Author, Cooking Instructor, Food Writer, Culinary Consultant
An award - winning author, popular lecturer, restaurant consultant, and educator, Amy Riolo is known for fusing the worlds of culture, cuisine, and history. Amy makes frequent appearances on numerous television and radio programs both in the United States and abroad including Fox TV, CBS, Montgomery and Fairfax County TV, Nile TV, The Travel Channel, Martha Stewart Living Radio, WHYY, Abu Dhabi Television, and many others totaling a reach of over 223,194,389 people. Amy also develops and hosts a weekly news video program entitled “Culture of Cuisine” which airs on twenty-eight nationally syndicated channels and has developed hundreds of videos for corporate clients. Amy’s clients include Harris Teeter, Stevia, US Endocrine Society, US Apple Association, The National Association of Sauces and Condiments, and many others. Her work has also appeared in the USA Today, Cooking Light Magazine, The Washington Post, CNN.com, The Wall Street Journal, Gulf News, Cornell Alumni Magazine, Popular Anthropology Magazine, The National, and Egyptian newspapers and hundreds of blogs. She is also the author of a popular blog called Dining with Diplomats (www.diningwithdiplomats.blogspot.com) which has been the inspiration for a Travel Channel television series. A successful restaurant consultant and graduate of Cornell University, Amy enjoys developing concepts, menus, action plans, recipes, training seminars and guides, and themes for corporations, restaurants, and hotels. She has consulted international business owners on bakeries, cafes, restaurants and stores. She was recently awarded Montgomery College’s Milton F. Clogg Award for Outstanding Alumni Achievement in the Culinary Arts. Amy’s popular lectures range in topics and include everything from improving profitability in the restaurant industry to international business and dining etiquette to international cuisine and culture. She has been an invited guest speaker for The Library of Congress, Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University, National Geographic, The Smithsonian Institution, The Fulbright Commission, The National Museum of African Art, The Walters Art Museum, The Kennedy Center, and many other embassies, museums, and organizations. Amy’s first book, Arabian Delights; Recipes & Princely Entertaining Ideas from the Arabian Peninsula was chosen as one of the “16 Volumes Worth Staining” by the Washington Post (Capital Books, 2007). Her second book Nile Style; Egyptian Cuisine and Culture (Hippocrene Books) won the World Gourmand Award for "Best Arab Cuisine Book" in the United States in 2009 and is now being printed in a second edition. Her most recent book, The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook, (American Diabetes Association) was released in March 2010 and has won the 2011 Nautilus Book Award. Amy is a member of The International Association of Culinary Professionals, Culinary Historians of Washington, Les Dames d’Escoffier (Global Culinary Initiative), Culinary Historians of Washington, and Slow Food DC. Amy is based in the Washington DC, area and leads culinary tours to both the Mediterranean and Middle East.
Chef Amy Riolo demonstrates how to prepare the Kataifi strand to make our K'nafeh.
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1 1/2 cups sugar
Two large strips of orange peel
Juice of one small orange
2 cups of shelled unsalted pistachios
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of orange blossom water
4 sticks of unsalted butter
1 pound package of Kataifi, which has been thawed at room temperature for two hours
1 cup of water
1. Add the sugar, orange juice, orange peel and water to a pot at medium heat. Stir and bring mixture to a boil and allow it to cook for a minute. Once the sugar has dissolved, allow it to simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes.
2. Put the butter into a pan and cook on medium heat to melt. Skim the white milk solids off the top. Transfer the butter into a big bowl.
3. Place the Kataifi over the top of the bowl and break it up into little pieces and immerse it in the butter.
4. Put the pistachios into a food processor and add sugar and orange blossom water. Pulse until you get evenly ground pistachios.
5. Place half the K'nafeh in the bottom of a 9X13 pan and half will go on top. Layer the K'nafeh to cover the bottom of the pan.
6. Pour the pistachio filling in and place the other half of the K'nafeh on top. Press it down with your hands to make it even.
7. Cover the pan with tin foil and place a five pound weight on top. Put it in the refrigerator for an hour or overnight.
8. Take a knife and cut squares only about 3/4 of the way down. Bake it for abour an hour to an hour and 10 minutes at 350 degrees.
9. Pour the syrup on top and finish cutting the K'nafeh and plate and serve it.
Amy Riolo: Hi, I am Amy Riolo, today we are making Pistachio K'nafeh and I am going to show you how to clarify the butter and prepare the Kataifi strand to make our K'nafeh. So here we have a pound of butter. This is four sticks or a regular box of unsalted butter and we are just going to put those into our pan and turn the heat up, you can do medium, or high. We are just going to melt the butter and what happens when we melt the butter is the white milk solids are going to come to the top. We are going to take it off the heat, we are going to skim off those white milk solids and we are just going to be left with a really delicious pure butter.
