Thursday, May 14, 2009

First Daring Cook Ever! May challenge: Ricotta Gnocchi.

So here is the first ever Daring Cooks challenge! I cant write a lot, Ive got to get to bed, hope you enjoy!
Zuni Ricotta Gnocchi
For the gnocchi:
454 grams fresh ricotta (2 cups)
2 large cold eggs
1 T unsalted butter
Lemon zest
½ ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
¼ t salt
quinoa flour for forming the gnocchi
For the gnocchi sauce:
227 grams butter
Lemon juice
Sage leaves
Step 1: Make the ricotta.
1. Gently simmer one gallon whole milk.
2. Add 1/4 cup white vinegar. Stir. The milk will start to curdle (thats the ricotta). Stain through a cheesecloth lined sieve.
3. Let drain for a couple hours. Then, wrap up the ricotta ball on the cheesecloth and let sit in sieve in fridge overnight. This will drain even more liquid out. You want it REALLY dry.
Step 2: Making the gnocchi dough.
1. 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.
2. Add the lightly beaten eggs to the mashed ricotta.
3. Melt the tablespoon of butter. Add it to the ricotta mixture.
4. Add in any flavouring that you’re using (I used lemon zest).
5. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and the salt.
6. 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.
1. Fill a small pot with water and bring to a boil. When it boils, salt the water generously and keep it at a simmer. You will use this water to test the first gnocchi that you make to ensure that it holds together and that your gnocchi batter isn’t too damp.
2. In a large, shallow baking dish or on a sheet pan, make a bed of quinoa flour that’s ½ an inch deep.
3. 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.
4. Using a tablespoon, scoop up about 2 to 3 teaspoons of batter and then holding the spoon at an angle, use your finger tip to gently push the ball of dough from the spoon into the bed of flour.
At this point you can either shake the dish or pan gently to ensure that the flour covers the gnocchi or 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. What you’re looking for is an oval lump of sorts that’s dusted in flour and plump.
5. Gently place your gnocchi in the simmering water. It 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.
Step 4: Cooking the gnocchi.
1. Have a large skillet ready to go. Place the butter and water for the sauce in the skillet and set aside.
2. In the largest pan or pot that you have (make sure it’s wide), bring at least 2 quarts of water to a boil (you can use as much as 3 quarts of water if your pot permits). You need a wide pot or pan so that your gnocchi won’t bump into each other and damage each other.
3. Once the water is boiling, salt it generously.
4. Drop the gnocchi into the water one by one. Once they float to the top, cook them for 3 to 5 minutes (as in the case with the test gnocchi).
5. Place the skillet over medium heat and melt the butter. Swirl it gently a few times as it melts.
6. With a slotted spoon, remove the gnocchi from the boiling water and gently drop into the butter sauce. Let brown a little. Remove once lightly browned.
7. Make sauce. Add butter to the gnocchi frying pan. Place sage leaves in butter until slightly fried, then remove to drain. The sage leaves can be crumpled on top of the gnocchi. Add lemon juice and swirl to combine. Pour sauce over gnocchi and top off with a little Parmiggiano-Regiano.
Frying boiled gnocchi.
Lemon gnocchi in a sage lemon butter sauce with crispy sage leaves.
Im gonna eat you.
Nom nom nom.
Same recipe but with a berry sauce. I just cooked down some blackberries and blueberries.
Blackberry goodness.
Close up.

Friday, May 01, 2009

April Daring Bakers: Cheesecake.

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

That was the obligatory blog checking line. Its how the Daring Bakers know we participate. We were allowed to make some changes to the flavors... and I went for it! The original is a simple cheesecake recipe. I usually make one similar to that because fussed up cheesecakes turn me off. No caramel or chocolate or oreos here. Those are all good, just not in my cheesecake! I wanted to dress it up a little so I decided to go with a Goat cheese, lavender and honey cheesecake. Mmmmm. It turned out wonderfully!

Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake (Original Recipe):

180 g graham cracker crumbs
4 oz butter, melted
24 g sugar
1 t vanilla extract

24 oz room temp cream cheese
210 g sugar
3 large eggs
8 oz heavy cream
1 T lemon juice
Innards of 1 vanilla bean

My recipe:
30 squares graham cracker crumbs
1 stick butter, melted

1.5 blocks cream cheese, room temp
4 oz goat cheese, room temp
1 pint sour cream, room temp
3 eggs, room temp
2/3 c honey
2 t lemon juice
2 T dried lavender flowers, crushed to a fine powder (got mine at the health food store)
Innards of 1 vanilla bean

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.
2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.
3. Add cream cheese, goat cheese and sour cream into a bowl and whisk (or beat on low) together. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add honey, vanilla bean scrapings and lemon juice and blend until smooth and creamy. *** Important note: over beating makes cheesecake tough and grainy, kind of like scrambled eggs. You want to minimally mix the cheesecake, and always on low. This way you will get a ridiculously silky cheesecake. remove about 1/3 of the batter, this will be the lavender flavored bit. Add the lavender flowers and a bit of purple food color (optional).
4. Pour non lavender batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Drizzle in the lavender batter on to in a zigzag fashion. Tap again. Pull a toothpick though the top of the cheesecake so it looks streaky. I just did a huge swirly design. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.
5. Bake 45 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cheesecake to jiggle in the center... like jello sort of. It wont look done to you, trust me. Pull cheesecake out and chill to room temp. Chill in fridge for 4 hours. Eat! It helps to slice it with a knife dipped in HOT water, so you get a nice looking slice.

Ingredients: Vanilla, goat cheese and lavender.

Close up.
The swirly lavendery cheesecake. YUM.