What began as one of the first online Mediterranean food blogs has blossomed into the leading site for modern Mediterranean cooking and lifestyle with millions of readers—and now it is the inspiration for the long-awaited first cookbook from Suzy Karadsheh.
In her cookbook, Suzy brings cross-culturally inspired dishes from throughout the Mediterranean into American home kitchens, using easy-to-find ingredients and easy-to-follow, tested-to-perfection recipes to make your meals more vibrant, delicious, and yes—even a little healthier, too!
Born and raised by the sea in Port Said, Egypt, Suzy lived in Michigan and Des Moines with her family before moving to Atlanta, where she now lives. Her modern cooking reflects the rich and complex traditions of the Mediterranean and Middle East, from Greece and southern Spain to Jordan and Tunisia, as well as inspiration from her new Southern roots. Practical and weeknight-easy recipes include: Spanakopita Egg Muffins, Chicken Shawarma Bowls, Garlicky Spinach and Chickpea Soup with Lemon and Pecorino Romano, Roasted Asparagus Salad with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil, Middle Eastern Rice Pilaf with Toasted Vermicelli and Pine Nuts, Orange-Cardamom Olive Oil Cake, and of course Homemade Pita Bread to serve with just about everything.
Suzy’s winning combination of approachable instructions, reliable recipes, stunning photography, charming authentic stories, and simple assemblies is sure to thrill anyone hungry to eat healthier food that bursts with flavour and spice.
Triple Nutty Baklava
MAKES 24 PIECES, SERVING 12
Iconic baklava (or baklawa) needs no big introduction. But when you grow up eating it at nearly every special gathering, you become a bit of a baklava snob, accepting nothing less than the best homemade stuff made with layers of appropriately honeyed, crisp phyllo sheets and just the right amount of nuts tucked in between.
Traditionalists make baklava with either walnuts or pistachios, but I love mine extra nutty with a trio of nuts and a generous hint of cinnamon. Baklava is not hard to make, and if you know how to assemble a lasagna, you’ll find the soothing process of layering is pretty similar. I know it’s a bit of a labour of love, but I think it’s worth it. Plus, it’s the kind of dessert that’s even better the next day—great for making ahead of time for parties and holidays.
¾ cup sugar
1 cup cold water
1 cup honey
1 tablespoon orange extract
5 whole cloves
Juice of 1 large lemon
6 ounces shelled pistachios, roasted and chopped (about 1¼ cups), plus extra for garnish
6 ounces walnuts, roasted and chopped (about 1¼ cups)
6 ounces hazelnuts, roasted and chopped (about 1¼ cups)
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 (1-pound) package phyllo dough, thawed if frozen
2 sticks (1 cup, 16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
- Make the honey syrup: Place the sugar and water in a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat and simmer until the sugar dissolves, about 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Stir in the honey, orange extract, and whole cloves, then bring to a boil, turn the heat to medium-low, and simmer about 25 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the syrup cool, then stir in the lemon juice (the syrup should be sticky and not too runny).
- Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Make the baklava: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the multipurpose blade, combine the pistachios, walnuts, and hazelnuts. Pulse a few times to finely chop. Transfer to a large bowl and add the sugar, cinnamon (start with less if you’re not sure), and ground cloves. Mix well to combine.
- Unroll the phyllo pastry and place the sheets on a clean kitchen towel, then cover the stack with a second clean kitchen towel.
- Brush a 9 × 13 × 2-inch baking pan with some of the melted butter. Take 1 sheet of phyllo and place it in the pan (if the phyllo sheets are larger than your pan, feel free to fold them to fit or use kitchen shears to trim). Brush the top of the phyllo with more melted butter. Repeat this process a few more times, until you have used about one-third of the phyllo dough. Now, sprinkle half the nut mixture evenly over the top layer of phyllo. Continue adding sheets of phyllo and brushing each with melted butter until you have used about half of the remaining phyllo sheets. Distribute the remaining nut mixture evenly over the top of that second layer of phyllo. Finish with the remaining batch of phyllo, following the same process, and after adding the last sheet, brushing the top with melted butter.
- Use a thin sharp or a serrated knife to cut the baklava in a gentle sawing motion on the diagonal in both directions so you have 24 to 36 diamond-shaped pieces.
- Bake the baklava for 30 to 45 minutes, until the top turns a light golden brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. (Note: Because ovens vary, be sure to check your baklava halfway through baking.)
- As soon as you remove the baklava from the oven, pour the cooled syrup all over it (it will make a sizzling sound). Set aside at room temperature for at least 1 hour before serving to make sure the syrup has been absorbed. Cut through the earlier marked pieces and serve with a garnish of chopped pistachios, if you like.
- Store the baklava in the pan, covered with plastic wrap, at room temperature for the first night or two. To store leftovers for a longer period, transfer the baklava to airtight containers and leave in the fridge for a few days, or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw the frozen baked baklava in the fridge overnight or at room temperature for a few hours before serving.
A FEW TIPS ON MAKING BAKLAVA
Thaw the phyllo pastry in the fridge overnight and take it out of the fridge 1 hour before using.
Set the phyllo dough on a clean kitchen towel and cover with a second towel to keep the pliable, so they do not break as you’re working.
Prepare the syrup ahead and let it cool so that when the baklava comes out of the oven, the syrup is ready to be poured over it. You want to hear that fun sizzling sound when you pour the syrup over the hot baklava; it means the crisp sheets of pastry are lovingly receiving the syrup.
Resist serving the baklava immediately. Give it at least 1 hour to set up, or preferably several hours if you can stand it, so the pastry cools completely and the syrup is fully absorbed.
The Mediterranean Dish” Copyright © 2022 by Suzy Karadsheh. Photographs copyright © 2022 by Caitlin Bensel. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.”