Baklava

I’ve been obsessed with making baklava since I had a late-night school-induced baklava binge last month. I figured, the ingredients are so simple it must not be hard to make. Most recipes brag that it only takes an hour of prep and then 45 minutes of baking, but they’re all liars. First you have to thaw dough overnight or for up to a full day. And for the prep, I watched exactly three 45 minute shows on Netflix while making this, so it took fucking forever. Also, I brought this to a work potluck, so I basically spent an eternity making a dish and only ate four or five pieces.

Overall, I don’t really recommend that anyone make baklava. Yeah, it’s expensive to buy baklava, but you probably aren’t going to do that very often. Mine was by far the best tasting baklava I’ve ever had, and I’m still probably never making this again. But, if you are under house arrest and someone is willing to get the ingredients for you, it might be worth it.

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How can something with eight ingredients take so fucking long to make?

Recipe adapted from http://natashaskitchen.com/2014/12/21/baklava-recipe/

Ingredients

1 package of filo dough

2 sticks of butter

1.5 pounds of nuts (I used a mix of almonds and pistachios)

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup sugar

Juice of ½ a lemon

1 cup water

½ cup honey

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I should have just poured the butter on the filo and not bothered spreading it out.

Instructions

Thaw filo dough for 8-24 hours in the fridge and then take out about an hour before you’re ready to start making baklava

Make syrup first so it has a chance to cool. Boil water, honey, sugar, and lemon juice for about 4 minutes and then set aside to cool.

Melt butter and then butter the sides of a 9×13 pan.

Pulse nuts in food processor until they are coarsely ground, then stir together with cinnamon.

Set up a fairly large workspace (you actually need to clean your kitchen before you make baklava or you’ll end up yelling a lot, which will make your baklava taste angry).

Trim filo dough to about 9×13 or 9×14.

To butter the filo dough, I found that it was best to drip a lot of butter on the dough and then brush it around a little. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You don’t want to miss an important part of the show you’re watching since doing this without a distraction would be boring.

Buttering every other sheet, place 10 sheets of filo on the bottom of the pan. Then add a thin layer of nut mixture (about ¾ cup). From there, alternate 5 sheets of filo (buttering every other sheet) with ¾ cup nuts. When you are out of nuts, end with 10 sheets of filo on the top, but butter every sheet so these stick together better. Cut the baklava before baking either in squares or diagonals. Use a very sharp knife because it is easy to fuck up the filo dough. Bake for about 45 minutes, then immediately pour the syrup over the baklava. It sizzles in a very satisfying manner. Cool uncovered for several hours or overnight. Cut again before serving.

 

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It’s best to crush your nuts by hand if you’re looking to make this process take as long as possible. I used a food processor, but I also hand-shelled the pistachios, so I still maximized my cooking time.

I can’t tell you what to do with your life, but if you have like three hours to dedicate to making baklava, you should probably re-evaluate your priorities.

-Serafina

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Vegan Chocolate Sheet Cake (with non-vegan chocolate frosting)

Guess what, everyone? I tried to find a recipe for a vegan chocolate sheet cake last week (I was low on eggs and had to bring cake to a barbecue). I could not find any vegan sheet cake recipes. What the fuck? Is this because vegans don’t have enough friends to bother with sheet cake? No offense, vegans. But maybe if you used some butter you’d have more friends. #realtalk #sorrynotsorry

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I am pretty new to sheet-cake-level popularity, so I don’t have large platters. I’m working on it, and I made do with the cake carrier this time

Anyhoo, I ended up making a few slight adaptations to a vegan chocolate layer cake recipe that I have used for years. It turned out marvelously, and thanks to a butter-filled frosting, everyone wanted to be my friend.

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I poured my vanilla and apple cider vinegar into bowls for you guys, instead of just taking more pictures of my vanilla jar with the rusty lid. Making friends takes effort. And butter.

This works as a layer cake with two 9in cake pans, or it could also make 24 cupcakes. I found this handy baking time chart for all you type A vegans looking to make friends with cake.

