Breakfast has never been better. I saw the movie Mama Mia 2 this past Sunday and I was propelled back to the Greek islands, thinking of the splendor of mornings where breakfast can be as simple as Greek coffee and a quickly downed hand pie of greens, spinach or zucchini eaten on the fly or as sumptuous as a banquet of fresh figs, apricots and watermelon served alongside local goat milk yoghurt with thyme or chestnut honey. Baskets of warm, crusty peasant bread flank glistening bowls of aubergine colored olives and ruby-red, freshly quartered tomatoes just waiting for a lazy dribble of olive oil. And that’s not all. Oh, no. Mountain cheeses of sheep’s and goat’s milk to enjoy with the bread are also offered as well as *hand-made* sour cherry, fig or pistachio jam. It makes my head spin. For the meat and protein lovers, the table will typically groan under platters of just gathered eggs scrambled with tomato and feta. Salted, smoked pork can be brought in from as far away as the island of Naxos or as close as the farmer at the other end of the village. Oh, and that kind farmer will also drop off freshly made sausages to grill. But my favorite, my absolute favorite is the Greek vanilla custard found in the Greek desserts galaktaboureko and bougatsa. In these sweet treats the custard is tucked between sheets of phyllo dough, baked and finished with various homemade syrups…for instance honey and cinnamon syrup or clove and orange liquor syrup to name a few. It’s heaven on earth to have dessert for breakfast with a strong cup of java but I don’t always want to have to struggle with phyllo and then have to bake something off so this no-bake dish is perfect. In Australia the Greek community fill buttery croissant with the custard and, after a light shower of confectioner’s sugar, breakfast is served.
This wonderful custard is thickened not only with eggs but also semolina flour. It can be prepared up to two days prior to serving. The custard is excellent over berries, croissant, pound cake or baked in phyllo dough. Fabulous stuff! As the recipe calls for so few ingredients I use only organic eggs and semolina flour. I also use both vanilla beans and vanilla extract to “up” the flavor.
Summer Berry and Greek Custard Stuffed Croissant
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup semolina flour
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 2 vanilla pods, split and the beans scraped out, plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- OR 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- assorted summer berries of your choice
- croissants, split horizontally in half
- confectioner’s sugar to garnish, optional
- Over medium-high heat and in a medium size saucepan heat the milk until you see small bubbles and it almost comes up to a boil.
- Stir in 1/2 cup of the sugar, the semolina and a tablespoon or two of the melted butter.
- Reduce the heat to medium and, stirring frequently, cook until thickened, about 7-10 minutes.
- In a separate bowl mix well the eggs, the remaining sugar and the melted butter.
- Slowly whisk this into the milk mixture and continue stirring until very thick, about another 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat when thickened to your liking and stir in the vanilla.
- Allow to come to room temperature and transfer to a covered container. Cover the custard completely with plastic wrap to avoid “skin” from forming, place container cover on and chill at least 4 hours. Overnight is better.
- Serve over split croissants with fresh berries and a dusting of confectioner’s sugar.