Our location in Tomball allowed us to visit some dear friends, Marti and Andy. We are almost related, since they are Mark's brother's son's wife's parents.
We got to wish Andy a happy birthday on the first day we were there, and they invited us to his delicious birthday dinner. But we had to leave earlier than we wanted. We found that the only disadvantage to our free parking spot was its 10:00 curfew. So we returned the next day, as we hadn't gotten to play ping pong and other games that we had planned.
Denisa was also so bold to request a special Greek cooking lesson. We especially wanted to learn how to make the deliciously flaky Greek dessert--baklava. We had tasted Andy's baklava at the wedding, because he has made enough for all the guests at all of their daughters' weddings. So we shopped for the ingredients that they didn't have on hand, and started the two-hour process of assembling the layers of sweetness.
This is obviously a health food. Each paper-thin layer of filo is brushed with butter. You can see the filo on the table to the right. We brushed in five layers of filo on the bottom of the pan before we started layering it with the sugar and nut mixture in the pan. To complete the ambiance, there was a picture of a Greek island looking over our shoulder. After Andy got us started, we followed his lead and started building the layers.
We found that Mark was best at spreading the filo on the stack, and we shared the task of butter brushing.
Denisa was busy writing down the recipe as Andy mixed up the sweet and nutty mixture that goes between the layers of filo. He didn't use any standard measurements, so she wrote some things like, "enough cinnamon to cover the snow." That would translate into a little over one teaspoon cinnamon sprinkled over the mound of white sugar. But when he sniffed the mixture later, we added more cinnamon until it smelled just right. We were watching a master of baklava! After all the layers are stacked in the pan, it is time for the hardest part--cutting those perfect diamonds. We had no idea that the baklava are cut before it is baked.
It was 43 minutes before the pan came out of the oven, a perfect golden color. Then it is drizzled with a special syrup mixture that has been simmering for 15 minutes. That is a beautiful pan of Greek bliss!
Marti is the perfect hostess, serving the special Greek bread that she had purchased at church this week. The Greek bread was called Vasiloptia--also known as St. Basil's bread for those of us that aren't good at pronouncing those 5 syllable Greek words that sound so foreign to us.
We left to eat dinner, and Denisa was disappointed that we weren't actually eating baklava for dinner!?! We did eat plenty for dessert, and took most of that pan home with us when we left right before our 10:00 curfew. We've been snacking on this delicious dessert as we savor our time with Andy and Marti, feeling very Greek and very blessed to get to spend such good time with our friends.