200th and Baklava….OPA!

It’s here! It’s here! The 200th post!

A quick “Thank you!”….

Seems just yesterday I decided to embark on a journey of self-discovery, and worth. I wanted more out of what had become my life. I just knew there was this niche out there in the world that I could fit in to. Somehow, somewhere, someday. I was tired of waiting. Tired of timing things just perfectly – which never seemed to happen. Tired of feeling “less-than”. Why didn’t I deserve to be the one that had found my place on this gorgeous place we call Earth?

There came a day when I was determined it was complete and utter bullshit that I had to continue living as if I were a sometimes joyless being walking in the disheveled abundance of a dry desert. Living life dry, thirsty, and hungry for more. I made a decision to live fully that day, and to everyone that has been here to support me through this…Thank you! You have added a different kind of Oasis of joy to my world, and I will never be able to repay you for your kindness and love. *smiles*

On to the 200th post!

I can honestly say that the one dish I have ALWAYS wanted to attempt has been Baklava. Whether it stems from the little Greek boy my Paw-Paw used to pick on me about liking at this little hometown diner the boy’s parents owned that we frequented when I was very young (that was a mouthful, hopefully you followed), or the lust for a challenge in the kitchen…I knew I wanted to make it.

People always told me that it’s too much work, it’s too messy to make, too hard to work with the Phyllo Pastry, etc. Come on people, that just made me want to do it more! If you don’t know by now…I long for challenges in the kitchen!

Never be afraid of something new and challenging in your kitchen (and in life)! You absolutely never know when what you take on will lead to the perfect outcome that you needed.

I attended the Greensboro Greek Festival on Sunday and was able to enjoy music, dancing (I just watched, I didn’t have the credentials for traditional Greek dancing), a rare cool breeze, a couple glasses of wine, good people, and of course amazingly good food.

All throughout the festival, there were random people saying “Opa!”. I often wondered if it were something us non-Greeks should be saying. Was it like the old adage of the noise we learn when we are playing Cowboys and Indians at a young age that Native Americans supposedly made where we pat our mouths, and come to find out that wasn’t true…or, was this really an alright thing for us to say? After a little bit of Googling (of which I am trusting), it seems that everything was alright. We are allowed to say it, and it is a word for celebration. Urban Dictionary mentions that it would be the Greek word that replaces such phrases as “Hooray!”, “Hell yeah!”, or “Yeehaw!”. “Opa!” sounds so much more refined than “Yeehaw!”…maybe I’ll begin using it instead. Opa! *big smiles*

This Baklava recipe is one I saw quite a few months ago on a show I really enjoy “Chuck’s Day Off”. Chuck made a super simple Baklava, and it looked like it had all of the elements needed. Below is the recipe, and you can find the full write-up on the recipe by clicking here. Enjoy! (oops……) OPA!

Classic Greek Baklava by Chuck Hughes

  • 6 cups chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 1 (16-ounce) package phyllo pastry
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

(I didn’t do the grape and yogurt part in Step 8 with the Baklava…feel free to be adventurous though.)

  • 4 cups grapes (recommended: Corinthian)
  • 3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9 by 13-inch pan.
  2. Mix the nuts with cinnamon, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup of melted butter. Set aside.
  3. Unroll the phyllo pastry. Cut the whole stack in half to fit the pan. Cover the phyllo with a dampened clean kitchen towel to keep the phyllo from drying out as you work.
  4. Lay 2 phyllo sheets in the pan and using a brush, butter thoroughly. Repeat until you have 6 sheets layered. Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups nut mixture on top. Layer with 2 phyllo sheets, brush with butter and add nuts to end up with 4 layers of nuts and dough. The top layer should be about 6 to 8 phyllo sheets deep.
  5. Using a sharp knife, cut diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. You may cut 4 long rows then make diagonal cuts. Bake for about 50 minutes, until the baklava is golden and crisp.
  6. Make the sauce while the baklava is baking. Boil the water and remaining sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Add the honey and vanilla. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
  7. Remove the baklava from the oven and immediately spoon the sauce over it. Let cool.
  8. In the meantime, place the grapes on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, until the grapes start to burst.
  9. Serve the baklava with Greek yogurt, the baked grapes and a drizzle of honey and crushed walnuts.

Cook’s Notes: Walnuts can be replaced by any kind of nuts or a combination of nuts. (I used 4 cups of walnuts, and 2 cups of pecans.)Phyllo pastry is available in the freezer section of most grocery stores.

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. Mom says:

    Congratulations on your 200th post! I am so happy you have found your joy. Baklava??? I will get mine today!! Can’t wait to try it and pretend I am sitting with a glass of wiine watching the dancers under the shade of friendship and love.

    Like

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it! This is an amazing recipe! Thank you, Mom!

      Like

  2. Margie says:

    Congratulations! I’m glad you found your place in the world of the web!
    We lived in the Middle East for a few years, and baklava was a very common dessert. I never found a baklava I didn’t like!

    Like

    1. Thank you, Margie! This was an excellent recipe. You should try it! What was your favorite dish while you were in the Middle East?

      Like

      1. Margie says:

        Shawarma served in naan breads that are cooked on the walls of a Tandoor oven. (The country I lived in borrowed a lot from India!)

        Like

      2. Now see….I need to learn how to make Naan. Sure, I don’t have a fancy Tandoor oven, but it could be a fun experience. :)

        Like

  3. Demetrice Walman says:

    This was novel. I wish I could read every post, but i have to go back to work now… But I’ll return.

    Like

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