TIPS FOR HANDLING PHYLLO PASTRY
* If frozen, thaw overnight in the fridge in its packaging.
* Prepare all ingredients for your recipe before opening the pastry.
* Remove the number of sheets required for the recipe and re-roll remaining pastry and seal in a plastic bag.
* Once opened and unrolled, always keep the pastry covered with a damp cloth to prevent drying out. This happens very quickly and will make the pastry brittle and dry and very difficult to work with.
* Phyllo pastry tears easily, so handle it gently. This is often not a problem as it is easily patched by brushing with butter and placing it where required.
* Each sheet is usually brushed with melted butter, margarine or oil before being topped with another sheet.
* To cut the pastry, use a sharp knife so as not to tear the sheets.
* If making a large pie or baklava in a tray, cut through all the layers of pastry before baking so that the baked product will be easier to cut and serve.
* Fresh phyllo pastry will last for two weeks in the fridge.
* Phyllo pastry triangles or parcels can be prepared and frozen until required. Bake straight from the freezer.
* Make sure any fillings used in phyllo pastry are cold. Hot fillings will make the pastry disintegrate.
MOROCCAN CHICKEN PIES
30ml olive oil
700g chicken thigh fillets, diced
2 red onions, chopped
10ml chopped garlic
15ml chopped ginger
15ml Moroccan spice or rub
salt and pepper
250ml chicken stock
125ml chopped coriander
60ml finely chopped almonds
15ml icing sugar
3ml ground cinnamon
3 sheets of phyllo pastry
125g butter, melted
icing sugar for dusting
Heat the olive oil and fry the chicken in batches until browned. Remove and set aside.
To the pan, add the onions, garlic and ginger and fry until soft.
Return the chicken to the pan and add the spice and seasoning and cook for a minute.
Add the stock and simmer until the chicken is tender and the liquid has evaporated. Stir in the coriander and cool.
Mix together the almonds, icing sugar and cinnamon.
Brush one sheet of pastry with melted butter and sprinkle lightly with the ground almond mixture.
Add another layer of pastry, brush with butter and sprinkle with more nuts. Top with another sheet of pastry.
Cut the sheet of pastry in half lengthwise, and then into three widthwise, You should now have six squares.
Press these squares into greased giant muffin pan cups. Fill them up with the cooled chicken mixture and fold in the overlapping edges of the pastry to form neat pies.
Bake at 180°C for 20 to 30 minutes until golden brown.
Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes before removing from the tins. Serve lightly dusted with icing sugar.
TOFFEE PINEAPPLE CUPS
6 sheets of phyllo pastry
125g melted butter
45ml brown sugar
1-2 pineapples, peeled, cored and cut into cubes
Brush a sheet of pastry with melted butter, top with another sheet. Brush with butter and add another sheet of pastry.
Use a 12cm round cutter or a small saucer. Cut out 6 discs from the pastry. Repeat this with the remaining 3 sheets of pastry.
Brush a shallow muffin pan with melted butter and press in the discs of pastry. Bake at 160°C for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown.
If the centres of the pastry pop up, then press them down with a spoon. Remove and cool.
Fill with pineapple and top with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream if desired.
FILLING: Melt the butter and sugar in a frying pan and cook gently until the sugar has dissolved. Add the pineapple and cook while stirring until the pineapple is coated and sticky. Add the cream and cook until the sauce has reduced and thickened. Cool slightly before scooping into the phyllo cups.
Top with a scoop of ice cream and serve immediately.
SWEET POTATO AND TOFU PARCELS
500g sweet potato, peeled and cubed
250g firm tofu, cubed
5ml ground coriander
5ml cumin seeds
1 red chilli, seeded and chopped
1 bunch of spring onions, chopped
45ml chopped coriander
8 sheets of phyllo pastry
Mix the sweet potato, garlic, tofu, coriander, cumin, seasoning and oil in a roasting pan and toss to combine.
Roast at 180°C for 30 minutes until the potato is soft.
Remove from the oven and mash roughly. Add the chilli, spring onion and coriander and mix well. Allow to cool completely.
Take a sheet of phyllo pastry and brush with butter. Fold the sheet in half lengthwise and then widthwise, brushing with butter.
Place a spoonful of mixture in the centre of the pastry and gather up the edges to form a pouch. Twist the edges and place on a baking tray.
Repeat with the remaining pastry until all the filling has been used. Bake at 180°C for 15 to 20 minutes until pastry is golden brown.
ROASTED BUTTERNUT AND CHEESE PIE
Serves 6 to 8
500g butternut, cubed
2 red onion, peeled and sliced into wedges
45ml olive oil
400g baby spinach, washed and steamed until limp
60ml dried cranberries
200g ricotta cheese, crumbled
200g feta cheese, crumbled
60ml chopped mint
60ml chopped coriander
12 sheets of phyllo pastry
150g butter, melted
4 eggs, beaten
15ml sesame seeds
Combine the butternut, onion, garlic, seasoning and oil in an oven roasting pan and toss well. Roast at 180°C for 30 minutes until soft. Remove from the oven and transfer to a mixing bowl.
Chop the spinach and mix it into the butternut. Add the cranberries.
Combine the ricotta, feta, mint and coriander and season to taste.
Brush 10 sheets of phyllo with butter and stack them on top of each other.
Brush a 22cm deep spring form pan with melted butter and fit the phyllo sheets into the pan allowing the sides to hang over. Fill with half the butternut mixture. Add the cheese and then the remaining butternut mixture.
Pour over the beaten eggs. Brush the two remaining sheets of pastry with butter and lay them over the pie to cover the top.
Fold the overlapping edges over, sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake at 180°C for 30 to 40 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.
Cool slightly and remove from the pan before serving.
1 cinnamon stick
4 whole cloves
25ml lemon juice
250g whole almonds
500g phyllo pastry
160g butter, melted
SYRUP: Combine all the ingredients in a small pot and bring to the boil. Boil for 5 minutes to form a medium syrup. Remove from the heat and cool, then refrigerate until cold.
PASTRY: Put the almonds, sugar and cinnamon in a food processor and process until the nuts are finely chopped. Set aside.
Brush the base and sides of a 35 x 25cm pan with butter. Place a sheet of phyllo pastry in the base and brush with butter. Fold the pastry over so that it fits into the base.
Brush with butter. Add another sheet and brush with butter and fold it to fit snugly. Continue adding layers until you have 7 layers. Sprinkle over half the nuts and cover with another two layers of pastry. Add the remaining nuts and top with the remaining pastry, brushing each layer with melted butter.
Use a small sharp knife to cut diamond patterns all the way through the pastry.
Bake at 160°C for 40 to 50 minutes until golden brown and crisp right through. Remove from the oven and pour over the ice cold syrup.
Leave to cool before serving. - The Star