Friday, May 15, 2009

Ricotta Gnocchi: Daring Cooks #1

I did my challenge a while back because I wanted to get it done before exam pressure began, and now I'm posting one day late because I hadn't written up my post before and posting day fell on the day after my final (and worst) exam - Recovery Day ;-)

This the first ever Daring Cooks Challenge was hosted by our wonderful founders Lis and Ivonne. They chose Ricotta Gnocchi from a cookbook by Judy Rodgers, named after her restaurant: The Zuni Café Cookbook.

We were allowed to play with add-ins and the sauce. I chose to keep it simple and added a bit of mint to balance the lamb curry I'd decided to serve it with and reduced some coconut milk for the sauce.

I made my own ricotta of course and determined to do the challenge all in one day, I rigged up the following contraption to drain the cheese faster.

The challenge was fun, it was a bit tedious to shape all the gnocchi, but once I'd shaped the first four or so, it became easier to do and I finished them in what felt like no time. I wanted to try a couple other variations before posting but time didn't allow. I would most certainly make them again as they were quite tasty:

Come check us out in the Daring Kitchen to see what other DCer's did...As for Chrystal, she is going to have to explain where her challenge post is, the last I heard was that she had drained the ricotta....hmmmm.

The recipe:

Zuni Ricotta Gnocchi

Source: From The Zuni Café Cookbook.

Yield: Makes 40 to 48 gnocchi (serves 4 to 6)

Prep time: Step 1 will take 24 hours. Steps 2 through 4 will take approximately 1 hour.


- If you can find it, use fresh ricotta. As Judy Rodgers advises in her recipe, there is no substitute for fresh ricotta. It may be a bit more expensive, but it's worth it.
- Do not skip the draining step. Even if the fresh ricotta doesn't look very wet, it is. Draining the ricotta will help your gnocchi tremendously.
- When shaping your gnocchi, resist the urge to over handle them. It's okay if they look a bit wrinkled or if they're not perfectly smooth.
- If you're not freezing the gnocchi for later, cook them as soon as you can. If you let them sit around too long they may become a bit sticky.
- For the variations to the challenge recipe, please see the end of the recipe.

Equipment required:

- Sieve
- Cheesecloth or paper towels
- Large mixing bowl
- Rubber spatula
- Tablespoon
- Baking dish or baking sheet
- Wax or parchment paper
- Small pot
- Large skillet
- Large pan or pot (very wide in diameter and at least 2 inches deep)

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

Until next time....


  1. Yes these are little clouds of yummmminess!!! I like the idea of lamb curry I thought that lamb wasn't that common in the states. Lovely machine you rigged up to drain the home-made ricotta (good on you). Great effort on this first DCooks' challenge.

  2. Your gnocchi look so cute: plump and round! And it never occurred to me to use curry as an accompaniment - I didn't think beyond Italian seasonings, because Italy and gnocchi are so strongly associated in my mind. Great job!

  3. Excellent idea with lamb curry, mint and coconut milk!
    This must be absolutely delicious!
    Great job!

  4. Although not a lover of lamb (crazy, huh?) I would still eat yours! I love how the both of you cook together, and the photos in the header are precious with a capital P!

  5. Well, I'm definitely a lover of lamb :)
    Glad you enjoyed this recipe. I cheated a bit, so mine wasn't as strenuous of a job.

  6. Wow. You did great!
    I'm sending a little blog love your way. Check out my post to see what I mean.

  7. my friends mom used to drain her paneer by putting it in the spin cycle haha.

  8. Your gnocchi look great and I love the idea of your sister and you both making the recipes! Wonderful story.