Sugar High Friday # 31 Welcome Back Ricotta

Tara at Seven Spoons is hosting this month's Sugar High Friday and her theme is inspired: Neutral Territory. We have to create a perfectly pure, muted, simple, non-gaudy, pale, never seen the sunshine sweet.
In stark contrast to last month's SHF, Flower Power, where stunning bursts of colour were seen on blogs across the world, Tara wants us to share our puddings in every shade of Magnolia.
As someone who has spent her life being pale and interesting, I was thrilled at this month's theme. And I knew I was going to use the pot of Ricotta in the fridge but how?
There have been so many other fabulous entries so far, ranging from a virginal Millefeuille to a sublime Illes Flotante, from a daring Coconut and White Chocolate cake to a recherche Mochi. Who knew that there was so many different flavours of white?
For the second month running now, I have turned to Tessa Kiro's beautiful book, Falling Cloudberries, in particular the section on Greece. Beautifully photographed, it is hard to decide exactly which recipe to use. Kiros’s book is wonderfully evocatively multi-cultural; her parents are Finish and Greek and her husband Italian. Falling Cloudberries is compiled into several ethnic chapters, one for each country she has lived in and she reproduces and reworks traditional recipes from each of those countries in an accessible manner.
Coming from a cold European country, the Greek recipes are more alluring to me than those from chilly Finland, however, there is a frosty beauty to these calming, warming dishes that is just as appealing and brings to mind Diana Henry’s Roasted Figs Sugar Snow indispensible book.
But, Summer beckons and I have an unbearable craving for something fried. Deep fried but light at the same time. Of course, unless you happen to visit our local chip shop, deep frying generally ensures that the food is crisp and light, albeit saturated with molten oil. This is where the second part of my craving comes in: a deep fried dumpling with a light filling. We all know that there is nothing better to plunge into hot oil than something already contained within a wrapper, whether it’s a relleno, a wonton or rangoon. But these are all savoury dishes. What about something sweet? What about a Greek Bourekia, a crisp shortcrust pastry filled with cinnamon scented cream cheese and then dipped in the drink?
Originally referred to, quite charmingly, as Breadmeats, the Bourekia has been enjoyed since the times of Ancient Greece. They later acquired the name through force, from the Turks who felt that the Greeks need to share the same names for delicacies as they did.
Whatever name the Bourekia goes under, it has infinite variety: savoury, sweet, vegetarian or carnivorous, rolled into cigar shapes or crescent shapes, wrapped into Filo or Shortcrust Pastry.
Kiros’ filling is cream cheese or ricotta flavoured with Orange Flower Water, Cinnamon, Lemon Zest and some Caster Sugar. This can be easily and deliciously adapted. Rosewater (another traditional Greek flavouring) could be substituted for the Orange Flower Water, different spices can be added, chopped chocolate and, as Paul suggested, using Mascarpone instead of Ricotta. I can see where he’s coming from: the finished crescents reminded me very much of Cannoli, with their ricotta and chocolate filling.
However, I am in love with this not-to-sweet, palest of pink fillings. Biting into the crisp, lemon-tinged pastry, a dusting of icing sugar exploding all over you, and then into the yieldingly soft, gently perfumed interior. Truly a perfect ending to any Summers day.
RICOTTA AND CINNAMON BOUREKIA - makes between 12-24, depending on how thin you can roll the pastry
250g Plain Flour (cake or '00' is best)
Pinch Salt
55g Cold Butter, cut into cubes
Some Cold Water
Zest of 1 Lemon
250g Ricotta Cheese or Cream Cheese or Mascarpone, drained
50g Caster Sugar (or to taste)
1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Orange Flower Water
Zest of 1 Small Lemon
Make the pastry:
Gently rub the butter into the flour and salt until it loosely resembles the texture of oatmeal.
Pour into a couple of tablespoons of cold water and the lemon zest and knead for about 15 seconds, or until the dough forms a cohesive ball.
Wrap in clingfilm and chill for one hour.
Make the Filling:
Beat together the ricotta with the Orange Flower Water, Cinnamon, Sugar and Lemon Zest until well amalgamated. Taste and adjust flavourings as necessary. Chill until needed.
Make the Bourekia:
Heat a large pan of vegetable oil, filled about halfway, over high temperature until a scrap of pastry sizzles gently but not frantically.
Roll out the dough very thinly. Cut 3" rounds out. According to the recipe, you should get 24 rounds out of the dough, but I managed about 14. It all depends on how pliable your dough is, and mine was quite crumbly.
A hint for making little pasties, whether it's these Bourekias or Empanadas or Cornish, when you cut the rounds out, give them another couple of rolls with the rolling pin. This makes the dough thinner, and therefore crisper, but also it aids with manipulating it too.
Fill each round with a scant spoonful of filling.
Seal in little crescents shapes using some water, and a pinching technique.
Using a slotted spoon, drop the Bourekias into the hot fat, in batches of maybe 5 or 6 depending on the size of your pan. Fry for about 45 seconds, until they look crisp and puff up slightly. They will not turn golden brown.
Drain on kitchen paper, then serve dusted generously with icing (confectioners) sugar.
Eat whilst still hot.

p.s. Just 3 days left to submit your entry for Pauls Big Burger Ballyhoo! So...get grilling!


Pille said...

I love Greek food, and I will definitely look up Tessa's book again tonight!!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Ah, Greeks do such amazing things with pastry. I've not tried bourekias before, but now I'm definitely going to!

