Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hynovian Launch Party

The Hynovia Launch party was the perfect end of summer evening.  I’d had some trouble coming up with decorations, until I found some lovely Indian bedspreads in golds and reds and browns.  After that it was pretty easy to hang lanterns, pin up my sister’s sari fabric and transform our living room into a cozy salon full of warm late summery/early autumnal colors.  Our usual star lanterns fit right in.  One of my guests even loaned me a lovely Turkish coffee set for decoration:

We didn’t use it – well, except for our littlest guest, Ellie, who discovered that the goblets were fun to teethe on.

The menu came out wonderful – lots of bright flavors – as well as very pretty.  The Nut and Feta balls were a big hit and I have not forgotten that folks wanted the recipe.  I plan to make them again next week and post the recipe and photos up here.

In addition to the feast, we read the Hynovian short story "Azura of Carantia" and my sister did henna tattoos on those who wanted them.

Here are some more photos of the guests, the food and the decorations:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Hynovian Recipe: Almond and Walnut Baklava with Rose Water Syrup

The Hynovian Launch Party is tomorrow – I will be posting about it in a couple weeks.  I have been cooking for the last few days and thought I would share a "Hynovian" recipe that will be served at the party.  This recipe is adapted from the Baklava recipe from Turkish Cooking, by Tess Mallos (Periplus, 2005).  If you've never used filo dough, its not as intimidating as it might seem. Remember to let it defrost all the way, and use it quickly once you unwrap it as it dries out. 

Almond and Walnut Baklava with Rose Water Syrup

Makes 35 small squares

Oven to 325° - Baking time 1 hour


Assembled Ingredients
1 package (18 sheets) filo dough, defrosted. (I used The Fillo Factory’s organic whole wheat filo dough.)
¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
2 cups finally chopped almonds
1 cup finally chopped walnuts
½ cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 ½ cups water
1 ¼ cups sugar
¾ cup honey
1 strip of lemon zest
1 cinnamon stick
4 cloves
½ tsp rose water

Preheat the oven to 325°.  Brush a little butter on the sides and bottom of a 9” x 13” baking pan.

Mix the chopped nuts, cinnamon and sugar for the filling and set near your pan.

Mixing the nuts, sugar and cinnamon.
Open out your defrosted filo dough and fold over the top sheet.  Lift into the pan and brush with butter.  Repeat with five more sheets.

Sprinkle with ⅓ of the nut and sugar mixture and cover with a folded sheet of filo.  Brush with butter and layer with two more sheets, brushing the butter between the sheets.

Filling the Baklava
Repeat with another ⅓ of the filling and three more sheets.  Cover with the last ⅓ of the nuts and finish the pastry with the remaining six sheets of filo, brushing with butter between each folded sheet.

With a sharp knife cut the uncooked baklava into 35 squares – five cuts across the length of the pan and seven across the width.  Sprinkle with a little water to keep the edges from curling up while baking.

Ready to bake
Bake on the center shelf of the oven for 30 minutes.  Then rotate your pan and move up to a higher shelf for another 30 minutes.

While the baklava is baking make the syrup.  Heat the sugar and water in a small pan until boiling, stirring occasionally.  Add the honey, lemon zest, cinnamon and cloves.  Simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the rose water.  Strain into a measuring cup or small pitcher and allow to cool.

Adding the rose water
Pour the cooled syrup evenly over the hot baklava.  

Pouring the syrup
Let stand for several hours at least before re-cutting and serving.  I garnished mine with miniature rose petals from my patio garden. Enjoy!

Ready to Party!

Thursday, September 6, 2012


I'm having one of those weeks where you just have to keep lurching forward carrying one bag too many in hopes that the bus will be two minutes late, rather than two minutes early (so that you can still make it to your next appointment), but all you really want to do is lie on a beach somewhere, or maybe have a movie marathon, or something, anything, instead of everything on your to-do list.

After next week I have a week vacation from writing - not from work sadly - but still.  At the moment I can't tell if I am having writing fatigue or just deadline fatigue (though I suspect the latter.) 

So really, this is a very boring post, but also a very real one.  Some weeks you're just slogging.  This is one of those weeks.