Savoring the Seasons: Custard pudding transformed with cereal

  • Custard pudding is enhanced with the addition of Grapenuts cereal. Try creating your own by using the recipe in today’s column. Metro Graphics

For The Recorder
Published: 5/9/2017 9:19:10 AM

Thank you again, Maryanne Laukaitis, for starting the conversation about the Athens Restaurant and the great people there. Thanks to you, I received this wonderful message from my friend, Sharon Pleasant.

Pleasant said, “I’m anticipating you receiving mail in regards to this morning’s article on Jimmy Tatakis and his wife, Annie. Maria (not Marie) was ‘Aunt,’ or may have been a cousin to either Jimmy or Annie. Yes, they owned the Athens Restaurant in Turners for so many years, now Roberto’s right on the Turners/Montague Center line. Their daughter, Sharon (Tatakis) Lamonakis followed in her parents’ footsteps and is one of the most fabulous cooks I know. She is a chef, was a caterer, ran Scotty’s store with her husband Steve, is a flower designer, and a jewelry designer ... Sharon is multi-talented! Her recipe for baklava is one of the best ever.

“I am also the proud owner of Jimmy’s recipe for Grapenut custard pudding (passed to me from his daughter Sharon). It is a family favorite and one he used to come home from the restaurant with and feed to his grandchildren Sonya and John.

“Oh, what a wonderful local family this is. Annie’s Greek Gold, as I believe its called, is a fabulous salad dressing and marinade, used as the only dressing in their restaurant at the time. Daughter Sharon still lives in Turners Falls and the salad dressing can be found at Green Fields Market. I absolutely love this family of huge loving hearts.”

Wow! Clearly, this is a family who has been well loved in our community. I asked Pleasant for the Grapenut custard pudding recipe and she said this about it:

“To me, this dish gives the warmth of loving memories! Sharon Lamonakis shared her father’s recipe with me after I begged her for it! I remember with fondness Jimmy coming to see his grandchildren as babies (while I was babysitting), feeding them spoonfuls of his delicious Grapenut custard pudding. And now, sharing this recipe with my own grown children and grandchildren, we all love it. Simple to make, delicious to eat, and plenty to enjoy.”

Because I want to try it with maple syrup in place of the sugar, I asked Jeanne Boyden from Boyden Brothers Maple for her advice on converting the recipe to use maple syrup. She gave me information from the Massachusetts Maple Association that the Boydens hand out at the sugarhouse. The information sheet says to use ¾ C. syrup for 1 C. sugar and to reduce other liquid in the recipe by ¼ C. For granulated maple sugar, use ⅔ C. for every cup of sugar. It also says that if using maple syrup for baking, to reduce oven temperature by 25 degrees. And, it says to add ¼ tsp. of baking soda because maple syrup has somewhat higher acidity than sugar. I think that would only be for baking things like cookies or cakes, not for custard.

What stories do you have about the Athens Restaurant, Roberto’s and the Tatakis/Lamonakis families? What recipes have you converted from sugar to maple-syrup-sweetened?

This Week We’re Eating ...

Grapenut custard pudding: By Jimmy Tatakis (passed to Sharon Pleasant by Jimmy’s daughter, Sharon Lamonakis)

Note: This makes a full 13-by-9 inch baking pan.


2 quarts (8 C.) milk

1 C. sugar

8 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1 C. Grapenuts cereal

pinch of salt


Mix sugar, milk, vanilla, and salt. Let set. Beat eggs and pour slowly into the milk. Add Grapenuts (reserving ¼ C.). Pour mixture into buttered baking pan and sprinkle reserved ¼ C. Grapenuts on top. Bake 50 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool and then enjoy!

Local food advocate and community organizer
Mary McClintock lives in Conway and works as a freelance writer, editor, and book indexer. Send column suggestions and recipes to:


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