This rolled finger food is encased in thin, flaky sheets of phyllo (filo). It is tricky to make because of the delicate nature of the dough, but well worth the effort. Remember to plan ahead when making this, as phyllo dough needs to thaw in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours before you can cook with it. For a simpler method, use puff pastry.
This makes 32 phyllo cigars or 16 puff pastry rolls, serving 10 to 12 as appetizers.
8-10 sheetsphyllo (filo) dough, about ½ of a 16-oz. package, or 1sheet puff pastry
3medium or 5 small new potatoes, peeled or just scrubbed, and cut into ½-inch cubes 1 Tablespoonbutter, olive oil, or margarine 2large cloves garlic, minced 1/3 cupmilk 1egg, beaten 3 oz.feta cheese (about ½ cup), crumbled Pinch ground cayenne Pinch nutmeg Salt to taste ½ stickbutter or margarine, melted (if using phyllo dough) 1egg, beaten with 1 Tablespoon water (if using puff pastry)
Thaw filo dough for 8 hours or overnight in the refrigerator, then another 2 hours at room temperature, or thaw puff pastry sheet for 2 hours at room temperature or 6 hours in the refrigerator.
Boil a medium saucepan of salted water, then add the potatoes. Continue to boil, covered, for 10-20 minutes, or until potato cubes are soft. Drain potatoes and leave in colander.
In the saucepan, melt the butter or margarine or heat the oil on medium. Add the garlic and cook until browned. Add the potatoes and mash. Add the milk, feta cheese, cayenne, and nutmeg. Combine. Salt to taste. Add the egg and mix one more time.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare two baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
To assemble the rolls with phyllo dough, prepare a dry, flat work surface like a large cutting board. Lay one sheet of dough on the work surface and brush with melted butter. Lay a second sheet onto the first, and brush again with butter. Keep the remaining sheets covered with plastic wrap and a moist towel. Cut the layered sheets in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 4 pieces so you have a total of 8 rectangles.
Place a scant tablespoon of the potato-feta filling at the short end of each rectangle. Roll each rectangle a few turns, tuck in the edges, and continue to roll into a cigar shape. Place each "cigar" onto the prepared baking sheet seam side down. Repeat with remaining phyllo dough and filling.
If using puff pastry, prepare a work surface with a good layer of flour. Unfold the puff pastry sheet onto the work surface and cut into fourths. Place one of the quarter-sheets on the work surface and sprinkle flour over the top. Roll out to about ¼" thick and cut into 4 rectangles.
Place a tablespoon of filling at a short end of each rectangle. Roll the rectangle like a cigar. When finished, tuck in the sides.
Place phyllo/puff pastry cigars on a prepared baking pan with the seams of the tucked-in sides facing down. If you used puff pastry, brush with the beaten egg and water mixture. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
Serve cigars with spicy harissa or with olive oil mixed with za'atar for dipping.
Rhea Yablon Kennedy holds a master's degree in creative nonfiction from Johns Hopkins University. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post's On Faith blog, Washingon Jewish Week, Examiner.com, and Edible Chesapeake magazine. Rhea has long been a cook by hobby and sometimes by profession. She currently teaches at Gallaudet University.