Making Filling and Assembling K’nafeh

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 25,146
    Chef Amy Riolo demonstrates how to make the pistachio filling for the K’nafeh.

    Amy Riolo: Hi! I am Amy Riolo. Today we are making Pistachio K'nafeh, and I am going to show you how to make the pistachio filling for the K'nafeh.

    These are our Pistachios. These are shelled Pistachio unsalted that you can get at organic stores, health food stores or at Middle Eastern markets. You can see the beautiful green and purple color that they have on them. We are going to put those into our food processor, then we are going to add two tablespoons of sugar. I know this doesn't seems like a large amount of sugar for a filling, but you have remember, we have the sweet syrup going on top, so that's all we need. Then we have a teaspoon or orange blossom water. We are going to add it in.

    What orange blossom water is, is it comes in a bottle like this and it comes from the pressed oil of orange blossoms that grow on the orange trees when oranges are in season. They emit a really beautiful smell and aroma and they are pressed into oil and then added to water and distilled, and this ingredient is used a lot in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. So it's worth investing in a little bit. If you didn't have the orange blossom water, you can use fresh orange juice or lemon juice or any kind of flavoring that you like, but I really like the combination of the orange in with the pistachio, especially since we are doing an orange syrup on the top.

    So I am just going to put our cover back on and we are going to pulse this on and off until we get a nice fine evenly ground pistachio, maybe with the little chunkier there, but we don't want too chunky, we don't want too fine and powdery. So we will just pulse so we get the desired results, and this looks great. Now you can really smell that delicious pistachio aroma, starting to come out and also little bit of the orange blossom from this mixture, absolutely a delicious smell. You can see this is what our pistachios should look like. So they are broken up; they are in pieces, but they are not completely a fine powder and they are little bit wet from the orange blossom water, and that's absolutely fine. It's going to help it adhere to our K'nafeh. So now I can show you how to assemble the K'nafeh; it's super simple. We are going to start off with the 9x13 inch pan, but you can use a round pan, if you like. It doesn't have to be perfect. You can use anything 9x13 or smaller and you can also do little mini pans. You can do things in muffin tins and have a little single size servings and not even have to bother cutting it at all. But here is our K'nafeh and we are going to use half in the bottom and half in the top like a crut.

    So I am just going to kind of put my hand at down the middle and divide and that way I know in my mind what part is for the top and what part is for the bottom, and then I am going to go ahead and start layering in it here. You don't have to butter your pan because we have so much butter in the K'nafeh that it is not going to stick. So you don't have to worry about that at all, and just continue to spread and kind scatter it around.

    You can use any filling for this that you would use for traditional Baklava; it works well, and you can also use same refillings. So if you wanted to do spinach and cheese in the middle; that would work very well. If you wanted to do shrimp and tomatoes or mixed sea fruit or any kind of stew type dishes. You can put a little bit of that in the middle and it would be absolutely delicious for savory, but it's most commonly used in the Middle East for sweets and that's what we are going do with it today. You can also use custards, pudding, pie filling a whole variety of different things into your K'nafeh.

    We are just going pad it down and make sure that it makes this nice even cross on the bottom. This is very easy, and then we are going to pour filling in and this is our pistachio fillings. I love to use pistachios. Pistachio have a lot iron in them and they are also a good source of protein in addition to the delicious flavor. They are very traditional in the Middle East and very heavily used, pistachios. They originated in the Western Asia, in the areas of Afghanistan and Iran and Turkey. Pistachios were growing as early as 7,000 years ago. So they become a very important staple in the diet and they are used in both sweet and savory dishes.

    Eventually they made their way to Egypt and North Africa and in the 8th and 9th centuries the Arabs introduced them into areas Sicily and Southern Europe, and now pistachios are also a very traditional ingredient there as well.

    This is just a lovely color; they have the white and the green together. It's very festive and if you are ever doing these kind motifs and decorating and entertaining people like to do green at Christmas time. This is a really good time to make the K'nafeh. So now we can just. We have our fillings right across the middle and we can put our rest of K'nafeh on top. If you don't want to do pistachios, you want to do walnuts, almonds a combinations or dried fruit, that's absolutely fine. You can do whatever you like. I am just going to kind of scatter it on the top and then we can make them even as it goes. This is a little bit messy but that's part of the fun. Something to do with the ruff texture of the K'nafeh and this the smooth creaminess of the butter, your hands feel really nice after you get to through making this recipe. There are a lot things that when you cook, it's a really brutal on your hands, but some recipes like this actually help your skin, so this one of those.

    What we are going to do is just make sure everything is completely covered evenly here with our hands and this is another recipe that's great to do with the kids, because it's not too difficult and it's something unique for them, a fun ingredient to work with. They get to break up things, they get to measure things in half, and they get to see it a traditional dish made from beginning to end. So it's really fun for them.

    Now I am just padding down and actually pressing with a little bit of pressure with the palms of my hands to make this K'nafeh even and when we come back. I am going to show you how to cover and weight the K'nafeh and then we are going to take the cover off and bake it.