we’re always so busy and the lack of internet is a problem too. Every night we’ve been getting into the hottest night clubs VIP style. We got home at 6 this morning and everyone minus me, Rami, and Court went back out to the bar. Another highlight (of my life) was getting to the mall around 4:30, grabbing a brew and then going shopping. I love walking around the mall with a beer in my hand.
Okay, it’s not all about alcohol, I think we’re starting to get used to it now.

I’m learning Greek, Arabic (Lebanese), and Chinese. So far I can say the basics, I’m hungry, I love you, tasty beer, hello beautiful/pimp, dog, and thank you.
I feel like I’ve been here forever, twice I’ve gotten asked for directions.

Tomorrow through wed I’m going to the Peloponnese. We’re going to Olympia and Sparta and a few other places. So far we’ve done the Agora, Acropolis, Meteora, and Delphi.

I had to cancel my spring break italy trip. I decided it was just too expensive and I’m going to only go for a few days, and def go when Mandi is here. I believe I’m going to hit up the islands with some of the girls instead. Although, I am really jealous that all of my apartment and the guys are going to be in Rome for Easter.

Meteora

I don’t think I’ve mentioned how I love the people here. My roommates are crazy and so much fun. We just got a new Chinese roommate that doesn’t speak much english (hence my learning chinese). I think we all get along really well. Last night we had a group dinner, court did the hamburgers, Jess did the salad, and I did the french fries.
Rami is playing with my computer, so I have to go now..but I will update when ever possible.

Greece-All Nighter

Aegina

Tuesday night, we headed out to go to a club around 1am. The club wasn’t open so we went to a bar and smoked hookah for a while. Then we headed back to Ploughman’s (a bar near my apartment). Around 6 we decided to leave, but get something to eat.

The mysterious hot dog stand was missing (it comes and goes between 11pm and 5am) McDonald’s was closed, so we went to the crepe place (it’s always open). After we got spinach/cheese pies/beer we decided we needed to stay up and go to an island. We hoped in a cab, went to Nouh’s and watched My Boss’ Daughter.

Aegina

At like 8:30 we got up and walked around Monastiraki and went back to my place to get some money. Then we hoped on the metro (still in the clothes from when we went clubbing the night before) and took it to Pireaus (the port). We found an agent and told her we wanted to go to an island right away. It was 20 euros round trip and it took about 40 minutes to get there. We rode in the back of the ferry so we could sit outside.

When we got to Aegina we were going to go swimming but it was freezing, so instead we stuck our feet and our heads in the Aegean Sea. We got coffee, and eventually headed home. I left my apartment at 1am and got home at 6:30pm the following day.
Adventures like these are why I love Greece.