Friday, August 10, 2012

Baklava - Dreaming of Greece

Baklava recipe, Greece, Corfu

Vacation... we wait so long for it to get here.  We plan, we shop, we pack.  Then in just the blink of an eye we find ourselves back at the computer with memory cards full of photos and our minds full of memories.

Only days back from our Adriatic adventure, my entire family has found our thoughts often drifting back to our vacation as we randomly drop comments about a memorable day or event, a funny conversation with a new friend, or a fabulous new found food.  Liv's thoughts have returned time and again to a sticky piece of sweet Baklava served to us by our new Greek friend, Iakis, on his boat the Nautilus.

Corfu, Greece, Nautilus Daily Cruises

Our day in Greece remains incredibly memorable as we discovered a new land filled with a happy hospitality and a verve for life that is remarkably contagious.  Arriving in port, we spent much of our day on the Nautilus cruising the Corfu coastline and swimming in the crystal turquoise waters of the Ionian Sea.  Iakis, the boat's Captain, smiled from his heart as he welcomed us onboard, and his generosity never dimmed throughout the day.

Shopping, Corfu, Greece, Kumquat Liquor
Touring Corfu after our day on the boat, warm smiles followed us from shop to shop as we purchased trinkets for home.  The clerk in the first souvenir shop eagerly provided sample after sample of olive oils, kumquat liquors and citrusy lotions, all the while sharing bits and pieces of his life on the island of Corfu.  Leaving the shop he didn't just shake hands, but gave quick hugs with "nice to meet you" sentiments that go far beyond someone simply wishing to sell their wares.

The next stop had us visiting an olive wood shop lined with walls filled with every sort of wood item you can think of.  Vases, jewelery boxes, figurines, salt and pepper mills, etc. etc. etc.

While the shop itself was fun to browse, it was the shop owner/clerk who made my visit particularly special.  Approaching us with a welcoming smile she proceeded to help me choose various items, but never pressured me to buy a thing.  Laughter was commonplace and we enjoyed learning about her life on Corfu.

After I had made my choices I asked if she would mind if I took a photo.  I had meant of her wares, but she immediately struck a pose and said "Sure!!  Just like Cindy Crawford!"  Turns out to be a fabulous photo, and yes... eat your heart out Ms Crawford.

Olive wood shop, corfu, greece
The Olive Wood Mini Shop and Workshop - Corfu, Greece
Taking a quick tour of the workshop behind the store, Ms. Sagidadinos gave me a brief history of her husband and his apprenticeship  beginning at the age of 10 years-old.  Definitely a stop (and a shop) I will remember forever.  Keep an eye out for The Olive Wood Shop on Filellinon Str. if you are ever in Corfu Town, and give Mrs. Sagidadinos my best.  Again, parting with hugs and cheek kisses, we were on our way.

Linens, Corfu, Greece
The last stop found us in a quiet little patisserie on the hunt for Liv's new found love - Baklava.  Greeted by teen clerks with more welcoming smiles, we soon had a to-go package of sweet treats for my girl and our day in Corfu Town came to a close.

Now home, our memories of Corfu Town, Greek hospitality and Baklava remain forefront in our minds.  I came away with a wonderful impression of the Greek community, however I shouldn't have been surprised as one of Liv's best dance friends hails from Greece.  A warm and generous family, like our new friends in Greece, their smiles rarely dim.

Baklava, Greece

Baklava 
Sweet with a delightful texture, Baklava can become somewhat addicting.  Luckily the recipe is fairly easy, though it does take a bit of time to put together.  Versatile, you can alter the layers of phyllo/nuts giving more or less nut layers as desired.
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Recipe and photo copyright Liv Life 2012

1 pkg Phyllo Dough, thawed in fridge overnight

Chopped nut mixture:
4 cups chopped Walnuts and Pistachios (we did about 2 1/2 cups walnuts to 1 1/2 cups pistachios - alter as desired or create your favorite nut combo)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
2 Tbs sugar
1 1/2 - 2 sticks melted butter

Baklava, Corfu, Greece
Featured on Food Porn Daily 8/30/12
Syrup mixture:
1 1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2 Tbs lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350ºF and butter a 12 x 9-inch or a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

Place the chopped nuts into a bowl and mix with the cinnamon, cardamom and sugar.  Set aside.

