Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day, Tropical Storm Beryl, and Portokalopita (Greek Orange Cake)

I've been looking forward to this weekend for a long time.  I had it all extra day off after the holiday, four whole days to do whatever...catch up on some reading, watch a few movies, work in my garden, start some seeds, take a long walk....but then along came Beryl.  Not a hurricane, but close.  Here in north Florida we spent Saturday and Sunday in anticipation of Beryl's arrival on Sunday evening.  While she spoiled the Jacksonville Jazz Festival and the Memorial Day activities, she brought us much-needed rain and broke a weeks-long drought.  So with every cloud there's a silver lining.

Beryl did cause some power outages, some fallen trees, and flooding, and a tropical storm is not really welcome on a holiday weekend, but when life gives you make Greek orange cake...Portokalopita.

In anticipation of being house-bound for a few days, on Sunday morning I thumbed through my "recipes you gotta try" pile (I'm sparing you a picture of this-it's rather large and messy right now), made a quick run to the store, rented some movies from Redbox (The Help and Albert Nobbs - more about these later), stacked some books on the nightstand, made sure my flashlights were working, and settled in.  Luckily, I never lost power and except for a few small tree branches and a lot of pine needles in the yard, I sustained no damage.

It was still raining this morning so I set about making this intriguing Greek orange "cake."  It really reminds me more of a bread pudding, with phyllo dough standing in for the bread.  Although there are multiple steps, it is not difficult to make and the reward is a creamy, dense pudding cake soaked in an orange syrup fragrant with cinnamon and cloves.  The house smelled fantasic while it was baking!  I first saw this recipe in Saveur's Greek issue.  But the instructions left me with questions and I've learned to trust my instincts, so I went looking for other versions...and there were lots of them out there Greek!!  I finally found this one at Food52...pretty much the same ingredients as the one in Saveur with much clearer and detailed instructions.  The extra step of crisping the phyllo dough in the oven puts the final result over the top.

What are the odds that I would have Greek olive oil on hand?

Cool the cake until just warm and pour the syrup over the top.  Serve with a quarter slice of the baked orange.  You can add whipped cream, but it doesn't really need it.  This lovely Greek dessert would be a fitting ending to this salad and some pita bread for lunch or a light summer dinner.  Look here for Greek wine pairings.

I learned a long time ago not to recommend books and here's what Roger Ebert said about The Help and A. O. Scott's take on Albert Nobbs and you can decide for yourself.  The Help has some wildly funny and achingly tender moments and Albert Nobbs might be a little slow and quiet, but it was an interesting story with amazing performances by Glenn Close and Janet McTeer.

Hope the sun is shining in your neck of the woods.


mireia badia said...


Georgeann said...

Wow, you even had a plate with an orange on it! Great photography.

Food Recipes said...

Looks refreshing :) Thanks for the Healthy Recipes