Papa, Matt and myself went and spent New Year’s Eve with my friend Chuck and his girlfriend Diane. They are both known to be fantastic cooks and that is why I am always more than pleased to accept a dinner invitation to their place.
Chuck is Greek and has been commanded by his grandmother to feed everybody, a goal which he takes seriously and therefore always puts on a fantastic spread.
Diane is very much into ethnic foods, collecting chopsticks, saki sets and all manner of beautiful serving dishes. She likes to do tapas, creative appetizers and Greek dishes. A woman after my own heart, she is very good at coming up with a tasty dish at short notice with whatever is around the kitchen. (And she once saved my bum with a quick last-minute apple birthday cake for my roommate.)
Last night one of the multiple appetizers that she had laid out was some cute, diamond shaped pieces of homemade baklava. Oddly enough, whenever I have had baklava from a Greek restaurant or at parties I have not been very impressed with it. In fact, I thought that I didn’t like baklava.
To be polite I ate a piece of Diane’s baklava last night and was amazed! I loved it! I wanted to eat all of it and Diane was nice enough to send me home with the last two pieces and the recipe. :)
Papa and Chuck had a brief conversation about the ethnic origins of baklava. Of course it is Greek, but Papa remembers fondly how it was one of the popular foods sold at the beach in Crimea, when he lived in Ukraine.
So, whether you are going to the beach or having a New Years Eve party, here is Diane’s Scrumptious Baklava recipe…
- Diane’s Scrumptious Baklava
1-2 packages prepared Phyllo dough
2 sticks of butter
2 cups of walnuts
2 cups of almonds
1 cup sugar
2 tbs cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1 lemon (cut into quarters)
1 cup orange blossom honey
1/2 cup of water
1. Grind or chop the nuts finely and mix them with the cinnamon and 1 cup of the sugar.
2. In a cake pan or casserole dish, butter the bottom and layer 6 layers of phyllo dough for the base.
3. Brush lightly with butter and press in approximately 1/8 to 1/4 inch of the nut mixture.
4. Top with 4 layers of phyllo, butter lightly and then add another 1/8 or 1/4 inch layer of nuts.
5. Add 4 layers of phyllo, butter lightly and then another nut layer.
6. Repeat the process until you have 4-5 layers, ending with a thicker nut layer and a phyllo layer on top.
7. Cut half way through the layers in a diamond pattern (this makes it easier to cut to shape after baking.)
8. Bake for 1 hour at 325 or 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
9. To make the syrup for glazing, mix syrup ingredients and boil for 15 minutes.
10. Remove baklava from oven, glaze with syrup, cover the pan and let sit on the counter for 2-5 days.
11. Finish cutting through the layers to form diamond-shaped pieces before serving.
***NEVER REFRIGERATE BAKLAVA, IT RUINS THE FLAKY LAYERS AND BECOMES RUBBERY***