Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Baklava - For Creta Kano

This is my entry for Autumn 2009 Novel Food.

The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
is one of my favorite books. Many strange things
happen in his books but the food is plain
and is an anchor in the storms of life.

I love the character Creta Kano. She is a cipher.
She has a very strange story to tell and
tells it in a dead pan manner that knocks you over.
Also, she enters in to people's lives with bizarre consequences.
In any event she likes honey. So I'm going to
find all the good honey recipes I can for her.

Here is an excerpt from The Wind-up Bird Chronicle:

"I am here today as the representative of
my elder sister, Malta Kano," she said. "Creta
is not my real name, of course. My real name is Setsuko.
I took the name Creta when I began working as my
sister's assistant. For professional purposes. Creta
is the ancient name for the island of Crete, but I have
no connection with Crete. I have never been there.
My sister Malta chose the name to go with her own.
Have you ever been to the island of Crete, by any chance,
Mr. Okada?"

Unfortunately not, I said. I had never been to Crete
and had no plans to visit in the near future.

"I would like to go there sometime," said Creta Kano,
nodding with a deadly serious look on her face. "Crete
is the Greek island closest to Africa. It's a large island, and a
civilization flourished there long ago. My sister Malta has
been to Crete as well. She says it's a wonderful place.
The wind is strong, and the honey is delicious.
I love honey."

I figure that baklava is a good place to start.
This recipe is adapted from Greek Cooking by
Ruth Bauder Kershner.

Honey Syrup:

1 tablespoon rosewater
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 2-inch piece stick cinnamon
4 whole cloves
1 cup honey

Combine the sugar, water, cinnamon and cloves in a
heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat
and continue cooking without stirring for 25 minutes.
Stir in the honey and rosewater. Remove the spices.
Allow to cool.

1/2/ pound sweet butter, melted
1 pound phyllo sheets
3 cups finely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
1/1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Brush a 13x9x2 inch baking dish with some of
the melted butter. Brush a piece of phyllo
dough with butter, fold in half and place
in pan. Repeat.

Combine the nuts, and sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
Take 1/2 cup of the nut mixture and spread over the dough
in the pan. Butter and fold 2 more sheets of dough.
Add 1/2 cup of the nut mixture. Keep putting 2 folded
pieces of dough and 1/2 of the nut mixture in layers till
finished. Top with at least two more buttered, folded
pieces of dough. Score the top of the baklava with a
very sharp knive to make diamonds.
Bake at 325 F for 50 minutes. Pour the cooled syrup over the
pastry and cool. Cover and let stand overnight.

Please note that the phyllo dough I used has been
cut in half and there was no need to fold it over.
So where I called for 2 folded buttered sheets of
dough I actually used 4 sheets of the smaller size.


foodhoe said...

wow, that is very impressive! now I want to read the book too...

Heaven on Earth said...

Do. I love Haruki Murakami. I plan to blog a lot more about him.

Lisa said...

That Creta Kano is really something! I must try this book sometime. Also, I love baklava—so delicious. Your step-by-step photos are great.