Athena Lamberis

Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

Baklava Recipe of Hellenic Cuisine Cook book – Detroit, MI

In Recipe, Stories on July 8, 2013 at 11:45

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The Culinary Linguist Baklava from Hellenic Cuisine

Baklava from Hellenic Cuisine
pic by http://www.foundmichigan.org/
Copyright 1956 Sts. Constantine and Helen Book Fund 4801 Oakman Boulevard Detroit, Michigan

It started with an urgent recipe book search, followed by a Whatsapp message to my mom,

“Hey, I’m making baklava and was thinking about yiayia’s recipe book.  Did you give me a copy?”

My Yiayia Christina was a legendary cook.  It’s a family fact that Yiayia and Thea Toula (her younger sister) were a culinary force.  They created delicious Greek food feasts for our families, fed generations and instilled life lessons like great food is made with love (and a whole lot of butter or olive oil).   Their culinary contributions are found in the 1956 recipe book, Hellenic Cuisine, created in Detroit, MI.  You can read more about the history here.

This collection of Greek culinary tradition displays the way women of St. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Detroit raised funds to make change in their community.

The culinary memory of my Yiayia and Thea live on when I recreate a recipe inspired by them.  Making baklava this past weekend was one of those moments.

It transported me back to the kitchen counters of my childhood, painting melted butter on phyllo sheets and chewing on raw phyllo dough when my mom wasn’t looking.  I always loved the way each baklava diamond was adorned with a clove and that eating baklava for breakfast was totally acceptable. 🙂

The honey drenched crunch of baked baklava even featured at our wedding.  My mother-in-law had a baklava tasting party to make sure the best one was shared with our family and friends.

To recreate baklava in South Africa meant we adapted a recipe to the ingredients we had available.

We substituted walnuts with ground up cashew, almond, brazil nut and pumpkin seeds.  Raisins and cranberries were chopped in the food processor because we were lazy to pick them all out of the trail nut mix.  Instead of using any sugar, we decided to use a honey and farm butter mixture to paint on the phyllo layers.

We even added organic rose water to the mixture from our friend’s at Kuhestan Farm.  I couldn’t resist dipping uncooked phyllo strips in the honey, butter, rose water mixture while lining the pans with all the ingredients.

In addition to the baklava layers in a pan, I rolled some into baklava cigars for variation of shapes.

In the throws of making the sweet layered masterpiece, my mom sent an adapted recipe from the Hellenic Cuisine cook book that my dad claims,  “Jackie Kennedy had a copy.”

In sharing this recipe with you, I hope you get a chance to make baklava and evolve it to your heart’s desire.

Experimenting with tradition creates new memories.

The Culinary LInguist Baklava Recipe

The Culinary Linguist Baklava Recipe Hellenic Cuisine

Mom’s email:

   By popular demand, here is the baklava recipe:
This is the family’s secret recipe but what the heck, if you don’t share good things what else can we share…..

                       Baklava Recipe

5         cups of walnuts, pecans, pistachio or a combination of two or more
( your choice of what you like best, I like walnuts and pistachio)
3/4      cups of sugar
2 T      Cinnamon
1 T       Allspice
2          Phyllo Sheets
1          Lb. sweet butter (yes, 4 sticks – do not cheat on this, otherwise the
ghosts of the past yiayia’s will haunt you)

Blend first 5 ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Spray oil or brush butter a large 15 by 25 inch pan
Apply a sheet of phyllo and butter
Butter 6 more sheets of phyllo and then begin to sprinkle nut mixture between every 2 layers of phyllo until all nut mixture is finished.
Keep 5 to 6 pieces of phyllo for top layer
Cut excess phyllo from edge (leaving 1/2 inch) and fold outside edge under and slice whole Baklava into individual pieces (first rows lengthwise and then diagonally across rows).  Apply 1 clove onto center of each piece.  It looks NICE that way.  Plus it adds some flavor.
Bake in 325 degree oven for about 1 hour.
Make syrup while Baklava bakes.

Syrup:
1  cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar
Bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes

Or,

Add:
1/4 to 1/2  cup honey And water (after you make it couple of times, you will know which strength of sweetness you would prefer)
Simmer for 5 more minutes

Add:
1   T. Vanilla
1   T. Lemon Juice, 1t of rind
Simmer for 2 minutes

When Baklava is removed from oven immediately spread the piping hot syrup ( it should sizzle)
Allow to cool and store covered in cool place for up to 1 week.

