Tips for handling phyllo

Yield: 1 Servings

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For appetizers with a lot of style but little fat, phyllo pastries are a natural. The paper-thin sheets of phyllo dough can be rolled, folded, shaped, seasoned, or filled in countless ways. In typical phyllo recipes, however, the layers of dough are freely brushed with melted butter; when baked, the butter keeps the thin sheets separate, producing a flaky-and fat-saturated-result. We developed a technique in which the leaves of phyllo are lightly coated with a blend of egg whiteand olive oil. During baking, the egg whites become crisp while the oil keeps the leaves separate. The low-fat technique has an unexpected & welcome benefit: the pastries turn out crisper & less oily than those made with pure fat, & filled pastires don't become soggy. Frozen phyllo (or filo or fillo) is available in most supermarkets; it is also sold fresh in some Greek & Middle Eastern specialty shops. One lb. of dough averages 25 large sheets of pastry.

Our recipes were devloped for full-sized sheets, either 14 by 18" or 12 by 17 inches. These appetizers work beautifully for entertaining because they can be prepared in advance & refrigerated or frozen.

Tips: Phyllo Dough is easy & fun to work with as long as it doesn't get soggy or dried out. To avoid these potential hazards: Thaw frozen phyllo in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight; this will prevent damp spots that could cause the sheets of dough to stick together. Remove phyllo from refrigerator, & leave unopened at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours. Clear a large work surface before removing phyllo from the box. Carefully unroll sheets onto a dry surface. Keep sheets of phyllo covered with plastic wrap or wax paper while you work; if the dough is left uncovered for even a short period of time, it dries out & breaks into flakes. Work quickly & with a gentle hand.

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