Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ricotta Gnocchi with Lemon and Sage Buerre Sauce - Daring Cooks

Ricotta Gnocchi

So here it is guys, the first ever Daring Cooks Challenge! This one was exciting because I was finally pushed to make fresh ricotta. And you know what; it was one of the easiest and fastest foods I have ever made. I poo poo on those $6.95 tubs of glue like cheese now. Seriously, all you need is a 2L carton of whole milk, a 1 cup carton of cream, 1 lemon, a splash of vinegar, and a pinch of salt. Presto, in five minutes you have ricotta.

Ricotta Gnocchi

The gnocchi on the other hand was long and intensive. As you can tell the main ingredient is ricotta and these are not the normal potato gnocchi that we all love. These little buggers are each hand rolled with (decreasing) love; each dipped individually in flour, and cooked in small batches.

Even though the gnocchi took a day to make, the taste was sensational and we ate them all in one sitting. They were so soft and fluffy, and every time you bit into one it would burst delicious ricotta into your mouth. I have never had anything like these and I would encourage everyone to try ricotta gnocchi at least once in your life. Just don't ask me to roll them; you’re out of luck there.

Ricotta Gnocchi

Zuni Ricotta Gnocchi
adapted from The Zuni Café Cookbook.
Makes 40 to 48 gnocchi (serves 4 to 6)
Prep time: Step 1 will take 24 hours. Steps 2 through 4 will take approximately 1 hour.(lies)

For the ricotta:
2L whole milk
1 cup cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1-1/2 tbsp. vinegar

For the gnocchi:
1 pound fresh ricotta (2 cups)
2 large cold eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) unsalted butter
2 or 3 fresh sage leaves, or a few pinches of freshly grated nutmeg
½ ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (about ¼ cup very lightly packed)
about ¼ teaspoon salt (a little more if using kosher salt)
all-purpose flour for forming the gnocchi

For the gnocchi sauce:
6 tbsp butter, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
10 Sage leaves, chopped
Salt, pepper

- If you can find it, use fresh ricotta. As Judy Rodgers advises in her recipe, there is no substitute for fresh ricotta. It may be a bit more expensive, but it's worth it.
- Do not skip the draining step. Even if the fresh ricotta doesn't look very wet, it is. Draining the ricotta will help your gnocchi tremendously.
- When shaping your gnocchi, resist the urge to over handle them. It's okay if they look a bit wrinkled or if they're not perfectly smooth.

Step 1: Making and Preparing the ricotta

Line a large sieve with a layer of heavy-duty (fine-mesh) cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl. Slowly bring milk, cream, and salt to a boil in a pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Add lemon juice and vinegar, then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring once half way through, until the mixture curdles, about 2-4 minutes.Pour the mixture into the lined sieve and let it drain for 1 hour. After discarding the liquid, chill the ricotta, covered; it will keep in the refrigerator 2 days.

If the ricotta is too wet, your gnocchi will not form properly. To remove some of the moisture, line a sieve with cheesecloth or paper towels and place the ricotta in the sieve. Cover it and let it drain for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. It’s recommended that you do this step the day before you plan on making the gnocchi.

Step 2: Making the gnocchi dough.

To make great gnocchi, the ricotta has to be fairly smooth. Place the drained ricotta in a large bowl and mash it as best as you can with a rubber spatula or a large spoon (it’s best to use a utensil with some flexibility here). As you mash the ricotta, if you noticed that you can still see curds, then press the ricotta through a strainer to smooth it out as much as possible.

Add the lightly beaten eggs to the mashed ricotta. Melt the tablespoon of butter. As it melts, add in the sage and nutmeg. Then add it all to the ricotta mixture. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and the salt. Beat all the ingredients together very well. You should end up with a soft and fluffy batter with no streaks (everything should be mixed in very well).

Step 3: Forming the gnocchi

In a large, shallow baking dish or on a sheet pan, make a bed of all-purpose flour that’s ½ an inch deep.With a spatula, scrape the ricotta mixture away from the sides of the bowl and form a large mass in the centre of your bowl.Scoop up about 1 teaspoon of batter and then gently roll into a log and toss into the bed of flour. Use your fingers to very gently dust the gnocchi with flour. Gently pick up the gnocchi and cradle it in your hand rolling it to form it in an oval as best as you can, at no point should you squeeze it.

Step 4: Cooking the gnocchi.

Have a large skillet ready to go. Melt the butter and oil for the sauce in the skillet and set aside. In the largest pan or pot that you have, bring at least 2 quarts of water to a boil. You need a wide pot or pan so that your gnocchi won’t bump into each other and damage each other. Once the water is boiling, salt it generously.Drop the gnocchi into the water one by one. They will sink and then bob to the top. From the time that it bobs to the surface, you want to cook the gnocchi until it’s just firm. This could take 3 to 5 minutes.If your gnocchi begins to fall apart, this means that the ricotta cheese was probably still too wet. You can remedy this by beating a teaspoon of egg white into your gnocchi batter. If your gnocchi batter was fluffy but the sample comes out heavy, add a teaspoon of beaten egg to the batter and beat that in.
When the gnocchi float to the top, you can start your sauce while you wait for them to finish cooking. Place the skillet over the heat again. Add the lemon zest, sage, salt and pepper. With a slotted spoon, remove the gnocchi from the boiling water and gently drop into the butter sauce. Carefully roll in the sauce until coated. Serve immediately.


