Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I know a lot of people are extremely proud of their heritages, and I am happy for them.  (i.e. Jersey Shore cast: extremely proud to be Italian fist pump) However, I have no idea who I am! In elementary school when doing a class project we were told to ask our parents that night where our ancestors were from originally.  I went home all excited and asked, “Mama, where are our people from?” (or I’m sure I said something along those lines)
“Go ask your daddy” says the mother.
Excited young Kirby runs down the hall, “Daddy, where are we from?”
Father responds, “America.”
                (This story may or may not have happened)
Well, there you have it folks. I’m American, and darn proud of it, too! But, for this example, we’ll pretend that I have a little Mediterranean flair in my blood somewhere.   Pondering on what I wanted to try to make this week, I knew I wanted to make something that I had never tried before, something that would pertain to the holidays, and something that might be a little tricky.  How about baklava?? I like to test myself…Can’t wait for my future breakdown… I have personally always been afraid of phyllo dough.  All the scary warnings on Food Network about it breaking or drying out- YIKES! I’ll stay away from that- no, thanks, uh-uh!

 Well somehow I talked myself into it, so let’s run with it.  It’s just food; if turns out a disaster I just won’t put that card in the recipe box! 

 Being a history major in college, I enjoyed reading about the origins of baklava.  There are different variations that come from different parts of the Eastern world.  It was considered a rich man’s food, and something one would only have on a special occasion. 
I have never even seen this stuff in person.  It sounds so yummy! (Not to mention that I have a lot of the ingredients on hand- score!) Why haven’t I ever had this? Let’s all pass around a little baklava this holiday season!  In honor of our main guest, the Everyday girls decided to host a little toga party!!

 I used Gretchen’s recipe here
  • 1 lb Walnuts - Finely Chopped
  • 1/2 C. Sugar
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1.5 C. Butter (3 sticks), Melted
  • 1 Package Frozen Phyllo/ Fillo 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
<Being a girl from the south of course I have pecans on hand, so that is what I used.  Time for a personal lesson.  I am from the south, but I have never called it a pee-can.  My dad who is from South Georgia (he should know) says a pee-can is what goes under the bed at night.  So, I pronounce it pa-con.  Call it what you will, but I try to refrain from calling a food item something that one may go potty in. >


Gretchen says to make this at least 24 hours in advance, so I made mine the night before.  Also, be sure to set your phyllo dough in the frig to thaw at least 6 hours.  (FYI: you find phyllo dough in the frozen pie aisle- yeah, I didn’t know that either)

To start, I got together my ingredients, but I didn’t preheat my oven.  I knew it would take me longer than Gretchen to prepare this dish.  I would suggest chopping your nuts in a food processor to make them very fine, but I don’t have one so I banged them out a little with a rolling pin (this adds to your prep time).  Then, I mixed them with ½ c. of sugar and 2 tsp of cinnamon and set aside.
Next step: I melted 3 sticks of margarine (I don’t use butter) on the stove top.
Now, open up your phyllo dough.  My one box came with two rolls; use only one.  There are more than plenty layers, so if one or two break, no biggie. 

  • Take a 9X13 baking dish and brush with melted butter and add your first layer. 
  • Brush that layer with butter and add another layer.
  • Repeat the last step until there are 6 layers. 
  • Add about a cup of your nut mixture. 
  • Then, layer 8 sheets buttering in between each one. 
  • Put a cup of your nut mixture. 
  • Then, 8 more sheets buttering in between…
  • add a cup of nut mixture. 
(Notice, I only did 2 layers of the nut mixture because I did not use a big enough pan) 
  • Finally finish with as many layers as it takes to get to the top of your pan always buttering in between.  
  • Pour the remainder of your butter on top. 

Gretchen has a fancy way of showing you how to cut your bak, but just partially cut through your phyllo dough in angled rows because it’ll be hard to cut once it’s cooked.

Cook in preheated oven (preheat when you start to see the light at the end of the tunnel- probably after you put your first layer of nut mixture) for 1 hour at 300 degrees.

About 15 minutes before your bak is ready, mix 1 c. sugar, 1 c. water, and 1 Tbsp lemon juice in a pan on the stove at medium heat.   Cook while stirring for about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and add 1 c. honey and ½ tsp vanilla. Stir until well blended. 

Remove the bak from the oven and finish cutting through the angled rows.  Pour your syrup mixture over top and set aside.  Do not put in frig but do slightly cover. 

 We served this for dessert at our Toga Party along with pizza and hummus.  The baklava was delicious and all enjoyed!

Now, want me to be honest?  It’s not my favorite.  It tasted like a pa-con pie to me, so why not just make a 'pa-con' pie?? I guess that's why you might want to use walnuts.  My mom absolutely loved it though.  So, will I make this again? I’m not sure- it took me a good two hours, but it was easy. You try it for yourself, you might love it.  I may make it for my mom again one day, but probably not soon.  However, I was very proud of myself for overcoming phyllo dough!  It definitely wasn't as scary as I thought!


*Please note: I use the word butter, but I always mean margarine unless noted.

1 comment:

  1. This was really good--and it did remind me of pecan pie! This lazy girl wants to try the nut mixture in a regular pie shell, which will take a lot less time. Stand by for results... :)