What Greek food section would be complete without Baklava? One last Greek recipe and I will move on, I promise. Although I may return to the Greeks occasionally.
4 cups ground walnuts, about 1 1/2 lbs
1 cup sugar, raw or white
1/2 lb fillo (phyllo) sheets, thawed
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup walnut (or almond) oil
In a food processor bowl, combine walnuts and raw sugar. Butter bottom and sides of a 9"x13" baking pan. Melt butter and mix with walnut oil. Turn oven on at 400 degrees. Place one or two sheets of fillo in bottom of pan. Brush with butter mixture. Top with another sheet or two and brush with butter. Repeat for a total of 4 or 5 times, using 1/4 of the sheets. Spread 1/3 of walnuts evenly over surface. Layer more fillo sheets as before with butter in between, 4 or 5 times. Spread with half of the remaining of the walnuts. Layer fillo a third time. Top with remaining walnuts. Finally, top with the remaining fillo sheets and butter. Carefully cut the baklava into 1 1/2 inch diamonds. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, until very golden brown. While baking, make the syrup by combining the following in a large sauce pan:
1 1/2 cup honey (1 cup)
1 cup water (2/3 cup)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (2 tablespoons)
4 2"x1" pieces lemon peel (3 pieces)
10 whole cloves
2 small cinnamon sticks
Bring to a boil and continue boiling until syrup reaches 220 degrees (the jelly stage). Remove from heat and strain syrup into another container. Discard peel and spices. Pour hot syrup evenly over baklava. Cool and then re-cut diamonds to serve.
Hints: Don't worry about the sheets of fillo falling apart a bit. In this dish it won't matter in the final product. The sheets of fillo I get are just the right size for the 9x13 pan. Fillo is usually in the frozen food section of the grocery store. I grind the walnuts in a food processor but I think you could chop them finely and get a good result. You can use almonds and/or pistachios instead of the walnuts or all three in combo. I like my baklava to be very gooey, almost dripping with syrup. However I have included the measurements for less syrup in parenthesis in case you prefer it less sloppy. Use a candy thermometer when making the syrup so that it becomes the right consistency. I prefer the baklava to be at room temperature when serving but warm is ok and chilled is as well.
I can only make baklava when I am sure of sharing it, otherwise I end up eating too much! Don't you feel sorry for people who dislike nuts? Poor souls will never enjoy baklava!