Natasha used phyllo with abandon, making cheese, spinach and even sauerkraut pies with it. I remember watching in awe, thinking that she new some culinary secrets to working with phyllo. But she was no spectacular cook and she was quite rough with it, laughing at the idea that it was delicate and dainty. "If it rips, you just layer another piece on top, no one will know!"
The best part about her technique was pouring some liquid, usually an egg and milk mixture, over the top of the uncooked pie after cutting it into slices to moisten the top phyllo and allow the egg to work its way into the pie. Try it, you'll love it!
My magic trick for working with phyllo is my trusty Misto. This kitchen helper works wonders, not only for misting phyllo with oil but for helping me to avoid buying the horrid canned oil sprays. Find one online and make it your new favorite kitchen toy!
Mushroom Feta Phyllo Pie
1/2 roll phyllo, defrosted and wrapped in plastic
1 lb mushrooms (a mix of cremini, button, and others is fun), chopped
1/2 onion, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream or greek yogurt
1/4 cup feta cheese
8 oz cottage cheese
1 tablespoon parsley, minced
oil for spraying
1 tablespoon milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat a large skillet over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Add oil and swirl to coat and add onion and sautee until soft, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and toss to coat with oil and turn heat down to low. Cook over low heat until mushrooms give up their liquid and begin to stick to pan. Turn off heat and remove from skillet to large mixing bowl. Add in cream cheese, sour cream, 2 eggs, feta, and cottage cheese and mix well. Add in parsley and season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Unroll phyllo dough and cover with dish cloth. Have your misto filled with oil and pumped at the ready or a can of oil spray. Using a deep dish pie pan (9 inch is best) rip one sheet of phyllo in half and drape over half of the pie pan and spray lightly with oil and then use the other half to cover the other side of the pan. The edges of the sheet should drape over the edges. Repeat with two more sheets and then dab on about 1/5 of the filling, scattering it around evenly. Draw the edges of the sheets into the pie and spray with oil to incorporate them into the sheets. Repeat the phyllo process, spraying each sheet with oil, layering 3-4 sheets each layer and then adding a layer of filling, ending with 2-3 sheets on the top.
Using a sharp knife, cut the pie into 8 pieces. Whisk the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon of milk and pour over the top of the pie, distributing it evenly over the top to moisten the phyllo and allowing it to seem into the cracks between the cut pieces. Bake for 30 minutes until top is golden. Recut pieces and allow to rest 5 minutes. Serve.