What a party!

Our December Holiday party at Bruce Blavin’s garden was just phenomenal. We had a large group and many, many wonderful dishes. If you will email your recipe to Margaret, we will try to put as many as possible into the next newsletter. We can’t name them all here, but they were all just exceptionally good! Bruce, our host, smoked a whole salmon and fried two turkeys! He also made a remarkably good sugarcane punch with key limes. One of the highlights was the sampling of 22 different varieties of pomegranates. The pomegranate fruit was provided by Patrice Dreckmann. Bruce and six other members removed the arils for our tasting (thank you for your help!). Bruce used the opportunity to tout his new method of removing the arils. It’s a fast and easy method that actually works quite well! Ask him!

Don Winterstein came all the way from Brea and brought a wonderful exotic fruit tray. Tim Thompson, our mango man, came in from Camarillo and brought a great coconut & macadamia pie. The Rafiis brought a spectacular Persian lentil rice. There were wonderful pomegranates, a Quinoa Salad, a blueberry buttermilk Bundt cake, Key Lime Pie, blueberry crisp, a dark chocolate Bundt cake, and homemade goat cheese.

Fang Liu’s recipe for the best baklava outside of Boston is below (thank you, Fang). Thanks again to everyone for bringing your special dishes. All were just wonderfully delicious! Please do share your recipe with us!

Fang’s Baklava (From http://allrecipes.com/recipe/baklava/)

Ingredients (makes approximately 3 dozen pieces)

1 (16-ounce) package phyllo dough

1 pound chopped nuts

1 cup butter

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup water

1 cup brown sugar pieces

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup honey


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F(175 degrees C). Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9×13 inch pan.

2. Chop nuts and toss with cinnamon. Set aside. Unroll phyllo dough. Cut whole stack in half to fit pan. Cover phyllo with a dampened cloth to keep from drying out as you work. Place two sheets of dough in pan, butter thoroughly. Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered. Sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top. Top with two sheets of dough, butter, nuts, layering as you go. The top layer should be about 6 8 sheets deep.

3. Using a sharp knife cut into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. You may cut into 4 long rows then make diagonal cuts. Bake for about 50 minutes until baklava is golden and crisp.

4. Make sauce while baklava is baking. Boil sugar and water until sugar is melted. Add vanilla and honey. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

5. Remove baklava from oven and immediately spoon sauce over it. Let cool. Freezes well. Leave it uncovered, as it gets soggy if it is wrapped up.


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