Thursday, April 28, 2005


Yesterday I made some baklava (for the first time). Now this should be considered heresy, because it contains no chocolate, but it came out excellent (even Katerina thought so), so I will give you the recipe. You need phylo for baklava (very thin), 250 gr pistachio nuts, 250 gr butter, 500 gr sugar and 300 gr water. I used a 30 x 35 cm baking pan. First melt the butter and use a brush to apply on the pan. Then add one phylo at a time. After spreading phylo sheet on the pan, brush liberally with butter. Continue for 8 to 9 layers. Then add the crumbled nuts, then add 8 to 9 more layers of phylo. Very important: carve the pieces (all the way down) with a sharp knife before baking. Cover with aluminium foil and bake for 30 minutes at 180 degrees (Celcius), then uncover and bake for 30 more minutes at 160, until golden. Meanwhile prepare the syrup by boiling the sugar and water for 5-10 minutes. When the baking is over, pour the syrup (while hot). I calculated total calories at around 6500, so that comes out at approximately 270 calories per piece (24 servings). I include picture of final product. Of course, you may also have seen chocolate baklava! This is something I should try some other day.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Back from Geneva and Vienna

Just returned from Geneva and Vienna. Weather was so-so, cloudy with a drizzle. In Geneva it was also rather cold. Why do the shops there close so early? Everything closes at 7 pm, and some shop owners close earlier than that, even though they have a sign with 7 pm on it at the door. I missed Zogg's the first day by about 10 minutes, but managed to be there on time the next day. I finally bought some chocolates from Zogg's (3 rue du Mont-Blanc) and from Gilles Desplanches (2 Confederation, Place Bel-Air). Prices are at around 95 Swiss francs per kilo, which is about 65 Euro. Both excellent, although I think that Gilles Desplanches may be slightly better. After returning home I tried to get into Zogg's web site ( but it does not seem to work. I will try again tomorrow.
In Vienna I had a Sacher Torte at the Sacher hotel. Nice, but not completely to my taste. The freshly squeezed orange juice was better. Next time I think I will try the Coupe Romanoff. Vienna is a very impressive city (the old town). Unfortunately I did not have time for anything more than a quick stroll yesterday evening. I would love to go to some of the museums, and especially the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibit.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Making Faces

Leaving for Geneva and Vienna tomorrow. Unfortunately, I doubt it if I will have much time to hunt for chocolates. I guess I will have to make do with what I find at the airport (isn't that sad?), mainly to cover orders from friends and family.
Have been reading a very nice book, "Making Faces" by Prag and Neave of British Museum Press. It describes how scientists reconstruct faces from skeletal remains. The book deals mainly with archaeology but discusses forensics also. The authors build up the face by adding layers of muscles and skin (using clay) on a duplicate of the skull. The whole method seems to involve a fair amount of artistic skill, but the authors claim that the result is reproducible because it is based on scientific principles (mainly data on the average thickness of soft tissues at various points on the face). A literature search in PubMed did not find many papers dealing with this issue. It seems that data are rather sparse. I wonder if we could get better predictive power concerning the relationship of hard and soft tissues if we factor morphometrics into the procedure. Is soft tissue thickness dependent on facial shape? How well can we predict soft tissue shape if we know the skeletal shape underneath? Nose size and shape could very well be correlated to skeletal shape (I know it is, because I have done some preliminary statistics, but is the correlation strong enough to be useful?).