This is the dessert you want to share, or invite your friends for a sweet party.

When I was young and energetic, I used to make 5 pans of Baklava and have a Christmas cookie exchange.  This dessert was the favorite and the fastest to go.

Carry on the tradition, but don’t wait for Christmas.  It is good anytime.  Great with Greek/Turkish coffee too.
Enjoy in Good Health and Good Spirits!
Maria

______________________

Hellenic Cuisine cook book baklava pinwheels, The Culinary Linguist

Hellenic Cuisine cook book baklava pinwheels, The Culinary Linguist

The Culinary Linguist-Hellenic Cuisine

The Hellenic Cuisine cookbook seeks to preserve the culinary traditions of ancient and modern Greece. With well over 300 recipes arranged by category, direction have been simplified for the American kitchen. The book blends new and old. Scores of the recipes were submitted in the Greek language and translated.

What to Eat when Visiting Greece’s villages: Nourishing Food Traditions

In Stories, Travel on February 5, 2012 at 13:24

Greek village food on The Culinary Linguists blog #Greece   Summertime and road tripping lead to some of my favorite food adventure memories.  In Greece, you can drive on national highways and come across Greek village tavernas that serve greek horiatiki salads under grapevines.  Roadside stalls are piled with local fresh, dried, and preserved food that have been made and celebrated for centuries.  Tradition, food sovereignty, and pride for fresh Greek food is celebrated in most Greek villages you visit.  It certainly reigns true in the Greek village of my Greek summer food memories, Alepohori.  My grandmother, Yiayia Chrissy was born there, and I have grown to know the similar tastes and smells she must have enjoyed in her youth. From the chestnut tree forests and oregano-lined mountains, everything was grown organically and families shared the fruits of the Arcadian soil.  Visiting Alepohori today provides me with hundreds of simple food pleasures.  Today, I am sharing a few of my many favorites that you can enjoy.

1. Drink Ouzo.   If you can find local and homemade, even better.  In the village, drinking ouzo is pastime and for some . . . an immune booster 😉 You could claim that walking down to the tavern or to your neighbour’s house for  glass of ouzo on the hill is the reason why people live to 100 here, not to mention consuming a fresh medley of mezedes everyday.   If you like to enjoy long afternoons with traditional tiny plates of food and company from your neighbours, drink ouzo.

Greek Ouzo on The Culinary Linguists blog #Greece

2. Pick figs and eat them.  If you are lucky enough to be in Greece during the months of July, August, September then you will be in wild food harvesting heaven.

Greek figs on The Culinary Linguists blog #Greece

3.  Keep an eye out for summer fruit trees.  A simple mountain walk in the afternoon will lead you to picking fresh public produce from the fruit trees.  Below is a modest harvest of bite size Grecian yellow plums.

Picking plums on The Culinary Linguists blog #Greece

Greek food on The Culinary Linguists blog #GreeceGreek village cats on The Culinary Linguists blog #Greece

4.  Visit the local cheese dairy and choose the best tasting Feta made from Goat’s milk.  If there are different cheese varieties, buy a small portion of Manouri cheese and fry it up on a skillet at home.

ImageGreek food and cheese on The Culinary Linguists blog #GreeceImage

5. Pick fresh tomatoes from the vine and prepare a traditional Greek village salad:

 Greek salad recipe

2 large tomatoes (cut into bite size chunks)

Put in a medium-sized bowl and add salt to taste.  Toss the tomatoes so the salt draws out the juices.

Add a half a long thin cucumber (cut into half slices)

1/4 of red onion (cut into thin slices)

1/2 green pepper (cut into thin slices)

Mix the salad together.

Drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil over the salad and a pinch of fresh or dried oregano.

1 slice of your fresh feta cheese (portion to your desire)

Place feta on top of the salad and sprinkle more oregano and drizzle more oil.

Add 5-7  marinated olives to the salad.

Grab forks and dive in.

