When I read the prompt for round 2 of Project Food Blog I knew exactly which culture I wanted to draw from…
It had to be Turkey! I traveled to Turkey last summer and fell in love with the country. From Istanbul to Ephesus, I loved everything about Turkey. I saw ancient ruins, beautiful mosques, and went wild in the Spice Market.
More than anything, I loved the food! Lets be real, any culture where it is encouraged to eat cheese for breakfast is fantastic. I ate tons of eggplant, hummus, thick yogurt, cucumbers, lamb, beef, cheese, nuts, olives, and of course baklava!
What I love about baklava is that there are so many ways to customize it to your tastes. I decided to make pistachio, walnuts, and walnuts with dates because the only thing I miss more than baklava are Turkish delights. The ingredients for this recipe are almost all local. The only ingredients that aren’t local are the sugar, nutmeg, and the phyllo dough. Yesterday morning I went to the Santa Monica Organic Farmer’s Market to pick up my ingredients and then I set off to making baklava!
To save money I bought whole walnuts and then chopped them myself.
After consulting with the honey man at the farmers market I decided to use orange blossom honey in my baklava.
and all together:
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange blossom honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice (from the lemon)
1/2 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of grated nutmeg
3 cups of chopped nuts (I used 2 cups walnuts, 1 cup pistachio)
1/4 cup sugar (divided between the nuts)
1 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon (again, divided between the nuts)
8 oz. phyllo dough
3/4 cup melted butter
1 small hand full of dates, chopped, make sure there are no pits
For the sauce
Combine the water and the sugar and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 mins. After 15 mins take off the heat and combine honey, nutmeg, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Return to medium heat and cook for 5 mins, stirring throughout. Take off the heat and cool completely to room temperature. Set aside.
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the chopped nuts with the sugar and the cinnamon. Stir and set aside.
Melt the butter. Unroll the phyllo dough. Be careful! Keep the dough covered with damp towels at all times or it will dry out! I used a casserole dish that is the same size as the phyllo dough. If yours isn’t the same size you will want to cut it down. Lay a layer of phyllo dough in the dish and brush the melted butter on the sheet. I used by fingers, it was like finger painting with butter! Repeat this 4 times alternating butter and phyllo. Then, layer half of the nuts and dates as you wish! Continue layering the phyllo with the melted butter for two more layers. After adding two more layers of butter and phyllo add the second half of the dates and nuts. Top with four more layers of butter and phyllo dough. Make sure that you generously apply butter to the top layer of the phyllo dough.
Cut into slices with a serrated knife. You must do this before cooking because you will be unable to cut it afterwords. Bake for 30 mins.
Once the baklava is done baking take it out of the oven and pour the cooled syrup over the baklava. Let the baklava cool completely.