This month was the inaugral for the Daring Cooks challange, hurray! We were asked to make ricotta gnocchi, from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook. Like most of the first crop of us daring cooks, I chose to make the ricotta from scratch. I used 1 litre of full cream fresh dairy milk, and one cup of buttermilk to make the ricotta. This involved heating the milk and ricotta in a saucepan till steaming, at which point the curds begin to form and can be skimmed off, into a colander or seive lined with cheese cloth.
I didn’t have cheese cloth, and was too lazy to buy any, so I lined a sieve with some calico and then a folded chux cloth on top of that. Despite the urging of so many recipes to use ultra fine cheese cloth, or risk loosing the curds, the calico and chux worked really well. I only wish I’d taken a photo of the finished ricotta. It formed perfectly. But I think I will be making it again, so I will see it again.
To make the gnocchi I salted the ricotta, added some eggs and mixed in some grated parmesan and thyme, or oregano, I’m not sure,…whatever it was, I hope that it was edible…, plucked fresh from my garden. The ricotta had to be well drained over night in the fridge for this step, or the mix would be too wet to form.
Next I quinelled teaspoons of gnocchi and dropped them into a bowl of flour to coat them. After shaking off the excess and shaping, I placed them on parchment paper on a tray and put them in the freezer to keep till I was ready with the sauce.
From looking at all the other Daring Cooks work, lemon butter sounded like a simple sauce to let the gnocchi be the star of the dish. So despite my aversion to the calorie load in the butter sauce, I made one up. I also used some leeks I brought young and fresh from the growers market. Cutting the leeks in half, and cleaning well, I braised them, cut side down in a saucepan with a mix of butter and olive oil, till the cut sides were caramelised. Then I flipped them over, seasoned with salt, pepper, more fresh oregano, plenty of lemon juice, and add white wine to almost cover the leeks. Simmer gently till tender and sauce has reduced. There was not a lot of sauce at the end once I removed the leeks, so I thought, there’s so much butter in there, a little more won’t hurt, so I added more butter and lemon juice. Once the gnocchi were boiled, I finished them off in the warm saucepan with the butter lemon sauce. The gnocchi were lovely, and so was the tangy lemon sauce, perfect with the ricotta, but I’d love to try it with a more meaty and robust tomato sauce next time. The only weird thing with using ricotta as opposed to potato for the gnocchi, was that I got the squeakiness of the cheese against my teeth eating it, which was just a bit funny to get squeaky teeth while your eating. Nothing wrong with that of course, just weird, and it took my attention away from the meal a little bit. I guess I’ll just have to experiment with more ricotta and sauces to make up for it 🙂