It’s Baklava time

I make baklava for my birthday every year, and my birthday is in two days.

Guess what? Baklava isn’t difficult to make.  Secret’s out now.  But people are always super impressed by it.

There are countless recipes and variations, but I have been making this one for close to 20 years now and have been told by many people that it is one of, if not the best they’ve had.

I use pecans in mine.  Other recipes call for walnuts, pistachios, or a combination, but mine is all pecans.

The syrup, ready to be cooled.  Honey is sometimes used, but not in this recipe.

First layer of the nut mixture over 8-10 sheets of buttered fillo.  Note: I always read about covering the waiting dough with a damp towel, but I have never done this and have never had any problems.  Fillo is not as precious as you might think, and in an application like this, is very forgiving.  If it tears, so what?  Just piece it back together and slather on the butter (sometimes I have to melt more butter).

All assembled, cut, and ready to bake (and slightly blurry).  Yes, cut it before you bake.  Three reasons: 1. It’s so much easier to cut it first.  You may have to sort of hold the top layers in place a bit, but it is very forgiving.  2. All the spaces make it easier for the syrup to soak in.  3. It keeps people from deciding they’re going to just cut themselves a piece the size of a brick (like certain coworkers of mine yes, I’m talking to you, Mark).

My favorite part.  I never noticed till tonight that the recipe actually says to wait 5 minutes before pouring… I never do.  Just pour slowly!  It makes a very satisfying hissing noise, too.

My coworkers love me.

The recipe I use (I do not know the source as I found it a super long time ago):

2½ cups sugar
1½ cups water
1 T. lemon juice

1 pound chopped pecans
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1 pound fillo dough
1 cup melted butter

Bring 2½ cups sugar and water to a boil; add lemon juice.  Simmer until it is a pale yellow color.  Syrup should be thick and cold when poured over hot baklava (put it in the fridge while you put the pastry together).

Mix nuts, ¼ cup sugar, and spices; set aside.  Butter 9x13” cake pan thoroughly.  Carefully layer the filo dough in the baking pan, one at a time, brushing each one with melted butter.  After layering about 10, add a layer of the nut mixture.  Then layer 3 - 5 more sheets of dough, buttering each one, and then another layer of the nut mixture. Continue until you have about 5-10 sheets left (or you are out of nuts). Layer those last like the first 10, brushing each one with butter.  Cut the pastry into squares or diamonds.  Bake at 325 F for 1½ hours.  Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes.  Pour the cold syrup over the hot pastry.

Khajiiti apple spanakopita

Spanakopita is a moreish savoury pie filled with spinach and cheese, and the khajiit have added an exciting and delicious twist by adding chopped apples for the perfect sweet and salty hit. The apples complement the flavour without being too overpowering, and add a nice bite to go with the soft textures of the spinach and crumbly cheese and pastry. While it may sound like quite the mouthful to pronounce (say ‘khajiiti apple spanakopita’ 10 times really fast) and possibly a bit strange, this delicacy out of Elsweyr is sure to delight guests at your banquet.

You will need:
1 pack filo pastry dough, thawed
2 red apples, chopped finely
½ red onion, chopped
Olive oil
Juice of ½ a lemon
5 cloves garlic, diced
1 large bunch of baby spinach, roughly chopped
5 eggs, beaten
Assorted fresh and dry mixed herbs of choice (we recommend oregano, thyme, and bay leaves)
2 cups crumbed feta cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

Firstly, make the filling. In a pan, heat the olive oil and fry the onions and garlic until lightly browned. Add the spinach, apples, and lemon juice, and continue cooking until all the spinach is wilted and no longer soggy. Remove from heat and leave to cool.

In a mixing bowl, combine the feta cheese, herbs, salt and pepper, and eggs. When the spinach mixture has cooled to room temperature, mix together thoroughly. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 190C/375F and prepare your pastry.

Gently, separate your filo pastry into single sheets and dab with olive oil using a basting brush. Layer 8 sheets across the base of a well-oiled baking tray, then cover them with the filling. Cover the filling again with another 8 sheets of filo pastry, and seal the top and bottom together by folding the edges together and basting them with a bit of olive oil.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the pastry is a deep golden brown. Serve immediately by cutting the pie into squares.

Moroccan Filo Crescents

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1 Vidalia onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 red bell peppers, diced
1 tbsp organic olive oil
6 criminal mushrooms, diced
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup tomato puree
2 tbsp tamari sauce
6 ounces firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups packed fresh spinach, chopped   
2 tbsp fresh mint leaves, choppedSea salt to taste
½ cup slivered almonds, toasted
2 tbsp Sucanat
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 package filo dough
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 cups basmati rice, cooked


  1. In a large skillet, sauté the onion, garlic, and peppers in olive oil until softened.
  2. Add the mushrooms, cumin, curry, rosemary, and cayenne pepper.
  3. Stir in tomato puree and tamari. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in tofu, spinach, and mint. Add salt.
  5. At the same time blend almonds, Sucanat, and cinnamon into a fine meal.
  6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Place two sheets of filo dough on top of the parchment paper.
  8. Brush filo with oil and add a thin layer of almond mixture. Repeat the process until 6 sheets have been used.
  9. Cut the filo stack into 2 rough square stacks. Place ½ cup of rice at the nearest end of filo. Top with one cup of filling.
  10. Fold the farthest end of the filo over so that the edges meet.
  11. Repeat with second filo square.
  12. Bake for 10 minutes.

Recipe #85 - Baklava

The closest thing I can think of to baklava taste-wise would probably be a pecan pie. Nutty and little gooey, with a flaky crust and a darker sweetness (like dark chocolate vs. milk). It’s probably not something you’d crave all the time but when you do have it, it’s a real treat. 

Apparently you can use different nuts in baklava but I chose my favorite nut, the walnut. I imagine pecans would give it a slightly different texture and I’m pretty satisfied with my choice. Although I usually like to make as many things from scratch as I can, the phyllo (filo? fillo?) dough would have been impossible for me. You either need a pasta maker or intense rolling pin skills, neither of which I have. 

The dough ended up being the most interesting part of this experience, when I took it out of it’s box I literally thought it was paper. Like, “oh the dough must be wrapped in this paper.” Nope. Uncooked phyllo dough just looks and feels like paper. As you can imagine it felt really weird spreading butter on it. Definitely one of those recipes where I stuck it in the oven and crossed my fingers and gulped. Like magic though, the dough goes from weird, fragile sheets to perfect, golden brown flakes after an hour in the oven. I’d call this one a success!


-1 Package phyllo dough 

-1 lb chopped nuts

-1 cup butter

-1 tsp ground cinnamon

-1 cup water

-1 cup white sugar

-1 tsp vanilla extract

-½ cup honey

(I also added some orange rinds to the syrup after I read somewhere that it adds a little sumthin’ sumthin’ to the taste :) ). I’m gonna try to keep a more consistent posting schedule as I continue to learn the ropes at my new job. Next time: Sea of Darkness for the first time! :D