italians don’t eat eggs and bacon, giant BELT’s, or oatmeal for breakfast. nope – we start the morning off the sweet way, with a pastry and espresso shot. the combination of caffeine and sugar in the morning is the perfect kick start to your day. to hell with smoothies and the “blanaced breakfasts” that are advertised on t.v, you should be starting your day with something that will lightly dust you with powdered sugar and make you smile.
one of my favourite italian breakfast pastries is called a sfogliatella. it’s delicate pastry layered in the shape of a lobster tail and stuffed with ricotta, candied orange and a splash of brandy. the outer pastry is browned and crispy, covered in a layer of powdered sugar, and when you bite through with a satisfying crunch, you get to the dense and creamy centre and smooth, sweet ricotta oozes out of the sides. it’s light but rich at the same time, and washed down with a shot of espresso – mama mia that’s delicious! i ate at least two of these a day in naples, trying one at each cafe i stopped at for un cafe.
these turnovers are an ode to my lovely sfogliatelli, but much easier to make. i used store bought puff pastry (because i am definitely not skilled enough to attempt to make my own just yet, and i definitely lack the patience), the traditional ricotta filling (with a touch of orange zest and amaretto!) and yummy bonne maman blueberry preserves. the result was delicious; the layers were perfectly crisp and the centre warm and rich with a touch of sweetness. i almost felt like i could have closed my eyes and been transported back to italy! there are hundreds of delicious fillings you could sub with – whatever preserves you have on hand at home would work just fine, or you can add some pistachios and a touch of vanilla to the ricotta filling – use your imagination!
my only advice is to be patient with your puff pastry! don’t rush pulling the layers apart from each other or they’ll tear. be as gentle as possible and don’t be afraid of using lots of butter! it will only make the pastry crispier, and let’s be honest – if we’re eating pastries for breakfast, we really don’t care about our diets, do we :).
blueberry jam & ricotta turnovers
1 package thawed phyllo pastry
200 grams fresh ricotta
1 egg, seperated
1/4 cup sugar (or less if your jam is on the sweet side)
zest of 1 orange
splash of amaretto (optional)
1 jar blueberry jam
1 cup butter, melted
powdered sugar, for dusting
heat the oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
remove the puff pastry from it’s package and cover with a damp dish towel to keep fro drying out. in a medium bowl, mix the ricotta, egg yolk, sugar, zest and amaretto (if using) until fully combined. carefully take 1 phyllo layer and place it on your work space. brush with melted butter, and fold 1/3 over, and then 1/3 again, so you have a long rectangle. brush again with butter, paying attention to the edges.
place a dollop of jam in the top corner, then a tablespoon of the ricotta mixture. fold over into a triangle, then fold over again towards you. repeat the folding process until you are all the way to the bottom of the dough. place on the baking sheet and brush with egg white.
repeat with all layers of phyllo dough – you should have just enough ricotta mixture to use ever piece of dough in the package (perhaps with a few casualties). bake in the oven for 15-17 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. remove and let cool, then dust with powdered sugar. enjoy with espresso!