My great aunts Nory and Louise first taught me to make baklava. They're full blood Albanian and have shown my brother, sister, and I little tidbits of Albanian culture throughout our lives. Besides random phrases like "go to bed," "shit," and "I'm going to Chicago for the Albanian convention," baklava is the only other Albanian technique I have under my sleeve.
If you aren't familiar with baklava, it is a (very) sweet dessert made out of thin dough called filo, as well as butter, walnuts, and syrup. My aunt insists that I cut the baklava into diamonds because she claims that the word "baklava" means diamond in Turkish. Besides Albania and Turkey, Greece also tends to have baklava. Depending on the geographical location, there are different variations. Some people use almonds, some use pistachios. Some people use honey, and some use a simple syrup.
Here is the recipe my family uses...
1lb. melted butter
1lb. finely chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 375.
Unwrap filo and cover with slightly damp towel.
Butter jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with sides).
Place 3 layers of filo on pan with butter brushed between each layer. Sprinkle with some
walnuts. Then two layers of filo (butter between each one and on top), then nuts, two more
buttered layers, walnuts and continue til walnuts are gone or there are 3 layers of filo left.
Finish off with the last three buttered layers of dough(no nuts between).Trim edges of dough to neaten.
Cut into diamonds. Cook at 375 until golden @ 1/2 hour. Cool.
Cook 2 Cups sugar and 1 Cup water until syrupy. Add a small ammt. of lemon juice when boiling.
Pour over baklava.
P.S. Albania is next to Greece. You will notice our stereotype of robbers and human traffickers in movies such as Taken (so rude!). We are also known to have a sort of ambiguous race- my dad has been called Italian, Mexican, and Greek. My brother has been stopped and searched at the airport way too many times.
Here is my Albanian side of the family!
|Dad and brother|
|Brother and sister and Albanian cousins|
|Louise and I (note the bunny ears)|
|Eleanor and Herestia (aka Nory and Louise)|