Sunday, July 15, 2012

Let Them Eat Greek Cake

When I was a kid we ate Greek food occasionally, with lamb and feta cheese being favorites. My grandma Kaloutsis was well known for being a first class cook – I can still taste her garlicky, tomatoey clams and rice. I need the recipe stat! Besides baklava, the standout dessert was a sour cream cake with walnuts, soaked in simple syrup. My mother actually found this recipe in a Greek cookbook years ago and it was always a hit. Oh man, it’s moist, rich and delicious and easy to make. I’d kind of forgotten about it, but I’ve been asked to make a dessert for a posthumous birthday party and we’re going kind of Greek. Guess what I’m bringing?

Sour Cream Cake

2 cubes unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
6 eggs, well beaten
1 cup walnuts chopped fine
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup sour cream
2 tsp baking soda mixed in ¼ cup wine, whiskey, brandy, or orange juice
2 cups flour

Melt butter and allow to cool slightly. Beat butter and add sugar gradually, beating thoroughly. Add eggs slowly while continuing to beat. Add walnuts, sour cream, soda, wine, flour, and cinnamon and beat well. Pour into greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake in 350° degree oven for 1 hour.

While cake is cooling make a simple syrup: boil 2 cups sugar with 1 1/3 cups water to form a syrup. Pour slowly over cake while warm. Feel free to poke holes in the cake with a toothpick to facilitate syrup soakage. Serves 15-20.


I think this time I’m going to throw a cinnamon stick in the syrup while it’s boiling and then cooling. This cake is really rich; resist the impulse to top with whipped cream. You don’t want to gild the lily with wretched excess.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Yummy Lowfat Eggplant Lasagna

In addition to growing tomatoes in the summer, Paul insists on planting eggplant. He loves it and his favorite dish is a panang curry dish that I concocted. As much as I love coconut milk, I can’t justify making it too often for obvious fatty reasons. However, I was inspired by Hungry Girl’s eggplant lasagna recipe. I’m not a fan, exactly, as I don’t use fat free cheese or fake food items of that ilk (except I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter spray), but she did give me an idea to run with. So this morning I picked our Asian eggplants (the globes aren’t producing yet) and made a delicious, low-fat, rich-tasting eggplant lasagna. I may be on Weight Watchers, but I insist on eating really good food.

If you have read my recipes before you may have noticed I cook a little loosey goosey. A recipe is a guideline and I often change ingredients a little bit, based on my mood and what’s in my pantry. The only time you need to goose-step is when you are making pastries. I use lite provolone here for the rich flavor but if you must have mozzarella, by all means do. This time I’m using Trader Joe’s Turkey Bolognese, which is delicious, but you can use your favorite bottled meat sauce or make your own (I often make my own). This recipe serves 4-ish in my house as we are light eaters, but realistically it will serve 2, maybe 3. You can easily double or triple the recipe.

Eggplant Lasagna

½ tsp oil
1 lb eggplant, sliced ½ inch thick
12 oz package Trader Joe’s Turkey Bolognese
4 oz sliced reduced fat provolone cheese
1 oz grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350°. Brush oil in a baking dish about 9 1/2x8” and set aside. Using a silpat or parchment paper in a half sheet pan, brush on a little oil. Bake eggplant until tender, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, gently heat the turkey bolognese in a covered saucepan until it has thawed and is hot. Place a layer of eggplant in the baking dish and cover with half the sauce and provolone. Add another layer and top with grated Parmesan. Bake for 20 minutes or more until cheese is melted and bubbly. Lowfat cheese doesn’t brown as well as full fat, so don’t look for it.

Really delicious!