Rhubarb, Strawberry and Ricotta Turnovers with Cream-Cheese Pastry
The Jewish holiday of Shavuot begins at sundown on May 14. During this celebration Jews commemorate receiving the Torah, and customarily, eat dairy foods, such as cheese and other dairy dishes. It's not a popular or well-known holiday but it should be because of the deliciously inspiring food traditions including blintzes, turnovers, noodle kugel and cheesecake.
According to Gil Marks in "The Encyclopedia of Jewish Food," the reason we consume dairy products along with "other white foods, such as rice and white cornmeal, [is because they] are considered symbols of purity and are customary on this holy day."
During this springtime celebration, homes may be festooned with flowers and green boughs. "Shavuot is the first day of the year when the first fruits could be brought into the Temple," writes Mr. Marks. These first fruits inspired my spring combo of rhubarb and strawberries, along with the sweetened ricotta filling in my turnover. The cream cheese pastry crust comes right from the easiest-ever recipe on the Kraft website. You'll find it a joy to work and it produces a super flaky turnover. Also, the pastry can be prepared a few days in advance and refrigerated or frozen. Thaw in the fridge before using. From my garden, I cut the first thick stalks of rhubarb for the filling, mixing it with organic strawberries.
You don't have to be Jewish to love this turnover. In any case, take the time to commemorate the blooms and blossoms of this lovely season, and the deliciousness of the first fruits. It was a long winter.
For the pastry
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon fine table salt
1/2 package (4 ounces) cream cheese, softened and cut in chunks
1 stick cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
For shaping and finishing: 1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon milk or cream and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar for sprinkling
For the ricotta filling
1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the strawberry and rhubarb filling
1 cup 1/4-inch-thick slices rhubarb (no leaves -- they're poisonous)
2/3 cup thinly sliced strawberries (remove hull, halve through top and thinly slice berries crosswise)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
To make pastry: Put flour and salt in food processor; pulse to mix. Add cream cheese and butter; pulse until crumbly, damp and dough starts to clump together. Scrape dough onto floured board and form into ball. Roll ball into fat sausage shape about 6 inches long. Wrap in plastic and freeze 30 minutes, or refrigerate until ready to use. Cut into 6 equal pieces (2 ounces each) and shape each into a flat disk.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Make fillings: In small bowl, fold together ricotta, sugar, flour, orange zest, vanilla and salt until just blended. In medium bowl, mix rhubarb, strawberries, sugar and cornstarch.
Flour work surface and rolling pin. One at a time, roll a piece of dough into a 6- to 6 1/2-inch round. Spoon heaping 1 tablespoon ricotta filling onto bottom half of dough round, spreading it out a bit, leaving 1-inch margin at bottom edges. Top with heaping 2 tablespoons rhubarb-strawberry filling (try not to add juices from bottom of bowl). Brush entire rim of pastry with beaten egg. Fold pastry over filling, pressing seams closed, folding them up if necessary. Transfer to lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining pastry and fillings.
Brush turnovers with more egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until well-browned and flaky, turning pan around once while baking. Let cool on pan 10 minutes then transfer to rack to cool.
Makes 6 turnovers.
-- Miriam Rubin with pastry recipe from KraftRecipes.com
Miriam Rubin: firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @mmmrubin.