Tag Archives: appetizer

Roasted Garlic and Walnut Chickpea Pate

Welcome to the party, elegant and tasty spread.  I’m lovin’ your roasty garlic flavor and your silky texture.  Won’t you join me over here by the crackers?

pate yum1

This pate is hummus in black tie.  Approachable and friendly black tie.  Spread on a cracker, it’s right at home at a cocktail party or the party for the big game.  I found the recipe at the Amuse Your Bouche blog via the Finding Vegan Facebook page.  The original recipe makes a tiny amount, so I adjusted ingredients to make a whole can of chickpeas-worth, and reduced the amount of oil.  This larger amount still doesn’t last long-it’s that kind of yummy!  Here’s what you need to start your relationship with your new favorite party date.

ingredients

  • 1 entire head of garlic, roasted  (12-14 cloves, or more if you like garlic like we do!)
  • 1 1/4 cups walnuts, plus a bit more to garnish
  • 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained but NOT rinsed
  • 4 TBSP lemon juice
  • 4 TBSP olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

First, roast the garlic.  Heat oven to 375F.

Cut the top off a head of garlic, place it in a pan, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

cut top off garlic

place in pan with oil salt and pepper

(Save the little tops for another garlic recipe.)

save little tops

Roast for 25 minutes and remove to cool.  When cool enough to handle, pop the cloves out of their skins.

pop cloves out

Place roasted garlic cloves into a food processor along with the walnuts.

garlic and walnuts in processor

Process until you achieve a coarse crumb.

process to crumbs

Add the drained chickpeas, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper.

add chickpeas salt pepper lemon and oil

Process until smooth.  Taste, and adjust seasoning if needed.

puree til smooth

Place in a pretty bowl, garnish with chopped walnuts, set out some crackers and prepare to be enchanted.  Seduced, really.

pate yum2

pate yum3

There is a LOT of garlic in this recipe, and it is definitely the top-note of the flavor.  However, since it’s roasted, it’s a mellow and earthy garlic.  Definitely yummy!

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Filed under appetizer, dairy-free, Holiday foods, recipe, snack, vegan, Vegetarian

Sweet and Spicy Pecans

Why hello easy, delicious, make-ahead appetizer!  You’re the perfect crunch that’s not quite sweet, not quite savory and yet completely addictive.  I think I love you.

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Another recipe from the Holiday Appetizer Buffet in Vegan Holiday Kitchen, these pecans were coveted by party guests at this year’s New Year’s Eve party.  Holiday parties are super fun, but happen when you’re most busy and stressed.  This nice little appetizer is the first guest to invite.  🙂

ingredients

  • 1/3 cup agave or maple syrup (I used maple!)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 cups pecan halves

Preheat oven to 300F.

Combine the maple syrup with cinnamon, chili powder, ginger, nutmeg and salt.

combine maple with spices

Stir in the pecans to coat them evenly.  (Ack!  What possessed me to think stirring with my whisk was a good idea?!  The pecans got all caught in there….Just use a spoon.  Really.)

add pecans

Spread coated pecans in a 9×9, aluminum foil-lined baking pan, or an aluminum pan if you have one.

spread in aluminum pan

Bake for 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes, until pecans are nicely glazed and toasted.  (This is a departure from the original recipe which says to heat oven to 250F and bake for 20 minutes, stirring after 10.  My location is considered high altitude, and the original temp and time didn’t result in a crunchy glaze for me.)

Let cool and break apart any clumps.  Serve in a pretty dish.

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I wasn’t sure I liked the ginger in these at first–I thought it was a bit too floral.  However, something about the spice combo makes these super addictive.  If you have any leftover after the party, store in an air-tight container and then count out how many you plan to eat as a snack.  Reseal the container.  If you don’t follow this advice, you may end up eating all that are left.  Not that I’d know. 😉

These would be super-delish garnishing a spring spinach and strawberry salad.  Yummmmmm!

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Hot Artichoke and White Bean Dip

Many years ago, a restaurant here in town served an appetizer called Sheep Dip.  I know, not the most appetizing name, but oh my what a delicious combination of hot, gooey deliciousness.  It had tons of cheese and spinach and artichokes.  Yum, yum, yummy!  We ordered it EVERY time we went there.  I have since given up dairy, so no more Sheep Dip for me.  Not that I don’t think about it sometimes.  And THEN!  I treated myself to a new cookbook for the holidays: Vegan Holiday Kitchen.  A beautiful book full of complete menus for every occasion, including a section on appetizers.  One of those recipes looked very, very much like my beloved Sheep Dip.  I just had to try it!  I’m sharing it with you because YES!  Very reminiscent of the original hot gooey deliciousness!

transfer to baking dish top w cheese

Serve it in a bread bowl, serve it in the baking dish, serve it with bread or crackers or crudites….perfect for a party, perfect for just you and your sweetie…or just you!

ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15-oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup vegan cream cheese
  • 1 14-oz can artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves (or arugula or watercress)
  • 2 TBSP fresh dill
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella-style grated vegan cheese
  • paprika for topping

Preheat oven to 375F.

Saute onion and garlic in a bit of veggie or No-Chicken broth until the onion starts to caramelize.

saute onions garlic

Place the saute in a food processor along with the beans and cream cheese, process until smooth.

process sauted onions garlic beans cream cheese

Add artichoke hearts, spinach, dill, thyme, salt and pepper.

pulse spinach artichokes and seasonings

Pulse until evenly chopped, but not pureed.

just until evenly chopped

Place in a oven-safe dish, top with grated cheese and bake for 25-30 minutes.

transfer to baking dish top w cheese

Sprinkle top with paprika and serve hot or warm.

Have you noticed I don’t have a picture of the final gooey yuminess?  My guests were already here when I pulled it from the oven.  I was so amazed with it, I sprinkled the paprika, set it on my kitchen island with a flourish and completely forgot to take a picture!  It was delish.  Go make some and see for yourself!

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Tazza Toscano aka Those Filled Wonton Thingies

For this year’s New Year’s Eve party, I wanted to make appetizers and finger foods for everyone’s dietary preferences.  This one satisfies everyone but the gluten-free.  It was one I had completely forgotten about until I asked my son what food he’d like to have for the party.  He remembered these when I suggested a filled mushroom as a possibility.  “What were those things you made that one time?  The ones in the wonton wrappers?”  Oh!  The Filled Wonton Thingies!  I knew where to look for the recipe….I think.  Success!  I found the stapled sheets that contained the recipes from a wine tasting we had attended at a local winery and there they were, Tazza Toscana.  Crunchymeltyflavor-y bites of pure yum.  I made them vegan from a non-vegan recipe; easily adjusted to go vegan or not.  These disappeared quickly; devoured by vegans and non-vegans alike!

yum

They’re amazingly easy to put together.

ingredients

  • 1 lb sausage, breakfast or Italian, cooked and crumbled.  I used Gimme Lean Sausage-style.
  • 1 1/2 cup grated cheddar.  I used Daiya.  (Be careful with non-dairy cheese. Not all of them are vegan.)
  • 1 1/2 cup grated montery jack.  I used Daiya pepper jack.
  • 1 cup ranch dressing
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 package of wonton wrappers

Preheat oven to 375 F.

First, press wonton wrappers into 24 openings of mini muffin pans.  I discovered that the pestle from my small wooden mortar and pestle worked perfectly for this job.  Try to keep the wrapper as “open” as possible.

press wraps into tins

Bake the wraps for 5 minutes and remove to cooling racks.

bake wraps

Brown the sausage, breaking it up as you go.  I use a potato masher at the end to get a good crumbled texture.

brown sausage

Add cheeses, onions, pepper and ranch dressing to the cooked sausage and stir to combine.

add onion pepper cheese ranch

Divide the filling evenly between the 24 wrappers.  I had to “rob” some of the more generously filled ones to get enough for my 24.

fill and bake

Bake the filled wrappers for 10 minutes and transfer to a serving platter.  They are best served warm, right from the oven.

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Stand back.  Tazza Toscano are irresistible and will be immediately pounced upon by your party guests!  So yummy.  So easy.  I really should make these more often!

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Pork Potstickers

Like a lot of people, Michael and I went to a Super Bowl party yesterday.  I knew about this party well in advance, and knew I needed to bring a munchie of some sort.  Yesterday morning (yup, the day of the party), I finally came up with what that munchie should be.  Nothing like bringing it down to the wire to bring on a healthy dose of inspiration–potstickers!

Our whole fam loves them, so everyone at the party should, right?!  Right!    Good thing this recipe makes a whole bunch!

  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped carrots (I started with shredded carrots.)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cabbage
  • 2 TBSP worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp catsup
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 lightly beaten egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 packages wonton wrappers
  • 1 1/3 cup chicken stock, divided
  • 3-4 TBSP olive oil

Place pork, veggies, egg, sauces and spices in a bowl.  Work the ingredients together until evenly combined.

Preheat a 12-inch pan over medium-high heat.  Brush with oil.

Place a rounded 1/2 tsp of pork mixture into the center of a wonton wrapper. 

