Fantastic Fillo Dough

Every now and then I like to spice things on my holiday table up a bit. Not spice in the traditional, add enough cayenne, horseradish or Wasabi to incinerate a tongue and blow smoke out of everyone’s ears but rather adding a special twist to a presentation that has my guests (and family) saying WOW, how did you do that. For my gang buster presentation I reach for my special ingredient, fillo dough.

This paper thin dough, pronounced FEE-loh and often spelled phyllo, literally means “leaf” in Greek. Best known for being used in a dessert called baklava. Its distinctive texture is crispy yet airy it lends itself to being bent, rolled and pinched a variety of shapes. Not only is it used in meat, milk or pareve recipes it is equally at home in sweet or savory dishes.  Using fillo dough can be fun or frightening depending on your attitude. My supposition is that anyone, with a little bit of help and knowledge, can use it and create fabulous appetizers, main courses and desserts for their holiday table. 

Fillo typically comes frozen (if you can get the fresh stuff, do, it’s amazing) and it can be refrozen up to 3 months or stored in the refrigerator 2 weeks. You should allow the fillo to thaw in box at room temperature at least 5 hours*. Do not open until all other ingredients are assembled and you are ready to work. Carefully unroll fillo sheets on a smooth, dry surface. Remove any fillo you don’t need for your recipe, re-roll, wrap in plastic and set aside.  

HELPFUL HINTS:

1. Be sure to keep dough moist when putting recipes together – to ensure crispness do not use overly moist fillings. Fillings should be chilled and not excessively moist.

2. While traditional dishes call for brushing each fillo leaf with melted butter, try a light coating of safflower, olive, or other cooking oil on every second layer. You can also use most cooking sprays with excellent results.

3. To prevent edges from cracking, lightly brush edges first and then work into center. Use a soft bristle brush to spread oil or butter over fillo, not a hard bristle brush.

4. Be sure to brush the last layer of fillo with melted butter.

5. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet.

6. The faster you can work, the easier working with fillo will be

HOW TO MAKE FILLO POUCHES

Melt 2 tablespoons butter. Layer 4 fillo sheets, brushing each with melted butter.

2 ” squares will produce 15 pouches: Use1 teaspoons of filling.

3″ squares will produce 12 pouches: Use 2 teaspoons of filling.
4″ squares will produce 6 pouches: Use 3 teaspoons of filling.

5″ squares will produce 2 pouches: Use 4 teaspoons of filling.
6″ squares will produce 2 pouches: Use 5 teaspoons of filling.

Brush fillo from edge of filling to each point of square lightly with water. Gather points of square and pinch together just above filling. Brush small pouch with butter. Place at least 1″ apart on ungreased cookie sheet or baking pan and bake in preheated 350 oven for about 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Bake large pouches for 25 to 30 minutes

*Microwave Defrosting: Remove fillo roll from box and cut end of wrapper to vent.

Defrost in microwave (power level 3) for 30 seconds. Turn fillo 180 degrees; defrost an additional 30 seconds (power level 3). Remove from microwave, cover cut end and set on counter 30 minutes to finish

BERRIES AND CREAM BASKET

10 sheets fresh or frozen fillo dough, thawed

4 Tablespoon butter, melted

3 Tablespoon sugar, divided

1 cup whipping cream

1 cup mascarpone or cream cheese

1/2 cup lemon curd

3 cups assorted berries, divided

confectioners’ sugar

 Preheat oven to 375.  Tear off a 40” sheet of foil.  On lightly greased cookie sheet, crumple foil and shape into oval measuring 10” x 6 1/2 on the inner perimeter.  Unroll fillo sheets; cover loosely with waxed paper or plastic wrap, and then cover completely with damp kitchen towel.  Place 1 fillo sheet on work surface.  Using pastry brush, lightly brush melted butter on fillo sheet from center outward, being careful to smooth out any wrinkles.  Lightly sprinkle buttered fillo sheet with 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar.  For a richer flavor, use light brown sugar.  Fold lengthwise in half; brush with butter again.  Place fillo sheet lengthwise in foil shape, allowing half to extend over foil.  Crumble overhanging edge and allow to sit on top of foil.  Repeat with remaining fillo, butter and sugar, slightly overlapping sheets.  Bake 14-18 minutes until golden and crisp.  Cool on wire rack.  Very carefully remove fillo from foil.  In medium bowl, with mixer or whisk, beat heavy cream until soft peaks form.  In another bowl, using rubber spatula, combine mascarpone and lemon curd until blended.  Fold in 2 1/2 cups berries and whipped cream. Spoon into cooled fillo shell.  Scatter remaining berries on top; sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.  Serve immediately. Serves 8 to 10.

