Thursday, June 23, 2011

Baklava ... and Hello!

SURPRISE!!!!

Greetings, my poppets! How has everyone been? Missed me? :) Yes, I am still alive and very much kickin'. I may have been silent in the virtual world but I have certainly been living life in the real one ... like spending all my time on things and people that matter (including myself).

Whoa ... I just realised it has been over 2 months since I last posted ... the longest break I have ever taken in 2 years of blogging. But you know what? I didn't miss it one bit! I actually found it liberating - empowering, even - not having to think about what to blog about next. At one point, I even contemplated calling it quits because it felt so good to skip the styling/shooting and go straight to the eating! Tee hee!

And, to add to my inertia, my readership did not drop. *jaw drops* Not one bit! Woohoo, I could get used to this! ;) So, a HUGE thanks to all you nice people who continued coming back during my absence. I am extremely touched. *wipes tear*

Whatever the case, I am glad I went on this hiatus ... it showed me that my blog does not define me, and that I am bigger than The Little Teochew. Life is precious, and I want to make the conscious effort to spend less time in virtual reality. That said, I'll still keep this blog going, even though it could well become a once-in-a-while affair? Let's see how things pan out (pun not intended).

Now, on to the recipe ...

Since the beginning of this year, I have been making gradual changes to my diet and lifestyle. I now hit the gym at least 6 times a week, gone 90% vegetarian, and cut out sugar, fat and carbs whenever possible. So it's a crazy irony that I'm blogging about sugary squares of sin today. Yup, I am talking about baklava - "a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey."
(Source: Wikipedia)


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I would never have made this if not for my expiring filo sheets. I knew I had to make something which required using up the entire batch all at once, and baklava instantly came to mind. I showed my family videos of baklava-making on Youtube and they were suitably intrigued. :)

Now, the thing is, baklava is not diet food. It is also not for the faint-hearted. We're talkin' about a dessert SO SWEET, you practically get a cavity just by looking at it. I guess that's the reason why they are typically served in small squares or diamonds ... because that's all one can humanly stomach. Really, really. After eating one teensy serving - my entire body in shock because my last encounter with sugar was 3 months ago - I headed straight to the gym and spent an entire hour on the treadmill as payback. *cross my heart and swear it's true*

Don't say I didn't warn ya!

Recipe
(Adapted from all over the Internet! Seriously, I watched a few videos on Youtube and guesstimated my way around.)

I used a 9" x 6" pan and it was enough for 12 small servings.

For the pastry
- Filo pastry (I used 32 sheets in total)
- 110g butter, melted
- 1 1/2 cups (226g) finely chopped nuts of your choice (I used almonds and pistachios)
- 110g sugar (I would seriously omit this because the syrup alone can kill!)
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg


Almonds and pistachios! ♥♥♥

For the syrup
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup honey*
- Juice from 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 tsp rosewater
* Some people discourage the addition of honey, claiming that it spoils the taste of the syrup. They say it's better to use just sugar and water. Hmmm ... I don't know about that, but I clearly remember the fantastic baklava I ate in Turkey, and it definitely had honey in it. So, I decided to add it into my syrup. Also, I love the honey I have at home ... it's Winter Honey from China, and it has a subtle floral taste and fragrance to it. It's your call, though. If you don't want to use honey, then add 1 cup sugar to 1 cup water.

1. Preheat the oven to 175°C.

2. Mix nuts, nutmeg, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar (if using) in a bowl. Melt butter (I did it in the microwave).

3. Trim your filo sheets to fit the tray. Butter your baking dish/tray. Add a layer of filo and brush on butter. Use 10 sheets for the base, buttering every layer.

4. Add the first layer of nuts. Sprinkle as evenly as possible. Add 3 sheets of filo, brushing on butter after every sheet. Then sprinkle nuts again. Repeat until you have no more nuts left. Finish up the top with 10 layers of buttered filo.

This was what I did for mine:
- 10 sheets filo (bottom)
- Nuts
- 3 sheets filo
- Nuts
- 3 sheets filo
- Nuts
- 3 sheets filo
- Nuts
- 10 sheets filo (top)
.
.
.
and you go on and on, as many layers as you like. Eat at your own peril, though. A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips. Hee hee!

5. Butter the top layer generously with butter and score gently with a sharp knife. Score the top into squares or diamonds, but do not cut all the way to the bottom*.
* Some recipes say cut all the way, but I have come across more that say not to. I am not sure why, but I decided to err on the side of caution and score without cutting all the way through.

6. Bake for about 30mins. I checked at the 20min mark and noticed that it had already browned, so I covered with a sheet of foil and continued baking.

7. In the meantime, prepare the syrup. Just bring all the ingredients onto a gentle simmer for 8mins.


Before and after: (Left) Fresh from the oven; (Centre) Bubbling syrup; (Right) Drenched!

8. Take the baklava out of the oven and using a sharp knife, cut through each piece to the bottom of the pan/tray. Then drizzle the baklava with the simple syrup and hear it sizzzzzzzle! Yeah, baby!

9. Allow the baklava to soak up the syrup and cool completely before serving. Add ground or whole pistachios as garnish. Enjoy your sweet, sweet treat!



10. NOW, go to the gym, pool, track, field, whatever ... and repent. Repent, you hear?

Till my next post ... whenever that may be ... keep well, everyone! Love, hugs and kisses to all!

