Baking Recipes, Pies & Tarts

Mediterranean “spring rolls” + wishing for a touch of spring

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It’s incredibly hot. There’s a perennial flurry of dust on the sidewalk near my house, left over from the road repairs that finished a month or so ago. Every time a car rushes by and I happen to be walking past, I don’t know whether I should cover my nose and mouth, or my eyes. Always a mini dust-storm. I can’t remember the last time I saw actual legitimate rain in these parts– a little shower might’ve helped clear up some of that dust.

I’m sweaty even indoors. I’ve been lazy about putting on make-up because it feels like gunk that melts on my face in this heat. This weather is such a departure from the cool January-February months, and even though hot weather is what we have in the Philippines 90% of the time, I can’t help but miss those colder days. When it gets too hot I get irritable. The only thing that this heat deserves credit for is making me sweat twice as much when I work out. At least it’s good for something right?

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The funny thing is, I know I’m supposed to be used to this dang weather having lived here my entire life. And that is precisely why I crave for something different. I have to fly all the way to another country to experience anything other than summer and rainy days. (Not that I’m complaining.) A break from hot weather is nice, but I can’t stand too much cold either. It’s why I love autumn so much.

But believe it or not I have not yet experienced a proper spring day. That moment when life seeps out from the earth like a magical rebirth. How profound it must feel! (And how cool the weather must be!) For some strange reason, all my yearning for spring has resulted in the most ridiculous non sequitur of all. Spring rolls. Must be the word spring on them. I’ve never felt a stronger urge to make some until now. And because I don’t want to make just any spring roll, I made a phyllo roll instead, with some Mediterranean flavours inside.

I’m starting to fall in love with phyllo recipes. Actually I’m in love with the sheets of phyllo, to be more specific. Every time I open a box of phyllo (or filo, take your pick) I have a tiny moment of disbelief. How are these paper-like sheets actually dough, actually edible, and how is it they actually turn into golden pieces of crunch?

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This is my second box of Antoniou, this one bought from Santi’s. The difference between this and the blue box I previously used is that these are just refrigerated instead of frozen. Obviously the frozen version has a longer shelf life, but I think I prefer this refrigerated one a bit more. Less risk of forgetting to thaw frozen dough in the fridge overnight. With the refrigerated version you only need to let the phyllo come to room temperature to avoid breaking the fragile sheets.

Aside form being wrapped in these crunchy golden phyllo shells, I adored the filling of these, highlighted by my favourite cheese of the moment– feta.

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I used a mixture of broccoli and mushroom, but you can add some bell peppers if you want. It would make the flavour of these even more colourful. Make sure you use the freshest broccoli and that you don’t overcook them so that the filling will be a beautiful darker green. Juicy mushrooms aside, I love how the onions and garlic kind of seeps into the feta, giving the cheese a more savoury quality than usual.

And the best way to eat these is by hand. It’s too big to be called finger food, but definitely the best way is to just pick one roll up and bite right into it. First comes the crunch, and then the tumble of flavours… Yummeh!

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And at the risk of this sounding odd, I liked eating these with sweet chilli sauce. Like some sort of Asian-Mediterranean spring roll hybrid.

Broccoli Mushroom Phyllo Rolls - Mediterranean "spring rolls" + wishing for a touch of spring
Broccoli, Mushroom, & Feta Phyllo Rolls
Broccoli Mushroom Phyllo Rolls - Mediterranean "spring rolls" + wishing for a touch of spring
Yields 10
A medley of wonderful flavours capped off by tasty feta, encased in a crunchy golden shell of phyllo.
  1. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  2. 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  3. 1/2 onion, diced
  4. 1 head broccoli, finely chopped
  5. 200 grams button mushrooms, chopped
  6. pinch ground nutmeg
  7. salt
  8. freshly ground black pepper
  9. 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  10. 3/4 cup feta cheese
  11. 1 egg, whisked
  12. 20 sheets filo dough, covered with barely-damp towel
  13. 4 tablespoons melted butter, or more as necessary
Prepare the filling
  1. 1. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Swirl in the olive oil and sauté the garlic until aromatic. Add the onions and cook until translucent.
  2. 2. Add in the broccoli and sauté for 3 minutes more, or until the broccoli is just starting to get tender. It should still be bright green. Season with nutmeg, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
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  4. 3. Remove from heat and let cool until no longer steaming. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F (205°C). Once filling mixture has cooled, stir in the egg and the feta cheese until well-combined.
To assemble
  1. 4. Lay 1 phyllo sheet on a clean surface. Brush the surface completely with melted butter and lay another sheet on top. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the filling about 1-inch from the bottom edge and about 2-inches from both sides. Keep the filling in the middle.
  2. 5. Fold one side of the phyllo sheet over the middle, then fold the other side over that as though folding a letter or towel. Now fold the bottom edge over the filling. From there, roll tightly towards the top.
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  4. 6. Place rolls on baking sheet seam side down. Repeat with remaining 9 rolls.
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  6. 7. Brush the tops of each roll with more melted butter. Bake for 20 minutes or until tops are golden brown and crispy.
Adapted from Steamy Kitchen blog
The Tummy Train
I’ve been researching about phyllo recipes lately, and as usual I’ve been extremely picky about it. I want it to be special enough but not too difficult to make. (Any suggestions will be welcome by the way!) I have seen some interesting recipes for dessert phyllo cigars so those might make an appearance on the blog soon. As soon as I get my hands on another box of phyllo that is!

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