Use a finger to brush a bit of water along the edges, fold the wrapper over diagonally and seal, making little pleats if you like. 

Make 8 potstickers and place them in the heated pan.  Cook for 2 minutes.

Carefully (Splatter alert!) add 1/3 cup of chicken stock to the pan and cook potstickers for another 2 minutes.  The chicken stock will cook off completely.

Lift potstickers out of the pan with tongs, using a bit of water poured into the pan to deglaze and loosen the stickers if needed.  Potstickers will be browned on the bottoms.  Wipe the pan with a paper towel, brush the pan with oil and keep on cooking your potstickers until you have a whole bowl full!  I could make 8 potstickers in about the same time Michael cooked a batch.  I’ve made these without help before, but it was easier with help; and more fun, too.

These are especially yummy with Michael’s secret sauce–I can’t make it, but I’ll tell you what’s in it:  hoisin sauce, dijon mustard, soy sauce, and balsamic vinegar.  He combines some of each of these adding more of this or that until it tastes right to him.  Use whatever you’d like to dip the potstickers in, or eat them as is!

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Baked Brown Sugar And Walnut Brie

Sometimes it’s fun to bake an appetizer that is as pretty as it is yummy.  Especially when very little effort is needed and you end up with results like this:

Here’s the simple list of ingredients:

  • 1 small wheel of brie
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed according to directions on package
  • a handful of chopped walnuts
  • a handful of brown sugar
  • 1 egg for the egg wash

Preheat oven to 400F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.

Roll the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface to smooth it out.

Place brown sugar and walnuts in the center of the pastry, in a little circle approximately the size of the brie.

Unwrap the brie and place top down on the sugar and walnuts.  Note: leave the rind on, or the brie will not maintain its shape as it bakes.

Using a knife or kitchen shears, cut a circle around the brie about 1 1/2-2-inches larger than the brie.  Reserve the trimmings for decorations.

Pick up a side and fold over the brie, keeping the pastry as close to the side of the brie as possible without ripping it.

Continue with other sides until the brie is completely enveloped.  Your folds don’t need to be perfect, because this will be the bottom.

Place the brie on prepared baking sheet.  Make an egg wash by lightly beating the egg with a little water.  Seal the last flap with egg wash and turn the brie smooth-side up.

Brush the top and sides of the pastry with egg wash.  Use a small cookie cutter to cut decorations for the top of the brie, if you choose.  I chose a little heart for those of you starting to plan for Valentine’s Day.  You could also get really creative and design your own decoration using a knife.

Layer the hearts how you like them, brushing with egg wash after each layer.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until pastry is puffed and browned.

Let stand 20 minutes before serving.

How clever are you for creating this appetizer art?  Let me tell you, I was pretty pleased with myself and had to call Michael into the kitchen so he could oooo and ahhhhh over how pretty this brie turned out!

If you want to be extra fancy-schmancy, call it by its French name, Brie En Croute.

Cut into the pastry and find the lovely, creamy, melty brie; along with a bit of sweet and crunch.  Eat it just like this, or with crackers, or bread.  Yummy!  (I transferred the brie to a plate with higher sides so I could take it with me to a party.)

Here’s another Baked Brie I think you’ll like, from A Full Measure of Happiness:  Baked Apricot Brie.  How will you bake your next brie?

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Rosemary Roasted Walnuts

Earlier today I got a text from a good friend in town for the weekend–she proposed an FAC up at the winery she co-owns.  I asked if I could bring a snack.  She agreed as long as I didn’t go to any fuss. 

 

I remembered a recipe for spiced nuts I’d seen in a magazine recently; one from Ina Garten, a favorite of mine. (I love watching the Barefoot Contessa–love her kitchen, her garden, her way of making gourmet approachable.) 

Ina’s recipe is for cashews, but I have walnuts.  Lots of walnuts.  Walnuts I bought thinking I’d make piles and piles of pesto from the piles and piles of parsley I had.  I ran out of oomph before I ran out of parsley…or walnuts.  I also happened to have the other ingredients I needed; I bet you do too!

  • 4 cups walnuts
  • 2 TBSP coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 TBSP butter, melted
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 375F. 

Place walnuts on an edged baking sheet.  Roast for 10 minutes.  You’ll start to smell them around 5 minutes–watch them carefully from then on.

Meanwhile in a large bowl, combine rosemary, butter, sugar, salt, and cayenne,

until well combined.

Add hot walnuts to the bowl and toss until well combined.  Garnish with a rosemary sprig.  Serve warm…you’ll be so, so glad you did.

