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Working With Fillo


1. Make sure the pastry is at room temperature. If the fillo is frozen, it should be thawed slowly in the refrigerator overnight and then left at room temperature for two hours before opening the package. There are between 18 and 22 sheets of fillo in a one-pound box.

2. Open the package and unroll the fillo carefully. Place it on a kitchen towel, and place one dry and one damp towel over it to keep the fillo moist. If the top sheet seems on the verge of becoming too moist and sticky, turn the fillo over or cut the stack in half like a deck of cards, rotating the bottom sheets with the top. Work fast!

3. The sheets will have to be buttered or brushed with olive oil or a combination of both. Count on about 1/2 teaspoon of fat per sheet, and make sure the edges are brushed first. Butter a large, rectangular, 2-to 3-inch-deep baking pan. Place the fillo sheet-by-sheet in the pan, using about 8-10 sheets for the bottom and brushing each with melted butter and/or olive oil.

4. Spread the filling evenly over the fillo, and top with the remaining sheets, buttering or oiling each one. Score the savory pies into squares or diamond shapes, and bake in a preheated oven at 375°F (unless otherwise specified in recipe) for about 50 minutes to one hour, or until the fillo is crisp and golden.

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