Appetizers let cooks develop phyllo to its full potential

June 16, 1993|By Susan Herr

These low-fat phyllo appetizers work beautifully fo entertaining because they can be prepared in advance and refrigerated or frozen.

Poppy and sesame seed straws

Makes about 5 dozen straws

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1 large egg white

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 sheets phyllo dough (14-by-18 inches)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat two baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray or line with parchment paper. Heat a small heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the poppy and sesame seeds and cook, stirring, until they are aromatic and toasted, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn out onto a plate to cool. In a small bowl, whisk together egg white, oil and salt.

Lay a sheet of phyllo on a work surface with a short side toward you. With a pastry brush, lightly coat the lower half of the sheet with the egg-white mixture and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon seeds. Fold the upper half over to cover the lower half. Brush the right half of the folded sheet with egg-white mixture, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon seeds and fold the left half over the seeds. Brush the bottom half of the folded sheet with the egg-white mixture, sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon seeds and fold the upper half over. Finally, brush the top with the egg-white mixture and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon seeds. Cut into 10 short strips using a knife or serrated pastry cutter. With a wide spatula, transfer the strips to the baking sheet, placing them about 1/2 inch apart. Repeat the procedure with the remaining 5 sheets of phyllo, egg-white mixture and seeds. Bake the straws for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden and crisp. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Phyllo tartlet shells

Makes 48 appetizers

1 large egg white

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

8 sheets phyllo dough (14-by-18 inches)

smoked trout filling (recipe below)

2 8-ounce packages low-fat cream cheese

1/2 pound smoked trout fillets (2 fillets), skin and pin bones removed

1/3 cup chopped scallions (2 scallions)

4 teaspoons prepared horseradish

1 cup shredded cucumber

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly coat two minimuffin pans with non-stick cooking spray. In a small bowl, whisk together egg white, oil and salt.

Lay a sheet of phyllo on a work surface and with a pastry brush, lightly coat it with the egg-white mixture. Lay a second sheet smoothly on top, taking care to line up the edges before setting the sheet down. (Once you set down the sheet, it cannot be moved.) Brush with the egg-white mixture and repeat with 1 more sheet. Lay a fourth sheet on top but do not brush it.

With a knife, cut the dough into 4 strips lengthwise and 6 strips crosswise, making 24 squares. Press squares into muffin cups and bake for 8 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. Transfer the tartlets to a rack and let cool. Repeat the procedure with the remaining 4 sheets of phyllo and egg-white mixture. (The baked tartlet shells may be stored in a closed container at room temperature for 1 week or in the freezer for up to 2 months.)

To make smoked trout filling: In a food processor, combine cream cheese and smoked trout; process until fairly smooth. Add scallions and horseradish and pulse until just combined. Alternatively, finely mince the smoked trout with a knife and combine with the cream cheese, scallion and horseradish in a small bowl. Shortly before serving, spoon or pipe about 1 heaping teaspoon of filling into each tartlet shell and garnish with shredded cucumber.

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