CARAMELIZED VEGETABLE ROLL UPS

3 1/2 cups chopped onion

1 cup chopped red onion

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/4-1/2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper

2 cups finely chopped broccoli florets

1 cup diced extra sharp cheddar

1 tablespoon balsamic or red wine vinegar

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 tablespoon drained capers

1 package Fillo Factory fillo dough

Preheat oven to 375.  Toss vegetables with oil and pepper in a shallow 2 quart baking dish.  Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes.  Uncover, stir and bake another 10-15 minutes, until tender and starting to brown.  Cool.  Stir in broccoli, cheddar, vinegar, parsley and capers.  Set aside.  Turn oven to 350F.  Cover 12 sheets fillo dough snugly with plastic wrap.  (Replace remainder in package and refrigerate.)  Take 1 sheet, spray lightly with oil and fold in half.  Place 1/4 cup filling along narrow side of dough.  Fold in 1 inch and roll up.  Place seam side down on baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining sheets and filling.  Bake 12-14 minutes.  Makes 12 roll up appetizers.

FILLO SALMON ROLLS

1 (14-3/4 ounce) can pink salmon

1 clove garlic, minced

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery with leaves

1 (14-3/4 ounce) jar chunky tomato pizza or marinara sauce

1 teaspoon crumbled rosemary

Freshly ground black pepper

1 (10 ounce) package frozen peas

16 sheets fillo dough

Lemon juice

Drain salmon, reserving liquid.  Discard skin and any large bones.

Oil-spray bottom of a large, heavy pot, heat to very hot.  Stirring constantly, sauté garlic over high heat 1 minute.  Add onion and sauté, stirring, 2 minutes.  Add celery; sauté 2 minutes.  Add tomato sauce, rosemary and reserved salmon liquid.  Simmer about 7 minutes or until thick, scraping up brown bits and stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat, stir in peas; mix well.   Add salmon, breaking up large pieces with spoon.  Add ground pepper; set aside.

Preheat oven to 400.  Oil-spray a large baking sheet; set aside.  Lightly spray 1 sheet fillo and fold to make an 8-1/2 X 12 inch rectangle. Spray fillo top.  Repeat with second sheet of fillo and stack.  Spread a rounded 1/2-cup salmon mixture on fillo, about 1-1/2 inches in from short sides.  Sprinkle with lemon juice.  Fold in edge on short sides.  Roll up, starting on long side, jelly-roll style.  Place, seam-side down, on prepared fillo sheets, spacing rolls on tray.  (You will have eight 6 X 2 inch rolls).  Place in center of oven, turn heat down to 375 and bake 18 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve immediately.  Makes 8 entree servings.

NOTE:  Rolls may be frozen before baking.  If frozen, thaw before baking.

STRAWBERRY NAPOLEONS

PASTRY LAYERS

1/3 cup slivered almonds

8 almond cookies

2 Tablespoon sugar

8 sheets of fillo dough

1/3 cup melted butter or margarine

CREAM FILLING

1/3 cup whipping cream on non dairy topping cream

2 Tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

1 cup sour cream

1 pint strawberries, cleaned and sliced

1 cup strawberries, cleaned and pureed

1 cup blueberries, cleaned and pureed

2 tablespoons sugar

 Heat oven to 375.  In a food processor combine the almonds, cookies, and sugar and process until finely ground.  Grease a large baking sheet. Place 1 sheet of fillo on waxed paper.  Brush with melted butter or margarine, then sprinkle with 2 tablespoon crumb mixture.  Place another sheet of fillo on top and repeat buttering and sprinkling until all 8 pastry shells are used.  Using a 3” round biscuit cutter, cut pastry into 16 rounds.  Place rounds on baking sheet.  Place scraps on 2nd baking sheet.  Bake 8-10 minutes, until golden brown.  Cool completely.

