phyllo sticks

These delightfully crisp bites are a cut above the usual cheese straws! Try either the Romano or sesame-seed version?or both; they?re equally good.

Do-ahead tip: Unbaked Phyllo sticks can be refrigerated or frozen. If refrigerating, arrange sticks on cookie sheets, ready to bake, and cover with foil. Remove foil and bake, as recipe directs when ready. If preparing up to 1 month ahead, place in freezer on cookie sheets. Once frozen, arrange in airtight container with waxed paper between the layers. To bake, place frozen sticks on cookie sheets, and bake in preheated 425 oven, allowing 8-10 minutes per batch.

Romano & Pepper Filling:
1 cup grated Romano cheese
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper

Phyllo Layers:
12 sheets fresh or frozen (thawed) phyllo
5 tablespoons margarine or butter, melted

Prepare Romano & Pepper Filling. In cup, stir the cheese and pepper. On sheet of waxed paper, place 1 phyllo sheet and brush with some melted butter. Cover remaining phyllo with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. Sprinkle 1 rounded tablespoon filling over phyllo sheet. Fold sheet crosswise in half. Starting from long open side, roll phyllo, tightly, jelly-roll fashion, toward folded side. Cut roll crosswise into 4 sticks. Place sticks, seam side down, 1 inch apart on large cookie sheet; brush with melted butter. Repeat with remaining phyllo sheets and filling, making 48 sticks in all. Preheat oven to 425. Bake sticks 5-7 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot or at room temperature. Each stick has about 30 calories; 1 g protein; 3 g carbohydrates; 2 g total fat (1 g saturated); 0 g fiber; 2 mg cholesterol; 60 mg sodium.

Sesame & Poppy seed Phyllo Sticks:
Prepare as above, but instead of Romano & Pepper Filling, in cup stir 1/3 cup sesame seeds, 1/3 cup poppy seeds and 1/2 teaspoon salt. In step 2, sprinkle 1 tablespoon seed mixture over each phyllo sheet. Makes 4 dozen. Each sesame and poppy seed stick has about 35 calories; 1 g protein; 3 g carbohydrate; 2 g total fat (0 g saturated); 0 g fiber; 0 mg cholesterol; 90 mg sodium. From Good Housekeeping magazine, November 2000.

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