Claude-Olivier Marti said...

Ricotta, cinnamon and orange flower water, souds good !!! I have tested something like that in Crete and it was really good. The sun come into your kitchen !


Meeta K. Wolff said...

Oh my what an scrumptious sweet. Ricotta flavored with Orange Flower Water, Cinnamon, Lemon Zest - it's too good to be true. Have you got some for me?

Susan said...

Deep-fried pastry. Can it get more decadent than that? Perfect with strong, syrupy coffee. Great, great shot of slatted light, blond wood and dusted crescents; you've worked the theme beautifully.

Cheryl said...

Oh that pastry looks so crisp and flaky. It looks simply fantastic.

Janet said...

What a great entry! I know I'd adore this dessert! Unfortunately, I've gained 10 pounds since I started my blog.... so no deep frying for me :-)

Brilynn said...

I have really got to start making more use of this book, you've been making such wonderful things from it.

Jerry said...

They look like little puff clouds. As a Texan, theses seem like stuffed sopapillas or at least look like it. When I stop burning caramel drippings in the oven, I'll try frying.

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Freya, what a beautiful picture. Your writing is fab and they sound delicious.

CM said...

"As someone who has spent her life being pale and interesting, I was thrilled at this month's theme."

I laughed out loud. There's the title of your autobiography right there: Pale and Interesting. Hilarious!

Patricia Scarpin said...

If I could take a bite of your food through the computer I'd be the size of a house, Freya! ;)

Ricotta and cinnamon together? I'm in!

wheresmymind said...

Those look TOO fab! How can you beat fried anything? P.S. I didn't delete your last comment on my was too cute :D

Soma said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Soma said...

Hi, thanx for the comment in my blog:) Liked urs as well and added the link to mine......enjoy and happy cooking:)

Kelly-Jane said...

They look and sound yummy, I don't think I've tried a deep fried pastry, although I have one in the to do pile! It's a great theme too.

Joyce said...

Nice find, Freya, keep hunting down these delighful recipes. Love the idea of the light, crisp crust with the rich, mouth feel of the ricotta. Fresh ricotta with honey and walnuts might work well, too.

Shaun said...

Freya, love - As usual, a faithful and creative adherence to a food blog theme. I love savoury Turkish borek and have yet to break into the sweet territory. Well, does the Sicilian canoli count? I suppose not, since the cream is not entirely enclosed...I have this book, too, and I love the Cypriot and Finnish recipes the most, but your choice convinces me to read the Greek chapter more carefully. As a sidenote, please don't get mad at me (Paul - this goes to you, too, well, you especially as this is your BBB)...I am really hoping to make burgers tomorrow, but if I don't (this has been a very busy two weeks), then I won't make the deadline.

Anh said...

I adore this pastry. I live among the Greek community here in Melbourne and there's a bakery that sells Greek sweets, pastries and cakes. They are sooooo good. I go there almost every Sat, sit down to have some sweet and coffee and listen to the noisy Greek radio! Lovely time!

Sylvia said...

First of all thank you for your visit.I posted the trifle recipe in English..well, I try ..
I tasted bourekia a long time ago ,and i liked very much. I wiil try to do this sometime. May I link your blog in my blog?

Lucy said...

Simply gorgeous.

Anonymous said...

Lovely description of your first bite, with the explosion of confectioners sugar. Makes me crave a Greek Bourekia, and ten minutes ago I didn't even know what one was!

Jann said...

Well done ,indeed! i adore anything with ricotta and this is absolutely mouth-watering!I love your writing and humor!!

Anonymous said...

Ohhhhh....did you extend the deadline for the ballyhoo or did I write it down wrong? I thought I missed it! Yay!!! I can still enter.

Victoria said...

Oh I love Tessa Kiros. I have her Apples for Jam book. It seems so honest and simple, I absolutely adore her. =) Those Bourekias look really amazing. I'd love to sink my teeth in!=)

Anonymous said...

I've been looking for a way to use up my leftover ricotta! This is perfect thanks!

Pilar - Lechuza said...

Thank you for your kind words left in my blog. I really apreciate it.
By the way, this bourekias look so delicious, that I will surely cook some!!

Best regards from Spain

vonsachsen said...

Such delicious-sounding treats! Love the combination lemon zest, orange flower water, cinnamon...mmm...they look so - don´t laugh now! - romantic:) How come the filling is so wonderfully pink, please?

Mallow said...

That pastry dough looks amazing, and the idea of sweetened ricotta cheese with lemon - I want it right now! They are beautiful!

Helene said...

It's been over 10 years since I had one of these..Absolutely mouth watering...anything deep fried is a friend of mine!!

Kirsten said...

Those look lovely!! Wow! And very delicious, I am sure.

tara said...

Your introduction to the recipe is so very charming. Thank you so much for the delectable-looking contribution to this month's SHF!

Culinary Cowgirl said...

Those look so tasty...something to indulge in with a great cup of coffee!

Valentina said...

Freya, how delicious! A great entry.I was a tad too busy for a while and missed loads of events, including this one and my post to Paul's. I am so sorry.

Melting Wok said...

sorry guys, was away for a few days..sigh, I finally got time to follow up all your wonderful recipes :) Thx for the mention, I really appreciate it and thx for having me over at burger ballyhoo, cheers !:) I love the shot, with a lit' sunlight coming in over shadow the lovely bourekias, yums !:)