A couple of years ago, I remember reading Clotilde Dusolier talking about "siren ingredients". I had never thought about my cooking habits that way, but I think she's exactly right. There are certain recipes that will without fail attract me based on the presence of one of a few ingredients that, to me, are like the call of the pied piper. For me, anything that contains dates, figs, almond paste, or semolina is going to get immediate attention (I know, I know, I should just move to the Middle East).
When I saw this recipe for a semolina-filled filo pastry, something clicked in my head and the fact that I had other plans for my sugar intake for the week (more on that in the next couple of days) didn't matter. The fact that the recipe included instructions for homemade filo was an added bonus as I hadn't really come across any in the past. Homemade filo pastry! I haven't made baklava since I left the states as frozen filo dough is not exactly a staple in most South American grocery stores (I would guess that there are some specialty stores that sell it here in Rio, but at a price that I'm not willing to pay.)
As it turns out, making filo dough isn't all that different from making strudel dough, something I played around with a couple of years back when we lived in Buenos Aires and had a square table just the right size to pull strudel dough on. Poking around google, it seems like strudel is a derivative of filo dough, so I guess no big surprise there. After assembling the semolina-filled pastry, called galaktoboureko (Greek milk pie?), I had dough left over from trimming the considerable overhang, and decided to make a savory filo pie. In went the contents of my fridge (boy do we need to go to the market)-- crumbled fresh cheese, leftover parsley and cilantro chopped with garlic and salt. I found some pistachios in the cupboard, so those got chopped and strewn between the layers of filo. Dinner.
Back to the galaktoboureko, and to semolina: this really is an excellent recipe, so much so I don't think there is much point in replicating it here, better to click on the link as Joe gives tons and tons of information, and I'm planning both on making the galaktoboureko again, homemade filo and all, and the semolina filling, by itself, to eat as pudding (which is what it is, really). I know, I know, I love pudding in all its forms blah blah blah, but this one is really up there.