Certainly over the past 20 years I have gone through an education in food and cooking from many cultures. Most of us have as the culture of food in America has changed dramatically. 15 years ago, we had moved to the suburbs and I was beyond lonely. I was introduced to someone ( from a friend in the city ) who had also just made the journey. We became fast friends and are still great friends today. Her husbands family owned and ran a Greek diner in lower Manhattan when he was growing up. His mother is an incredible cook. I was at my friends house around Greek Easter and she offered me a piece of Galatoboureko that her mother-in-law had made. I had no idea what it was. I took a bite and then without pause, took a slice. I still remember it today and thinking to myself, omigod, this is worth every calorie. I made it for a Mediterranean party we went to this past weekend. It doesn't hold a candle to my friends mother-in-laws Galatoboureko but it tastes damn good.
8 egg yolks
8 tbsp. sugar
6 cups milk
9 tblsp. corn starch
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. vanilla
1/2 lb. phyllo dough ( buy it from the freezer section)
9 by 13 pan, buttered ( preferably glass but we were going to a party so I used a tin )
1 cup of melted sweet unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups of sugar
3 1/2 cup boiling water
1 tsp. fresh squeeze lemon juice
Do the syrup early on because it needs to be completely cool when the Galatoboureko comes out of the oven.
Whip the egg yolks and sugar until pale and thick ( if you aren't sure if it is pale enough, continue for another minute). This takes about 4-5 minutes and use an electric mixer. We actually used a hand held mixer. Pour this into a sauce pan ( one big enough to hold 8 cups liquid ). Warm the milk separately. I used a large glass measuring cup and warmed it in the microwave. The sauce pan should be over a low heat. Add in the milk and corn starch, alternating between the two of them until completely incorporated. Keep stirring. I use a whisk while I alternated between the two ingredients and then changed to a wooden spoon while we stirred. It takes a while, maybe 7-8 minutes and eventually this mixture will become thick like pastry cream. The consistency is almost like a ketchup. Take this off the heat, mix in the cream and vanilla.
In the 9 x 13 pan, take half of the 1/2 lb. of phyllo dough (defrosted) and use a pastry brush with the melted butter and cover each piece individually (be generous) and then layer one over another into the pan. I actually cut the phyllo dough in half because it was too long.
Then pour in the pastry cream. Where I screwed up is not using my gut. My pan was only 12" long instead of 13 and the pastry cream was a tad too high and I should have not used the whole thing. Obviously not thinking, you should trust your instincts. After the pastry cream is poured in over the phyllo, take the other half of the phyllo and do the same thing until the pastry cream is completely covered. Now take a serrated knife and very gently cut the top layer into 5 strips. Helps the mixture breath in the oven.
Just a note on phyllo dough. It is very delicate. Keep it in the refrigerator until right before using and use quickly. Be gentle. Keep the half you aren't using in the refrigerator until you are ready to do the top half. It dries outs.
Bake at 375 for about 40-45 minutes or until golden. Pour the syrup over this when it comes out of the oven, which caramelizes the top. Watch out, there is a lot of syrup and it ends up overflowing. I did not use the whole mixture although I probably should have.
Light in calories, not but truly divine.