Welcome to the Website of Bestselling Author
Patricia V. Davis
The love of food is in my culture and features in a lot of my writings, including Cooking for Ghosts.
Below I give you just a sample of the fabulous recipes discussed in Harlot's Sauce: A Memoir of Food, Family, Love, Loss and Greece.
(And if you click the spaghetti plate, you'll also get to see a video of me demonstrating how to make harlot's sauce, or as it's called in Italian, salsa puttanesca.)
On the right column you'll find links to readers' websites who have created delicious and clever recipes, all inspired by Harlot's Sauce.
The Harlot’s Baklava
Baklava is a Greek sweet made with nuts, honey butter and filo dough. This recipe is my own, which I’ve culled from four or five other versions of baklava. If you’ve read my book and remember Gregori’s best man, Leonides, you know why I named it ‘The Harlot’s Baklava’ ; )
150 ml (¾ cup) unsalted butter, melted
500 g (1lb.) fresh filo dough
1 ounce or 30 grams (¼ cup) caster sugar
(“caster sugar” is sold in U.S. as “superfine” sugar)
240 grams (2 cups) finely chopped almonds
120 grams (1 cup) finely chopped walnuts
10 grams (2 teaspoons) ground cinnamon
5 grams (1 teaspoon) ground cloves
1 cinnamon stick about 5 cm (3 inches) in length
5-6 whole cloves
½ ounce / 15 ml (1 tablespoon) of freshly squeezed juice from a lemon
1 ounce / 30 ml (2 tablespoons) honey
thin strip of lemon rind, washed
½ litre (2 cups) regular white sugar
½ litre (2 cups) water
1. Make syrup first by placing all ingredients in a saucepan with a heavy base and stir over medium heat until all sugar dissolves. Bring the liquid to a boil and continue to boil over medium heat for approximately ten minutes to blend flavours. Remove lemon rind, cinnamon stick and cloves. Let sit and cool while preparing rest of recipe.
2. Next is the filo dough. If you’ve never used it before, it comes in a package that looks a lot like a cardboard carton of spaghetti. When you open this package and remove the plastic, the filo resembles sheets of wet, white paper that are rolled up. Unroll the sheets so they are flat, but leave them together. Be sure to keep the dough moist as you work---you won’t believe how quickly it dries and flakes. To help with this, place a damp dish towel over the sheets of filo.
3. Using a pastry brush, brush, some of the melted butter on base and sides of a baking pan approximately 33 x 23x 5 cm (13 x 9 x2 inches). Place ten sheets of filo dough at the bottom of the pan, one at a time, brushing each piece of dough with melted butter. Do not soak the dough with butter, but be sure that each piece is thoroughly coated.
4. Mix nuts, sugar and spices together and spread half this mixture over filo sheets. Top the nut mixture with three more sheets of filo, also brushing with butter, and spread remaining nut mixture on top of these. Place all remaining filo sheets on top of this second layer of nut mixture, brushing them with melted butter, too.
It’s important to trim the edges of the filo if they are hanging over the sides of the pan, or edges will curl upward while cooking and won’t look very nice when your pastry is done. You can trim the dough, but also gently tuck the edges down into the sides of the pan with the flat side of a butter knife. Sprinkle the top layers of filo with water to prevent curling and drying, and make sure the edges are moist with water and/or melted butter. This will give your Harlot’s Baklava a professional look.
5. Score diagonally through the top layers of filo with a sharp knife (a steak knife works well) one way and then the opposite, making diamond shapes. Then, as the filo bakes, it will be pre-cut into the shapes of the baklava.
6. Bake in oven on middle shelf at 160 degrees Celsius ( (325 degrees Fahrenheit) for thirty minutes. After thirty minutes check to see if top is browning too quickly. (Filo should be a light golden brown when done.) If so, cover with foil or greased brown paper. Place the pan up one shelf in the oven and bake for another thirty minutes, but be sure that the filo has cooked all the way through to the bottom layers.
7. When baklava is done and removed from oven, test that the syrup has cooled. Spoon syrup over hot baklava and let steep. Leave baklava like this for several hours before cutting into portions, using the pre-perforated diamond shapes you cut in the top layers as your guide.
Baklava is very sweet, buttery and crunchy. It tastes wonderful served with very hot, strong coffee. It’s a perfect holiday dessert!
