Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Facing Phyllo Fear - Wild Mushroom Bites

When I made the very few New Year's resolutions that I did, I also resolved to tackle them during the first month of the year so I could coast the rest of the time.  Here's another to check off my list - working with phyllo dough. Yes, I know a lot of people use it routinely, but I've always found those gnat-wing-thin sheets to be daunting.  Frankly, now having worked with it, I still can't say I find it any less daunting, but having successfully made close to 40 appetizers this afternoon I will say that I wouldn't hesitate to work with it again, and the results were wildly successful (if you'll pardon the pun).

This recipe is an adaptation of one I cut out from Colonial Homes magazine back in 1995 (yes, I've been in denial for that long).

It's very easy to put together and once I got the hang of the flag-style folding of the dough I got to be pretty fast.  I could not, however, work fast enough to prevent the dough from drying out.  Nor could I work fast enough to keep the dull ache in my lower back from turning into a searing pain crawling up between my shoulder blades from standing at the counter at a perfect 45-degree angle for what turned out to be close to an hour.  (Next time, I'll sit down, or enlist help.)  And I couldn't help but think while I was first carefully folding each piece into a perfect triangle, then later into rather reckless triangles, and watching them grow from the size of a bite-size snack to that of a sandwich to that of a small Buick in an effort to use up filling that never seemed to deplete, that perhaps this recipe was a bit advanced for a rookie like me.  On the other hand, just think how great I'll do when I select something MUCH simpler next time!

Wild Mushroom Bites
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 pound portobello and/or shiitake mushrooms, chopped
About 5 ounces regular white mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup chopped green onions (3 to 4)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 teaspoon dries thyme
12 sheets (about 13 x 9 inches) phyllo dough
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Rough chop mushrooms and scallions.
In a 10-inch skillet heat 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat.  Add mushrooms, green onions, and salt. 
Stirring frequently, cook 5 minutes or until mushroom liquid is released.
In small bowl, stir wine and flour together until smooth; gradually stir into cooked mushrooms. Cook until mixture is thickened and smooth, stirring constantly.  Cool mixture to room temperature or refrigerate.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a large cookie sheet.  Unwrap phyllo dough, unroll, and remove 12 sheets. Place dough on dry countertop; cut phyllo sheets lengthwise into four 13-inch by 2-1/4 inch strips; cover with waxed paper and a damp towel.
For each triangle, place 1 strip phyllo on work surface and brush lightly with melted butter.  (Keep remaining sheets under waxed paper covered with a damp towel.)

Place 1 teaspoon mushroom filling on one end of strip.
Fold end of strip over filling at a 45-degree angle.
Aligning end of pastry with edge; continue folding, keeping edges even, to make a triangular package; brush with butter.  Repeat with remaining strips, butter, and filling.
Place triangles on greased cookie sheet.
Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve hot.

Makes about 48 hors d'oeuvres.
The dough that I couldn't use before it dried out.
Obviously my husband and I couldn't eat all of these, as tasty as they were, so I opted to try freezing them.  I'll let you know how that works out.
Adapted from a recipe in Colonial Holmes magazine, December 1995. 


Elizabeth said...

Oh yummy, yummy, yummy! I love mushrooms. And wrapped in phyllo. I don't know if I could stand it!

Lyndsay Wells said...

I too was a phyllo convert this Christmas. The good news is that I experimented and you can do these in batches and freeze for later before baking. They bake from frozen like a dream - which is what I plan to do with this recipe - I'm going to make it for my next book club dinner as an appetizer.