Ready-to-use fillo can usually be found in supermarket freezer sections. Brands include Athens and Apollo.
Before use, frozen fillo should be thawed (unopened) in the refrigerator overnight and then at room temperature for one to two hours. This helps prevent the sheets from cracking or sticking together.
Assemble your ingredients before opening the package.
To prevent drying while layering, the fillo should always be kept covered with plastic wrap or waxed paper, with a damp cloth or towel placed on top. After removing a sheet from the stack, keep the others covered until use.
As you layer the fillo, each sheet - including the edges - should be brushed lightly with a little olive oil to keep it from crumbling. Do not saturate. Use a pastry brush or an oil sprayer. Once the recipe has been assembled, brush the outside to seal it.
If your recipe calls for homemade fillo dough, substitute four sheets of ready-made fillo for every one of homemade.
Remember, fillo is easy to repair. If it tears, simply take a small piece from another sheet to patch it. It will not show once the dish is cooked.
A serrated knife works best if portions need to be cut. Let the dish cool first for 15 minutes.
Leftover fillo can be refrozen or it can be refrigerated for two weeks if tightly sealed in plastic wrap.
Filling Your Fillo
Athens Foods, a producer of ready-made fillo, offers a free cookbook with more than 50 award-winning recipes created by leading chefs.
The recipes include variations on such popular dishes as chicken pot pie and lasagna, as well as original specialties. Illustrations show readers how to make more than 10 fillo shapes. For a copy, send your name and address with a check or money order for $1.99 (postage and handling) to Athens Foods, Department #3, 13600 Snow Road, Cleveland, OH 44142. Allow six weeks for delivery.
Sources: Athens Foods and the International Olive Oil Council.