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Tasting By The Book … Returns This Fall!

Tasting by the Book, now a signature event, arrived at the Abington Community Library in October 2015. Resoundingly successful, the event will make a return appearance again this October as Tasting By The Book III: All Around The Table on Saturday, October 21, 7 to 9 PM! Carol Rubel, Library Trustee and Co-Chair of our inaugural event, shared a conversation she had in 2016 with now three time Community Cook participant, Maria Pappa. We thank Carol, Maria, and planning committee members, volunteers, and Community Cooks for giving from the heart.

Sharing special food delicacies prepared by local donating cooks not only guaranteed a marvelously varied array of appetizers, entrees and desserts for folks to graze on…but also introduced some unusual and delicious specialty food items to the crowd.

Maria Pappa, creator of the delectable Greek classic, baklava, shares her reasons for loving our library…as well as her advice about creating the recipe for yourself below:

” I chose the dish because it’s become one of my signature desserts – and although many people enjoy Baklava, it’s often not a dessert people try making on their own.  I also participated in another auction type event several times and it was very well received, so I thought it would be a nice feature for this event.

Baking and cooking are the essence of so many family traditions. Growing up our home was always filled with wonderful food and baked treats, especially around the holidays.  My mother’s baking was even a cottage industry for many years…  With all that she baked and cooked, mom never made a dessert that she loved – Baklava.  Some years ago I decided that I needed to bake the dessert she loved for her and another tradition was born.  I experimented with recipes, eventually developing my own in honor of mom… It’s truly a special treat I enjoyed making for her and continue to make for others.  Christmas 2015 was the last opportunity I had to make it for my mother, so now it holds even more of a special memory for me.

There are many recipes and variations for Baklava – some variations add different flavors such as orange, lemon or chocolate…and others use pistachios instead of walnuts.  My recipe has been an adaptation of a number I have experimented with and have developed my own – which I consider to be proprietary — simply because folks now contact me and ask me to prep it for purchase!

The following is a basic recipe that I have tried and would recommend.

Ingredients

  • 1  16oz.  package phyllo dough  ( frozen dough can be purchased in rolls, use one or two rolls depending on how thick you would like the layers)
  • 1 pound chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup honey

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9×13 inch pan.
  2. Chop nuts and toss with cinnamon. Set aside. Unroll phyllo dough. Cover phyllo with a dampened cloth to keep from drying out as you work. Place two sheets of dough in pan, butter thoroughly. Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered. Sprinkle 2 – 3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top. Top with two sheets of dough, butter, nuts, layering as you go. The top layer should be about 6 – 8 sheets deep.
  3. Using a sharp knife cut into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. You may cut into 4 long rows then make diagonal cuts. Bake for about 50 minutes until baklava is golden and crisp.
  4. Make sauce while baklava is baking. Boil sugar and water until sugar is melted. Add vanilla and honey. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
  5. Remove baklava from oven and immediately spoon sauce over it. Let cool. Serve in cupcake papers. This freezes well. Leave it uncovered or lightly covered with foil as it gets soggy if it is wrapped up.

I chose to support this library event for a number of reasons…  As a patron and community member, I believe in the mission of the Abington Community Library and feel the library is a resource and treasure.  They actively promote life long learning and demonstrate their commitment in a variety of ways.  The opportunities they provide to every age are endless and their programming is exceptional. Having worked closely with the staff over the years, I have seen their level of dedication and it is truly inspiring. On a personal level, as a small business owner, consultant and instructor, the library has provided me with many opportunities to offer classes and events and  participate in other events such as the highly successful  Dorothy Bocella Holiday Marketplace.  I thought Tasting By The Book was an interesting concept and venue for a food tasting and knew it had the potential to be a very successful fundraiser for the library.  It was everything and more, and I appreciated the opportunity to be a community cook.   Interestingly enough, I have even been contacted by some of the event participants to place orders for my Baklava!

If you would like to participate in TBTB III: All Around The Table, please contact the library and ask for Renee Roberts or Sandy Longo. The Committee Co-Chairs, Bob Jones or Chris Police or a member of the planning committee, will be in touch with you promptly.

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