Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pomegranate Baklava

pistachio baklava with pomegranate syrup

Food blogging has come under a lot of fire lately, from chefs becoming unhappy with bloggers taking photos in restaurants, to people being criticised for accepting freebies, as well as the constant debate between blogs and new media versus the traditional established media as information sources. And more importantly, when did blogging become a competitive sport?

When I started writing Spicy Icecream nearly three years ago now, it was just a little spot for me to share my experiences in the kitchen, practise my photography and writing skills. It was a hobby, a bit of fun. There were just a handful food bloggers in Sydney, and I never expected to meet half the fabulous people or to be given any of the opportunities that this blog has brought me, and I’m thankful for every one of them.

I believe it’s good ethics to advise readers if I’m writing about a freebie I’ve received or an event I’ve been invited to. I don’t think it’s fair to be labelled a “$ell out” or to be judged for running advertising. I don’t plan to turn this site into my main source of income, but blogging is both expensive and time consuming when you think about the cost of web hosting, equipment, ingredients, and eating out. To be able to recoup some of my costs is welcome. But not at the expense of giving false opinions or losing my voice as a writer!

pistachio baklava

That being said, I received some Royal Pom pomegranates courtesy of WordStorm PR and was inspired to make something delicious with them. I have loved pomegranates since I was a little girl, when I’d pick them off my Nanna’s tree (she was clearly ahead of her time!) and dislodge the ruby red arils one by one. To see that they are now being commercially grown in Australia is great, and the quality of the product is fabulous. I couldn’t wait to cook with them!

I ended up making baklava with pomegranate and mint syrup. I knew the pomegranates would be delicious with pistachios, walnuts and pine nuts in the baklava, but this turned out even better than I’d hoped. It’s a little time consuming to make, with a lot of layers of delicate filo, but the end result is absolutely delicious and so worth the effort. The pomegranates add a delicious flavour that complements the nuttiness perfectly. I believe it's good ethics to share this fabulous recipe with you all!

Spicy Icecream received 2 complimentary Royal Pom pomegranates courtesy of WordStorm PR.

Pistachio Baklava with Pomegranate and Mint Syrup
Adapted from Flavours by Donna Hay
Serves 12

• 36 sheets filo pastry, 20x30cm
• 100g butter, melted
• 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Filling
• 1 ½ cups raw pistachios
• 1 cup walnuts
• ¼ cup pine nuts
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/3 cup brown sugar
• 45g butter

Pomegranate and Mint Syrup
• ¾ cup water
• 1 ½ cups sugar
• ½ cup fresh mint leaves, shredded
• 1 teaspoon rosewater
• 1 pomegranate, arils removed

To make the filling, place the pistachios, walnuts, pine nuts, cinnamon and brown sugar in a food processor and process until nuts are finely chopped. Add butter and process until combined.

Place a sheet of filo pastry in a 20x30cm cake tin and brush with the combined melted butter and oil. Top with 11 more sheets of filo, brushing each sheet well with butter and oil. Spread half the filling over the top. Top with 12 more sheets of filo, brushing with the butter and oil mixture as you go. Spread the remaining filling over the top and top with the remaining filo sheets, brushing as you go with butter and oil. Cut the baklava into diamond shaped in the tin. Bake for 1 hour.

To make the syrup, place the water, sugar and mint in a saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer for 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain to remove the mint leaves. Add the rosewater and pomegranate.

When baklava is cooked, let stand for 5 minutes then pour the syrup over the top. Serve warm or cold.

25 comments:

Ellie (Almost Bourdain) said...

Very well said, Lisa. The blakava is gorgeous with mint syrup and pomegranates.

Karen @ Citrus and Candy said...

I say leave the political battles for others to fight and lets concentrate on doing what we love best - cooking all sorts of deliciousness and taking beautiful photos of it. As you have done for 3 years...

Love your work Lisa xx

Barbara said...

I love this post Suze. Well said. I received the free Pomegranates also and have since bought them at the shops. I think the Australian grown ones are exceptional. I posted childhood memories of them also.

Mark @ Cafe Campana said...

Very interesting post and great looking recipe. One of my few criticisms of the internet is people use the relative anonymity as an excuse to say whatever they like. I think you need to be yourself and if you wouldn't say it to the persons face you should not post it on their site or write a rant email.

Your site is great and I appreciate all the great work you do :)

Liss said...

Oh firstly, the star of this piece -the baklava! It's on my 10 food things to do in 2010 list - I make many things others wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole but baklava makes me weak at the knees! I think because I love it so, I'm worried I will not like my own! (does NOT make sense I realise!)

Blogging on the other hand, I've only just noticed is quite competitive but only if you allow it to be. I think if you get caught up in the whirlwind of 'who does what, and who gets what' your own blog becomes quite a false representation of yourself. It becomes the 'I out-did X' or 'I'll get this out before Y'. It's just not worth risking your integrity to your work, your creation (or your blog) or yourself.

