Let's address the fact that it's been over 14 months since my last post. I did bake a few times during this break, but never had the time or energy to blog about it. With 5 classes last spring, and moving into an apartment with an itty-bitty kitchen, I lost a lot of time and motivation to bake. My fabulously full social calendar (which, let's face it, mostly includes my few regular readers-so don't blame me, you guys) still doesn't afford me much time, but I realized recently how much I miss baking, so doll house kitchen be damned, here we go again.
For starters this morning I was inspired at the grocery store by a bag of pumpkin pancake mix...but I would ruin my reputation if I used a mix, so I bribed my lovely roommate for a can of pumpkin, in exchange for breakfast, and made pumpkin-chocolate-walnut pancakes. I think the chocolate overwhelmed the pumpkin flavor, so I probably wouldn't use that next time.
(man, I need lighting advice for these pictures!)
Ok, the main event...during the summer of 2009, my massive extended family had a reunion. I was unable to go, but one of my aunts solicited recipes from the whole family, and put together a really amazing cookbook. My family is Serbian, and to give you an idea of what we find important in life, the cookbook is (literally) half desserts-there are no less than 4 baklava recipes. Anyway, the point is that my goal over the next few months is to try out some of the recipes that I loved as a kid, but have never baked, and barely know how to pronounce! Take one, baklava:
I used my grandmother's recipe, which calls for walnuts but I used pistachios instead. I actually cut the sugar in half (that's just the white sugar-obviously there's still lots of sugar in all that honey) and it was completely delicious. I I also added cinnamon to the melted butter that is brushed on each phyllo sheet, so it would be extra cinnamon-y. There are lots of horror stories about working with that phyllo, but I used to help my mom make the layers in her baklava, so I've had some experience and it went better than I expected. Still, the assembly took an hour! Whatever, it's incredibly delicious.
Spiced and sugared pistachios
You have to cut it before baking...
....so that you can pour this delicious syrup over it
P.S., I must call attention to one of my recent sugar-high discoveries. If you live in NY (you probably do, if I've forced you to read this) and are as dessert-obsessed as I am, you have to go to Sweet Revenge in the West Village. It's cupcake paradise. They actually have really delicious sandwiches and savory cupcakes (kind of a biscuit texture), but their thing is cupcake and wine or beer pairings. I went with some of the best company I can imagine (hi San Francisco!) and we polished off an embarrassing amount of food and alcohol (while laughing at the six tiny girls by the door, sharing one cupcake).