The warmth brings out the aromatic oils of the rosemary.  I found the warm-herbal-spicy-crunchy-yumminess of these nuts paired really well with the herbally undertones of Reeder Mesa’s Cabernet Sauvignon.  Another friend preferred the crisp acidity of Reeder Mesa’s Riesling as a pairing.

Whatever you pair with these roasted nuts, I have to warn you…They.  Are.  Addictive.  Really.  As yummy as they are, they are no fuss.

As we all sipped and crunched, we thought all sorts of nuts that would be enhanced by this spice combo….mmmmm!  Which nuts will you use?  Maybe you’ll use them to top a salad?  Or a crunchy topping for a smooth butternut squash soup?  ???

As you ponder the possibilities, enjoy this November sunset, taken from the deck at Reeder Mesa Winery tonight.  Ahhhhh…..

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Filed under appetizer, Garden produce, recipe, wine

Garden Green Bean Hummus

Oh how I love garden season!  All the planning and soil amending and bug killing pays off big time with a lush and productive farmer’s market of your very own.  Here’s my harvest from yesterday:

Husky red, green zebra, sun sugar and yellow pear tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, various colors of bell peppers, and royal burgundy “green” beans.  Naturally, because I seem to be thinking about food all the time, I started scheming on what sort of yumminess to cook up with this bounty. 

I decided to start with the beans.  I should have picked them a few days ago and was worried they might be tough–so, maybe some sort of puree?  A friend of mine makes a green bean pate, why not hummus with fresh beans?!

Inspired by a hummus recipe from The Gluten Free Vegan, I commenced to gathering what I needed and snapping my big pile of beans! 

  • A big bunch of fresh green beans, stem end snapped, strings removed and snapped into 1 to 1 1/2 inch pieces.  I ended up with 8 cups of snapped beans.
  • 5-6 TBSP fresh lemon juice–two small or one large lemon
  • 1/2 cup tahini (or more if desired)
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced thick and sauted until golden
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • pinch of cayenne
  • olive oil for sauteing garlic and for serving

Snap beans, place in a large pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and simmer 20 minutes or until tender.

See how the beans are green inside?  They lose their pretty purple color as they cook.  So why grow purple beans?  Because they’re pretty, because they’re easier to find among all the green foliage, just because…  

Let the beans cool a bit and put them in a food processor.

This is a few beans less than I started with.  I just couldn’t resist snacking on a few while I toasted the pine nuts in a hot, dry skillet and sauted the garlic in a bit of olive oil.

Add lemon juice, tahini, pine nuts, garlic (and the oil it sauted in), salt, a bit of ground pepper and cayenne to the beans and process until you achieve the smoothness you like.

Using a chip, a cracker or a spoon, taste the hummus and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Spoon into a bowl (be careful with the processor blade!), drizzle a bit of olive oil on top and sprinkle with fresh-ground pepper. 

 

I’m lovin’ the fresh green taste of this hummus!  What a yummy solution to green beans that get too big (although perfect green beans will work as well)!  Serve with chips, crackers, bread, fresh veggies, or use as a sandwich or wrap spread.  Store left-overs in a covered container in the fridge for up to a week.

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Crostini Three Ways

Crostini is one of the fastest, easiest, yummiest appetizers around.  Basically it’s toast with toppings.  The toppings can be sweet or savory or in between.  Think about flavors you like and put them on crunchy, toasted bread and you’ve got crostini!

Here are 3 ideas, ranging from sweet to savory.  Make all three or bunches of your favorite, serve with wine and you’ve got an appetizer for date night or a party!  Yum! 

I used a sesame semolina bread–any light crusty bread will be yummy!

For Strawberry Citrus:

  • sliced strawberries
  • cream cheese or mascarpone
  • goat cheese
  • lemon zest
  • a bit of sugar

Slice bread and toast it–in the oven or in a toaster.

Mix a half-and-half spread of cream cheese and goat cheese.

Spread slices with cheese mixture, top with sliced strawberries, lemon zest and a sprinkle of sugar.

For Pear Arugula:

  • thin pear wedges (I leave the peels on)
  • baby arugula leaves
  • goat cheese
  • balsamic vinegar

Slice and toast bread–in the oven or toaster.

Spread bread slices with goat cheese, top with 4 or 5 baby arugula leaves, then 3 thin pear wedges.  Sprinkle with balamic vinegar.

For Tomato Pesto:

  • roasted grape tomatoes
  • pesto
  • pine nuts

Roast tomatoes on a baking sheet with sides: place on sheet, sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast 10 minutes at 350F.

Slice and toast bread–in oven or toaster.

