Wednesday, February 24, 2016


Broccoli. It's one of my New Year's resolutions. Not for me. For my kids. Have I said enough? My goal is to get them to eat it. Willingly. Without tears. Or screaming.

Two months in and how am I doing? 50-50. The 3-year old Bubbalicious will eat it. But she will try anything. And then there's the 5-year old. Who needs the Boogeyman? Put a piece of broccoli in front of her and (cue scary music) fear and dread appear on her otherwise sweet face. But 10 months left to go.

It's not so much about the broccoli as it is about my goal of putting one meal on the table and having everyone eat it.(Did I mention without tears???) We're getting there. The girls like Indian, Moroccan, and so on - things many kids their age wouldn't touch.

But last night was one for the record books. I made kielbasa and pierogies (like any good Polish girl should). We've had it about a zillion times since the 5-year old began eating solid foods. But last night she didn't like it. Apparently her taste buds have changed, or so she says.

Only a delicious dessert could save the day. And let's be clear. That dessert was for me. Baklava. Sweet, nutty, yum. It made everything better.

Hopefully tonight goes better... If not, there's more baklava.


Adapted from Vefa's Kitchen by Vefa Alexiadou

Looks hard, right? It's actually really easy if you have the patience for all the layers. Great dessert for a crowd and fun to make with the kids who like to paint the butter on the sheets of phyllo. Here's my cheat - the recipe calls for clarified butter. Rather than going thru the process of clarifying it, use Ghee which can be found in Indian markets or the Indian section of many grocery stores.

  • 1 1/2 cups clarified butter, melted (or use Ghee)
  • 1/2 lb. ready-made phyllo dough
  • 2 cups walnuts, chopped
  • 2 cups almonds, chopped
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. ground cloves

  • For the syrup
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Cooking Directions
  1. Brush a baking pan the same size as the sheets of phyllo with melted butter (I used a 9x12). Alternatively, cut the sheets of phyllo to fit your baking pan and brush it with melted butter.
  2. Combine the nuts, cinnamon, and cloves in a bowl.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  4. Lay 4 sheets of phyllo on the base of the prepared baking pan, brushing each with melted butter. Sprinkle some of the nut mixture evenly over them.

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  6. Continue layering the sheets of phyllo, 1 at a time and brushing each with melted butter, and sprinkling with some of the nut mixture until all of it has been used and only 4 sheets of phyllo remain. (If it has been necessary to trim the phyllo, brush the trimmings with melted butter and place between the layers.) Top with the remaining sheets of phyllo, brushing each one with melted butter.
  7. Score the top layers with a sharp Knife into small diamond-shaped or triangular pieces. Brush with the remaining melted butter and sprinkle lightly with warm water to prevent the phyllo from curling. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown.

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  9. Meanwhile, make the syrup. Put the sugar, honey, and vanilla, into pan, pour in 2 cups water, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer, without stirring, for 5 minutes.
  10. Ladle most (I used about 3/4) of the hot syrup carefully and evenly over the baklava as soon as you take it out of the oven. Let it absorb the syrup and cool completely. Add more if needed.

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  12. Baklava keeps, covered loosely with a cloth, at room temperature for 1-2 weeks.

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