(Note: Once you’ve finished you salad, leave an extra piece of Greek village bread and soak up all the golden juice: salt, tomato juice, oil and oregano, leaving your bowl clean.

Greek salad on The Culinary Linguists blog #Greece #recipe

6.  Visit the local farms in the village.  Most are private plots and operate on biodynamic systems that yields incredible organic produce, beautiful to photograph and even tastier to eat straight from ground.

Greek food and natural farms on The Culinary Linguists blog #Greece

Greek food and honey on The Culinary Linguists blog #Greece

Be sure to taste honey made in the Peloponnesus mountains

Greek food on The Culinary Linguists blog #Greece
Greek men on The Culinary Linguists blog #Greece
Greek child on The Culinary Linguists blog #GreeceGreek donkey on The Culinary Linguists blog #GreeceGreek Sunflower on The Culinary Linguists blog #Greece

7.  Find out where your honey comes from.  Greek honey is so fragrant that getting a chance to see where all the flowers are in bloom makes your next spoonful a visual and sensory treat and a proud locavore.

Greek bread on The Culinary Linguists blog #Greece

8. Buy Greek village bread.  Next to Alepohori, there is another village, Blakhokeresia, that makes delicious authentic bread.

9.  Learn from your grandmothers.  Every house you visit, or path you cross is an opportunity to learn, taste and enjoy traditional and personal Greek food favorites.  Practice your culinary linguistics and enjoy the range of hospitality that is shown through the food and culture.  Greek village woman on The Culinary Linguists blog #Greece

10.  Share a delicious Greek village lunch feast with family and neighbors.  Digest it all by taking a nap-preferably in a hammock, underneath the chestnut trees.

Greek food on The Culinary Linguists blog #Greece

Souvlaki, rice, Greek Salad, baked lemon oven potatoes, sauteed tomato and green beans and anything else that may get piled onto your plate. It will be tasty!

Greek food and village on The Culinary Linguists blog #Greece

Celebrating Vetkoek, Beats and Madiba at the the Ubuntu Festival in Cape Town

In Events on July 18, 2011 at 13:53

Ubuntu Festival-Madiba's birthday on The Culinary Linguist Blog #CapetownTata Mandela celebrates his 93rd birthday today.  His life and dedication to the public’s well being has been a symbol for us to trust that we have the capacity to make changes in our life that leads to freedom and positive transformation.  Giving life to metaphors.  On Sunday, July 17th, the city of Cape Town hosted the Ubuntu Festival.  Activities were bustling on St. George’s Mall & Church St and on the ground level of the Mandela Rhodes Place.

Ubuntu Festival-Mandela's birthday on The Culinary Linguist Blog #Capetown

Ubuntu Festival-Mandela's birthday on The Culinary Linguist Blog #CapetownUbuntu Festival-Madiba's birthday-vetkoek on The Culinary Linguist Blog #CapetownA festival that bridges the city’s diverse spirit had independent locally produced food and farm stalls and young local DJ’s and muso’s that delivered positively hip bass-bumping beats from the Red Bull converted land cruiser turned DJ booth. I especially enjoyed GoldTooth’s vocals that dripped like honey off the amp.

Ubuntu Festival-Mandela's birthday on The Culinary Linguist Blog #CapetownMandela's birthday on The Culinary Linguist Blog #CapetownUbuntu Charity Cook Off Mandela's birthday on The Culinary Linguist Blog #Capetown

Inside the Mandela Rhodes Place, festival attendants could give 67 minutes of their time (The number of years Mandela dedicated to public service) to wash, peel, and chop vegetables for soup that was being made for the city’s shelters.  The Charity Cook and Chop had tables of donated vegetables from Shoprite surrounded by tables of chopping boards, knives and peelers that were populated by shifts of about 50 people at a time.  Everyone was in a meditative state, getting into the rhythm of chopping onions, or peeling carrots.  Some people confessed it was a therapeutic activity to prepare the food together, peel, cut and chop and watch the crates fill with all the chopped vegetables.

