Thursday, June 30, 2011

Phyllo Paper

After I finished watching Julia Child's cooking show, Everyday Italian came on. So I watched mindlessly because I had nothing better to do, and because Giada De Laurentiis is allegedly my brother-in-law's soul mate. Anyway, she was making these funny little things she called Smoked Mozzarella and Sun-Dried Tomato Cigars. Basically, you wrap phyllo paper around slices of mozzarella cheese and little sun-dried tomato bits and then bake them until they're crispy and delicious. They seemed simple enough and I'd seen a dozen recipes using phyllo paper, so I decided to try and make them.

I went to the co-op and found some organic phyllo paper and it came in a package of 20 frozen sheets. I really didn't need 20 cigars, so I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to try some other things made out of phyllo paper.

I let it thaw in the fridge overnight and set to work the next morning. Giada recommends putting a damp towel over the phyllo paper so it doesn't dry out while you're working with an individual piece, so I did just that and attempted to pull off the first piece of paper to use. Key word here being attempted.

Little did I realize that phyllo paper is a HUGE PAIN. It sticks together, pretty much no matter what you do. So you end up with these holes in your sheet and one corner is completely stuck together so you end up just ripping it off like a pad of legal paper and you've got this huge chuck missing off the end.

On the other side, this isn't really that big of a deal because you end up wrapping the phyllo paper around the delicious inside so many times it evens out. So while this was seriously annoying, my laid-back approach to cooking just worked with it.

So anyway, I ended up with this as my final product:


They were pretty tasty and a cute snack. Aside from the phyllo paper problems they were very simple to make as well. But I still had 12 sheets of phyllo paper left and I needed to figure out what to do with it.
I pulled out some cookbooks and dug through to find some phyllo paper recipes. And that's when I figured out that most of those interesting phyllo paper recipes called for ridiculous ingredients that I would never have on hand. There was one that was like a fruit pie that I liked but it had a cream cheese filling, and I had no cream cheese. And I liked the Chinese football folding method of another one, but I didn't have salmon or whatever else I was supposed to put inside. So I thought for a moment and decided to somehow combine the two.

So here is roughly what I did:

Cut phyllo paper into 2-inch(ish) strips. Spoon a bite-size amount of fruit onto one end (I used cherries mixed with honey, peach pie filling, and blueberries mixed with honey). Fold into Chinese football. Baste with melted butter. Bake 12-15 minutes at 400°F. 


Basically I ended up with these cute (and tasty) little fruit tarts. They weren't the prettiest (mostly because I'd given up using proper strips of phyllo paper and resorted to whatever scraps didn't stick together), but I think they were still awesome.

And I wish the story ended here, but it didn't.

I had to run some errands almost immediately after making these gems, so I hurriedly put them in a storage container so they would be safe from germs and dirt and my dog. Little did I realize that they would turn into goop. The phyllo paper got all soggy from the fruit juices and everything just kind of squished together into this crêpe-y-cobbler-y mushy mess. It still tasted good, but it did not look anywhere near as good as when they first came out of the oven (which really wasn't even that good). Next time, I think plastic wrap/aluminum foil will be in order.

So I think it's safe to say I've figured out how to use phyllo paper rather effectively, and maybe if I try a little harder my treats won't come out so ugly. Maybe.

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