Combine the chopped strawberries and pureed blueberries in a bowl. Add the tablespoon of sugar and mix to combine. Set aside.  Whip cream and confectioners’ sugar until stiff or add the confectioner’s sugar to the whipped topping.  Fold in sour cream.  Place about 1 tablespoon cream each on 8 of the pastry rounds.  Top with some berries and pureed berry mixture, then remaining pastry rounds, cream, pureed berries and berries.  Spoon some additional pureed berries on plate around each napoleon.  Makes 8 napoleons.

Modified from a Redbook recipe

TURKEY CANNELLONI WRAPPED IN FILLO WITHY RED PEPPER COULIS

Olive oil cooking mist

1/2 cup diced onion

1/2 diced celery heart

1 lb. ground turkey breast

1/4 lb. wild mushrooms (shiitake, oyster, crimini, etc.)

2 Tablespoon chopped garlic

3 1/2 lb. ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded chopped, and drained (about 4 cups)

2 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon chopped thyme

1 teaspoon chopped oregano

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

12 sheets fillo dough

4 oz. nonfat cream cheese

RED PEPPER COULEES

2 red ball peppers, roasted, cored, seeded, and peeled

1 cup chicken broth

1 Tablespoon chopped garlic

12 basil leaves

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

To make coulees, process roasted pepper flesh, broth, garlic, and basil in a food processor until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper; cover lightly and set aside.

To make filling, set a large skillet over medium heat and spray generously with mist.  When hot, stir in onions.  Cover and “sweat” onions for 2-3 minutes, lowering heat as needed, until soft.  Add celery and cook for 1 minute.  Add turkey and cook, stirring, until golden.  Stir in mushrooms and garlic.  Cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes until garlic becomes fragrant.  Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, and herbs.  Season with salt and pepper.  Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring now and then.  Remove from heat and chill for 2-3 hours.

Preheat oven to 400.  Use three sheets of Fillo at a time, keeping the rest covered with a piece of plastic wrap, then a damp towel.  Lay sheets, one on top of the other, on a work surface with a 12” end closest to you.  Spray top sheet lightly with mist.  Use about 1/3 cup of cold filling and form into a mound near the bottom of the first sheet, leaving about 4” at each side;  spread about 1 oz cream cheese on top.  Start rolling turkey filling in top sheet, slowly and carefully, until reaching midway on sheet.  Fold sides over roll; continue rolling to top.  Set this first cannelloni on a nonstick baking sheet.  Repeat this procedure with remaining 2 sheets of Fillo, one at a time.  Continue to make 9 more cannelloni, working with 3 sheets at a time.  Lightly spray rolls with mist.  Bake for 7-10 minutes until golden brown.  Garnish with oregano and serve immediately with coulees.  Makes 6 servings

Courtesy of Home

SALMON IN FILLO CUPS WITH CUCUMBER SESAME SALSA
1 cup cucumbers, peeled, seeded and finely diced
1 teaspoon jalapeño pepper, minced
2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
20 9×14” sheets Athens Fillo Dough, thawed (1 roll)
Non-stick cooking spray
1 lb. cured or smoked skinless salmon fillet, thinly sliced
1 cup low fat sour cream

Thaw fillo. Prepare Salsa: In small mixing bowl, combine cucumbers, jalapeño pepper, ginger, sugar and oil mixing lightly. Chill for 1 hour. Layer 5 fillo sheets, spaying each from edge to edge with non-stick cooking spray between each layer, repeat with remaining 5 sheets. Cut circles 1 1/2 times larger than mini muffin pan diameter. Preheat oven to 350. Carefully push fillo into pan and press carefully and firmly against bottom and sides. Bake empty tart shells in preheated oven for 9 minutes or until golden brown. Cool. Remove from pan. Spoon 1 teaspoon of sour cream into each shell, top with a spoonful of salsa and garnish with slices of salmon attractively shaped. Serve immediately. Makes 40 appetizers.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

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