Saturday, 26 March 2011

Working days and homemade gnocchi

The last few days I was working from home.
Working from home has that sneaky, slightly naughty feeling.

When I was younger, one of things I thought I'd be when I grew up was a writer. Getting to spend my days in the comfort of my own home, pottering around between the hours spent writing, stopping to make pots of tea and cakes.

These days my idea of working from home, is peace and quiet and piles of papers to read and pages of notes. The only thing that has changed from this time back in university, is now the textbooks are replaced with research papers.

To get through days like these, I plan my breaks around food. Day dreaming about dinner plans and treats in between...

I spotted this gnocchi recipe on Delicious Days a few weeks ago, and was waiting for a night to relax and have a go at making them.

I remembered a moment last year, eating ravioli as a starter during our stay in Lake Como, I loved the simplicity of perfectly cooked pasta and simple sauce, complementing each other.

When I read that the base of this recipe consisted of ricotta rather than potatoes, I knew they could be perfectly light pillows of creamy, sweet cheese and began dreaming up ideas of what to serve with them.

Saving my night to try them out, I thought also why not make my own ricotta too?

Ricotta is not used very much in Portuguese food.. actually not at all I don't think.. But you can find it in most supermarkets that stock a good variety of cheeses.
I think I would try these next time with requeijo, a Portuguese cheese almost a cross between cottage cheese and ricotta.
I think the slightly sour flavour of requeijo would go well with a good strong pesto and toasted pine nuts on top.. yum.

I chose to follow the ricotta recipe I found from Baking Obsession and one from David Lebovitz to make my cheese. I used the lemon juice suggested in Baking Obsession and the whole yogurt from David L. and followed alittle of both methods.
It's as simple as warming whole milk, a touch of salt, and whole yogurt in a pan. Then adding lemon juice and letting it curdle and separate for a few minutes, then straining the whey away... (whay) and saving the cheese on top.
I let mine strain for longer in my tea-towel as suggested if I was intending to use it for pasta fillings, rather than serving it warm as suggested by David Lebovitz.
(Sorry no picture... next time!)

The cheese came out lovely, I was so pleased at how easy it was to make.

And the gnocchi recipe itself is seriously easy to make. Add this, mix that, roll out of the dough and done.

I chose to serve mine with some v.good extra virgin olive oil and crisped sage (I was reminiscing of Italy...). Instead of the olive oil, you could use butter instead and let it brown, bringing a wonderful nutty, warm flavour to the dish.

The perfect treat after a days work.

Ricotta gnocchi 
(15 minutes to fame, gnocchi for beginners (Delicious Days))

15 minutes prep time
Serves 2 (easily scaled up)

250g Ricotta
1 egg yolk (M-L egg)
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
30g freshly grated parmesan
50g all purpose flour

Perfect served with a pesto, or sage butter.

1. Discard any excess liquid that the Ricotta packaging may contain (or use homemade).
Add cheese, egg yolk, salt and parmesan to a large bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon. 
Add the flour and stir briefly, just until combined - the dough will still be quite sticky.
(Of course you can add more flour at this point, but keep in mind that the more flour you add, the more dense the gnocchi will be - and you want them as light and fluffy as possible).

2. Forming the gnocchi is the only slightly harder bit.
Generously flour a board and a separate work surface.
Take a large spoonful of the dough and put on the work surface, dust with alittle flour and dust your hands too, roll with the hands the dough together and into a long finger-thick roll.
Cut into little pillows and place on your floured board. (Dip the blade of the knife in flour before to prevent sticking to the dough).
Work quickly with the remaining dough, otherwise they can become soggy and stick to the board.

3. Meanwhile bring a large pan of water to the boil, add a generous pinch of salt and turn down to a rolling boil.
Add the gnocchi and stir once to prevent sticking to the bottom.
Cook until they start floating on the top, around 2-4 minutes depending on their size.
Lift them out with a skimmer and serve immediately.

* For the sage olive oil: Thinly slice a small stack of freshly washed and patted dry sage leaves. Bring 3-4 tbsp of olive oil (or butter) to a high heat in a pan. Add the sage leaves and let them crisp for a few seconds, serve over the gnocchi.
To brown the butter, let it heat through, froth and cook further until browned and delicious smelling, then add the sage leaves. Be careful to not let it burn.


1 comment:

  1. I never even knew you could make gnocchi with ricotta! I've got a big tub of the stuff sitting in my fridge, waiting for the perfect recipe and this might just be it! And I have to say, I am very impressed that you made the ricotta from scratch too!

    As for your dreams of working at home, I still love to imagine myself never having to leave the house, just sitting down in a cozy armchair with my computer, my cat, and a cup of tea. We can always dream... and work from home occasionally too!


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