Ubuntu Charity Cook Off Mandela's birthday on The Culinary Linguist Blog #CapetownUbuntu Charity Cook Off Mandela's birthday on The Culinary Linguist Blog #CapetownUbuntu Charity Cook Off Mandela's birthday on The Culinary Linguist Blog #CapetownCraig Anderson, the Chief Chef at Mandela Rhodes Place led the kitchen logistics of transforming the ingredients into soup. A call for volunteers to stir and cook was announced over the upbeat radio pop songs that were provided by 94.5 Kfm when the Chef needed to quickly prepare the dinner shift for the restaurant upstairs. “Just take a look around you!” exclaimed Craig Anderson, “It’s great! All this soup will be picked up by Red Cross at 5pm to be delivered to the city’s shelters”  So much love was being put into this communal cooking event and it wasn’t the first or last time the Charity Cook was going to happen.Vegetables on Cutting board on The Culinary Linguist Blog #Capetown

Earth Fair Market on The Culinary Linguist Blog #Capetown

Outside along Church St and St. George’s Mall, the Earth Fair Food Market curated the stalls that served traditional Umngqusho and Vetkoek, free-range biltong, farm-cured olives and preserves, Chinese spring rolls, a variety of fragrant curries, chilli bites, freshly juiced apples and beetroot, savory pies, and sublime local wine and beers at The Laughing Crocodile Bar.

Olive Products in South Africa on The Culinary Linguist Blog #CapetownBeef Biltong in South Africa on The Culinary Linguist Blog #Capetown Fresh Produce in South Africa on The Culinary Linguist Blog #CapetownFresh Juice in South Africa on The Culinary Linguist Blog #Capetown

Fat cake in South Africa on The Culinary Linguist Blog #Capetown

Vetkoek a.k.a Fat Cake, Fried Dough, Donut of delicious Msanzi variety

The Ubuntu Festival celebrated the beautiful struggle of freedom, bringing dancing vibrations and nutritious food together in our public city centre to commemorate communities celebrating together in a democratic South Africa. With the spirit of Ubuntu in all of us-Happy Birthday Madiba!

Mandela in South Africa on The Culinary Linguist Blog #Capetown

Communal Meals and Charcuterie at Glen Oakes Guest Farm

In Friend's Kitchens, Stories, Travel on July 6, 2011 at 16:50

Have you ever stayed in a stone cottage with pigs and sheep as your next acre neighbour? In Hemel an Aarde Valley, there is a pig farm.

Eight of us spent an electricity-free weekend on a farm greeting free-ranging piglets and making communal breakfast from the farm’s fresh eggs (and guess where the bacon came from).  A year ago, I wouldn’t have eaten pork or thought spending a weekend on a pig-raising farm was going to be so much fun.  I have a childhood memory of seeing my first live pig at an Illinois Country Fair.  The hog walked around a small ring and then laid lazily on his side until people voted on what colour ribbon he would receive.  He could have been related to a rhino and I was mesmerised by his size and demeanour.  This time around, I was mesmerised by healthy active pigs in their free-ranging environment.

In the Hemel-and-Aarde Valley, on Glen Oakes farm, we walked along the paths and dirt roads that wove through the pig’s grazing range.  We stopped by the fence to get a closer look at the tubby mammals and two large female pigs boldly came up to greet us. “You’d think they like their ears scratched but they love their eyes to be tickled” Julie explained, the owner of Glen Oakes Farm.  At the main house, Julie tallied and weighed our choices of Richard Bosman charcuterie, “You’ll see that the coppa is so well marbled which is due to our pigs having lots of space and room to roam around.”  It was the first time I was on a pig farm, witnessing the condition of the pig’s home, meeting the chocolate brown breeding boar, Major, and then consuming the charcuterie made from the raised pig’s at the Glen Oakes farm. Here’s more on the free-range to charcuterie story.

It was a fascinating full food cycle that turned the weekend into a foodie affair.  We roamed right back to the stone cottage with our basket of charcuterie, waving past the piglets and female pigs and made a platter of the chorizo, fennel sausage, cheese and artisan breads in front of the fire. We were truly consuming ethical charcuterie, except for our vegetarian Inge who proclaimed her clear conscious to all of us:) She took beautiful pictures of the surroundings with medium format film.

Our foodie night affair commenced with Three bean Raw Cilantro Salsa, Garlic Artisan Ciabatta, Butternut Soup, Fillet with Tomato Balsamic Relish and a handmade Lemon Tart.

