phyllo dough [fee-loh doh] noun
Also spelled fillo or filo. Tissue-paper-thin sheets of dough used in the preparation of Greek and Middle Eastern sweet and savory dishes. Phyllo dough is raw and unleavened, made with flour, water and a miniscule amount of oil and white vinegar. A very big table and a long roller are used to make this dough, with continual flouring between layers to prevent sticking and tearing. The process requires expertise, with a great deal of rolling and stretching to form one very large sheet.
Some common dishes using phyllo dough are baklava and spanakopita. To make these pastries, the very thin sheets of phyllo are layered on top of one another, usually with melted butter spread on top of each sheet, and then the sweet or savory fillings are added. The result is a very crisp, flaky pastry.
Phyllo is readily available in the freezer section of most major supermarkets. Rarely made by the home cook, frozen phyllo is also used by many professional pastry chefs as well.