So, needless to say, I was extremely excited when I was invited to join the Cook the Books club here in blogland. It is much the same as my club was except that we each cook something inspired by the book and then we meet each month and share our thoughts and recipes. It is fun and you should join us. This current selection was for July/August. I read it in one sitting so you have plenty of time to jump in. You can learn how by going to the About page and the Guidelines page.
Our host this month is Simone of Briciole, and she chose "The Wedding Bees" by Sarah Kate Lynch.
As I said, I read this book in one sitting, which lets you know just how much I loved it. It is a love story with absolutely no smut included. It is the story of Sugar, a girl running from her past and a dysfunctional family who moves from place to place as chosen by her honey bees, a legacy from her grandfather who was the only constant normal in her life. As she moves from place to place she meets other lost souls and cares for them, developing close relationships that she did not have with her family. This book starts with Sugar moving into an apartment building in a shady area of New York City. The apartment complex is filled with a conglomeration of people suffering from their own shattered lives and quirky personalities. This book will make you laugh and make you cry and it is well worth a trip to the library or the price of purchasing it.
The Wedding Bees is filled with tons of delicious food all described in mouthwatering detail. The dish I decided to make was Baklava, a dish that showed up a few times in the story. The baklava in the story was made with pistachios and sounded absolutely delectable.
Once I decided on Baklava, I knew there was only one place to go for the recipe and that was in a cookbook that I won from Debbie Matenopoulos called "It's all Greek to Me". I have taken several recipes from this book, including Roast Chicken, Greek Meatballs and Pilafi. All of these recipes were winners so I feel safe assuming that means all of the recipes included in the cookbook will be just as wonderful.
When I went to Debbie's recipe I found that her Baklava is made with walnuts instead of pistachios and that she cuts her Baklava prior to baking it. It looked lovely and sounded scrumptious so I followed her directions to a T.
I placed the nuts, cinnamon and sugar in the food processor and pulsed until finely chopped.
After baking drench with the syrup.
I was worried about clean up but it came off easily.
Make sure you butter the seam of the roll.
You can see that I forgot that step on one of my rolls.
Not as gorgeous as Debbie's but not bad for my first try and they tasted perfect!
from It's All Greek to Me by Debbie Matenopoulos
1 1/4 lbs Walnuts (about 5 c.) finely chopped
2 T. sugar
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 of a (1 lb) pkg. phyllo dough sheets, thawed (You need 18 sheets)
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
2 c. sugar
2 c. water
1 c. honey
1 (2") piece of lemon peel
2 T. lemon juice
Preheat oven to 325*
Mix together nuts, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. (I placed the walnut halves, sugar and cinnamon into my food processor and pulsed until finely chopped and left them in that bowl).
Working quickly, and keeping the unused phyllo covered, lay out 1 sheet of phyllo onto your counter. Brush with melted butter. Cover with second sheet, brush with butter and sprinkle with 1/2 c. of the nut mixture. Repeat this process with twice more using 2 sheets of phyllo and 1/2 c. of nut mixture each time. Starting at the long end, gently roll the phyllo sheets up into a tight, fat roll. Brush the seam with butter to seal. Repeat this entire process twice more making 3 rolls.
Using a very sharp knife, cut the rolls into 1" slices and lay the slices, cut side down onto 2 large ungreased, rimmed, baking sheets. (I lined mine with parchment). Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and using tongs flip the baklava over and bake for another 20 minutes or until cooked through, golden and flaky.
While the baklava is baking, combine the sugar, water, honey and lemon peel in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over med high heat stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 12 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and simmer for another 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
Remove the Baklava from the oven and slowly pour the syrup over the pieces while still on the rimmed baking sheet. (I used a ladle). Let stand 1 hour to soak up the syrup. (I flipped mine halfway through the soaking period).
Transfer to individual cupcake liners and serve immediately or cover and keep at room temperature for up to a week. Print Recipe
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