Is everyone still recovering from the 3-day weekend? I know I am. I think I had too much raki. Oy! Yesterday, my friend Elif invited me and my friend Cate over for a full day of Mediterranean cooking. We made dolma (which she showed me how to make last year and are probably still the best dolma I've ever had), tarama, sigara borek and baklava. It was a lot of cooking but it was also a lot of fun. While cooking throughout the day, we of course took several breaks to fuel up on strong Turkish coffee in cute tiny cups (Elif even read our fortunes for us) and knock back a whole bottle of Turkish raki. We were feeling pretty jolly by the time we were done chopping, stirring, rolling and baking...and hungry! Dinnertime felt like a celebration with numerous candles, wonderful wine, Turkish music and various plates of delicious edibles. The baklava recipe we made is posted below and I'll post the sigara borek recipe this week. I'll admit I've always been kind of take-it-or-leave-it when it comes to baklava. There's just too much honey drenching it, but Turkish baklava doesn't use honey and it includes a wee bit of citrus, I really enjoyed it. Give it a go- invite some friends over and have a group cooking event, there's nothing better than laughing and feasting with friends!
2 packages of yufka (Turkish pastry sheets) (you will need 10 full sheet "rounds")*
1/2 lb. unsalted, shelled walnuts- lightly toasted
1/4 lb. unsalted, shelled pistachios-lightly toasted
2 cups granulated sugar
1 large lemon
1 tablespoon rosewater
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
2-3 sticks of unsalted butter, melted
* You can find yufka at most Mediterranean markets.
1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. Place walnuts and pistachios in food processor and pulse. You want them finely chopped, but not ground.
3. In a saucepan on med-high, mix: 2 cups of sugar, 2.5 cups of water, the juice of 1 large lemon, 1 T of rosewater and 1 T of orange blossom water. Stir frequently.
4. Place a sheet of yufka on your aluminum pan, use your fingers and sprinkle it heavily with melted butter. You want to make sure this sheet covers the entire bottom of the pan.
5. For the next 4 sheets, you can "rumple" them up a bit. Sprinkle these heavily with melted butter as well. You want the sheets to be very buttery.
6. Place the chopped nuts on top of the 5 buttered sheets.
7. Layer the next 4 sheets in the rumpled fashion like before. On the fifth and last sheet, make sure it covers the entire pan (like above).
8. Trim off any edges of dough that hang over the edge of the pan.
9. Place the baklava in the oven and bake for 15-20 or until golden brown.
10. Back to your saucepan- when the syrup takes on a slight yellow tinge and the consistency of simple syrup, it's done. (It'll thicken a bit and won't run off the spoon.) Remove from heat.
11. Pour the warm syrup over the baklava. Then cut the hot bakalava into even pieces. The syrup will soak into the pastry. Set it aside and let it cool, uncovered.
Tip: The longer it has time to soak, the better it'll be.