Spread bread slices with pesto, top with roasted tomatoes and pine nuts.

Three crostinis in no time at all!

Next time you have a few people over or just want to make a pretty and yummy start to a meal, make crostini!  I’d pair a citrusy-floral white wine with the strawberry citrus–Whitewater Hill’s Muscat Canelli would be fabulous.  For the pear arugula, a crisp, fruity white like Reeder Mesa’s Riesling would be lovely.  And for the Tomato Pesto, I’d serve an earthy pinot noir from Alfred Eames Cellars.

Crostini+wine=yummy!  It’s all about knowing the method–usually a spread with a starring flavor or two and a topping to bring it all together.  What flavor combos will you create? 

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Spanked by the Spanikopita

So.  I watched Ina Garten make this on The Barefoot Contessa the other day.  It looked so yummy and so easy.  After my first experience with Spanikopita today, I can say yes–yummy.  Easy?  Not so much.  I should have caught on when trying to find the correct spelling and found three different spellings.  It’s a food of mystery.  One handed down from Greek Grannies to their Greek offspring, and I am NOT Greek. 

I bought my phyllo dough at a grocery that probably doesn’t sell much of it, so maybe it was old.  Maybe it had been thawed and refrozen.  Maybe it was intended to be used on an episode of Punked.  Whichever, this phyllo dough was the most difficult…um… “stuff” I’ve worked with in a while.  The sheets stuck to each other.  And tore.  And little shards that tore off caught air and floated to the floor like fall leaves.

After my initial panic–stupidly, I had decided to make this “easy” appetizer for company tonight–I decided to forge ahead.  “After it’s all baked and cut into appealing diagonal slices, no one will be able to tell that it isn’t constructed of perfectly positioned sheets,” I rationalized.  So forge ahead I did, like the kitchen commando I am.

So, place a bandana around your head and maybe one around your thigh for a Rambo-esque attitude, and gather these ingredients:

  • 1 box of phyllo dough–find in the frozen foods aisle–thawed
  • 1 bunch of scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 packages frozen spinach, thawed
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 8 oz crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 TBSP fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup of unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs–I used Panko

Thaw the phyllo according to the directions on the package.

Oil a baking sheet, and preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Dampen a clean kitchen towel to place over the phyllo sheets not being used at any one time.

Place a deep fry pan over medium heat and add olive oil.  When oil is hot, add chopped scallions and cook until softened–3 to 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.

In a medium bowl, place spinach that has been squeezed dry.  Use your hands over a sink, squeeze as much water out as you can.

Add eggs, salt, pepper, dill, feta, and scallions in oil.  Mix to combine.

Open and unwrap the phyllo.  Peel off a single sheet (if you can!), place on a surface in front of you and cover the rest of the phyllo with the damp towel.  Using a pastry brush, brush the surface with melted butter, then sprinkle with bread crumbs.

Add another sheet and repeat the butter and bread crumbs.  Continue the pattern until you have 10 sheets stacked on top of each other.  My box of phyllo had 20 sheets–enough to make two rolls–so I divided my filling in half, and spread it out along one long side of my phyllo stack and then rolled it up–careful the phyllo will want to tear.

(Notice how my top layer is actually made of pieces of a sheet of phyllo—argh!)  Place the roll seam-side down on your oiled baking sheet and brush it with melted butter on all exposed sides.  Repeat with the second half of your phyllo sheets and filling.  Some of my sheets would NOT come apart, so I layered them on as if they were one sheet–which they were, sort of!  When both rolls have been buttered, use a sharp knife to score diagonals in the rolls, about one inch apart.  I used my thumb as a guideline.  This will make them easier to cut when they’re baked.

Place the rolls in the oven and bake until golden brown and flaky–12-15 minutes.  I turned my pan after 10 minutes to be sure both rolls were evenly browned.  Cool on the baking sheet, on a rack until you can handle them and cut along score lines.  Arrange on a platter and serve–warm or room temperature.  Spanikopita will hold at room temperature for hours and be fine.

Look at them!  They turned out pretty after all, and they were yummy!  I will definitely try this again with a different phyllo dough.  Essentially the recipe is simple.  It was the uncooperative phyllo that spanked me.  I was right about the fact that a “sheet” composed of small-ish pieces didn’t matter in the finished product.  Your bottom sheet really does need to be as whole as you can manage or rolling will be disasterous! 

I recorded this recipe as a failure due to the sometimes comical contortions required to even partially separate the phyllo sheets, but the final product was really quite successful. 

Maybe if the next round of phyllo cooperates, I’ll get brave and try baklava!  Yummy!

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