Andrew’s plate

Breakfast was a mosaic of fresh fruit, grapefruit-orange cocktail to quench, farm scrambled eggs, slow roasted cherry tomatoes and rye bread from jason bakery.  Sixteen hands all contributed to fabulous feasts of farm fresh produce.  A love for slow homemade food was celebrated and spoke a language of appreciation for communal meals shared by friends, chew by chew.  Glen Oakes Guest Farm was also an inspiration and a positive example of how ethical food practices are an essential element to our food democracy.

The Rotating Lamb Spit at Up the Creek

In Events, Stories, Travel on February 6, 2011 at 13:22

 

the lamb spit

The Lamb spit combo

We floated on the Brede River for 8 hours, jammed to great South African music collaborations and ate delicious festival food at Up the Creek.  There was one food tent where Ma and Pa came up the creek and cooked for their whole festival family.  From a military tent, the food army family catering fed the thousands from three 100 litre potjie pots and a 2 by 8 meter rotating lamb spit.  As one of festival soldiers, they fed me well.  Butternut, beetroot, pasta salad, beans, pork, lamb and mash for R50. When the plate couldn’t handle anymore food, they asked if you wanted s’more.  There will delicious food stands but I’ll have to admit that the Ma and Pa meal was one of the highlights at Up the Creek.  Read more about the festival experience on Mahala.co.za

Up the Creek: floating on the river

 

The plate of glory

The food assembly line

a trailer pizza oven: brilliant

Stir-fry at Up the Creek

Dim Sum in New York City’s China Town

In Stories, Travel on February 3, 2011 at 15:26

 

 

Sharing comes from the heart. My sister getting her share.

In countries that celebrate the Chinese New Year, more food is consumed during the New Year celebrations than any other time of the year.  Which reminds me of my time in China Town, New York City.  We weren’t eating traditional New Year foods but celebrated Chinese cuisine with the most delectable dim sum.With my two girlfriends and my sister, we ventured into the banquet hall of East Market Restaurant on East Broadway, a grand venue for a Sunday dim sum family affair.  It was my first time eating in New York City’s China Town and by far one of my favorite meals in the fabulous city that never sleeps and never stops serving food!

 

 

Heartful portions of dim-sum

 

 

What is dim sum? I would describe it as individual portions of food that include a wide variety of steamed buns, rolls, vegetables, etc.  I learned that the dim sum is meant to “touch the heart” and traditionally was served as a snack to accompany your morning tea.  They are often served on small plates or small steaming bamboo baskets and at our venue we shared them around a lazy susan on a round table.  The decor was flamboyant and I felt like I was eating at a dim sum wedding reception sans speeches and music.  There were silver food crates that were pushed around in between the maze of tables for you to choose which dim sum plate you wanted to share.  The server placed the basket or plate onto your table and stamped a piece of paper that indicated which dish we chose.

 

stamp art a.k.a our bill

After all the lotus leaves were unwrapped and all the steamed bao’s began to expand in our tummies, we agreed our dim sum breakfast was a culinary success.  All of our senses feasted and I exhaled a happy digestive sigh.  I looked around as we exited the pink dining hall and quickly glanced at all the large families gathered around their Sunday dim sumsharing tables.  Whether we share taro dumplings or tofu skin rolls, it is true to say that when people share food together, they certainly share a piece of their heart with eachother too. I think dim sum is certainly a food language in itself, a symbol of how food, when shared together, whether steamed or fried, does communicate straight to the heart. It certainly captured mine.

 

 

When I returned to Cape Town, I checked out the unofficial China Town strip in Sea Point.  Since then, I haven’t found that NYC pink-dining-hall-with-food-crates-and-stamps restaurant yet, but I have found where to buy the frozen dim sum they sell in the restaurants.  I don’t have any dim sum to defrost and celebrate the New Year, or second new moon after winter/summer solstice but will try to make a dish to share with my family in hopes it ‘touches their heart.”  Or according to some superstitions related to Chinese homonyms, I’ll pan-fry some bamboo shoots to “wish that everything will be well” and find a recipe that includes black moss seaweed and dried bean curd for “wealth and fulfillment in happiness.”  Happy New Year 2011!

The Ying Yang fountain outside East Market Restaurant

 

 

 


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