Back to square one

The more you do something, the better you become then the more you do it and so it goes on. Cooking is a perfect example. As is running. The downside with running though is the less you do it, the worse you become. Quickly. The same can’t be said for cooking, thankfully.

Ever since the marathon, my running has been rubbish. I’ve had various injuries and no goal. So, I set one. The Melbourne Half in October. I’ve gathered together a group of lovely ladies and it’s off to Melbourne we go in less than 10 weeks. I’ve got to put it out there, I’m nervous about the thought of the run. Very nervous. I’ve been haphazard at rehab since my knee op three months ago and, of course, haven’t been out pounding the pavement. I deserve to be in the state I’m in.

Despite a little pain remaining, I decided (after the inspiration of the Commonwealth Games) that this was the week I’d start again. I knew it was going to be hard, but not this hard. I’m so slow. Very, very slow. I’m pretty sure that if I took Master Almost Four with me, he would beat me. Not kidding. I am a pathetic sight – one pace above walking. Almost at the point of wearing a balaclava so nobody recognises me out there. And I would if I didn’t think the neighbours would be suspicious and call the police. Mind you, they’d have to stop laughing at how pathetic I look first.

So, there might be a little less cooking in the coming weeks as I try to get around the 5km block. It really is back to square one – how I was running over 20kms most Saturdays two years ago is beyond me. I have to keep reminding myself, one step in front of another. At the moment it really is as much mental as it is physical. Thankfully, after run three today, I am walking better than I was after run one – how embarrassing when you need your toddler to hoist you off the floor!

Funnily enough, I came across today’s delight in one of the blocks I used to run around (back when 10kms was an almost daily jog). Bougatsa is a Greek favourite.

I first tried it at A Taste of Greece in Kilbirnie, where the lovely Helen makes all manner of things Greek from scratch. Do try this recipe, but also get yourself down to Helen’s café to try the delights on offer and get yourself a true coffee brewed on her little gas cooker.

I’m a sucker for anything custard and love that Greek classic Galaktoboureko. This is very similar, but without the sugar syrup. I find this is a recipe that benefits from having measured everything out beforehand – makes life a little easier. It’s also a recipe where practice makes perfect – getting the semolina into the custard in a steady stream so it doesn’t lump takes a few tries.

What you’ll need

1 egg

2 egg yolks

60g (about 1/4 C) caster sugar

500ml cups whole milk

2 tsp vanilla essence

50g (about 1/4 C) semolina

50g butter, cut into chunks

1 Tbsp lemon juice

Zest of a lemon

6 sheets filo pastry (I use fridge filo, not frozen)

Melted butter or spray oil (I use a combination)

To make

20140810_080241Beat eggs and sugar with an electric beater until very thick and foamy – about four-five minutes.

Heat the milk and vanilla in a saucepan until just before boiling point – I put the milk on while I’m beating the eggs. Just make sure you watch it so it doesn’t boil.

Remove milk from the heat and drizzle it into the egg mixture, whisking as you go. Then pour the mixture back into the saucepan.

Set the saucepan on an element over low heat. Stir constantly for about three or four minutes.

Gradually sprinkle in semolina,in a thin stream from your hand, whisking all of the time. Or, you can do this slowly from a measuring cup. (I slowly pour in over about a two minute period, making sure I don’t stop whisking).


Stir constantly, until the mixture is thick and smooth, about another three or four minutes. Make sure the temperature is low. (I put a simmer pad on my gas hob.)


Take off the heat and stir in the butter, a couple of pieces at a time until melted and combined.


Pour the custard into a clean bowl and put a piece of cling film on to the surface of the custard. Set aside to cool.


When cold, stir in lemon juice and zest. Refrigerate if not using immediately.

To cook, heat oven to 180C.

Unroll a sheet of filo, keeping the remainder covered with dampened kitchen towel.


Brush the filo lightly with melted butter or spray oil. Cover with another piece of filo. Cut in half, lengthways. Place about three heaped tablespoons of custard at the bottom of the filo. Spread out with the back of a spoon.


Fold the filo over itself several times into a triangle, so that the raw edges become covered. At this stage you can put the bougatsa into the fridge if you want to cook later. Make sure you put cling film between layers and cover the lot with cling film so the filo doesn’t dry out.

Place each triangle on to a baking paper lined oven tray. Brush tops of each bougatsa with melted butter.

Bake for about 15 minutes until bake until golden-brown.


Serve warm, dusted with the icing sugar and cinnamon mix. These are uber scrummy. And not too bad for the waistline.

For me now, it’s back around the block. One foot in front of another…..





2 thoughts on “Back to square one

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