I’ve been spending time with Secrets from Atlanta’s Best Kitchens by Earlyne Levitas this week. This book was printed in 1972 and holds recipes from some classic Atlanta restaurants of that time. Pouring through the recipes in this book filled with signature dishes from restaurants that once crowned Atlanta’s dining scene, it is striking to me how many of these locations I have never heard of. The one I chose for this cooking experience just so happened to have a recipe that was on my bucket list to cook one day- Baklava.
This recipe was inspired by The Golden Dolphin, a restaurant in Underground Atlanta that was revered as a personal autobiography of George Evagoras, an immigrant of the Greek island of Skopelos whom found himself in Atlanta at a very young age. He aimed to incorporate memories of the island he once loved into his new Atlanta home. I sat there picturing a young Greek immigrant trying to make it in 1950s Atlanta. Then it occurred to me that we all have influences in our life, either from our own generation or many before us, that provide personal touches to the food we cook, eat, and enjoy.
I am a firm believer that one of the many ways in which southern women show their love for someone is through food. And why wouldn’t we? Food is so personal. Recipes are handed down, passed on, and evolved. George Evagoras had the opportunity to spread that love for his cuisine with all of Atlanta, and now I have the opportunity to continue to pass that on in spite of the restaurant being closed.
2 Sticks of Butter
1 Box of Filo pastry dough
½ pound raw almonds, sliced
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup lemon juice
2 ½ cups of sugar
2 teaspoons all-spice
1 teaspoon nutmeg
Blanch the Almonds.
Put water into a small – medium sized pot and bring it to a boil. Once the water is boiling, take the raw almonds and boil them for exactly one minute. Drain the almonds immediately and run cool water over them. Blot dry with a paper towel. This should remove all of the almond skins.
Once the skins have been removed, chop almonds very fine and add spices and ½ cup of sugar. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with nonstick cooking spray, and place 4 pastry sheets in the pan. Brush the 4th sheet with butter and add some of the nut mixture. From there, add two pastry sheets to the pan, and add some butter and nut mixture. Repeat this process, adding butter and nut mixture to every two layers until all ingredients are used. Brush the top with butter and cut into diamond shapes.
Bake in a 300 degree oven for 1 ½ hours until the top is lightly browned.
While in the oven, create a syrup using 1 cup sugar to ½ cup water. Cook until it spins a fine thread when dropped from a spoon. Add the lemon juice. Remove the pastry from the oven and drizzle syrup over it while it is still hot. Let stand and set before serving.