Adapted from Joy the Baker

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups flour

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup canola oil

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

2 cups cold water

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 9 x 13 in pan and line with parchment. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners and set aside.

Mix flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Sifting is advised because cocoa power is a pain in the ass and clumps.

Mix the water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla together in a medium bowl.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined (vegan cakes get cranky when they are over-mixed, no one wants to eat a cranky cake)

Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for about 35 minutes. It is done when the skewer comes out mostly clean.

Cool completely then transfer onto a cake platter to be frosted.

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I was not sure about the baking time, so I stabbed the cake with a bamboo skewer about 20 times. It was effective. Also, I didn’t use a timer

Chocolate Frosting, adapted from a recipe on the back of a box of baking chocolate

Ingredients

8 oz baking chocolate (I usually do ½ unsweetened and ½ bittersweet)

6 tablespoons butter

About 1/3 cup milk (I use unsweetened almond milk)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon salt

About 3 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

Melt butter and chocolate. I usually use the old put a bowl over some boiling water method. Once melted, take off heat and let cool for a minute. Add vanilla and salt.

Alternately beat in powdered sugar and milk until you get a thick, but spreadable consistency. Spread evenly on cake. This frosting hardens and becomes fudgy when it cools.

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I don’t know how there are already splashes of butter and chocolate on the cake carrier, I hadn’t even mixed in the powdered sugar at this point, and that’s the messy part

You don’t make friends with salad

Serafina

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I really wanted to do another doughnut recipe because I was inspired by Mary Ellen’s last post, but I didn’t have time. When you’re preparing for a Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman final exam, there isn’t much time for doughnuts (The exam is basically driving out to a farm and then doing practical multitasking midwifery while you pull babies out of cows, humans, goats, etc. The people and animals that live on a farm are always pregnant, so as long as you drive with your preceptor, it doesn’t matter which farm you go to).

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I made these cookies. I froze more than half the dough in dough balls, and then ate all the cookies and all frozen dough within a few hours. It was very nice.

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I can’t respect people who don’t eat cookie dough because of raw eggs. They’re just like the people who don’t eat food that they’re allergic to. I’m allergic to peanuts, so I only eat them when I know I have an Epipen with me.

This isn’t one of those horrible recipes that expects you to have your butter softened or rest the dough in the fridge for 8 years. This recipe knows you, and knows that if there is softened butter in your kitchen, it’s probably been sitting unnoticed for at least a year. Year old butter doesn’t tend to yield tasty cookies, and you deserve tasty cookies.

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Browned butter tastes better anyway (which is what I tell myself to feel better about my inability to plan ahead)

It also doesn’t have any stupid shit about only using an egg yolk. My chickens work hard laying eggs and I’m not about to let anything go to waste (they’d find out and probably peck my eyes out)

I started a sugar-elimination diet the same morning I decided to make these cookies. I didn’t have processed sugar in my system for at least six hours, which was probably the most important aspect of this cookie success. By the time the dough was done, I had nearly collapsed from lack of sugar. These cookies literally saved my life.

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I advise using big chocolate chips and trying not to eat all the dough before you’ve made a couple cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen https://smittenkitchen.com/2009/03/crispy-chewy-chocolate-chip-cookies/

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

¾ cup unsalted butter, melted, or browned

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup sugar

1 tbsp vanilla

2 eggs

About 2 cups chocolate chips

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°

Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl

Cream sugars and melted butter, then whisk in eggs and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and mix with a wooden spoon to combine. Stir in the chocolate chips. Don’t bother chilling your dough and gallantly drop dough balls onto the baking sheet. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, watching closely. Transfer cookies to a wire cooling rack. If you’re baking all of your cookie dough, just keep on keeping on. If you are freezing some of it, let the baking sheet cool. Then, fill the baking sheet with balls of dough and stick in the freezer for 30 minutes-1 hour. Once relatively frozen, cookie dough balls can go into freezer bags, waiting patiently for the day that they will be eaten.

 

Cookies and dough balls

May the cookie force be with you

-Serafina