Baklava – Simple and Delicious

I have wanted to make Baklava for at least 10 years.  I have been a bit hesitant and decided this year to just do it.  Martin called his grandma to get her recipe.  We discussed and we did her recipe with a few tweaks of our own.

Baklava

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Ingredients

16 ounces Phyllo dough
1 Tablespoon vegetable oi
3 1/2 sticks butter, melted

Filling

4 cups of chopped walnuts (If you have leftover nuts, place the extra on a baking sheet and toast at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes)
1/2 cup sugar
4 Tablespoons melted butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
zest of lemon
zest of orange (you could do both or just one fruit)

Syrup

2 cups of water
1 cup sugar
1/2 lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions

  1.  Layout phyllo dough and cover with damp towel. They dry out fast.  I learned that today!  I cut the dough in half and that was the perfect size for my 9×13 metal baking pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt those sticks of butter.
  2. Mix together the nut filling ingredients.
  3. Here is where Grandma Olga comes into play.  Her way of making baklava is not the usual process you see and read about. Lightly oil the baking pan.  I used sunflower oil. You can use vegetable oil.
  4. When you layer the phyllo you do not butter each piece.  Layers as follows;  6 pieces on bottom, top 1 cup nut mixture, layer 6 pieces, top 1 cup nut mixture, layer 6 pieces, top 1 cup nut mixture, layer 6 pieces phyllo dough. Top layer is not covered with nuts, as you see from the above photo. (When layering be sure to layer one by one not just grabbing six pieces and setting down.)
  5. Cut the baklava into squares/diamonds.  Make sure you are careful when you are doing this.  (You want to be sure you cut all the way through. The melted butter and syrup have to get through the entire pan.)
  6. Pour the 3 1/2 sticks of melted butter into every nook and cranny.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until top is golden brown.
  8. While the baklava is baking, make the syrup.  Put all ingredients in saucepan.  Over medium heat stir occasionally until sugar is dissolved.
  9. When baklava is done baking.  Set aside to cool. (I put in the cold garage as my fridge was full.  If you are lucky enough to have room in your fridge this time of year, after it cools a bit put it in there.)  When cooled pour the warm syrup over the entire pan.
  10. Lightly cover with a towel. Let set for at least 6 hours.  Overnight is best.

This was absolutely delicious. I can’t wait to make again.  Next time, pistachios with almond flavoring.  Hmmm, maybe for New Years Eve!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Triple Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

Rachel and I had our Christmas Cookie Baking Day yesterday.  We baked our usual suspects the Italian Lemon cookies, Almond Paste cookies and our new one this year…Triple Chocolate Hazelnut cookies.  As always, we listened to our Christmas music (Funny, Kent and Eric do not enjoy as much as we do.), chatted about all kinds of stuff and as always Rachel loves to sneak cookie dough.  I used to give her the Caruso eye on that but 8 years of it, I decided this year to just let it go.  😉

Triple Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

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Ingredients
(Compliments, Food Network Magazine – December issue)

1 cup blanched hazelnuts, chopped
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (we used 10 ounce bag of Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips)
6 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips

Directions

  1.  Preheat oven 350 degrees.  Spread hazelnuts on baking sheet and bake on the upper rack until golden, about 8-10 minutes. After they cool – 5 minutes, try to get as much of the skins off as possible. ( Just know it is kind of difficult to get the skins off hazelnuts.  Do the best you can.  No big deal leaving the skins on.)
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl, set aside.
  3. Combine the chopped chocolate (or chips) and butter in a microwave safe bowl and microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring, until melted.  Add the vanilla and whisk until smooth, set aside.  (Rachel loves this job.  She can taste every 30 seconds!)
  4. Beat the eggs in stand up mixer (or large bowl with electric mixer) on medium speed until foamy, about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Medium speed, add sugar and beat until thick and pale yellow, about 5 minutes.
  6. Medium speed, gradually add the melted chocolate mixture and beat until combined, about 1 minute.
  7. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture, beat until combined, about 1 minute.  Fold in chips and hazelnuts.
  8. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Drop heaping tablespoons of batter 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.
  9. Bake until the cookies are slightly puffed and crackly, 12- 15 minutes.  Let cool 5 minutes on baking sheets, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

These are really delicious especially after they cool.  Enjoy!

 

Fruit Topping – Simple and Delicious

We always have fruit in our home.  I can always pick up berries.   Our favorites; strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.  Occasionally we like to add some extra sweetness to our fruit especially on Friday nights.

Fruit Topping

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8 ounces cream cheese, softened
7 ounce container marshmallow crème (Jet Puffed or Fluff)

Mix above together.  Top on your fruit.

That is it! YUM!!

 

 

Breakfast Pizza

The holidays are arriving.  Breakfast pizza is great for a crowd or a hungry few.  You can prepare the dough, meats and shred your cheese the night before.  Wake up and throw it together the next day.  For this pizza I use my cast iron skillet.  You can do any combination you want.  We generally do sausage and Canadian bacon for the meat combo. Bacon is also a nice touch.  We had it on Friday and today to be sure we have it down right! 😉

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Breakfast Pizza

4 pieces of bacon, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
4 pieces of Canadian bacon, cut in quarters.  I did not fry this bacon.
6 ounces ground breakfast sausage
1 small onion or 1-2 green onion, chopped
1 small green or red bell pepper, sliced thin
4 eggs
1-2 Tablespoons milk
1 Tablespoon butter, softened to brush over pizza dough
Mozzarella, Cheddar or Monterey Jack Cheese (1-2 cups depending on size of dough)

1.  Fry bacon until crisp, remove from fry pan with slotted spoon and place on paper towel.
2.  Fry sausage until done, also remove from fry pan and place on paper towel.
3.  Whisk eggs with 2 Tablespoons milk
4.  Brush dough with butter
5.  Top pizza dough with sausage, onion, pepper, bacon, Canadian bacon, pour egg mixture over the meat and add cheese of your choice or a combination of all.

Bake at 475 for 20-25 minutes.  (You may want to prebake the pizza crust (5-10 minutes) prior to adding the toppings.) Simple and delicious!