While we are waiting for our butter to melt, well I can tell you little bit about K'nafeh is that it's made with Kataifi, and Kataifi is sold in a box which looks just like this and it's called Kataifi, you can buy it in Greek stores, in Middle Eastern stores or Mediterranean stores and under the word Kataifi it says Shredded Fillo Dough. But Shredded Fillo Dough is actually a little bit of a misnomer because what that intales is that you would take Fillo dough and shred it up. But that's not how this is made. The way that Kataifi is made, is it's made with the same batter as Fillo Dough, except it's put into a funnel like this one.
This is kind of rudimentary funnel, that I picked up on the street in Egypt and they put the batter into the inside and then they hold their finger on to the bottom and in a very thin stream they pour out the batter which is fried in oil and when it hits the griddle or when it hits the oil, it fries and it makes coils, which kind of look like Angle Hair Pasta and that's then dried and then they put it into packages like this and this is what we buy at the supermarket this shredded Fillo dough. So you can see what a fine little texture it have, just look like little hairs. It really has nothing to do with shredded Fillo dough at all, but it's just the way that it's sold in United States. So you can buy that, keep it in your freezer and then when you go to work with it, you want to leave it at room temperature for about two hours and then you can -- it will be ready to work with. This is our lot less intimidating then Fillo dough. So if you have never worked or made any kind of Middle Eastern pastry doughs before, Fillo dough intimidates you, you can turn out with Kataifi. The neat thing about Kataifi is that you are actually supposed to break it up. So there is no problem if it breaks at all. Go ahead and use it. You can use it in sweet and savoury application.
So now our butter has completely melted and what we can see when the butter melts is that all of these white milk solids come to the top and all that we have to do now is skim those off and then we can proceed with making our K'nafeh and it's actually very easy of a process to do and if you are really in a pinch and you don't have time to do it, it's okay. No one will probably know the difference. But it's traditional to do because what happens is when you remove these white milk solid is you get a lot of that rich buttery flavor and you are able to just get even browning on top of the K'nafeh, which makes it very, very nice because you don't need the milk solids on there for any reason. We have already got a lot of butter so we don't have to worry that we are losing a little bit with our skimming process and as we skim, you can start to see the golden color coming to the top and that's what we want.
Sometimes that takes a little bit longer than other times, sometimes it just takes a few minutes but this is what we are looking for as to get those white milk solids off. Then we are going to transfer our butter into this big bowl. We are going to place our K'nafeh over the top and break it up into little pieces and immerse it in that butter. Now if you are doing in order or some kind of application where you would want to make this a low fat recipe, then of course, you can use oil and you can use a lesser quantity, but for K'nafeh this is really a special occasion dessert then you would serve, when you have friends and family over for a special gathering or maybe people over for tea and you want to just have something really sweet, so we are not going to be worried about the butter in this particular recipe. So that's it, that's our milk solids. We are going to take our butter, we are just going to pour it into this bowl and now we are going to open up our Kataifi package and just kind of break it over the top of the bowl and I like to break it first. Some people break it as they go over, what I do is I hold it with my left hand like this and then with my right hand I just turn and break and I turn and break all of these pieces in there. It doesn't have to be a science, it doesn't have to be exactly even. No one is going to know the difference in the end of your dessert because you are still cutting your dessert, but this is what we are doing.
Now if you wanted to make this into a different shape, what you would do is you take the strands and you wrap them around your finger for the desired thickness that you want. So this is a very small little nest that you would have by putting that around your finger and you can bake it, dip it in butter and bake it this way and then you will have your nest. But we are just going continue doing it, the regular way to make our K'nafeh dessert. Kids love to do this and I just recommend always having a really big bowl because it kind of flies away and you have a messy kitchen, it's easy to do but you don't want to have extra cleanup. So put it into the biggest, widest, deepest bowl that you have and just break it up and then continue with the remainder of your pieces, holding and then tearing and breaking off into the bottom of the bowl.
We are preparing our strands and that's it. That's really all it takes. So we can just clear this out from the bottom and then go ahead and work all of that Kataifi in with the melted butter and just continue to turn and really you want to coat every single piece evenly, because as you work to coat this evenly and mix your hands around in there, that's what really is going to give you the delicious texture, taste and even browning. That's a secret to really good K'nafeh and you will see as you continue to do it, you will feel more and more butter and you will really start to smell the butter flavor, it's absolutely delicious.
Now this recipe originated in Syria and there are different versions of it. Some of them are made in the way that the K'nafeh actually stays white, but this one is actually going to turn golden brown and it's called the Baluria (ph) in Arabic. This is a traditional Syrian recipe. So we just continue and you can see now all of our K'nafeh strands are nice and coated and golden and thats exactly how we want it to be. We are just going to let this set for a minute. When we come back we are going to make a pistachio filling and we are going to assemble our K'nafeh.