I think Pooh was on to something. If I didn’t live in the city, you might find me, too, wandering the forest with my hand dunked into a jar of honey. But since that decadent fantasy reeks of impracticality, I look to other cultures for ideas on how to indulge in the sticky yellow cement. From simply drizzling it into a warm cup of tea, to baking it into traditional treats, this natural sugar alternative and pantry staple is, quite simply put, the bees’ knees. Pooh would have been in heaven in Southern Ontario, where honey paints the Greenbelt gold - using the Greenbeltfresh Fresh Food Finder, I found nearly 35 sources of honey close to home! Is there anything sweeter than that?
In Ontario, there’s a wide range of honeys to be found - wildflowers, blueberry, lavender, basswood, goldenrod, clover and summer blossom, all produced by busy Ontario bees gathering nectar from flowering plants and putting it to good use. I wanted to cook with rhubarb this week because it’s in season, but I have been holding onto this recipe for a while and I had to share it. My family has a tendency to eat Greek food when we go out for dinner, and no matter how much we’ve eaten, there is always room for a piece of baklava. A single triangle we split, with four forks, just enough for a single bite for each of us. This Greek baklava uses walnuts, which are also grown in the Greenbelt, in case you’re wondering. This baklava recipe was handed to my mom from a Greek friend - it’s authentic, amazingly simple and will truly impress your friends. But be forewarned: it’s not skimpy on calories and it’s dangerously addictive! Spend the long weekend with your family making some, and then share this baklava with your friends for Victoria Day! Have a happy long weekend!
2 cups walnuts, crushed (minimum)
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 box filo pastry
4 graham crackers
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon cloves
2.5 cups sugar
1.5 cups water
½ cup honey
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees farenheit.
2. In a large bowl, crush together graham crackers and walnuts, and add sugar and cinnamon to the dry ingredients.
3. In a glass pan, lay out 6 sheets of filo pastry.
4. Sprinkle this bottom filo layer with walnut mix, spread evenly around the pan.
5. Cover bottom layer with 2 sheets of filo.
6. Repeat this layering until you reach the last 6 sheets of filo or run out of walnut mixture. Cover with remaining filo.
7. Using a sharp knife, gently score a diamond-shaped grid across the top of the uncooked baklava. Pull the knife in diagonals lines across to achieve this effect. (When the baklava bakes, the filo will puff up and the diamonds will become more distinct). For added flavour/decoration, push a single clove into the top of each diamond.
8. Melt butter in a bowl, then pour evenly over the top of the tray.
9. Bake for 30-45 minutes, until the top layer is golden brown. Set aside to cool.
To make the syrup
1. Bring water and sugar to a boil, and let them boil for 10 minutes.
2. Add in honey and lemon juice, bring to a boil, and immediately turn off.
Tip: if you would prefer, you can substitute some of the sugar for honey. I upped the honey quantity from ¼ cup and reduced the sugar quantity by ½ a cup
3. Pour hot syrup over cooled baklava. At this point, the syrup will literally bathe the filo. The filo will slowly absorb the syrup.
4. Let sit in the fridge overnight to enjoy the proper consistency.