October 25, 2020

Dishin’ with Dody: Old Friendships and New Recipes

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Recently, I told you how I met and why I married my husband.  There is another very important piece to that puzzle…Mike’s friends Bette and Doug.  They have been long-time acquaintances with close to thirty five years of friendship.  When a career has you frequently moving, oftentimes you are separated from your family.  That is when dear friendships become kindred.  They met at a Super Bowl party and have been inseparable since.  They loved each other’s children and still share a tremendous support.

When Mike took me to meet Bette and Doug, I knew it was a monumental moment in our relationship.  I was immediately embraced by two of the dearest people I have ever met.  They are affectionate, gracious, sociable and warmly welcoming.  I knew that if these people could know and love Mike for as many years as they had, he must be an alright guy.

We recently spent a few days with “our” friends.  I love to cook everywhere I go…traveling with ingredients and cookware.  I had asked Bette if there was anything in particular she wanted me to cook.  She quickly answered that she craved a tomato pie I had made in the past.  I did make that and will give you the recipe soon, however, while there we decided to make baklava.  I had never cooked this rich, sweet Greek pastry made with layers of phyllo dough, honey, walnuts and pistachios, so I did quite a bit of research and created a recipe.

I always turned baklava down as a dessert thinking it much too sweet.  It is sweet, but it is amazing!  As we near the holidays, the time for making special dishes, this would be a great one to add to your repertoire.  It would be exceptional for gifts, parties or Sunday afternoons.

Baklava Ingredients

  • ½ lb. pistachios
  • ½ lb. walnuts     (a few extra of both for garnish)
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs (unseasoned)
  • 4 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 16 sheets phyllo dough (thawed and cut in half)

Syrup

  • 3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 2 Tbls. fresh lemon juice

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the pistachios, walnuts, breadcrumbs, sugar and cinnamon into food processor bowl and pulse until finely chopped.  Set aside.  Brush a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with butter.  Place one of the sheets of phyllo in the baking dish and lightly brush with melted butter.  Repeat with nine more layers for a total of ten.  (Note: it is important to keep the remaining phyllo covered with a damp cloth.)

Sprinkle a fourth of the nut mixture over the dough.  Layer four more pieces of phyllo, brushing each with butter.  Sprinkle another fourth of the nut mixture.  Add four more phyllo pieces, brushing with butter.  Then add another fourth of the nut mixture.  Finish with another four phyllo pieces brushed with butter.  Add the remaining nuts.

Layer the remaining ten pieces of phyllo on top, brushing each with butter, including the last.  Cut strips into the baklava about 1 ½ inches wide.  Make diagonal slices about 1 ½ inches apart to create diamond pattern.  Bake until golden brown, about one hour.  Remove from oven and set aside on wire rack.

Meanwhile, make the syrup.  Bring water, sugar and honey to boil over medium heat and cook about 15 minutes.  Add the lemon juice and boil 2 minute.  Cool slightly.  Pour the honey syrup over the warm baklava.  Let stand, uncovered, at least 6 hours.  Garnish with reserved nuts.

 

 

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