Saturday, August 2, 2008

In Pursuit of Flakiness

No, not that kind of flakiness. Although sometimes I really should be a little more light-hearted! But I heart being nerdy, wouldn't trade it for the world. I'm talking about the delightful flakiness, the collective shards of pastry heaven, that is phyllo dough. I have to say, I love the stuff. It's light and crisp and versatile. I find it quite easy to work with, as long as I keep a moist towel over it and treat it with some respect and patience.

These little phyllo triangles are reminiscent of spanakopita, cheesy and packed with spinach - but in a hand-held package with lots of other goodies mixed in. I'm not a fan of feta, so you won't see it here, fresh mozzarella makes an appearance as its understudy. Plump mushrooms, kalamata olives and copious amounts of nutmeg bring new layers of flavor to this classic Greek dish.

Phyllo-ed Spinach Triangles

1 Tbsp butter
3 portobello mushroom caps, diced
1/2 large sweet onion, diced

2 (16 oz) packages frozen spinach, thawed
1 1/2 cups fresh mozzarella, shredded by hand
1/2 cup parmagianno reggiano
1/4 cup minced kalamata olives
3 Tbsp minced smoked sundried tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg - don't you dare buy that sawdust they call pre-grated!
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
pinch of cayenne pepper

1 package phyllo, thawed in the refrigerator overnight
1 stick plus 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium high heat. Saute mushrooms and onions until soft. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Use your super human strength the wring the living daylights out of the spinach. You want it bone dry (You'll lose at least half of the total weight and volume.) Combine it with the remainder of the filling ingredients and toss well to combine.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Cover two nearby sections of your counter with plastic wrap, each just a little bit larger than the size of a sheet of phyllo. Wet a large non-linty dish towel and wring it out. To assemble your work station (yes it is necessary for you to be this anal), unroll phyllo onto the one area of plastic wrapped counter and cover with a paper towel. You will be working on the other plastic wrapped area (you can skip the plastic wrap on your work area if you have smooth clean counters - but keep it on the other side). Place your melted butter and a pastry brush nearby. Prepare two sheet pans lined with parchment paper or silpats. Place within reach (you will need to work fairly quickly and efficiently).

Start with one piece of phyllo on your work area (be careful when seperating layers - and be sure to cover the remaining phyllo immediately with the wet towel). Brush it with a thin coat of butter. Top with another sheet. Don't worry - the second one doesn't need to be completely flat on top of the other one. Brush with butter and top with another sheet. Repeat once more. The 4th sheet should remain unbuttered.

Slice the layers into three long rows. At one end of each row, form a triangle of filling (about 2/3 cup) into one corner. Fold filled triangle over diagonally so that it is reflected over its hypotenuse (yeah - you like that? I remember my geometry!). Continue folding diagonally until only a small flap is left (it should wrap around all the seams so no filling is showing). Brush the flap with butter and do your best to fold into a seam. Place on baking sheet (keep them spaced about an inch apart) and brush with butter. Repeat until you've used all the filling (for me - it was perfect for the entire package of phyllo - it made over a dozen large triangles (These freeze well so don't worry if it makes to many - you can freeze before or after baking).

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown and flaky. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before eating (they're molten inside right out of the oven).


Mike of Mike's Table said...

I've wanted to make something like this for the longest time. They look delicious!

Grace said...

phyllo dough can make anything worth eating, so even though i don't particularly care for mushrooms or olives, i would devour these.

Jeena said...

These look so good I love the golden crispy outer edge with the yummy filling. :-)

[eatingclub] vancouver || js said...

Flakiness is of the good! I love phyllo dough, but it's just too hard to work with it sometimes. You know, I suffer from lack of industry a lot. ;)

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