Mary Kay Radnich
Egyptian "Bread and Butter" Pudding
My friend Reba, who simply could not stop raving about it during our flight to Cairo in 1999, introduced me to the dessert Om Ali. She was looking forward to having it so much, in fact, I think she even asked the flight attendant if they had some on board! And I have to admit, Om Ali was, once I sampled it, every bit as good and as comforting as she claimed.
The name "Om Ali" means, Mother of Ali. While the true origin of Om Ali is unknown in Cairo, you may hear it is from Upper Egypt, while in Upper Egypt you may here that it is from Cairo you may even hear that it was brought to Egypt by an Irish lass, a Miss OMalley, mistress of the Khedive Ismail! I think it more likely that the good and kind mother of Ali wanted to provide her family with something nourishing and sweet that could be made with the ingredients on hand.
As with most baladi or local dishes, there are a variety of ways to make it. Here is a basic recipe with ingredients that can be found in your local grocery store.
* 6 sheets of fillo (or puff pastry, pancakes, or bread)
* 6-8 tablespoons of butter, melted
* 2/3 cup black or golden raisins
* 1 cup mixed whole or slivered blanched almonds, chopped hazelnuts and chopped pistachios
* 5 cups whole milk
* 1 cups heavy cream
* - 2/3 cup sugar
* 1-2 teaspoons cinnamon (optional)
Keep the sheets of fillo in a pile, covered with a damp towel to keep them from drying out. Brush each one with melted butter and place them on top of each other on a buttered baking sheet.
But the buttered fillo sheets in a preheated 3500F oven for about 10 minutes, until they are crisp and the top ones are slightly colored.
When cool enough to handle, crush the pastry with your hands into pieces into a baking dish, sprinkling the nuts and raisins between the layers.
Bring the milk and cream to a boil in a pan with the sugar and pour over the pastry. Sprinkle, if you like, with the cinnamon and return to the oven. Raise the heat to 4250F and bake for about 20-30 minutes, until slightly golden.
Serve hot. Serves 8.