The Mother-in-Law’s Moussaka
1 kg (2 lb) aubergines (eggplant)
olive oil (Gregori would say “use Greek,” but I say, “Italian)
3 pressed garlic cloves
1 large, finely-chopped yellow onion
1 kg (2 lb ) minced (chopped) beef or lamb
45 grams / 1½ ounces (1 cup) ripe, chopped tomatoes
45 grams / 1½ ounces (1 cup) prepared tomato sauce
1/10 litre / 1/5 English pint ( ½ cup) merlot wine
30 grams / 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) chopped parsley
5 grams / 1/16 ounce (1 teaspoon) white sugar
5 grams / 1/16 ounce (1 teaspoon) cinnamon
Salt and freshly ground pepper to your taste
Cream Sauce Ingredients
90 ml (6 tablespoons) salted butter
1/10 litre / 1/5 English pint (8 tablespoons) white flour
1 litre / 1 English pint (4 cups) whole milk
2.5 grams / 1/32 ounce (½ teaspoon) nutmeg
2.5 grams / 1/32 ounce (½ teaspoon) cinnamon
120 grams / 4 ounces (8 tablespoons) grated imported parmesiano or kefalotiri cheese. (If you can find both cheeses, use a combination for a zestier taste.)
2 eggs, beaten slightly
1. Leaving the skin on the aubergines (eggplants) slice them lengthwise, in 5 mm (¼ inch) slices. Place the eggplant on a dish and sprinkle slices with salt. After an hour, you’ll notice droplets of moisture on the squash, which has been brought up by the salt. Blot up the moisture with paper towels. (Blotting up the moisture takes away a bitterness which would remain in the taste of the squash after it’s cooked.)
2. Brush each slice of squash with olive oil, place on a baking sheet and back in over at about 350 degrees F. (176 degrees C ) As you remove each piece, stack them on a plate and set aside.
3. Fry onion in oil until onions are clear. Add garlic and sauté quickly.
4. Up the heat and add meat, stir briskly as the meat browns.
5. Add all remaining ingredients except for those ingredients set aside for the cream sauce. Season the meat sauce to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
6. Cover the sauce pan and let simmer for thirty minutes, or until no more excess moisture remains in the pan. Set aside.
7. Start cream sauce by melting butter in a sauce pan, adding the white flour and cooking this mixture gently for three minutes, while constantly stirring.
8. Add milk gently, but all at once, continuing to stir to even out consistency. Keep stirring as sauce bubbles, gently and slowly, lowering heat if necessary to accomplish this. Note: this mixture can scorch very easily, so continued stirring and an ‘eagle eye’ on the heat is imperative. Sauce should bubble consistently for about one and half minutes.
9. Remove the cream sauce from the heat, stir in about half of the cheese, all the cinnamon and nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. We’ll stir eggs into this cream sauce mixture just before we spread it on top of the assembled moussaka.
10. To assemble the moussaka fully, butter an oven dish approximately 33 x 23 x 5 cm (13 x 9 x 2 inches) in size. Place a layer of the squash at the bottom. Place half of the meat sauce on the layer squash, add another layer of squash on top, and then the rest of the meat sauce on this second layer and then cover with a third layer of squash.
11. Spread the cream sauce on top of the meat and squash layers. (Some of the sauce will trickle down into the sides of the pan and this is fine.)
12. Sprinkle the top evenly with the remaining grated cheese.
13. Bake in 176°C (350°F) oven in middle of oven for about 2 hours. Colour will be a deep golden brown when done, but if top begins to burn, cover with foil.
14. Let moussaka cool for about 15 minutes before cutting into squares with sharp knife to serve.
Phew! That was a lot of work, but it was worth it. Just remember to be sure and ask if your dinner guests like cheese. (Believe them if they tell you, “no,” and just serve franks and beans, instead.)
Many, many thanks to all who took the time to make a recipe inspired by Harlot's Sauce. We enjoy reading them and appreciate your hard work more than you know.
If you have a recipe that we missed, please be sure to send us a note, and we'll link your recipe to this website, too!
Christmas Lima Beans
A Soothing Tisane
Greek Pizza, Anyone?
Pizza Alla Puttanesca
If You Have a Recipe You'd Like to Share With Us, Email publicist@patriciaVdavis.com
If we post it, you'll receive a complimentary copy of one of Patricia's books. Click the photo above to see a funny, animated book trailer of Harlot's Sauce: A Memoir of Food, Family, Love, Loss and Greece
Second Helping of Recipes, Anyone?
If you're hungry for some great Italian food, check out the work of another Italian chef, Ann Minard, at her Food Column at Harlots' Sauce Radio
Simona Carini's Delightful Food Blog, "Briciole" which offers fabulous recipes and stories of Italy:
Oh, and One More Note to All:
Recipe measurements are in American Standard and Imperial Standard and/or Metric. to avoid offending as many readers as possible, as some of us are as jingoistic about our cups and litres as we are about our national flags, language dialects, spelling and anthems. The Imperial standard after the metric, wherever possible, both in bold print, separated by a backslash. (Looks like this: / ) The American Standard is listed in parenthesis.
To put more than three types of measurments would have been too confusing, so I apologise to those everywhere who would prefer to express their particular patriotism when following recipes by using oka, stone, parsec, pony, jigger, light year, or whatever else!
Copyright Patricia V. Davis
All rights reserved.