Adirondack Life Cookbook Events—and a Recipe for North Country Baklava

Long nights and chilly days bring us happily into the kitchen, and two upcoming events on the southern edge of the Adirondacks highlight regional flavors. Annette Nielsen, editor of Northern Bounty: Spring and Summer Recipes from Adirondack Life and its companion, Northern Comfort: Fall and Winter Recipes from Adirondack Life, will answer questions, demonstrate some great dishes and sign books in Saratoga Springs and Salem, New York.

At 11:00 a.m on November 16, at Gardenworks Farm , on Route 30, in Salem, she’ll talk about compiling the cookbooks, her favorite techniques, plus flavors that resonate this time of year. On November 17 at 3:00 p.m. Nielsen will be at Northshire Books on Broadway in Saratoga to share delicious seasonal fare from the Adirondack Life books and discuss making holiday meals from regional sources. Both programs include food to taste and cooking demonstrations.

A native of Northville, Nielsen now lives in Washington, D.C., where she is food editor of The Hill Rag and writer for East of the River, publications based in D.C. She’s at work on a cookbook featuring the vendors and produce found at Eastern Market, which has been in business on Capitol Hill since 1873.

She says, “I’m so lucky to be back in upstate New York to kick off the holiday seasons at venues that have such special meaning for me. Meg Southerland’s Gardenworks Farm is incredibly vibrant with everything from u-pick berries to local cheeses and fine handcrafts. Northshire’s new location in bustling downtown Saratoga really supports the literary community through author events and programs for readers of all ages.”

Here’s one of Nielsen’s signature recipes, which was published in Adirondack Life in our April 2002 issue. It combines maple syrup with cinnamon, cloves, walnuts and layers of phyllo dough to make a spectacular dessert.

North Country Baklava

Maple syrup replaces honey in this award-winning take on a Middle Eastern tradition. Not quite as sweet as the honey version, the cinnamon and cloves add to the layering of maple and walnut flavors. If you use a dark amber syrup, the distinctive flavor will intensify.

1 lb (24 sheets) phyllo dough

2 sticks unsalted butter, melted


2 c sugar

1 c maple syrup

1 ½ c water

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 sticks cinnamon

5 whole cloves


1 lb (4 c) walnuts, finely chopped or coarsely ground

¼ c sugar

1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground cloves

To make the syrup, stir the sugar, maple syrup, water, lemon juice, cinnamon sticks and cloves over low heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Stop stirring and increase the heat to medium, and cook until the mixture is slightly syrupy, about 5 minutes (it will register 225 degrees on a candy thermometer). Discard the cinnamon sticks and whole cloves. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine all of the filling ingredients in a bowl. With some of the melted butter, grease a 13- by 9-inch baking pan or a 15- by 10-inch jelly roll pan. Place a sheet of phyllo in the prepared pan and lightly brush with butter. Repeat with seven more sheets. Spread with half of the filling. Top with eight more sheets, brushing each with butter. Spread with the remaining nut mixture and top with a layer of eight sheets, continuing to brush each with butter. Trim any overhanging edges. Using a sharp knife, cut six equal lengthwise strips through the top layer of pastry. Make 1 1/2-inch wide diagonal cuts across the strips to form diamond shapes.

Just before baking, lightly sprinkle the top of the pastry with cold water. This inhibits the pastry from curling. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees F and bake until golden brown, about 15 more minutes.

Cut through the scored lines. Drizzle the cooled syrup slowly over the hot baklava and let cool for at least four hours. Makes about 36 small diamond-shaped pastries.

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