Daring Bakers was a great idea, try something new, extend myself, new skills etc etc.
The reality was that I ended up with huge piles of cakes, needed to buy equipment I've never used since and had to compete with blogs full of stay at home mum-days of sunlight photography-gee I'm a little board so I'll bake this great cake posts. Sorry, but you know it so is.
I really can't eat a whole cake on my own. And as I cycle to work it's too hard to transport it there - the refuge of most sad single girl bakers.
But then Daring Cooks came along. Nice stuff that I can have for dinner, and take the left overs to re-heat for lunch, or bung in the freezer and I was sold. This month is actually the first Daring Cooks' challenge. Shelly from Musings from the Fish Bowl hosted this month's challenge, which is ricotta gnocchi from Judy Roger's Zuni Cafe Cookbook. You'll have to excuse me, I'm known for my abbreviated recipes (and I'm on my fourth glass of wine for tonight - hurrah!), but this is how it goes.
500gm fresh ricotta (I'm not sure what kind of ricotta you would be using if it weren't fresh, but this is just what the recipe says. So put the mouldy ricotta back in the fridge and get some fresh stuff out)
2 large, cold eggs lightly beaten
1 tblspn melted butter
2-3 sage leaves or some grated lemon zest
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Plain flour for making the gnocchi.
The day before you make the gnocchi you need to drain the ricotta. You can do this in a cheese cloth, or like me in a nice uber-thin tea towel (thank you to the cheapo souvenir salesmen in the Khan a-Kalili markets in Cairo for my Egyptian cotton tea towel), attached over a measuring jug with a rubber band. As you can see, quite a lot of fluid came out, and it stops the gnocchi being too soggy and disintegrating in the pan.
Once the ricotta is drained, mash it up in a bowl to get rid of the lumps, and stir through the eggs (mixing well). Add the sage to the butter if you're using it (I didn't) and once it's cooked for a bit stir it through the ricotta as well. Add the cheese and the salt.
Using two teaspoons form the dumplings and VERY gently coat them in flour, handling them as little as possible. The recipe suggests you refrigerate the dumplings for an hour to firm them up. I highly recommend doing this!!!!
Once you're ready to cook bring a large pot of water to a steady simmer. Then you cook them much like potato gnocchi. Pop them in, let them float to the top and then allow them to bob for about 3-5 minutes, until they're cooked firm. I would have happily bet that mine would fall apart at this stage, but much to my surprise they held together nicely!
I served them with my favourite spicy bacon and tomato sauce, with extra Parmesan.
However, it doesn't stop there. I had a desert version in my head. When making them I put a small spot of raspberry jam in the middle and carefully covered it over. Cooking them the same way, I drizzled over a chocolate sauce.
I was convinced this would be like a raspberry and chocolate cheese cake. It wasn't quite like that, but the sweet ones were better I think.
On the whole these were much easier to do than I had expected, but left a little wanting. Maybe they needed more salt or cheese (oh yeah, no Parmesan in the sweet ones but some sugar instead). They were just a little bland. Probably potato gnocchi and cheese cake will be more satisfying. These are probably healthier, and with some practice probably will have more flavour. They were pretty good re-heated for breakfast this morning.
Give 'em a go, just salt well!!!