Wednesday, April 2, 2014
B is for Bluebird and Baklava.
When we lived in North Carolina, we used to get Eastern Bluebirds visiting and nesting in our back yard. When we moved back to Canada, we ended up living in the Bluebird Apartments. Coincidence? There are actually Eastern, Western and Mountain Bluebirds. It is a great bird to attract to your garden because it devours insects and soon rids you of any such pests. They can be a tad aggressive though, we had a Prothonotary Warbler that had nested in our yard for a couple of years and a Bluebird decided he wanted the nesting box so the two birds had a punch up. The Bluebird won and sadly we didn’t see the Prothonotary again, not even in later years. Bluebirds are, apparently a species of thrush and obviously live in a widely spread area of the United States. We were thrilled when they first started nesting in our yard because they are supposed to prefer more open spaces, but less happy after the punch up.
There are probably as many recipes for Baklava as there are Greek homes. The Turks also make Baklava. It is a dessert I have loved since I first visited Greece in the late ‘60s. I can even tell you how to make it in Greek, one of my early Greek lessons. I have forgotten a lot of the Greek I learnt, but not that, funnily enough.
"Baklava uses phyllo dough stacked with honey and nuts to make a sweet Mediterranean dessert that everyone will love."
1 (16 ounce) package phyllo dough
1 pound chopped nuts
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup honey
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F(175 degrees C). Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9x13 inch pan.
Chop nuts and toss with cinnamon. Set aside. Unroll phyllo dough. Cut whole stack in half to fit pan. Cover phyllo with a dampened cloth to keep from drying out as you work. Place two sheets of dough in pan, butter thoroughly. Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered. Sprinkle 2 - 3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top. Top with two sheets of dough, butter, nuts, layering as you go. The top layer should be about 6 - 8 sheets deep.
Using a sharp knife cut into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. You may cut into 4 long rows the make diagonal cuts. Bake for about 50 minutes until baklava is golden and crisp.
Make sauce while baklava is baking. Boil sugar and water until sugar is melted. Add vanilla and honey. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
Remove baklava from oven and immediately spoon sauce over it. Let cool. Serve in cupcake papers. This freezes well. Leave it uncovered as it gets soggy if it is wrapped up
Have a great day