Welcome to my world!

I've developed a passion for cooking since childhood, but in the past six years, that passion has grown into a geeky obsession. I love cooking, baking, and most importantly, sharing the love of food with family and friends. I invite you along on my journey of food discovery and passion.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Phyllo Perfection, Mediterranean Style

I've waxed poetic before on puff pastry.  It elevates an ordinary dish into something extraordinary.  Phyllo dough has similar charms, but requires much more work.  With puff pastry, the butter is already worked into the dough, so it's perfection without the work.  Phyllo requires the cook to layer tissue-thin dough with melted butter to create the flaky texture that comes from baking.
Since we plan to entertain during the holidays, the more items I can make ahead and have chilling (or chillin') out in my freezer now, the better.  I love Mediterranean flavors - tomatoes, olives, and feta, so a recipe that I can make ahead AND look like a rock star for making it sounds good to me! 

I found inspiration from my Fine Cooking cookbook.  I'm "retiring" the cookbook to Half Price Books, but I snagged a few recipes before parting. 

Portioned bites
Filling time!  Chopped up some kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil), and mint.  Added chopped parsley on a whim and incorporated frozen spinach that was thawed, drained, and squeezed dry.  Added the feta cheese for a salty tang and mixed. 

Layering begins
The phyllo was hanging out in my fridge ready and waiting to be rolled and folded into triangles of crispy perfection.  A warning - phyllo is fussy!  I had to keep it covered with plastic wrap so that it would not dry and crack.  I took out one sheet, brushed it with butter, topped it with a second sheet, brushed that with butter, then cut the sheet into three strips. 

Ready to roll!

Two teaspoons of filling per piece later, I had triangles of Mediterranean munchies fit for a casual get-together or fancy soiree.  Well, at least I had unbaked, ready-to-freeze munchies.... They still required covering to prevent cracking and drying out, but they were at least done and ready to bake.
Once I had the triangles ready to freeze, it was time to bake and taste.  A cook always does a quality check, right?  Sometimes, my quality checks cause me to make a double recipe in the case of chocolate chip cookies and other desserts! 

Protect me!  Hungry people are around
All I had to do was wait. Since I actually squeezed in making these while also cooking the tomato sauce for The Lasagna Debacle Part II, I actually finished up the tomato sauce work while these baked. Once done, I could get off my feet and enjoy.
But, I'm ahead of myself.  Once I pulled these babies out of the oven (not the prettiest triangles of the bunch, but that's why they were my taste-test triangles), I wanted to sink my teeth in right away.  Since I've learned tongue and mouth burns are both painful and tastebud killing, I waited a few minutes for them to cool.  The results?  Well, I think the picture tells the story.  They tasted as good as they looked.  Happy eating!

Phyllo Perfection!

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