Advertising? Sure! Sell outs? Not-so-much. I heard some brilliant advice through a friend which I have repeated to many: 'Make money BECAUSE of your blog, not on it' because opportunities will come from your blog if that's the way it's meant to roll..... :)

Betty @ The Hungry Girl said...

Yes, I agree. Nicely said Lisa! This looks fabulous! Would've never even thought of a pomegranate baklava before seeing this!

Stephcookie said...

Gorgeous baklava :) And I agree with you 100%, and that's why I love your blog - you can tell it is all you, you're not saying nice things about stuff just because you got it for free!

A cupcake or two said...

Good on you Lisa. People are so judgemental. Food is suppose to bring people together. Your blog is fantastic and your pictures are great. Keep up the great work and hopefully I'll get to meet you soon.

Simon Food Favourites said...

that's one nice look baklava. something i've never made and possibly never will as i'm too scared to try it and also i'd probably make too much to eat. but a could excuse to give out to friends or work i guess if i did. i was given a bottle of pomegranate syrup but i'm not too sure what to cook with it. any suggestions? :-)

Manggy said...

I don't see blogging as a competitive sport, and I pity those who do. That is definitely the least fun way to go about it, and is ultimately fruitless. It's just food, after all. Enjoy it!

Nothing wrong with freebies either, though I've never replied to any offers (mostly because of geography, but also because I can't make the commitment). That being said, I like the application of pom here- it's definitely unique!

grace said...

this is a powerful post--it contains a terrific commentary as well as an amazing recipe and gorgeous pictures. my knees get weak just thinking about baklava. :)

Gastronomy Gal said...

I've also noticed that food blogging is becoming really competitive! If you acknowledge where you have received the goods, I don't see the problem. Unless you gave a fakely good review because you got it for free. That is horrid.

Do you think most of the magazines and newspaper journalists pay for all the clothes/product they endorse through their publications? Hardly!!!

Also, I have noticed a number of anonymous posters (obviously from the restaurants) biting back if a blogger does a bad review. I'm not sure how to handle this, as I write my true experience and the restaurateur (or friends) writing to me rudely doesn't make me change my mind!

Now, after my little rant, the Baklava looks Lisa!

chocolatesuze said...

fabulously written dude! and the baklava looks awesome!

Laura Loo said...

how unique and different! definitely piqued my interest!...

mademoiselle délicieuse said...

Always worried that if I make baklava that I won't be able to control myself from eating it all.

As for blogging, if we all got into it just to make money then we'd all be rather broke indeed! Stay true, coz that's why we read what you write =)

Anh said...

OMG! I really like the look of that baklava! Out of this world I say!

And cheers for the three years of blogging!

M. said...

your baklava looks gorgeous!

Tenina said...

I LOVE getting produce from friends or fans who expect me to come up with something new using it...these are beautiful, congrats on a job well done, with or without the free stuff! You go girl!

Renita said...

Well said. As long as you love doing what you're doing it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks!

I think most of us write to document our food adventure. It's wonderful that we get to share it with like minded people. I've never been a big fan of pomegranate growing up, but I think I should give it another go. Thanks for sharing! :)

Betty said...

hey lisa this looks sooo greaaat

Jessica said...

Keep on cooking and photographing...don't worry about what everyone else says. Your recipe and pictures for this post look beautiful!

jessyburke88@gmail.com

The Asymptotic Faery said...

I'm also a graphic designer/illustraor who is just getting into the knack of food writing. I'd love to do this professionally and make some money at this as a freelancer. I use my food blog as a tool and way to express and I am trying to explore more baking and cooking than I usually do and absorb as much knowledge as I can on food and dessert.

I really have enjoyed reading your blog entries.

I've always wondered about this myself - the protocol and legalities involved, if at all, in taking photos of food at restaurants...or even places like bakeries, food markets and so forth. I know how some vendors can be. Some can be very touchy and weird about random people snapping photos of their goods and food items.

I've taken photos before when I've been out to eat, but it was because no one was around to really look at and notice what I was doing and if anyone saw, it happened to be other dining customers who curiously glanced for only a moment.

But I do wonder if taking photos of food at eateries is officially OK, given that, by chance, I was spotted by the owner(s), manager(s) or even service employees?

Must I appear with some sort of release form or a business card showing proof of where I blog and write about my food reviews for either hobby or pay?

As for the baklava, I absolutely love the stuff. It's one of my favorite desserts, and so far my favorite type of baklava tend to be of the Armenian varieties. But I'm open to trying many kinds.

Incorporating the pomegranate into the baklava sounds like a great idea and I'd love to try the recipe you have here.

Did you make the phyllo dough yourself or did you purchase it? I've heard that making phyllo dough from scratch is tedious and enduring, but I'd still love to try my hand at that someday. In the meantime, I know that phyllo dough layers are sold in some of my local supermarkets.

janet said...

what an interesting variation to baklava - it sounds divine. :)

Bootcamp said...

What great pictures on your blog, and I love the title of your blog. Delicious!

Bootcamp said...

I love looking at all the different food blogs, so many things to look at. I stumbled upon this blog, love the creative title and all the photos to go with it. Delicious.

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