How to make Baklava – Review of Food From Many Greek Kitchens

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Tessa Kiros’s cookbooks leave me with a dilemma. Do I store them in the kitchen with the other cookbooks or put them on top of the coffee table in the living room on display, because they are just so damn good looking? Kiros writes a beautiful cookbook. I already own her other book Falling Cloudberries, which is the sort of book you would be happy to just spend time with admiring and looking at the pictures without ever actually cooking anything out of it. Food From Many Greek Kitchens continues in this vein. It is part cook book, part travelogue and part photography book. The photographs almost have a documentary style feel to them, including great photos of general stores and clothes hanging on the line to dry as well as the expected food shots.

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The finished baklava
 
The great thing about Kiros’s books though is not only do they look pretty, and read entertainingly, the recipes also work. In this book, Kiros has collected recipes from the Greek kitchens of her friends and family (her father is Greek-Cypriot) and each of the recipes has a lovely sense of history and place. I tested out the recipe for baklava, a dessert I have always loved but have never made before. The recipe was much easier than I expected, and looked very impressive once finished. What’s not to love about a dish that Kiros describes as looking like a Chanel handbag thanks to its quilted pattern. It did taste a little heavier than shop bought baklava, however this could have been over enthusiastic use of butter by me.
 
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Hmmm – is it a coffee table book or a cook book?
 
Ingredients
150g almonds crushed but with some texture – I broke them up using a mortar and pestle
150g walnuts crushed but with some texture.
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
22 sheets of filo pastry cut to the dimensions of your dish
150g butter melted to golden brown
20 or so whole cloves
Syrup
30g sugar
2 tbsp honey
1/2 lemon juiced and a strip of lemon peel
1 cinnamon roll
 
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Inside the beautifully presented book
 
 
1. Preheat the oven to 180c.
 
2. Make the syrup by putting all the ingredients for it in a saucepan with one cup of water and bringing to the boil while stirring. Simmer for five to six minutes then take off the heat and cool.
 
3. Mix the almonds, walnuts, sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl.
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The crushed nut mixture
 
4. Have the filo sheets ready covered with a slightly damp tea towel to prevent them from drying out.
 
5. Brush the base of an ovenproof dish with butter.
 
6. Cover with another sheet of filo, laying it on top and smoothing it out like you would a bed sheet. Brush this with butter and then repeat for ten sheets of pastry.
 
7. Once you get to ten sheets, spread half the nut mixture over the filo, patting it down firmly. Cover with another two sheets of filo, buttering each one. Scatter the remainder of the nuts over the filo and pat down firmly again.
 
8. Now repeat step six.
 
9. Cut diamonds on the diagonal, making sure to cut all the way through the filo pastry to make bite sized squares. Flick a little cold water over the top to prevent the layers from curling up. Stud the centre of each diamond with a clove.
 
10. Bake for 25 to 30 mins or until gently golden on top. Remove from the oven and gently pour half the syrup all over the baklava. Wait for it to be absorbed and then pour over the rest.
 
11. Leave to cool totally before serving. Will keep unrefrigerated for a week.
 
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Brushing the filo sheets with butter
 
Serves 10
 
Thanks to Murdoch books for the review copy of Food From Many Greek Kitchens.
 
Links
If you liked reading this you might be interested in this recipe for moussaka, adapated from Kiros’s Falling Cloudberries or for Greek food in London try Lemonia.

14 comments

  1. I have Falling Cloudberries and I don’t think I’ve ever cooked from it but, as you say, it’s a lovely book to read.

    Love the description of the baklava resembling a Chanel handbag! I didn’t realise it was so easy to make, looks great.

  2. That looks delicious, and the recipe makes it sound easy . . . pretty sure mine would be as beautiful-looking as yours. Did you use a scalpel? ; )

  3. Mmm… I’ve always wanted to make my own baklava!

    Is it normal to store cookbooks in the kitchen? This sounds totally OCD but I never bring my cookbooks into the kitchen but instead, write crib notes for the recipe on a notepad and bring that in instead!

  4. I love Tessa Kiros’s books, they are such a pleasure to cook from as well as look at.
    Baklava always looked like it would be difficult to make, but her recipe is so easy to follow and your efforts look superb.

  5. I have a total girl-crush on Tessa Kiros but I haven’t seen the Greek book yet, might have to put it on my Xmas wishlist… Your baklava looks mouthwatering, literally – I had to go eat a marrons glace to make myself feel better for not having any.

  6. Baklava, one of my all time favs. Never attempted it before but you’ve inspired me. Chanel, eat your heart out, yours is a work of art.

  7. this baklava looks really amaizing..

  8. i love her books but haven’t seen the new one. i’ll add baklava to the list of cool things i’ve never tried to make at home.

  9. Kerri – The moussaka recipe in Falling Cloudberries is really good and could be worth a try

    An American in London – Trust me if I can make it look pretty anyone can

    Su-Lin – That does sound just a teeny weeny OCD! I am sure your cookbooks are in pristine condition though!

    Cheeky Spouse – yes it was much easier than I expected

    Sasa – Me too, I love her books

    Claire – It does look a little Chanel doesn’t it!

    Black Book – Thanks it was delicious

    Justin – Yes good fun to attempt

  10. The baklava looks mouthwatering.

    Great making macaroons with you the other night. I hope you didn’t eat them all! LOL

  11. Her books are so beautiful. I have Falling Cloudberries, and it has the most amazing pictures. Baklava is one of my favorite treats, this one you made really looks beautiful.
    *kisses* HH

  12. A girl has to eat – great to catch up with you as well, My macaroons went down a treat

    Heavenly Housewife – I really want to get that one as well – just love her books!

  13. Owwhhh, I’ve never made Baklava, so this is great & I didn’t realize it was so easy. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  14. I always thought it was pistachios they used because of the green color!

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