Or the 'joys' of cooking in somebody else's kitchen... Maybe I'm getting stuck in my ways (I'm obviously stuck in my ways) but the moment I step out of my own kitchen, which fits me in much the same way as a favourite pair of shoes, I find myself at odds. New shoes aren't so bad but somebody else's shoes (or kitchen) feel very odd indeed. My stepmothers kitchen should be reasonably familiar, I've been staying here on and off for years, I worked for her in the past when she ran a hotel and restaurant, theoretically I know how she organises things and I can't complain about a lack of necessary equipment. In practice it's not so simple.
I offered to make Baklava for when friends were coming round, I haven't made it for years but the recipe I have is one that Bo (stepmother) faxed me (remember faxes....) many years ago and it was delicious. This would be easy I thought. The recipe we ended up using was new to me and comes from Silvena Rowe's 'Purple Citrus & Sweet Perfume', Bo got the bits for me and I waited for them to go out before I got on with it having been armed with a foil tin and worked out where the scales, small saucepans, and a lemon squeezer could be found. Rowe's recipe turned out to be on the epic end of the scale (as was the packet of filo pastry - it said approximately 14 sheets, I lost count somewhere around 20). Sometimes measurements on the page don't mean as much as they might to me but adding it up the Baklava uses over half a kilo of sugar, and feeds far more than the 12 it suggests.
Despite failing to find a pastry brush (hidden in plain site in front of me) turning on the wrong part of the oven twice (it's gas and has 3 options, unlike my electric oven which does not hot enough or to hot depending on its mood) and accidentally piercing a hole in the foil tray so the butter made a determined effort to escape the Baklava turned out quite well. Despite how horribly bad for you it must be it's something I could eat a lot more often so this is an adapted version of Rowe's Walnut and Rose Baklava. Make it at least the day before you want it.
For the syrup take 250g of caster sugar, 250ml of water, 5 tablespoons of rose water and the zest and juice of 2 lemons, simmer until it starts to turn syrupy (we love cinnamon so added a tea spoon to the syrup as well). Meanwhile melt 250g of unsalted butter and find a baking tray roughly 20 by 30 cm. Roughly chop 350g of walnuts and grind a further 150g quite fine. Mix 100g if caster sugar into the ground nuts along with a tea spoon if cinnamon if using, add another 100g of sugar into the roughly chopped ones. Set the oven to 180 or gas 6. Brush the baking tray with butter, and locate a pack of filo pastry (between 12 and 16 sheets ought to do the trick) lay down the first sheet of filo, brush with butter and sprinkle with the ground nut mix, repeat until half way through the pastry pack. Towards the middle put in a couple of layers of the roughly chopped nuts. Make sure the top layer is liberally buttered, cut into diamond shapes the size of a generous mouthful. Cook for about half an hour, when removed from the oven pour over the syrup and then leave to rest for about 24 hours.