Middle East—Baklava

 

Mid-East Dessertmid-east_baklava

Honey Nut Pastry
Baklava
(Makes ~48 pieces)

Personally? I would go out and buy this. Why anyone would want to make it is, well, beyond me. But for those adventurous souls, with good arches and sturdy legs, this is a great recipe.


Syrup
4 C sugar
2 C water
2 T lemon juice
2 tsp. rosewater (see sidebar)
_______________

Filling
4 C walnuts or pistachios (~1 1/4 lb., finely chopped)
1 T ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg (freshly grated)
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
dash ground cloves
1/2 C sugar

40 sheets filo pastry, 2 boxes (thaw according to
    package)
1 1/2 C butter (melted)

Syrup & Filling: first, prepare syrup by combining sugar, water and lemon juice in a saucepan. Stir to dissolve sugar, bring to a boil, and add rosewater. Do not stir once syrup reaches a boil (it may cloud); simply remove from heat and cool. In a separate bowl, combine nuts and spices with sugar and set aside.

Pastry*: preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan. Stack filo sheets on a flat surface and trim to fit baking pan. Layer 12 sheets in greased pan, brushing the top of each sheet with melted butter before adding the next.

Assembly: sprinkle 1/3 of nut mixture evenly on top of the 12 sheets of filo; then add 8 more filo sheets, brushing each with butter before you add the next.

Spread another 1/3 of nut mixture; then top with 8 more filo sheets, buttering each as you go.

Top those sheets with remaining of nut mixture and add the final 12 sheets, buttering each individually. Brush the top sheet with the remaining butter. (You will have four separate filo layers: 12-8-8-12.)

Baking: Before baking, cut pastry into 2” diamond shaped pieces, being sure to cut all the way through. Bake 30 minutes at 350—then reduce heat to 200 and bake another 30 minutes. Remove from oven and pour syrup over warm pastry. It should rest for several hours before serving.

*While working with one sheet of filo, cover others with a slightly damp towel, or plastic, to prevent them from drying out.

| See more Mid-Eastern recipes |

Tips & Glossary

Many of the ingredients used for Middle-Eastern cooking may not be in your spice shelf, but you can find them at Mid-Eastern food stores. So to avoid frustration, make a list of the items you need before trying out the recipes.

Toss any old, even unopened, spice jars because they’ve probably lost their distinctive flavors. Put them on your shopping list.

Bulgur Wheat: wheat grains that have been par-boiled, dried, and de-branned. Bulgur has a high fiber content and wonderfully nutty flavor.

Cardamom: related to ginger. Pods (green, brown, or black) are the best way to store the spice, although high-quality ground is readily available. A equivalency: 10 pods = 1½ tsp. ground cardamom.

Coriander: aka cilantro, Chinese, or Mexican parsley. Fresh leaves and dried ground seeds are used in Mid-East, Asian, Indian, and Mexican cuisines.

Cumin: related to parsley and carrot plant; an important ingredient in chili powder. Used especially in curries, but also in Mid-Eastern, Mexican and Asian dishes. Cumom has an earthy, peppery flavor.

Deep Frying: oil must be hot enough; otherwise food will be soggy and greasy. Use a deep-fry thermometer to ensure proper temperature is reached. When cool, oil can be strained, refrigerated, and re-used.

Filo: aka phyllo; paper-thin sheets of raw, unleavened flour dough. Purchase frozen in any grocery store and follow directions on package for thawing. When working with one sheet, keep others covered with a damp towel to prevent drying out.

Rosewater: distilled from rose petals and used to flavor Mid-Eastern and Asian cooking. You can make your own—but why? Purchase it at Asian or Middle Eastern food stores.

Semolina flour: made from hardy durum wheat. A yellowish flour, it's used in Asian and Mid-East cooking (couscous). In the U.S., it's Farina, a breakfast cereal.

Tahini: paste from ground, hulled sesame seeds. A major ingredient in hummus and other Mid-Eastern and Asian foods, you can purchase at most grocery stores.

 

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