After I had my online workshop this summer, I had so many of you reach out to me about when I’d be doing another one that I am beyond happy to be able to tell you that the time is now. Well, next month to be precise, but registration is finally open, hurray!! The one I held this summer was such an incredible experience, I made friends with so many people across the globe, have even been able to meet some of them through my travels, and am collaborating with some of them on future workshops in foreign lands. We created a great online community together, talking food, styling, and photography for 30 days straight. I loved every minute of it, and am so excited to do it again next month with a new group of photographers. The course description is in the following paragraphs and in the link below, where you can register. Space is limited so don’t postpone, I can’t wait to ‘see’ some of you in the workshop next month!
This month-long online introductory course focuses on food photography, food styling, and image post-processing. The course begins on January 10th and ends on February 11th and includes bi-weekly assignments due each Wednesday and Saturday. Class will meet via video chat at 7:30 am Pacific Standard Time on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Each video lesson will be recorded and immediately uploaded to a shared Drop Box folder after it ends, so that way participants who aren’t able to join the discussion live can view it later at their convenience. Each lesson also has text and photo supplements that will be uploaded to the shared Drop Box folder, as well.Each assignment is accompanied by a text reference guide, and feedback will be given to each participant following each assignment. General course material covers: DSLR camera maintenance, manipulation of natural lighting, creating depth of field, adjusting shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, lenses and their focal lengths, food styling, post processing in Adobe Lightroom 5, and post processing in Adobe Photoshop CC.
A DLSR camera, is required for the course, and a copy of either Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop is *highly* recommended.
And as far as this tasty recipe, I had this up on Food 52’s Heirloom Recipes column a few months back. It’s in my top three desserts of all time and was my favorite sweet as a little girl. Growing up in Portland’s large Greek community meant going to many weddings, baptisms, birthdays, and Easter celebrations. At every large gathering I attended, I hoped beyond hope that one specific thing would turn up: a golden, syrupy, buttery, lemon-fragranced custard that we called galaktoboureko. Yes, the name is as difficult to pronounce as it looks, but that doesn’t make it any less delicious or sought after.
It’s essentially layered sheets of buttered filo dough with a lemon custard in the center; after it’s removed from the oven, a honey lemon syrup is poured over the entire thing and allowed to soak for an hour before serving. It was the prize of the most culinary-inclined Greek wives; a “you think her kourembiethes are good? Just wait until you try her galaktoboureko” type of thing.
Both my parents knew how to make it, but did so very sparingly. As a child, I thought this was because of how sacred and special it was, but as an adult I can see that it was probably because it was so time-consuming to make (as are most filo-based dishes) and so deliciously rich that having it around the house all the time would be a bit tough on the waistline. So, it became known to me as the special thing, the dish that you only get to eat when you’ve been very good and everyone is happy and loud Greek music is playing and people are dancing. It was, and is, a celebratory dish.
When I got older I learned to make it myself, and as I familiarized myself with the complexities of filo dough, I understood why it was so rare. But with great work often comes great reward, and galaktoboureko doesn’t fail to deliver.
Honeyed Greek Filo Custard
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup semolina flour
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 3 eggs well beaten
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 30 9 x 14-inch sheets of filo dough, thawed if frozen
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- Begin by preparing the custard. In a medium saucepot, heat the milk over low heat for 3 minutes, stirring every minute. Add the sugar, semolina flour, and 1 tablespoon of the butter. Continue to cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.
- In a separate bowl, whisk 1 cup of the milk mixture with the beaten eggs. Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan and whisk constantly for another 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla extract until combined. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a small sharp knife, cut an 8-inch diameter circle out of a stack of 10 stack filo dough sheets set them underneath the pile of normal rectangular filo to keep them from drying out. On a flat and clean working surface, lay down one sheet of the rectangular filo dough and lightly brush it with the melted butter. Place the slightly damp towel on the stack of filo dough waiting to be brushed to keep them from becoming dry and brittle. Lay the filo in the 8-inch cake pan so that the ends hang over the edge of the pan on both sides.
- Use the pastry brush to gently brush the filo against the sides of the cake pan so that it is snug with the corners. Repeat with another layer of rectangular filo, but place it so that it’s edges hang off the bare side of the pan, creating a criss-cross. Repeat this with 20 sheets of rectangular filo so that the edge of the pan is covered with filo hanging off of it and you cannot see any bare edge.
- Whisk the custard to mix it back up a bit, then pour it into the cake pan. Fold the filo that’s been hanging over the edges back over the custard mixture, being careful not to submerge it in the custard. You want it to lay relatively flat over the custard mixture, encasing it. Lightly brush the top with butter.
- Lightly brush a circular filo sheet with butter and place it on top of the folded filo. Repeat until all 10 sheets of the circular filo are on the galaktoboureko. Use the end of a blunt butter knife to tuck the edges of the circular filo down into the pan so the cover is nice and snug. Use a sharp knife to cut 4 small vent holes in the center of the filo, making sure it pierces down into the custard layer, otherwise the air will make the filo rise up into a dome and eventually cause a tear somewhere in the dough.
- Place the pan in the oven and bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes, or until the filo is golden brown and the custard is set
- While the custard is baking, prepare the syrup. Bring the sugar, honey, water, and lemon juice to a boil over medium high heat. Lower the heat and allot to simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature, then place in the refrigerator.
- Once the custard is finished baking, remove it from the oven and immediately pour the syrup into the pan over the top of the galaktoboureko. Allow it to soak in the syrup for 1 hour, then slice and serve.