I recently did my first ever cooking class – with City East Community College. It was a half day class on “Middle Eastern Vegetarian Cooking” and it was delicious.

My favourite thing we made (apart from Za’atar) was the baklava – who knew it was so easy?!

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Made a batch at home the very next day. If you make a batch with half a pack of filo pastry then the other half can be spanakopita for 2-3 people, perfect amounts for me & my fella.

Smash some nuts

Ingredients:

Walnuts
Pistachios
Blanched almonds
1 tablespoon sugar

We used about 1/2 a cup each of pistachios, blanched almonds and walnuts. I imagine you could adjust this to whatever you like. Use a food processor, or a spice grinder like I did to smash this up into coarse sand (or chunkier or smoother if you want).

Set up your pastry station

Ingredients:

Smashed nuts (from above)
Half packet filo pastry – covered with a teatowel to keep it from drying out
100 grams or so of melted butter (or vegan alternative – a sweeter oil like macadamia maybe?)

Assemble your souramenos

Work one sheet of filo at a time and make sure the others are covered so they don’t dry out. Brush your sheet with butter – a few lines should do, sprinkle a handful of the crushed nuts then working from one of the long ends scrunch it up so you end up with a long piece of pastry and nuts – folded a bit like a fan. Then work from one end to roll it tightly into a spiral and place this into your baking tin.

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Once they are all done bake at 200c for around 20 minutes or until they are starting to colour nicely. Then drizzle over a few tablespoons of water and bake for another 5 minutes – this apparently ensures that the centres are cooked.

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While they are baking make the syrup. 

Ingredients:

2 cups caster sugar
2 cups water
Pieces of lemon and/or orange peel
Few drops of rosewater or orange blossom (can be overpowering so go easy!)
Lemon juice

Combine sugar, citrus rind and the water in a pot over medium heat and stir to dissolve sugar, then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes, should be syrupy but not caramel. Towards the end add the juice of about half a lemon and some drops of rosewater or orange blossom.

Pull your golden little pastries out of the oven, pour over the syrup and let cool. Then eat them! They are not as sweet as many of the store bought ones, and have a lovely citrus note.

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