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No-Fear Phyllo Torte

Sorry to repeat this one, but a reader kindly pointed out that although I called for dill in the instructions, I forgot to mention the quantity in the recipe. It’s there now. Obviously, I still need an editor. May 2009 162 When I saw this recipe in the New York Times last month, I knew I had to try it, but it’s got so much butter and cheese that I needed a group event before I’d dare make it and risk eating most of it myself. Fortunately, my Italian ladies chit-chat group – “le matte”  – provided just the opportunity.  The Greek-inspired offering for my Italian group was obviously meant to be, since Milena, another of Le Matte who hosted the gathering, had a platter of dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) on the table when I arrived. It was a perfect pairing of cultures and food. Don’t let working with phyllo pastry scare you away. It’s not that difficult if you follow the directions and this recipe doesn’t even require you to butter the phyllo sheets individually. You’ll be rewarded with this gem of a dish if you do.  May 2009 150  Phyllo and Feta-Ricotta Torte 1 pound Greek feta cheese, crumbled 3 cups cottage cheese (I used ricotta) 3 large eggs 1/3 fresh dill, minced 1/4 cup Romano cheese (I used Parmesan) 1/2 t. freshly grated nutmeg 1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper 1 1-pound box phyllo dough 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted Greek honey, for serving (optional) The day before making this, thaw the phyllo in the refrigerator. Then, when you go to bed at night, place the box on the counter at room temperature. I also took the extra step of refrigerating the ricotta cheese overnight in a sieve lined with cheesecloth with a weight on top. It might not be necessary, but at least 1/2 cup of liquid came out from the cheese. 1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a food processor, combine feta, ricotta, eggs, dill, 2 T. Parmesan, the nutmeg and pepper and pulse to combine. (You can also use a large bowl and a fork). Mixture should be well combined, but still chunky, not smooth. 2. Butter a bundt pan. Sprinkle remaining 2 T. Parmesan into the pan. Drape a sheet of phyllo on top of bundt pan, poke a hole into phyllo where center tube is and push phyllo into pan to line it. Do this with another phyllo sheet, but place it perpendicular to first sheet. Continue adding phyllo sheets in this crisscross manner until all sheets are used. Don’t worry if it seems like an excessive amount of sheets. They will compress down and absorb all the butter that you’ll pour on top in the next step. Here’s what it looks like when you’ve got all the sheets in place: May 2009 122 3. Scrape cheese filling into pan, and fold edges of phyllo over filling. Using a sharp knife, poke many holes (at least 20) in dough that reach all the way to bottom of pan. Slowly pour melted butter over torte; some butter will seep through holes and some will remain on top of dough. 4. Place bundt pan on a baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour 15 minutes, or until torte is puffy and golden brown and looks like this: May 2009 135 5. Allow torte to cool in pan for 1 to 2 hours before inverting onto a plate and slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature, with honey if desired.

This Post Has 30 Comments
  1. I love phyllo dough and this is a usage I haven’t seen before. It is awfully indulgent, though. I wonder what else could be put inside there? I will have to ponder on this…

  2. Well I’m glad you tried it and shared it with us!
    I know what you mean about saving recipes for special events. I do that too. I have a couple of cakes that I’m just waiting for someone’s birthday before I can justify making them!
    I want a chit-chat group like yours, my Italian gets rustier by the day… I’ve started talking to myself in Italian, let’s not tell anyone that 😉

  3. Oh that looks fabulous….I love phyllo dough and never would have thought to use it in a bundt pan…the cheese filling sounds great but think of all the other possibilties….

  4. Your posts are so impressive and this one is just hands-down amazing. The look, the flavors used…everything. I love how phyllo is so easy to use but produces amazing results. Love this!

  5. What an absolutely beautiful creation! I’m in awe especially over the use of a bundt pan as you would normally only expect to get a cake out of it.

  6. This is beautiful! I would love to try it for a potluck. One problem — I really don't like feta. Too salty for me. What about substituting another cheese? Gruyere? What do you think might be good? I know this would make it not Greek, but I really like the idea of the phyllo used this way, the cottage cheese and the parmesan.

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