Thursday, May 14, 2009
Daring Cooks welcomes their first challenge. They chose a recipe from the stunning cookbook by Judy Rodgers, named after her restaurant, The Zuni Café Cookbook.
This recipe is a very delicate one, that you can make and get all these "Wow"... "hummm"... "amazing".. "fantastic"... comments after they try it.
For the gnocchi:
1 pound (454 grams/16 ounces) 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, or a few pinches of chopped lemon zest (all optional)
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:
8 tablespoons (227 grams/1/4 pound/4 ounces) butter, sliced
2 teaspoons water
Step 1 (the day before you make the gnocchi): Preparing the ricotta.
If the ricotta is too wet, your gnocchi will not form properly. In her cookbook, Judy Rodgers recommends checking the ricotta’s wetness. To test the ricotta, take a teaspoon or so and place it on a paper towel. If you notice a very large ring of dampness forming around the ricotta after a minute or so, then the ricotta is too wet. 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. Alternatively, you can wrap the ricotta carefully in cheesecloth (2 layers) and suspend it in your refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours with a bowl underneath to catch the water that’s released. Either way, it’s recommended that you do this step the day before you plan on making the gnocchi.
Step 2 (the day you plan on eating the gnocchi): 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 if you’re using it. If not, just melt the butter and add it to the ricotta mixture.
Add in any flavouring that you’re using (i.e., nutmeg, lemon zest, etc.). If you’re not using any particular flavouring, that’s fine.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Test a second gnocchi to ensure success.
Form the rest of your gnocchi. You can put 4 to 6 gnocchi in the bed of flour at a time. But don’t overcrowd your bed of flour or you may damage your gnocchi as you coat them.
Have a sheet pan ready to rest the formed gnocchi on. Line the sheet pan with wax or parchment paper and dust it with flour.
You can cook the gnocchi right away, however, Judy Rodgers recommends storing them in the refrigerator for an hour prior to cooking to allow them to firm up.
Step 4: Cooking the gnocchi.
Have a large skillet ready to go. Place the butter and water for the sauce in the skillet and set aside.
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.
Once the water is boiling, salt it generously.
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).
When the gnocchi float to the top, you can start your sauce while you wait for them to finish cooking.
To make the Sauce:
Place the skillet over medium heat and melt the butter. Swirl it gently a few times as it melts. As soon as it melts and is incorporated with the water, turn off the heat. Your gnocchi should be cooked by now.
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.
Variations: For the gnocchi, you can flavour them however you wish. If you want to experiment by adding something to your gnocchi (i.e., caramelized onion, sundried tomato), feel free to do so. However, be forewarned, ricotta gnocchi are delicate and may not take well to elaborate additions. For the sauce, this is your chance to go nuts. Enjoy yourselves. Surprise us!!!
Freezing the gnocchi: If you don’t want to cook your gnocchi right away or if you don’t want to cook all of them, you can make them and freeze them. Once they are formed and resting on the flour-dusted, lined tray, place them uncovered in the freezer. Leave them for several hours to freeze. Once frozen, place them in a plastic bag. Remove the air and seal the bag. Return to the freezer. To cook frozen gnocchi, remove them from the bag and place individually on a plate or on a tray. Place in the refrigerator to thaw completely. Cook as directed for fresh gnocchi.
P.S. My apologies for the pictures...
Monday, May 4, 2009
I made this recipe some weeks ago, and it was a really good cuban/latin american flavor one. I thought you may enjoy it. (Note: The original recipe called for pork shoulder)
1/2 green pepper, minced
1/2 onion, minced
1/4 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/8 cup olive oil
For the Pork:
2 slabs Pork Boneless Back Ribs
12 whole garlic cloves, slightly smash
3 envelops (1 1/2 tablespoons) sazon seasoning
1 tablespoon adobo seasoning
1/4 cup sofrito
1. In a food processor add green pepper, onion, and cilantro. Pour in oil and mix well.(The left over you can keep it refrigerated for up to 10 days).
2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
3. Make at least 12-slits in pork with the tip of a very sharp knife. Put 1 clove of garlic in each slit. In a small bowl, mix together the sazon and adobo seasonings. Add 1/4-cup sofrito and stir together. Rub over entire pork.
Place pork in large roasting pan, wrap with foil and cook for 3 hours. Remove the foil and crank oven up to 400 degrees F and let cook additional 20 minutes until desired crispness.
Source: Paula Deen
I made a twist on an original recipe for Lemon Squares and made it a tart with shortbread crust. The result... amazing!!! Tanginess, sweetness, texture... hummm, definitely a great combination!
Let's get started:
1 1/2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
7 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 spoons of granulated sugar
1/4 cup grated fresh lemon zest (about 4 lemons)
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
Pinch of salt
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
3 Tbsp. heavy cream
Confectioner's sugar for dusting
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a 10-inch springform pan.
2. For the crust: In a mixing bowl with a paddle, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and butter. Mix until the mixture is crumbly, then add the egg and continue to mix until a soft dough forms.
3. Press the dough on the bottom and an inch up the sides of the prepared pan; dock with a fork, and bake for 15 minutes, until light golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.
4. While the crust bakes, whisk the egg yolks and eggs together in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the granulated sugar until combined, then whisk in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt. Add the butter and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens slightly and registers 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 5 minutes. Strain the mixture immediately into a bowl and stir in the cream.
5. Pour the filling over the warm crust. Bake the tart until the filling is shiny and opaque and the center jiggles slightly when shaken, 10 to 15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
6. Let the tart cool completely in the pan, set on a wire rack, about 2 hours. Remove from the pan and dust with confectioner's sugar and garnish with whipping cream just before serving. Enjoy!
Friday, May 1, 2009
I got this recipe some time ago from my Aunt Rebecca, and it is definitely one of those you will treasure! This cinnamon rolls are very easy to make, but I have to warn you, it takes a long time to get to the final product. You have to plan this with several hours in advance. Also, this recipe yields between 20 and 24 BIG rolls, depending on how thick you slice them.
Get your whisks ready, here we go!
- For the dough
1/2 cup warm water
2 packages dry yeast
2 Tbl. sugar
3 1/2 oz. pkg. vanilla pudding mix
1/2 cup butter (melted)
1 teas. salt
6 cups flour
- For the Filling:
2 cups packed brown sugar
4 teas. cinnamon
2 sticks soft butter
- For the Frosting:
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
1 teas. vanilla
3 cups confectioner's sugar
2 Tbl. milk
In a bowl combine water, yeast and sugar. Stir until dissolved. Set aside.
In large bowl, take pudding mix and prepare according to package directions. Add margarine, eggs and salt. Mix well. Then add yeast mixture. Blend.
Gradually add flour; knead until smooth. Place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled. Punch down dough and let rise again. Then roll out on floured board to 34 x 21" size. Take the soft butter and spread over surface.
In bowl, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over top.
Roll up very tightly.
With knife, put a notch every 2". Cut with thread or knife. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet 2" apart.
Take hand and lightly press down on each roll.
Cover and let rise until double again. Bake at 350 15−20 minutes. Remove when they start to turn golden. DON'T OVER BAKE.
Frost warm rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting.
(*) To make frosting, mix all ingredients until smooth.