Saturday, December 25, 2010

Baklava

I always thought that Baklava was very difficult to make and was rather wary of trying it. When Dan's family was having Middle Eastern food for a holiday get-together, he suggested I make a baklava for the dessert. After reading Alton Brown's recipe from Food Network I decided to try it. For easy reference below is his recipe along with some of the changes I made and tips on how to make this complicated dessert a little less daunting.















How to Clarify Butter

A few months ago, my parents asked if we could make a dessert for a Greek/Middle Eastern-themed meal for a get-together at their house. I absolutely love baklava and half-seriously suggested that Laurie make one, figuring it was probably something that would be so difficult that she'd just laugh me off. But she did some reading and watched some videos and decided to make a baklava from scratch!

One thing that was called for in many baklava recipes is clarified butter. As Laurie starts to work on her baklava, she asks if I can clarify some butter. My first response is, of course, to point at the butter and say, "that's the butter." But apparently, it turns out that clarifying butter is actually a real thing you do in the kitchen. (This is why she's the chef, and I'm the webmaster)

Not having any clue what I was doing, but having Laurie actually expecting me to produce said clarified butter for her since she was busy preparing other parts of the baklava, I did some quick Googling and found some guides. This was a particularly handy one, since it comes with lots of pictures for someone like me to try and replicate during the process. Those pictures are very indicative of what I saw, so rather than posting any of my own, go look at those.

Anyways, we've made baklava twice now, so I guess I would now consider myself a butter clarifying expert. If there was a professional league for butter clarifying...well, I'd probably still not be in that. But I do feel like I know what I'm doing enough to describe it for other novices.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Individual Key Lime Pies/Tarts - AKA Dan's Pucker Pies

So many of my friends may not believe this, Laurie isn't the only one in our family who likes to bake. I mean, I actually chose to take Home Economics instead of Wood Shop one year in middle school because I really liked the 1/3 of the year we spent doing cooking and baking. But obviously, given Laurie's culinary talents, I leave most of the heavy lifting to her and just handle Sous Chef duties when she needs me to.

However, she just had her birthday, and I usually try to bake her something for that occasion. Last year I tried an Apple Cobbler that I'm glad will never end up on this blog. This year, I decided to try and make her a Key Lime pie, which is one of her absolute favorites. I found this easy-sounding recipe over at Our Best Bites  for Individual Key Lime Tarts (mini-pies) and decided to give it a shot.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Caramel Apple Pie

One of the main desserts my family always requests that I make over the holidays is my caramel apple pie. It is fairly easy to make and is a big crowd pleaser. I usually make about a half dozen over the year. It's always requested for our Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings.

This is absolutely one of the most amazing desserts that Laurie makes. You get a great variety of texture in every bite from the light, flaky pastry crust to the syrup-soaked apples to the perfect crunch of the baked topping, all covered with sweet caramel sauce and some chopped pecans. It really doesn't get much better than this, unless maybe you add a scoop of vanilla ice cream too.