Monday, August 2, 2010

Phyllo Feta Torte

My friend Klo shared this recipe and I've been dying to make it, for, oh, a year. Finally got some good local feta and honey, and decided to brave phyllo dough for the first time. Klo has this to say about the recipe:

The Phyllo Feta Torte is one of my NYT finds. Apparently it's traditional fare at Greek Orthodox Easter celebrations. It's also the single easiest way to use phyllo dough that I have encountered (spanakopita is the hardest, baklava relatively easy). In fact, the whole recipe is a cinch to make, yet everyone gasps at its beauty when you unmold it. While it doesn't hit my cooking-for-myself trifecta of easy, healthy, and yummy, it more than meets my cooking-for-guests trifecta of easy, gorgeous, and yummy. This dish may well be the winningest I have.

When I made it the first time, I was delighted with how it tasted plain, but then I bravely tried the honey--yes, honey with feta and dill!--and ZOMG it was transcendent! A light to heavy drizzle of local honey really should be a requirement for this impressive and easy dish, and everyone who likes flaky pastry and a complex array of flavors should give this baby a go.

And I have to agree! This would be a great dish to pass for a potluck brunch, as it doesn't have to be served straight out of the oven, and it's quite impressive!

Here's her recipe, with my minor modifications noted:

Sonia’s Phyllo and Feta Torte with Dill and Nutmeg


Time: An hour and a half, plus cooling

1 pound Greek feta cheese, crumbled
3 cups cottage cheese*
3 large eggs**
1/3 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese (I used fresh Parmaggiano Reggiano)
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1-pound box phyllo dough, thawed overnight in refrigerator if necessary
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted***
Greek honey, for serving (optional).

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a food processor, combine feta, cottage cheese, eggs, dill, 2 tablespoons Romano, the nutmeg and pepper and pulse just to combine (you can also use a large bowl and a fork). Mixture should be well combined, but still chunky, not smooth.

2. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons Romano into a Bundt pan. Drape a sheet of phyllo on top of Bundt pan, poke a hole into phyllo where center tube is and push phyllo into pan to line it. Do this with another phyllo sheet, but place it perpendicular to first sheet. Continue adding phyllo sheets in this crisscross manner until all sheets are used. Edges of phyllo should hang over edges of pan. NOTE: I layer the phyllo off-center, doing four sheets at 12, 3, 6, and 9 on the clock in a clockwise pattern--this gives enough edge to cover the filling.

3. Scrape cheese filling into pan, and fold edges of phyllo over filling. Using a sharp knife, poke many holes (at least 20) in dough that reach all the way to bottom of pan. Slowly pour melted butter over torte; some butter will seep through holes and some will remain on top of dough.

4. Place Bundt pan on a baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour 15 minutes, or until torte is puffy and golden brown. Allow torte to cool in pan for 1 to 2 hours before inverting onto a plate and slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature, with honey if desired.

I had some great local buckwheat honey that was tasty. Mark skipped the honey, of course, and was still perfectly happy with it.

Yield: 10 to 12 servings.

*I can't stand cottage cheese, so I used ricotta instead. Still very good!
**I found myself with only 2 eggs and that worked just fine.
***I couldn't use 3 sticks of butter, I just couldn't! I'm sorry, Klo! I'm sure 3 would have been better, and maybe some day I will, but 1 or so worked pretty well too.

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