Open the phyllo dough and lay flat on the counter.  Remove one sheet and place in the bottom of the baking pan and lightly brush with some of the melted butter.  Place one to two more sheets of the dough on top of the first one and brush with the melted butter.  Repeat 6 times.  Sprinkle with enough of the chopped nut mixture to make a thin layer, then top with another sheet of the dough.  Brush again with butter and top with another 2 sheets of the dough, repeat four times and sprinkle again with a layer of the chopped nuts.  Top again with a few layers of the phyllo dough, brushing in between like you have been doing and add one more layer of chopped nuts.  Top once again with a few layers of the phyllo dough (we did about 4, two sheet layers with butter in between) and finish with a brush of butter on the top layer.

Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the pan into equal squares (size is up to you!).

baklava
Place the pan into the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes.  Turn the pan and reduce the heat to 325ºF and bake until the Baklava is a nice golden brown, 10-15 minutes longer.  Watch closely as the dough will tend to brown "all of a sudden".

While the Baklava is cooking, prepare the syrup.  Place the syrup ingredients into a saucepan over low heat, stir occasionally until the sugar dissolves.  Increase the heat to medium and cook until the mixture becomes somewhat syrupy, about 10 minutes.  Reduce heat if the mixture begins to foam up.  Once you have a nice syrup, remove the cinnamon stick and set aside to cool while the Baklava finishes baking.

Upon removing baked Baklava from oven, drizzle about half of the slightly cooled syrup over the hot Baklava.  Allow to sit for a minute or two, then drizzle more of the syrup evenly over the Baklava and into the cuts and to the edges until the Baklava is evenly moistened.  You may not need all of the syrup, however you may save the reserved syrup, reheated gently to add more if the Baklava dries out (if you keep it around long enough to dry out!).  Alternatively, you may use all of the syrup.

Set the moistened Baklava aside, uncovered, to completely cool.  With detailed taste testing, we found the Baklava improved after about 24 hours and became a lovely, sticky, sweet, nutty treat.

Store covered and keep at room temperature. 

Opa!!!

Baklava, Corfu, Greece, candied kumquats
Baklava served with candied kumquats

15 comments:

  1. This looks absolutely amazing! Baklava is one of my favorite desserts. Greece is at the top of my list if places to visit, it looks beautiful. :)

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  2. I was in Greece while in high school and I'll never forget it either. It gets in your heart and settles in for a long, long stay.

    Your baklava is gorgeous. It's one of my all time favorite desserts, though the Armenian way of making it is a bit different than this.

    Heck, it doesn't matter what way is used; if it's offered to me, I'll savor every bite.

    Welcome home to you and my favorite dancer.

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  3. Love this travel post Kim & the fab recipe too! Meant to go to Greece this summer but it didn't work out. Happy to experience it through your eyes!

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  4. What a wonderful trip. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Lovely pics and I bet you are already planning a return trip.

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  5. I'm living vicariously through your vacation recaps! :) When Brian and I go out to a restaurant we always share dessert. But if there's baklava on the menu he announces to me that it's all his and I'm on my own!

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  6. Loved reading about your trip and seeing the photos, looks like so much fun. I remember the first time I tried baklava and immediately becoming hooked for life! Thanks for sharing and welcome home;-)

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  7. Thanks for a nice virtual tour! I would love to someday visit Greek cities...And this baklava is as delicious as it looks amazing in the pictures...I would love to try soonest.
    I would like to invite you to Yumgoggle. Your phenomenal photos have caught our attention, we have been on the lookout for unique and interesting bloggers since we launched our food photo submission site which is http://www.yumgoggle.com/gallery/ This will allow you to showcase all your great work and share it with our visitors. We’d be proud to have your work as part of our growing collection to continue to have a larger reach and further inspire all fellow food lovers out there! Sorry for the shameless plug to our site =)

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  8. Soooo glad you had a wonderful trip. I hope to make it there one of these days. And that baklava? Wowzers. I can taste the honey ooooooozing out. Have a great rest of your summer.

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  9. Your vacations are so amazing! JUST WOW!

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  10. You leave my mouth watering! What an experience - it must be so fun to document it. Still remain jealous... ;)

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  11. What a wonderful way to re-live your trip! Looks fabulous!

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  12. I've wanted to visit Greece for as long as I can remember but it hasn't happened yet. Fun to read about your experience and hopefully I'll get to experience for myself one day. Gosh, I can't stop looking at that second image, well, that and the baklava! :)

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  13. Oh how I have missed you and Liv!! I would love, love, LOVE to go to Greece someday. And baklava is one of my all time favorite desserts. I tell you, that beautiful girl of yours has great taste!

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  14. We have been to that same olive wood shop twice, with the most recent being 1 1/2 weeks ago. Love the shop and the owners.

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