Alla frutta

December 30, 2018

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
~ Seneca the Younger

 

A formal Italian meal usually consists of several courses:

Antipasti (Appetizers)
Primo (First Course)
Secondo (Main Course)
Contorni (Sides)
Insalata (Salad)
Frutta e formaggio (Fruit & Cheese)
Dolce (Dessert)
Caffè, Digestivo (Coffee, Digestif)

Everyday meals are simpler, but follow a similar order:

Primo (pasta, risotto or soup)
Secondo (meat, fish or other main course and veggies)
Frutta o Dolce (Fruit or dessert)

Either way, the fruit course is found at the end of the meal.

Hence, alla frutta, which is an idiomatic expression Italians use meaning that someone or something is “finished”.  Siamo alla frutta, “we’re at the fruit (now),” is similar to our “the fat lady is singing” or “the party’s over.”  The reference can be personal, as in “I’m all worn out” or “at the end of my rope”.  It can also be used in snarky fashion indicating the end of a situation or person (perhaps a political figure) in the way that we say, “stick a fork in it” or “he is toast.”

In the context of this post, however, I just wanted to end the year with an amusing little bit of language trivia and perhaps add an international flavor to your vocabulary of idiomatic expressions.

Looking at the phrase in a slightly different way, while we are alla frutta (at the end) of one year, we are entering the colazione a letto (breakfast in bed) stage of a new year.

Raspberry Ricotta Turnovers (Triangoli di pasta sfoglia con ricotta e lamponi) would make a lovely breakfast in bed for New Year’s morning, transforming the idea of being “alla frutta” into a delicious vision for 2019.

Felice anno nuovo a tutti!  Hope your New Year’s celebration is a yummy one.

Raspberry Ricotta Turnovers
(Triangoli di pasta sfoglia con ricotta e lamponi)
These delicious turnovers were inspired by Cassateddi di ricotta, a delicious Sicilian pastry filled with sweetened ricotta and fruit.  I used frozen puff pastry (from Trader Joe’s) and baked them in the oven for easier preparation.  They make a scrumptious breakfast goodie, or treat with an afternoon coffee or tea.

1 (18.3 oz) package of frozen puff pastry sheets
1 cup whole milk ricotta, drained overnight*
Zest of one lemon
3 tablespoons organic sugar
8 teaspoons seedless raspberry preserves
About 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 egg
Powdered sugar, for dusting

*Put 1 cup ricotta into a large mesh strainer and place this over a large bowl.  Put a piece of plastic wrap over the ricotta and weigh that down with a small, heavy bowl.  Cover and place in fridge for several hours or overnight.  Discard drained liquid.  You should end up with about 3/4 cup ricotta after draining.

Thaw puff pastry, according to package directions.

In a small bowl, combine ricotta, zest and sugar.  Mix thoroughly with a fork.

Dust a clean, flat work surface with flour.  Unroll one sheet of pastry (keep the other sheet covered, to keep from drying out).  Dust pastry and rolling pin lightly with flour.  Roll gently with rolling pin, just enough to even out any creases in pastry sheet and create a 9 & 1/2″ square.

Cut pastry sheet into 4 equal squares of 4 & 3/4″ each.

Place one teaspoon of raspberry preserves into the center of each square and spread into a small circle with the back of a spoon.  On each square, top raspberry circle with a rounded tablespoon of the ricotta mixture.  Top each mound of ricotta mixture with several chocolate chips.

In a small bowl, beat egg with a little water.

Wash hands.

Use a small pastry brush or your finger to spread some egg wash around the inside edges of each square.  Bring one corner of square up and over filling to meet the opposite corner, forming a triangle shape.  Press edges together with your finger to seal.  Use a fork to lightly seal edges again, then press once more with your finger to make sure there are no openings.

Using a sharp knife, cut three 1-inch slits into center top of each turnover to vent.  Brush surface of turnovers with egg wash.  Put assembled turnovers in fridge while you repeat the process with the second sheet of pastry to make four more turnovers.  Place all turnovers in fridge to chill while you preheat the oven.

Preheat oven to 400°F

Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Place turnovers 1/2″ apart on baking sheet and bake on upper rack of oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown (check at 18 minutes).

Let turnovers cool a minute or two and then loosen them with a spatula to make sure they don’t stick.  Dust generously with powdered sugar.  Move to a foil-lined counter to cool further.

You can serve these warm or cold.  Store in fridge overnight or wrap well and freeze if you want to keep them longer.  You can just thaw them out and eat them; they’re still yummy!

Makes 8 turnovers

 

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