Homemade Baklava using D’Vash

I find it interesting that over the last few months there are a couple of boxes of fillo dough and puff pastry in my freezer. I’m almost certain I had a couple of ideas bouncing around in my head during those purchases, but it was not until team members from D’Vash Organics contacted me once again to partner with them in creating yet another great recipe using their amazing D’Vash Date Nectar.  That’s when I knew exactly what I was going to make. A traditional baklava, in some ways, but using D’Vash date nectar in replace of honey. The result was mind blowing to say the least.

Homemade Baklava using D'Vash
Homemade Baklava using D’Vash

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 rolls or 1 box of fillo dough, thawed
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups of shelled pistachios
  • 2 cups of walnuts
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup of D’Vash date nectar
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Start by making your sweet sauce that will be used after the baklava has baked. You will want to do this ahead so that it has time to cool.

Add the sugar, water, lemon juice, and D’Vash date nectar to a small pot. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat, then once boiling reduce the heat and cook for about 5 more minutes. Stir along the way. After 5 minutes, remove from the heat and let it cool.

Now the backbreaking work. Just kidding. This is the only time consuming part, and if you are having your kids help, this can take a bit of patience as unlayering each piece of fragile fillo can be a bit nerve wracking. Just make sure your fillo dough is completely thawed. I set mine out the day before and place it in the refrigerator overnight for a day or two to ensure it is completely thawed.

Get a baking sheet out, or if your are super detailed get a baking dish out that will fit your sheet of fillo dough. I go with my baking sheet and make sure that when I layer each fillo that it matches up with the previous fillo dough.

Make the sugar and nut mixture. To a food processor, or use a knife if you desire, pulse the nuts into a fine chop. Add the nuts to a bowl along with the sugar and cinnamon and give that a good mix.

Get your bowl of melted butter ready along with a pastry brush. Unroll a roll of fillo and get ready to baklava!

Place 10 fillo sheets onto the baking sheet one at a time, and brush each sheet with butter once it’s in the pan before adding the next sheet of fillo.  After the 10th sheet, spread about 1/5 of nut mixture over the fillo dough.

Do the same process, but this time layer only 5 sheets, buttering each sheet, then on the 5th sheet, top with the nut and sugar mixture.

Do this about 4 more times with the 5 sheet layer process, then on the final top, go back to the 10 stack of fillo, ensuring that all nut mixture is used up before layering the top 10 sheets of fillo.

Butter the top of the 10th sheet, then gently push down and form the baklava.

Homemade Baklava Ingredients using D'Vash
Homemade Baklava Ingredients using D’Vash

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Now let’s cut the baklava. Cut the fillo into about 2 inch strips, lengthwise, then make diagonal cuts to make somewhat of a diamond shape. If you want to keep things simple, just cut into rectangles, it’s up to you.

Place the baking sheet into the oven and cook for about 1 hour, up to 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Once the baklava is a great golden brown, remove from the oven, and immediately ladle over the cooled syrup you made earlier, ensuring that you get into all of those crevices.

Now the hard part… waiting.

The goal is to not only let the baklava cool, but you want that syrup to penetrate all of that great fillo that you took your time stacking. After about 4 hours, go ahead and try the baklava, but trust me the longer you wait, the better it gets. Kids approved, neighbors and friends approved, and chef approved.

If you are looking for a great treat that will be sure to please everyone (with the exception of those with nut allergies), then give this baklava a try. The replacement of D’Vash really made this baklava stand out. It had this subtle tartness that really made this delicious baklava pop.

If you are wanting to try D’Vash Organics Date Nectar (and I highly recommend it), then head over to their store and pick some up. My lucky readers can use the coupon code DVASHSIMPLECOMFORTFOOD upon check out! Hope you enjoy D’Vash as much as we do!

Smothered Burritos with Bombero Sauce

Often times I am thinking about making a great Mexican style sauce. The taqueria I often visit has a small array of sauces that I am totally addicted to, whether that be dipping chips into or spooning all over my tacos. By default I lean on more spicy sauces, probably more spicy than most can typically handle, and this bombero sauce is right up my alley. This is a great sauce on its own as it is smokey and packs a punch, but when ladled onto a cooked burrito, well it just gets elevated to a whole other level.

Smothered Burrito with Bombero Sauce
Smothered Burrito with Bombero Sauce

Let’s get started.

For the Bombero Sauce:

  • 20 dried chile arbol, stems removed
  • Water to cover the chilies, about 2 1/2 cups
  • 4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 3 roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp salt, to taste

For the burritos:

  • Cooked and shredded chicken
  • Large flour tortillas, slightly warmed
  • Mexican Queso quesadilla, shredded, to your liking
  • Mexican Crema, to your liking

Start by making the sauce.

To a sauce pan, add the arbol chilies, and the water, and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and let the chilies steep for about 30 minutes. During this time prepare the rest of the sauce ingredients.

After 30 minutes, remove the chilies with a slotted spoon and place them into a blender or food processor. Reserve the chile water.

Add the remaining sauce ingredients into the blender or food processor, along with about 1 cup of the chili water, and 2 cups of fresh water and blend until smooth.

Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer and use a spoon to mash the mixture through the strainer. This will filter any seeds or thicker stuff that you can discard.