Junglefrog said...

Yours look lovely Christie! While I did love the taste of the gnocchi, Tom absolutely hated them (too cheesy!) and the amount of work needed was... well.. a bit too much for my taste. I didn't actually make the ricotta myself. But judging by how easy you say it is, I might do that... I use ricotta a lot, so that makes more sense to me then making the actual ricotta gnocchi. I'll leave that to the river cafe from now on!

Anonymous said...

Not more I can say outside of, perfection, from your gnocchi to your photos :)

Hilary said...

Your own ricotta - very adventurous! Maybe I'll try this. I was seeing a lot of fresh ricotta with fruit on brunch menus in NYC, and it's got me in a ricotta mood.

Audax said...

I think your pix of gnocchi is one of the best I have seen. And it so good to hear that you absolutely LOVED these little pillows of delish yummmmmmmmminess!!!!! Even better advice about making the ricotta at home yes it is so much better (& much cheaper) than that rubbish in those plastic tubes. Very exciting post. Bravo on a great result - cheers from Audax in Australia.

Valérie said...

They look fantastic! So smooth and regular! I think it was worth putting in so much time to roll them properly. Great job!

Coco Bean said...

Simone: Thanks, couldn't have done it without seeing yours first thought! That stinks about Tom, after all that work eh. I think Ian would have just lied to me and eaten the whole thing to make me happy.

Lisamaichele: thanks so much. Hard work pays off I guess. Just never again!

Hilary: I was afraid that everyone was making their own ricotta and I would be missing out so I pushed myself to make it. But I'm glad I did. Fresh fruit and ricotta sounds amazing! Ohh on strawberries, or melon.... I think I will have to make some more!

Audax: Thank you so much! The queen of the daring bakers is what I call you, but now you are also the queen of the daring cooks. You lead us through every challenge! Thanks for everything!

Valerie: Thank you, I guess it was worth it in the end, but seeing yours has made me think I could have gotten away with not rolling them and everything would have turned out great!

anjelikuh said...

These gnocchis look perfect! They're so nice and round, mine kinda shrunk back after boiling.. any tips?

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Now I want to make my own ricotta! I never tied to do it and you make it sound so simple.

Your gnocchi look wonderful!

This was a fun first Daring Cooks challenge!

Cheri said...

They look like absolute perfection! I too loved making the ricotta. It was actually my favorite part. :)

Anonymous said...

I love how the asparagus shows off the gnocchi. Great photo!

Christie's Corner said...

Gorgeous results. Mine were very ugly. I think the secret is homemade ricotta. Everyone who made their own ricotta loved the results. Mine looked awful and tasted... well, boring.

La Marquise des anges said...

once again, your recipe opens my "appétit" ... i just realized I never made homemade gnocchis .... probably because a very good firend of mine (who is italian) makes awesome ones ...

but you make me feel ike i should try ...

Coco Bean said...

Ajelikuh: I wish I could tell you something but seriously this was my first time making anything like these and I guess we just got lucky! Sorry, but thanks for the lovely comment!

Pat:I agree, it was a really fun challenge, I can't wait for the next one! Oh, and making your own ricotta... so worth it!

Cheri: Yes! the ricotta making was so exciting eh! I made it twice and both times I was like a little kid!

Singinghorse: Thanks, I just thought that aparagus would be good with cheese, but it turned out to give a great photo to boot!

Christie: It doesn't matter what they look like, just as long as they taste good! After the 24 hours of fridge time the ricotta came out very firm, so maybe fresh ricotta is the answer? Who knows.

Sabine: Ohhhh there is nothing better than real gnocchi that an italian makes. I learned this recipe from my auntie... you can't beat it!

Anonymous said...

Your pictures are just stunning and the gnocchi look fantastic!

giz said...

Your gnocci turned out terrific and I like the pairing with asparagus....and if you live in Toronto, hockey is over way too early in the season :)

Margie said...

Your gnocchi photo with asparagus and sage is the height of springtime elegance. Stunning! Thanks so much for visiting my blog.

Elle said...

Beautiful photos and a reminder that they really were labor intensive...but delicous, too. Love your comment about the burst of ricotta flavor!

alana said...

I just love your pictures. Great Job.

Chocolate Shavings said...

That gnocchi looks delicious! Maybe we should all go to
pho to see who can handle the most spice ;)

Koruklu said...

What a great photo!!! And I absolutely love gnocchi!!!

MaryMary said...

Great job on the challenge--your gnocchi look fabulous! And I love the photos--what struck me about this challenge was the mess. I had flour must have had a super nice photographer!:)

MissBliss said...

delish! beautiful work!

I tagged you with a queen award on my blog... :)

Liliana said...

Your gnocchi look amazing! You did a wonderful job!

I am sure they tasted so delicious made with home made ricotta. Making ricotta is on my list of things to make - I have to give it a try.

Anonymous said...

wow very nice, these looks yummy and soft!

Cakebrain said...

wow! congrats on doing those daring cooks recipes! I don't have the dedication to stick to such things! I think the hard work was worth it with your ricotta gnocchi...they look heavenly! and sound delicious!