Ricotta Pastries

Recently I made up some homemade ricotta, and a few days later some empanadas.  Wanting to use up the last of the ricotta, I stuffed a few of them with this filling made in the style of my mom’s vareniki (Mennonite perogies).  She makes fruit vareniki and these amazing cottage cheese ones… yum!  So I thought the ricotta would be a suitable substitute, and work well with the pastry – oh, was I ever right!

In my original recipe I used only butter in the pastry, but this time I used half butter, half lard, and found the pastry turned out a little flakier – I like!  Of course you can just use butter if you wish.

What you need for the filling:

one recipe ricotta or one tub from the store

one egg

salt and pepper

What you need for the pastry:

2 & 1/4 cups flour

1 & 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/4 cup lard (or use 1/4 cup more butter)

1 large egg

1/3 cup ice water

1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

1 egg for brushing on the pastry, mixed with a little water

What you do:

1.  To make the pastry, blend the cold butter and lard into the flour and salt with a pastry blender or your fingers (works best with colder hands).  Mix the egg, water and vinegar, and add them to the flour mixture.  Mix with a wooden spoon until combined, then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

2.  Mix the ricotta, egg, and salt and pepper (to taste) with a fork.

3.  Have a little bowl of water handy for sealing the edges of the pastry.

4.  Sprinkle flour on your work surface and form the dough into disks, rolling out to about 1/2 cm thick.  Cut out circles with a large cookie cutter or the edge of a bowl.

5.  Fill the pastry with a tablespoon or so of ricotta.  Dab a little water around half of the edge of the pastry, then fold the pastry over and seal.

6.  Place the pastries on a baking sheet, which does not need to be greased.  Cut small slits in the tops of the pastries, then brush them with a little of the egg.

7. Bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes.

Let them cool slightly before serving.