Now you have your bombero sauce. Taste and season with any additional sauce.Yep, packs a little punch, but don’t worry, my wife and kids loved this sauce and everyone devoured the smothered burritos.

Now add that sauce to a sauce pot and bring to a simmer, cooking for about 10-15 minutes. Let cool and store in your refrigerator until you are ready to use. I couldn’t wait. I was the dude sweating in the kitchen, repeating the tortilla chip dunk into the sauce. It’s addicting.

 

Bombero Sauce Recipe
Bombero Sauce Recipe

Now onto the burrito. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Warm a large flour tortilla so it is pliable, then add in shredded chicken, and about 1/2 cup of the quesadilla cheese. Roll and fold the burrito, and place onto a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. The goal is to get a slightly crunchy outside of the burrito. Repeat with as many burritos as you would like to make.

During this time, warm up the bombero sauce on the stove, and bring to a low boil.

After 10 minutes, remove the burritos, and get ready to sauce them. I ladle sauce over the top of mine, top with more cheese, and place back into the oven until the cheese is melted. I let the wife and kids ladle as much as they want and add cheese if desired. After the cheese has melted, remove and drizzle Mexican crema over the top.

Dig in.

Not only do you get this great, almost baked chimichanga, burrito, but the spiciness balanced with the cheese and crema just made this a meal so liked that I think we all wanted more the following day. It’s that good. Feel free to use that sauce to your liking. Think enchiladas, drizzle over tacos, you name it. It’s a winner. I hope you enjoy!

Vietnamese Caramel Chicken Po Boy

As you probably are already aware, I have a few different ethnic cuisines that are my all-time favorites. Mexican, Thai, Indian, and well pretty much anything Asian. That includes Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian, and Filipino. With hope, I pray that my kids who I cook for everyday grown up to realize that when they grow older. I’m not that guy who is serving up the same jive every week, rather I’m the dude who is serving them dishes, family style, from all over the world. I typically always do a take on this particular recipe as my entire family totally loves it, however it goes so fast that you wish you would have quadrupled the recipe or simply told the kids to slow down a bit. It’s that good. It’s Vietnamese caramel chicken, but instead of serving with a side of rice and some thinly sliced cucumbers, I made this into a po boy. I mean it’s the best of both worlds, right?

Vietnamese Caramel Chicken Po Boy Recipe
Vietnamese Caramel Chicken Po Boy Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients for the chicken and marinade:

  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cubed
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp canola oil

Ingredients for the sauce:

  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • pinch of salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup of water

Ingredients for the sandwich:

  • Your favorite baguette
  • mayonnaise, optional
  • cherry or roma tomatoes, optional
  • head lettuce, thinly chopped
  • fresh cilantro, chopped, optional
  • 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced, optional

Sounds like a lot, but it’s really not as the ingredients for the marinade and sauce are essentially the same.

Start by combining all of your chicken and marinade ingredients into a mixing bowl or sealable plastic bag, and let this marinade for a at least a couple of hours in the refrigerator. Take the chicken out and have it come close to room temperature before you are ready to cook.

During this time, mix the sauce ingredients, and if you want, go ahead and prepare your sandwich ingredients. NOTE: The chicken cooks quickly, very quickly.

Vietnamese Caramel Chicken Po Boy Recipe
Vietnamese Caramel Chicken Po Boy Recipe

Get a large skillet out and heat it to medium-high heat. Let it heat up for a minute or two then add in the chicken. Don’t mess with the chicken. Let it do its thing for a couple of minutes, then start stirring it around. Cook the chicken for about 7 minutes, then turn on your kitchen vent and add in the sauce. Stir, coating the chicken and cook quickly. The sauce will thicken and get nice and sticky. Once that happens, remove the skillet from the heat.

Whatever you do, don’t start eating the chicken yet. It’s so darn addictive that you may end up not having enough to make a sandwich!

Now it’s time to make the sandwich. Lather both sides of your sandwich with mayonnaise. to the bottom, add the shredded lettuce and tomatoes. Top with a bunch of the caramelized chicken, then top with cilantro and jalapenos. Almost a banh mi style without the pickled elements. Fold, push down on the sandwich, and open wide.

This sandwich is awesome. Sticky chicken packed with great Asian flavors really knocks this one out of the park. Hope you enjoy!

Thai Style Honey

Thai honey… I know, big deal right? It is what you do with it that gets really, really good. We were running out of honey so I decided I pick some up at our local farmers market. The vendor had plenty to chose from but we decided to pick up a ‘standard’ batch of local honey. My wife typically uses honey in her teas but I typically use it in my cooking. That’s when I thought I would take some of that honey and infuse it with some Thai flavors.

Thai Style Honey Recipe
Thai Style Honey Recipe

This is so easy to make, stores well in the refrigerator, and is perfect drizzled on salads, pizza, or sandwiches.

Let’s get started.

  • 1 cup of honey
  • 3 Thai bird chilies (less for less heat)
  • 1 inch of lemongrass

Add the ingredients to a small pot, and cook on low for about 30 minutes. This will allow for those flavors to infuse the honey.

Thai Style Honey Recipe
Thai Style Honey Recipe

Pour into a sealable container, and place in the refrigerator until it is ready to be used.

The result is a great, sweet honey with just the right amount of spice. Your guest will be questioning what the heck it is, especially with that note of lemongrass. Hope you enjoy!