Rich little (and medium sized) phyllo cheese triangles. Perfect for entertaining.
Cheese Filo Triangles (or cigars)
Adapted from The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York (with more than 800 Ashkenazi and Sephardi recipes) by Claudia Roden (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997).
I changed around this recipe from the original by Claudia Roden. In place of her mix of cottage cheese with Edam, Gouda and Cheddar cheese (8 ounces of each), I used 8 ounces cottage cheese with 12 ounces Kashkaval (sheep’s milk cheese) and 12 ounces of a mix of Meunster, Cheddar, Mozzarella, and Parmesan.
Additionally, I have changed around the instructions for shaping the triangles. In the original instructions, each triangle was made up of 4 stacked strips of phyllo, each 4″x12″. With a pound of phyllo, composed of 40 sheets of 9″x13 sheets, this would make only 20 triangles, instead of the 60 her recipe is supposed to yield. Also, the triangles are fairly large, instead of a tiny nibble.
After consulting another cookbook, I devised the following strategy, which would yield the 60 small triangles (actually, it would yield 80, but mileage may vary depending on how generous you are with the filling): for each triangle, cut a 9″x13″ sheet in half lengthwise to make a strip that is about 4.5″x13″. Fold in half lengthwise to make a strip of double thickness that is about 2″x13″. Brush with butter, fill and fold like a flag into a small triangle. If you wish to make about 40 larger triangles, take one 9″x13″ sheet and fold it lengthwise to make a double thickness sheet that is 4/5″x13″. Butter, fill and fold as above into a triangle.
In retrospect, the best way to have gotten the stated yield of 60 pieces is to cut the 40 sheets of phyllo into three strips, each 3″x13″, and place each spoonful of filling on a stack of two strips.
12 ounces Tnuva Kashkaval (sheep’s milk cheese), grated
4 ounces Miller’s grated cheddar/mozzarella mix
8 ounces Miller’s grated Pizza Cheese mix (Meunster, Mozzarella, Parmesan)
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 lb Athen’s Phyllo Dough (40 sheets, each about 9″x13″) (defrost in the fridge overnight)
4-6 oz butter, melted (start off by melting one stick, 4 ounces; you might not need more)
egg wash for brushing tops of triangles (2 yolks mixed with 1-2 Tbl. water, or one whole egg, whisked well)
1/2 cup sesame seeds, optional (for sprinkling over the top before baking)
Combine the eggs and cheeses to make the filling.
Place together in your work area the following:
(1) a bowl of melted butter with a brush for spreading it on the phyllo (you could use cooking spray instead, maybe)
(2) the bowl of filling, with a teaspoon for scooping out filling
(3) the defrosted phyllo, covered with plastic (the phyllo comes with a sheet of plastic that you can use for this purpose), with a knife or pizza cutter for cutting the sheets in half
To make medium sized triangles, take a sheet of phyllo (9″x13″), fold it in half lengthwise to make a sheet that is 4.5″x13″. Brush with butter. Place a dab of filling in the corner (you need to experiment a bit to get the right amount, but about a heaping Tbl. is good). Fold over the corner to make a triangle, and keep folding upwards in a triangle shape (the way you fold a flag):
For the tiny hors d’oeuvre size, cut the phyllo sheet in half, lengthwise, to make a 4.5″x13″ sheet. Fold this in half to make a 2.25″x13″ sheet, brush with butter, fill with a heaping tsp. of filling, and proceed as above in folding. If you want a thicker layer of phyllo crust, instead of cutting the sheet of phyllo in half, you can fold the sheet of phyllo twice to make a 4 layer strip that is 2.5″x13″.
At the end of filling my triangles, I saw that I was going to have extra filling. I saved the last two sheet to make one large roll. I layered the two sheets, brushed them with butter, and then shaped a large roll with the remaining filling. Instead of rolling from the short end, as with the cigars, I rolled from the long end. This got scored into individual slices before being egg washed and baked.
I placed my triangles very close together so that I could bake more at a time, but spacing them on the sheet is much better.
Bake at 350 degrees (or 375 degrees is okay, too) for about a half hour, or until golden.
Add 3 tablespoons finely chopped dill or mint and
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg to the filling.
An alternative filling is half cottage cheese/ half feta (1 lb. each) and 4 eggs.
Interesting page on Israeli cheeses, with a map.
Philomena at O Pistachio has Claudia Roden’s recipe for Feta & Mint Triangles (from Arabesque). This filling sounds delicious:
7 oz feta cheese, mashed with a fork
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tbsp chopped mint
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt & pepper
Philomena also demonstrates her triangle folding technique.
Here is another yummy sounding filling, Spinach, Feta, Sun-Dried Tomato, Mint, from Fine Cooking. There are helpful pictures showing the folding process. Also, the recipe recommends cutting two stacked phyllo sheets into THREE strips (each about 3″x13″). This would yield 60 pieces. This is the way to cut the phyllo if you want the yield Roden states.