Saturday, January 12, 2013

Turkish Baklava

I made this recipe for the Bethlehem Dinner we had with Zak's family in Connecticut.  I was pretty nervous because I had never made baklava and while I've cooked for his family, it's always been recipes I've made before.  But I am super proud to say that this turned out very well!  Next time we will be sure to add pistachios and raisins and to work on letting it sit to soak up the syrup for a longer period.  It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, but it did require some skill.  Zak was a great helper with assembling it and I plan on making this again for our friends.

2 c. (8 oz.) finely chopped almonds
1 c. (4 oz.) finely chopped walnuts
1/4 c. caster (superfine) sugar (used regular sugar)
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cloves
2 c. sugar
2 c. water
1 stick cinnamon
1 Tbl. lemon juice
12 oz. packet filo pastry, thawed
melted butter

1.  Place all filling ingredients in a bowl, combine until well blended.
2.  Place syrup ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Simmer for 10 minutes and leave to cool.
3.  Brush a 9" x 13" baking dish with butter.  Add 10 sheets of filo, brushing each with butter before placing on top of the other.
4.  Spread the filling evenly in the dish.
5.  Add 10 - 12 sheets of filo, brushing each with butter as needed.  Be sure to press down on the layers to get it soaked in well.
6.  With a large knife, score the top into large diamond shapes.
7.  Bake in oven preheated to 325 degrees for 1 hour or until top turns slightly brown.
8.  Remove from oven and slowly pour the syrup over the top.
9.  The most difficult part: letting it sit for at least 5 - 6 hours before serving.

right after pouring syrup on, don't have any of it after

Turkish Red Lentil Soup

My mother-in-law made this fabulous soup while we were in Connecticut, for the annual 'Bethlehem dinner' on Christmas Eve.  I fell in love with the delicious flavors of the soup and asked for the recipe when we returned back home.  She sent me the recipe (from Whole Foods Market) and the only variation I made was to use some chicken broth along with the vegetable broth; it turned out phenomenally well and I will be sure to keep this in rotation. It's very easy to make and is a good, flavorful, vegetarian soup that is enjoyable with warmed pita bread or by itself.

1 1/3 c. (about 8 oz.) red lentils, picked through & rinsed
7 c. vegetable broth (I used 4 c. vegetable broth, 3 c. chicken broth)
1 large onion, diced
1-2 large carrots, diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbl. tomato paste
1 tsp. cumin
1/8 - 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (or to taste)
3/4 tsp. salt (or to taste)

1.  In a large pot, combine lentils, broth, onion, carrot(s), garlic, tomato paste, cumin and cayenne.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Lower heat and simmer, uncovered, until vegetables are very tender and lentils begin to fall apart (about 25 minutes).
2.  Remove pot from heat and use an immersion blender to blend the soup until it is creamy but not completely pureed.  Add salt and serve with warmed pitas.