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Baklava ...inspired by My Big Fat Greek Wedding {Food 'n Flix}

My Big Fat Greek Wedding is one of those fun flicks I like to sit down with every couple of years.  It has a forbidden love story line.  It makes me laugh.  It has a relatable lead actress.  Plenty of eye candy (hellooooo John Corbett, Louis Mandylor, and Joey Fatone!).  And if you actually stop to think about it...lots of awesome food references, scenes, and moments.  So, when my friend Deb from Kahakai Kitchen chose it as our Food 'n Flix film this month (she's hosting at her place)...I was psyched!

The only hard part?  Actually narrowing down what I wanted to head into the kitchen to make.  I almost went with the Greek family-owned restaurant idea and made a version of the Greek Breakfast Skillet I order EVERY SINGLE TIME we go to a local Greek family-owned restaurant.  Or perhaps I'd just go order and photograph the environment.

And then I thought maybe I'd put a lamb on a spit in the front yard.  Or perhaps serve flaky, rich Spanikopita.  With an Ouzo chaser, of course.  Maybe something vegetarian for Ian.  Or perhaps a bundt cake circling a flower pot.  Hmmm...the possibilities!  In the end, I decided to go with something that I haven't had or made in years.  Really.  Years!  And it's inspired by one of my absolute favorite, most hilarious scenes of the film.
Let me set the scene.  Toula wakes up on her wedding morning to hear the clang and clatter of a gaggle of her female family members getting ready for the day in the kitchen.  She calmly smiles and makes her way downstairs.  She walks into the kitchen oblivious to the screaming red welt under her lip.  Chaos ensues with her running back up the stairs with a train of clammoring cousins on her tail.  So.  Mosquito bite or zit?  Windex or cover-up?  And in the midst of the madness...girls in mustache bleach, curlers, and bathrobes searching for concealer...you hear:  "Hello ladies...fresh Baklava!" from the doorway to Toula's room.  As they all turn around to look, Nicky (Toula's brother) is standing there snapping a Polaroid.  I know I didn't do it justice.  But it's a great scene.

If you pay close attention, you'll even notice Toula holding a sweet, flaky diamond of Baklava in her hand while she starts getting ready a few moments later.  So, what can I say other than what I say everytime I see a golden pan of this goodness?

Baklava

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20-30 minutes
Keywords: bake boil dessert vegetarian nuts sugar bars Greek
Ingredients (~30 pieces)
    syrup
    • 2 c. sugar
    • 2 Tbs. honey
    • juice of ½ lemon
    • strip of lemon peel
    • 2-3 small cinnamon sticks
    all the rest
    • 2 c. nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios - mix of a couple or all)
    • 2 Tbs. sugar
    • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
    • 22 sheets phyllo pastry
    • 6 oz. butter, melted until slightly golden and nutty-smelling
    • palmful of whole cloves, optional
    Instructions
    syrup
    Put all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan with 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat to a simmer for 5 or 6 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
    making the baklava
    Preheat oven to 350° F.

    Finely chop and crush the nuts, leaving some with good texture. Mix them with the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.

    Have your phyllo sheets ready, covered by a damp dish cloth or paper towel to keep them from drying out. Brush a baking dish (~8½ x 12") with some butter.

    Lay one sheet of phyllo dough over the bottom and brush with butter. If it doesn't fit exactly, you can either trim your sheets or just allow them to curl up at the edges like I do. cover with another sheet of phyllo and brush wtih butter. Continue like this until you have a stack of 10 sheets brushed wtih butter.

    Spread half the nut mixture over the phyllo and pat down. Cover with 2 sheets of phyllo, buttering each. Scatter the remaining nuts evenly over these sheets and press down again.
    Continue with remaining ten sheets of phyllo, buttering each in the same manner, including the top sheet.
    Use a small sharp knife to cut diamonds on the diagonal of ~2½" x2½". Cut all the way through the layers, as this will make it simpler to lift out the pieces when serving. Flick a little cold water over the top to prevent the layers from curling up. Stud the center of each diamond with a clove, if using.

    Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until just golden on top. Slowly pour half of the syrup all over the baklava. Once it is all absorbed, pour the remaining syrup on also. Let cool totally before serving.

    Will keep, covered and either at room temperature or in the fridge for at least a week.

    slightly adapted from Food From Many Greek Kitchens
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    This is my Food 'n Flix post for My Big Fat Greek Wedding hosted by Deb @ Kahakai Kitchen.
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