Friday, April 06, 2007

Foodie Duty- 20 Steps To "Opa!"

So, I told you all about my family and our unconventional plans for Easter.

I decided to tackle baklava for dessert.

It's one of my favorite pastries ever, but it can also be a handful, what with all that brushing of the phyllo dough. I was determined to find a recipe that would help my first attempt be a success.

The internet has a bunch of baklava recipes. Gretchen's website appears to offer the easiest recipe and lots of tips for beginners. Just what we need when we're tackling such a delicate delicacy.

Here's a rundown of Gretchen's recipe and instructions...

1 lb Walnuts - Finely Chopped
1/2 C. Sugar
2 tsp Cinnamon
1.5 C. Butter (3 sticks), Melted
1 Package Frozen Phyllo Dough (16 oz) Thawed
1 C. Sugar
1 C. Water
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 C. Honey (Net weight 12 oz.)
1/2 tsp Vanilla

1) Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
2 )Combine and set aside walnuts, 1/2 cup sugar, and cinnamon
3) Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the bottom and sides of a 10x14" (about 1-2" deep) pan with melted butter.
4) Open the phyllo dough and layer 6 whole leafs (or 12 half leafs) in the pan, buttering each layer as you go. (The edges will extend over the side.)
5) Spread 1 cup of the walnut mixture.
6) If your phyllo dough comes in full sheets, cut the remaining phyllo dough in half.
7) Layer 8 half sheets -- butter each layer. Each sheet will be an inch or so short, so stagger the sheets from corner to corner to cover the whole pan. I use a pattern so I don't forget how many layers I've put down, but it's even easier if you have a friend help!
8) Spread 1 cup of the walnut mixture.
9) Repeat 8 sheets and walnut mixture twice. You will end up with 4 layers of nuts.
10) Layer the remaining half sheets on top -- butter each layer.
11) Brush the top with the remaining butter.
12) Trim the edges off.
13) Cut into pieces before baking.
14) Bake 1 hour or until golden brown.
15) 15 minutes before the baklava should be done, mix 1 cup sugar, water, and lemon juice in a sauce pan.
16) Cook sauce over a medium heat, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes.
17) Remove from heat, add the honey and vanilla, and stir until well blended.
18) Remove the baklava from the oven and finish cutting through the layers.
19) Pour the sauce over the hot baklava.
20) Cool. Let it sit for at least 24 hours (lightly covered -- but not in the refrigerator) -- longer if you can stand it!

I'll let you know how things pan out...

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