Posts Tagged 'Honey'

Daring Bakers’ Challenge: From Phyllo to Baklava

Erica of Erica’s Edibles was our host for the Daring Bakers’ June challenge. Erica challenged us to be truly DARING by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that homemade dough to make baklava.
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Whew!  Talk about a project.  I spent the better part of yesterday afternoon making the phyllo and baklava (and a HUGE mess to go with it!) and then had to wait anxiously until this morning (after all the baklava syrup had been absorbed) to even see if it was all worth it.  Thankfully, the results are pretty delicious, even if I can’t say I’d go to all that trouble all over again.  Here are my notes:

  • I doubled the dough recipe (as recommended) and let it rest for 2 hours before rolling it.
  • The wrap-the-dough-around-the-dowel technique didn’t work for me, perhaps because my rolling pin is thicker and is silicone (not wood).  My dough just fused together into a tube instead of growing larger.  I just kept moving and flipping my dough, rolling it from every direction, until it was as thin as I could get it.  Then, as recommended, I stretched it even more with my hands.  I was pleasantly surprised by how well the dough held up for handling despite being rolled so thin.
  • Even though I definitely got my dough sheets to the point of transparency, I only ended up with 11 or 12 sheets.  Since they weren’t huge and I didn’t end up with quite as many of them as I hoped I would, I decided to use a 9-inch round cake pan instead of a 9 x 9-inch square pan for my baklava.
  • I thought I floured well between each sheet, but I apparently didn’t do it well enough; my sheets stuck together pretty badly when I was trying to pull them off to assemble the baklava.  I did my best to make sure I separated all the sheets, but one or two layers might have been doubled.  I had set one perfect sheet aside on the counter under some plastic wrap for the top, though, so I don’t think anyone would really be able to tell that I struggled.
  • I used the recommended nut combination for my filling (almonds, walnuts, and pistachios) and the recommended spices (cinnamon and allspice).  I think I overdid the clove a bit in my syrup.
  • I used an entire stick of butter for buttering between the phyllo layers.
  • The recommended baking time was 60 minutes at 350°F, but mine was a deep golden brown at 45, so I took my pan out of the oven at that point.
  • Since I used a 9-inch round cake pan (6-cup capacity) instead of a 9 x 9-inch square pan (8-cup capacity), I made 3/4 recipes of the filling and the syrup. The filling was just right, but I think there was a bit too much syrup; I should have followed my instinct and left a bit out.  Even after resting for 16 hours, my baklava was still oozing a bit, though the majority of the syrup did get absorbed.
  • In my opinion, the syrup is a bit too sweet.  If I ever make it again (with store-bought phyllo, sorry!), I’ll cut the sugar to 1/2 cup (for a full recipe) instead of 2/3 cup.
  • After the initial cuts (before baking, in the middle of baking, and post-syrup), I continued to cut through my baklava periodically as it cooled.  It came out of the pan very easily this morning.

Assembled, Unbaked Baklava

Baked Baklava

Cut Baklava

The end result was a tasty treat, but it was a LOT of work.  This challenge certainly relieved me of any pride that might get in the way of me buying frozen phyllo dough at the grocery store. 🙂

Thanks for a great challenge, Erica!

Recipe link: Phyllo and Baklava

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Cilantro Honey-Lime Grilled Chicken

Dr. O’s brother and his girlfriend came to stay with us this past weekend (our seventh set of houseguests in under three months!).  I planned a barbecue for Sunday afternoon, knowing that we had family and friends who would want to see them before they left that evening.  The challenge, though, was in the timing… Every minute of their visit was scheduled until Sunday morning.  What kind of menu could I put together in a pinch that would still allow me to spend time with my guests?

Our friend Paul made part of the menu planning easy for me.  His family owns Gold’n Plump Chicken, so he bought me a whole pile of it at SuperTarget on Wednesday.  (He was our houseguest earlier in the week, so I got wine and chicken as my hostess gifts.  I’ll take it!)  I’m all for supporting his family’s business, but I don’t typically buy Gold’n Plump chicken because I don’t do my grocery shopping at Target.  I was curious to see, though, how it would compare to my usual generic grocery store brand.

I wanted to marinate the chicken in something before I grilled it, so I settled on Prudence Pennywise’s recipe for Cilantro Honey-Lime Grilled Chicken.  Since I tripled the recipe for my crowd, I combined 1 cup of lime juice, 1 tablespoon of lime zest, 3/4 cup of olive oil, 3 tablespoons of minced garlic, 1 finely chopped jalapeno, 1 tablespoon each coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, 6 tablespoons of honey, and 1 cup of chopped cilantro in a medium bowl.  I divided the marinade equally between two large zip-top bags and placed six boneless, skinless chicken breasts in each (about 3 pounds total).  (I had pounded the chicken to 1/2-inch thickness for faster and more even cooking.)  I stashed the chicken in the refrigerator until it was time to grill it; my marinating time ended up being about six hours.

When we were ready to eat, I heated my gas grill to medium heat and grilled the chicken breasts for 5 minutes on each side and then let them rest for 5 minutes before serving.  I rounded out the menu with Hill Country Coleslaw, Southwestern Two-Bean Salad (my next post, promise!), and watermelon wedges.

Cilantro Honey-Lime Grilled Chicken

I adore this recipe.  It’s so simple but incredibly delicious!  The lime is the predominant flavor, though you can definitely taste the garlic and cilantro as well.  I should have been braver with the jalapenos since they didn’t really come through; next time I’ll use two or three.  Other than that, though, the flavor balance was spot on; everyone at the table commented on how good the chicken turned out.

As for Gold’n Plump versus my regular grocery store chicken…

I promise I’d never sell out for a freebie (it would take a lot more to buy me off than some free chicken!), but I do think the Gold’n Plump product is superior to the stuff I buy on sale at King Soopers.  The breasts I grilled were exceptionally tender and juicy.  My cousin and I were talking about it on Sunday, and she said that she likes to buy it occasionally because she doesn’t have to trim hunks of fat or stringy veins off of it.  So true.  Plus, Gold’n Plump doesn’t add any hormones or fillers, which is a positive in my book.  It reminds me a lot of the chicken we used to get at Central Market when we were living in Dallas…  It’s more expensive, but you get what you pay for.  I will probably start picking it up for entertaining from here on out.

Recipe link: Cilantro Honey-Lime Grilled Chicken




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