40 comments:

  1. glad to see u back and know that everything is well. :-)

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  2. It is so delicious..and I love this post..first of all to see you on my blogroll right away..I thought..yaay:)

    the gym 6 times a week?Oh my good for you and you must feel so fit..

    I am so happy to SEE you..miss you:)

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  3. :) your guide to making beautiful baklava and the constant warning about its perils is quite the juxtaposition.

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  4. Welcome back! The baklava looks disgustingly sweet and delicious. ;)

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  5. Hey, welcome you back, Ju. How nice you brought us this lovely baklava. :)

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  6. круто) очень круто))

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  7. Glad to hear from you, you must be very fit with gym 6 times a week huh..hope to see more yummy foods from you. Happy Blogging!

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  8. Oh yes you are definitely more than your blog and I'm glad you're enjoying life outside of it! Only do it when you enjoy it is my opinion. Love baklava though yes sadly it is incredibly tooth-atchingly sweet hehe.

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  9. The gym...I just can't do it. Sigh...

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  10. MISSED YOU! Taking a break did not diminish your powers one bit I see : )
    Funny - I totally get what you mean about feeling empowered by not having to worry about what to post etc. At the same time, blogging is my break from "real life" and one of the ways that I give myself "me" time.
    Anyhoo - your healthy lifestyle is making me feel ashamed of myself!! I need to get on my treadmill for real ...

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  11. Hey! Welcome back! Good to hear that you are well and keeping fit! I shall join your club! haha..... Lovely and sweet little dessert! Love it!

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  12. Great to have you back, sweetie! Sure sounds like the break did you good :)

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  13. Welcome back! Just pop in once in awhile ok?

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  14. Hitting the gym 6 times a week, wow that's dedication! Baklava is too sweet for me. :P

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  15. oh my... DO NOT let my husband see this... he will drill my head until I make it for him... close close close window now...

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  16. This would go oh so well with apple tea!

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  17. Welcome back! Missed reading your blog.. I am glad to see you back ;)

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  18. i was waiting to see a new post, thank you so much.

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  19. JU! U ARE BACK!

    I thought of u today and wondered where have u disappeared to for the past few weeks!

    Miss u and ur tweets! U must be damn healthy now since u gym so much and gone vegetarian! *gasp*

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  20. glad to see u r back. hope to see vegetarian recipes from you since you've gone 90% vegetarian.

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  21. hihi

    glad to hear from you!

    glad that the get away from virtual world is more positive than anything else.

    cheers
    emilyn

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  22. Have been putting off baklava for awhile now, this post just made my day. Glad you're back Ju!

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  23. Hi there,

    Thanks for posting this wonderful baklava recipe. We discovered it via Tasteologie on Twitter. Your pictures are beautiful, too.

    We hope you don't mind that we've re-tweeted a link to your page for our followers so they can try out your baklava with our fillo dough; feel free to check it out if you're interested.

    Keep up the nice work here on your blog!

    Best wishes,
    Sara
    The Fillo Factory
    http://facebook.com/fillofactory
    http://twitter.com/fillofactory

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  24. Miss you sweet Ju!
    That Baklava looks as good as any I have eaten in Greece or Turkey!
    Wonderful!
    L~xo

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  25. Hi, glad to see you back and doing well!

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  26. It's great to have you back on the Blog. It's necessary to take a good break and think about where you are heading next. Kind of refreshing and re-charged. Your cooking always inspires me to wip out somethng pleasant for my 2 kids. If Mom can do it, so can Daddy. Thanks for all your efforts and inspirations. Thank you.

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  27. How delicious! You are very good baker Ju.

    NB, I want to thank you for that delicious "Yogurt Cake" (without blueberry sauce) recipe. I made it and was disappeared quickly :)

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  28. I'm glad you're back too! I've been hitting the gym 7 days a week and eating healthy 100% of the time (it's time for an off-day though haha). I'm so proud of you for taking charge of your in- and outtake!! You did a fantastic job on this baklava, too.

    :)

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  29. You know what? I was just wondering about you few days ago and you must have sensed it to update...kekeke:) Anyway, glad to hear from you again.

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  30. It's SO good to have you back!! Even if it's once in a while...=) I missed you!!

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  31. Hi,missed you regular blogging but yes I will always visit for cooking and baking tips.
    Thanks and Hugs for sharing it with us generously.

    Emily :)

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  32. Lovely!!! and welcome back!!

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  33. Hugs!! Please come back more often!! Your blog is more addictive to me than the food itself.

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  34. Ah good to see you back, and you must be feeling great with your new lifestyle! I've always found baklava to be waaay too sweet, and I've got a sweet tooth!

    p.s. You are definitely more than the blog! And of course we'll always be here. :D

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  35. Welcome back! I think finding a balance, and loving what you are doing is important. Life is certainly more than the virtual world, and we should allocate time according to what is important to us.
    I missed reading your posts, and it wonderful to see your an update on my google reader again;)

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  36. It would be great to see some vegetarian recipes. I'm currently a pescetarianism, hoping to be vegetarian someday! Will try one of your baking recipes soon, too many recipes too little time... :) Take care and xoxo!

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  37. Your blog is great! BTW, where did you get the filo pastry??

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