Monday, August 2, 2010

A Taste of HONEY - Nectar of the Gods

“Nectar” is derived from Latin nectar "drink of the gods", which in turn has its origins in the Greek word (néktar), presumed to be a compound of the elements nek- "death" and -tar "overcoming".

"Honey, a pure, natural sweetener prepared by bees from nectar collected from wild and cultivated flowers, was the first sweetener known to man. It is frequently mentioned in the Bible and depicted in cave paintings from prehistoric times. Early civilizations, like the Greeks and Romans, called honey, "the nectar of the gods". It has been said that honey bees were not native to North America; and that early settlers brought bee colonies to the East Coast States. Native Americans termed them the "white man's fly".

How does a trip to Quebec City end with a plate of Baklava & Espresso in Clarence, New York???

Outside of Quebec City when you cross the bridge over the St Lawrence River going north east to visit the  make sure you stop at the Musée de l'Abeille.
The museum has a nice collections of bee hives from around the world.

 Products made from honey or bees wax.  and
My favorite, a classroom surrounded with glass walls that allow you to see the live bee hives in action.
We were told these are Italian bees. The Queen bee, you can see her in the center, was marked with a white dot on her wing.  Unfortunately, this hive too was affected by the infection that has been depleting the bee population around the world.
To support Musée de l'Abeille, I bought large jar of honey with the intent to make Baklava when I got home.
As always I began by researching the history of Baklava.

Read numerous variations on recipes for Baklava then make my own version, this one is not easy to make into a health version so just make the tray, cut it into small pieces and share the bounty with friends and family.
I just bought the frozen Phyllo Dough in a one pound package. Thawed one half lbs and keep the other half frozen for another day... 

Melt 1 cup fresh, unsalted butter. Paint the bottom of the pan with butter then begin by layering one sheet at a time of the phyllo leaves onto the pan surface quickly painting each layer with butter between each layer until you have eight layers down on the pan.  Important to keep a clean, tea towel that has be dampened with water over the remaining phyllo leaves at all times until you are ready to coat it with butter. 
Don't follow this directive and good luck with your broken, cracked, dried out phyllo leaves.

 " Two principal ingredients, the pistachio and honey, were believed to be aphrodisiacs when taken regularly. Certain spices that were added to baklava, have also helped to fine-tune and to augment the aphrodisiac characteristics of the pastry, depending on male or female consumer. Cinnamon for females, and cardamom for males and cloves for both sexes. "

I used fresh, chopped Walnuts, better still if you can find the pistachio nuts. 
 Add spices to the ground nuts.  Repeat layering process, Phyllo, melted Butter, Ground Nuts, HONEY... 
until all of the ingredients are consumed.  

I like to finish the top layer with a final painting of butter and dusting of the nut spice mixture. Cut into small pieces, drizzle with a mixture of more honey, fresh lemon juice and spices into all of the cut sections.
 Place into a 350 degree oven for around a half an hour until crispy and browned and the fragrance of the sweet honey, nuts, spices and butter blossom into a delightful pastry.
Be sure to call a friend to enjoy this lavishly rich pastry with you.

                                          Enjoy with a fresh hot Espresso capped with Frothed Fresh Milk.
                                                                                Bon Appétit !!!
                                      Please leave a comment. Tell me your favorite recipe for Baklava.


  1. God! your just great at everything you put your mind to!

  2. I just love honey! I give bottles of it for my grandchildren. It is swabbed on their gums to coax out their baby teeth when their tongues chase after the sweetness.
    I buy them from a mother who gathers honey in a forest so it is organic and unadulterated.
    I'm intrigued with the way you mix food and art like in your post about bowls made out of used coffee filters :)

  3. Thank you Gilbert for the observation of food and art interplay ;~)


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