Monday, October 20, 2014

Gladys and Rich's Wine Social

The host of this months wine social was  Gladys, Gayle, Rich's mama, Bernard, Gladys's daddy and Rich.  Helen, Don, Stone and I arrived at the same time Joyce and Tom. We said our hello's and chatted about the perfect fall weather as the six of us walked up to the front stoop where Rich was busy lighting the various pumpkins the children had carved so beautifully.  

Baklava, Wine Social, Greek Festival, CAbi,

Myself and Vlad

My sweet treat for the evening was baklava.  First of all, let me say that I had never assembled baklava.  I knew that Vlad, who grew up eating it, would be honest on how I did, which is what I wanted.  If I ask a question I want the truth.  How am I going to master it otherwise.  Apparently, I did ok since there wasn't a morsel left.  I did learn a few things though.  Vlad grew up with baklava with no citrus and no spices, just the plain sugar syrup.  And as he pointed out, I should have baked it longer. It should have been darker which makes it crispier.  This I realized actually before I arrived at the social. I started thinking about the baklava I ate at the Greek Festival and it was darker.   Lastly, I should have cut them into smaller pieces. I must say that I didn't see anyone cutting theirs in half including myself.  I ate the entire huge piece and enjoyed every single bite.

Baklava, Wine Social, Greek Festival, CAbi,

Daniel and Gladys

Baklava, Wine Social, Greek Festival, CAbi,

Carleen-Stone-Don

Baklava, Wine Social, Greek Festival, CAbi,

Gladys-Becky-Gina

Gina, who is from Greece, gave me some baklava tips that I really appreciated.  I should have called her before I made this. In Greece, they are heavier on the cinnamon, and they use cloves and clover honey.  She told me to sprinkle water on the last layer after you cut it which forms it perfectly.   I did call the St George Greek Orthodox church who just happen to host the annual Greek Festival which I attended with my friend Carleen this year.  I must say, they make the most amazing baklava.  I was hoping for a few hints in order to make the perfect baklava.  They took my number and name and told  me someone would get back but that never happen!  It wasn't as though I wanted their recipe.  Well, actually that would have been great but I never expected it.  I just wanted hints.  Can you freeze before baking, do you use citrus, layering secrets ect..... 

Baklava, Wine Social, Greek Festival, CAbi,

Don and Helen

Don, computer geek by day, master Green Egg smoker by night made the best smoked salmon that I have ever tasted. I layered it on top of a green salad that Nace and LaVinia had brought this evening and it was delicious!  As with all the meat that comes off Don's Green Egg, the platter was scrapped clean.  His lovely wife, Helen, who is a CAbi Independent Sales Consultant, was sporting one of this fall's CAbi outfits, the Date Night Top and the Stevie Leggings and was looking fantastic.  I am a CAbi girl also, meaning I have various pieces and was wearing one tonight from their collection.

Baklava, Wine Social, Greek Festival, CAbi,

Gladys, Rich, Becky with Carleen and Stone photo bombing the picture.  

Who says we old folks don't know how to have fun.  We do but sometimes it just takes us longer to remember how.    

Baklava, Wine Social, Greek Festival, CAbi,

Gladys and Myself

Remember I said I have numerous CAbi pieces. This is one I'm wearing tonight. This top is called Brilliant Blouse and apparently it is very popular.  In fact, so popular, its back ordered.  I'm glad I purchased mine earlier.

Baklava, Wine Social, Greek Festival, CAbi,


Baklava, Wine Social, Greek Festival, CAbi,

Baklava
Best made the night before and let sit uncover over night.
Serves: 18

Ingredients:
1 (16 ounce) package phyllo dough
1 pound chopped and toasted walnuts
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup honey

Sauce: 
1. Make sauce the night before and refrigerate.  Boil sugar and water until sugar is melted.  Add vanilla and honey.  Simmer for about 20 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350'.  Place walnuts on a baking sheet.  Toast for about 8-10 minutes, keeping and eye on them so they do not burn.  Once cool, chop finely, add cinnamon and 1/8 cup white sugar and set aside.
3. Reduce oven temp to 325'.  Unroll phyllo dough.  Cut whole stack in half to fit pan.   Cover phyllo with a dampened cloth to keep from drying out as you work.  Butter the bottom and side of a 9X13" pan.   Place one sheet phyllo dough, then butter.  Repeat until you have 10 sheets of phyllo dough with butter in-between each layer.
4. Next sprinkle 2-3 Tablespoons of walnuts. Then a layer of phyllo dough that has been buttered, repeat until you run out of walnuts.
5. Next repeat #3 until all phyllo dough is used. 
6. Freeze for about 15 minutes to harden butter.  This makes it easier to cut.  Cut prior to baking.  Do not cut all the way through, just 2/3 of the way so it doesn't get soggy when you pour the sauce on.
7. Using a sharp knife cut into diamond or square shapes.  You may cut into 4 long rows then make diagonal cuts.  Bake for about 50 minutes until baklava is golden and crisp.
8. Remove baklava from oven and immediately spoon cold sauce over it. Serve in cupcake liners.
9. Let sit on the counter over night uncovered.  If you cover baklava it will get soggy.
Recipe adapted from: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/baklava/

Baklava can be prepared up to baking and frozen.

 I learned a lot this evening.  Bake baklava longer, you want it darker.  There are many variations on what to put in it. Walnuts, pistachios, almonds or you can use all three together.  You can add spices or not.  You can add citrus or not. How to make the top form and be visually appealing by sprinkling it with water prior to baking.  And lastly cut it smaller or not.