Here's a bit on filo – fun stuff to work with...
Hair-fine pastry sheets layers with butter make filo pastry an indulgence whether the recipes be sweet or savoury. Bite into a baked good that's been cooked to golden perfection and there's a squeaky crunch along before the richness hit you add then need to fluff the feather particles off your cloths.
So what is filo... apart from being Greek that is...
- Filo is the Greek name for dough
- But it is Turkish in origin
- Originally the pastry dough was not so thin, but it was nonetheless rolled and layered and fried
- A kind of sandwich stack was once popular where the base layer was fried, topped with meat filling, covered with a layer of pastry which this top was then fried and then this layering and frying was continued to make a stack-like cake.
- The origin of the thin layers that we know as filo is attested to Topkapi Palace (Istanbul – amazing emeralds there Paul OMG!)
- Every year the new troops called Janissary, march on the 15th day of Ramadan to the palace and were given trays of Baklava which they would carry back wrapped in cloth on a pole over their shoulder.
- Before WW1 it was custom for the great house in Istanbul to keep two filo makers on staff, one for baklava and the other borek.
- When filo is shredded it is called Kataifa pastry, which was once available here, but I have not seen for a long time.
- It is a dough prepared from flour and water that is rolled to paper thinness.
Tips on filo pastry
- Keep the sheets of filo pastry not being buttered, under a lightly-dampened tea towel. Just one that has been sprayed with a little water too much and the filo goes soggy.
- Brush evenly but lightly with butter, too much as the sheets are greasy, too little and they are dry.
- Butter can be used for both sweet and savoury though olive oil can be used for savoury dishes.
- Layers can be separated by a little ground almond or breadcrumb to help add texture and keep the layers separate.
- Filo must be well cooked - fan bake is ideal for filo pasty cooking as the fan helps to brown evenly. If filo is undercooked it will be soggy - also if too much fat is used it can be soggy. Which if a syrup is then added makes a greasy mass.
- Syrup is best hot, poured on the dish straight out of the oven. Leave dishes in the tins to get cold and set before removing.
- Once the box is opened, seal the inside bag with tape or a peg and refrigerate.
- If using frozen filo - which I find a flipping nuisance - defrost in the fridge well before trying to unravel.
SPICY LAMB AND SAFFRON FILO PIES
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 onion, peeled and finely diced
2-3 tsp minced fresh garlic
2 medium chorizo sausages, finely sliced
500 grams lean minced lamb
70 gram packet pistachio nuts
1/4-1/2 cup raisins, roughly chopped
3 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
12-16 stuffed olives, roughly chopped
375 gram box (20 sheets) filo pastry
100 grams butter, melted
- Heat the saffron in the sherry and allow to stand for about 1/2 hour to infuse.
- Heat a good dash of olive oil in a frying pan and add the onion, garlic and minced lamb and cook for about 2 minutes. This is best done in two batches. Add the diced chorizo sausages and cook over a high heat for 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
- Add all the remaining ingredients to the pan and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes until nice and thick and very tasty. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.
- Brush one sheet of filo pastry with melted butter and top with a second sheet. Brush with butter and fold in half lengthwise.
- Place a large spoonful of cooled lamb mixture in the top corner and fold over to make a triangle. Continue to fold in this fashion, down the length of the filo sheet to enclose the filling. Brush with butter and place on a greased tray.
- Bake at 190 degrees Celsius for 20-25 minutes until hot, golden and the pastry is crispy. Serve warm or cold with the Lemon and Parsley Hummus Dip.
LEMON AND PARSLEY HUMMUS DIP
- 1 1/2 cups (380 gram tub) premade hummus
- 1/2 cup packed parsley stalks and leaves
- grated rind one lemon
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Process all the ingredients together in a food processor until smooth.