Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Nothing beats Middle Eastern sweets for the holidays

Nothing beats Middle Eastern sweets for the holidays as a gift or just as a holiday treat. There are many different kinds of sweets to choose from, many made with phylo dough, sweet syrup and nuts, especially pistachio nuts.

Phyllo, filo, or fillo dough (fromGreek: φύλλο phyllo 'leaf') is paper-thin sheets of unleavened flour dough used for making pastries in Middle Eastern and Balkan cuisine.

Pastry was originally made by the Egyptians. They made a flour and water paste to wrap around meat to soak up the juices as it cooked. Pastry was developed in the Middle East and it was brought to Europe by the Muslims in the 7th century. By medieval times local areas had their own puddings and pies. In the 17th century both flaky and puff pastries were used, and intricate patterns on the pies were a work of art.
Baklava (from the Farsi for "many leaves"), a pastry perfected by royal bakers in the sultan's palace in Istanbul, consists of layers of phyllo.
Here's a traditional recipe for Baklava:
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 (3-inch) sticks cinnamon
  • 4 to 6 whole cloves, or 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

  • 1 pound blanched almonds, pistachios, walnuts, or any combination, finely chopped or coarsely ground (about 4 cups)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or cardamom (optional)

  • 1 pound (about 24 sheets) Ziyad Phyllo dough
  • About 1 cup (2 sticks) melted butter

For more recipes or to order Mediterranean ingredients or even patry products, visit

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