Don’t let phyllo intimidate you…

Tonight the creativity bug bit me.  I was itching to do something with the box of phyllo pastry dough I bought the other day.  I’ve never worked with phyllo dough before so this was new to me.  I have to admit I was a little intimidated at first.  I guess I had no idea it was so delicate.  The directions were intimidating, and made me feel as if I had to work quickly, yet very carefully – like handling a bomb that needed to be disarmed.

Maybe this intimidation came from confusion too.  When I bought the dough I was thinking puff pastry, but when I opened the box I realized that’s not what I got.  I didn’t really understand that puff pastry and phyllo dough are two different things, and are not really interchangeable.  Duh!

It didn’t make a huge difference to me at that point.  I was determined to make little bite sized appetizers filled with yummy things.  And, that’s just what I did.  According to the directions, your fillings should be prepared prior to taking  the pastry sheets out of the box, so I busied myself working on that first.

For  the fillings, I prepared a multitude of tasty ingredients by dicing them, and lightly sauteing  most in butter, or olive oil.  The only exception was the bacon.  I cooked that fully as you normally would.  I prepared ham, onions and green peppers, garlic, fresh diced tomatoes, black olives, pepperoni, and baby spinach. I also prepared some frozen asparagus, and chopped it into small pieces. 

Once the food was pre-cooked, I did my concocting.  I made a pizza filling with  pepperoni, tomatoes, garlic, black olives, ricotta cheese, mozzarella, and Italian seasoning.  I made a spanakopita type filling with garlic, spinach, feta cheese, and a dash of nutmeg.  I mixed it up a bit with the ham and bacon.  I used the onions, green peppers, and asparagus with both, creating two different flavors, and topped them off with a little cheddar or  jarlsberg cheese (which I had already grated).  The prep time for this was time consuming, but necessary.

When working with the dough I tried to follow the directions, but it looked easier than it actually was.  I eventually decided to shape them the way I felt most comfortable.  Once filled and shaped,  I lined the little morsels on the cookie sheet and baked them until they were golden brown.  Then, I sampled…  then, hubby sampled…  then, the verdict….  A great appetizer worth the extra prep time, and the initial intimidation (which eventually passed). 

Have you worked with phyllo dough?  Have any tips you’d like to share?  How about puff pastry?  What’s your take on working with that?  I’d love to hear from you!