Friday, December 03, 2004

And That's Why She's the Baklava Queen

With the holiday party less than a week away, I'm spending most evenings cooking up a storm to get everything ready. Last night I tried a new spiced nut recipe: walnuts with rosemary (freshly picked from the pots on my windowsills... bliss!) and paprika, tossed with butter, oil, salt. My guests will be lucky if there are any left to try because it took a great effort of will power to keep myself from eating all of them. Wow.

On top of that, I made a pan of baklava, as is traditional for the holidays in my book. Now, I know a lot of people think making baklava must be really, really difficult with all those layers to create, but it's not that bad. As long as you let the dough thaw completely (so that the layers don't stick together and end up tearing) and be patient, it's no problem at all.

Oh right... I get it. Patience = difficult. Yeah, I'm down with that.

Either I've matured (yeah, right) or I've come to appreciate the meditative potential of making baklava, because I really do enjoy the slow layering of thin sheets of pastry and brushing them gently with lots of sweet melted butter, stopping periodically to scatter cups of finely chopped walnuts and pecans tossed with fragrant spices over the top. It makes me enormously happy while I'm doing this to think of all the people who will have the chance to sample this dessert over the holiday season, all those lucky souls who will take a bite and lean back with a honey-dripped rapturous smile on their lips, and know that I've made that happen.

But until that party next week, I'm keeping these babies under lock and key. Don't even try to wheedle any out of me.

And because I'm just such a sucker when it comes to baking for an appreciative crowd, I also whipped up a small batch of espresso-chocolate chip shortbread to add to the dessert platter.

You may start your worship of my fine culinary skills now. But don't kneel down in front of my stove just yet, because I've got a lot more cooking to do...

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