My apologies for not posting at my usual pace but it continues to be busy around here: just submitted the manuscript for my first cookbook (in stores November), now I have to work on the photographs, I am busy organizing my Greek Supper Clubs, Greek Easter just past and here we are. Time flies.
The wait will be worth it, you get a fabulous dessert recipe called Giannotiko, a specialty of the region of Giannena, Epirus (northwestern Greece). Essentially it’s a rolled Baklava that is filled with nuts and more distinctly, kataifi pastry. Kataifi pastry looks like shredded wheat and it is found frozen (usually beside phyllo pastry) at your grocery store, Greek, Turkish or Middle Easter deli.
Like any syruped Greek desserts, I recommend making your syrup first so as to allow it cool then assemble your Giannotiko and bake. Your dessert’s success hinges on being organized, working swiftly and pouring cooled syrup onto the just out of oven hot pastry.
Giannotiko Style Baklava
(makes approx. 40)
1lb. (454 gr.) package of frozen phyllo
For the syrup
2 cups of water
2 cups of sugar
1/4 cup of honey
4-5 lemon peels
juice of 1/4 lemon
For the filling
1/2 package (1/2 lb) of kataifi pastry
1 cup of walnuts
1 cup of almonds
1/2 tsp. ground clove
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 Tbsp. sugar
zest of 1 lemon
- The night before, place your phyllo and kataifi pastry in the fridge to thaw overnight (remove half the kataifi from package) and place in another plastic bag to thaw.
- The next day, make your syrup by combining water, sugar, honey and lemon peels and juice in a medium pot and bringing to a boil. Then reduce to medium and simmer for 10 minutes. Take off the heat and allow to cool.
- Make your filling by first untangling the strands of kataifi and tearing them into pieces then place in a large bowl. Now add your walnuts and almonds into a food processor and pulse until a crumbly, grainy consistency. Empty into the bowl with kataifi along with the clove, cinnamon, sugar and zest. Toss with a spoon to incorporate and reserve.
- Take your phyllo pastry out of the fridge and allow 15 minutes for it to come up to room temperature. Remove from the package and place the phyllo on your work surface lengthwise then use a pizza cutter to cut through all the sheets of phyllo, essentially cutting your phyllo in two. Place a slightly damp towel on your phyllo. Brush your baking tray with melted butter.
- Take sheet of phyllo and brush the entire surface with butter then place 2 teaspoons of filling near the bottom of the sheet, about an inch from the bottom end. Fold the bottom lip of phyllo over the filling then fold the 2 horizontal sides in. Now roll-up your your phyllo (slightly taute) to form a log. Place the baklava log seam-side down into your buttered baking vessel (about 2-inches deep). Repeat with remaining phyllo.
- Brush the tops with melted butter and place in your pre-heated oven for 45-50 minutes or until golden. Pour cooled syrup over your Baklava and allow the syrup to be absorbed and to cool before serving. Store in cool place inside an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
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