Vanessa Pike-Russell
I have just signed up to be a daring cook. What does that mean? Well in a nutshell it is daring to cook a new food every month based on recipes given. You are then to cook the food and take photos and post it to your food blog. I should be able to cope with a once a month deadline and it will be good for me to move outside my comfort zone. photo by mirthful

This month's challenge was to
cook ricotta gnocchi. I think that was what pushed me over the edge from thoughts of 'should I, shouldn't I' to 'Ok, I am DEFINITELY in!'. Why did gnocci elicit such a response? It evokes memories of visiting my cousin Marina and her family (the Annechinis) who owned an Italian restaurant in Port Kembla, NSW Australia. Marina's favourite food of all time was gnocchi and I soon realised why. The Capri taverna had a wonderful chef, Mrs. Dressino, who was the mother of Mrs Annechini's brother in law, Carlo. Every time we visited Mrs. Dressino in Primbee we left full of food. Mrs Dressino always hand make all her pasta fresh each day. Her grandson Ricky (cousin to Marina and I) loved his Nana's lasagne but Marina and I loved gnocci the most.

The recipe for Zuni Ricotta Gnocci comes from Judy Rodgers, named after her restaurant,
The Zuni Café Cookbook.

So now that I have a recipe for ricotta gnocci I have a few challenges- the easiest of which is to source the ingredients. I am a little late to officially start with the ricotta gnocci challenge but I thought it would be a good way to start things off. My mind is filled with thoughts of food styling (presentation, props, keeping the gnocci in similar shapes) but also considering variations (adding an element of colour via spinach or beetroot ingredient) or perhaps keeping to the gnocci recipe and add a splash of colour in the garnish. For some reason I think a ricotta gnocci with spinach or beetroot would be interesting but I think I should use the old adage K.I.S.S. - Keep It Simple, Stupid!

RECIPE: Ricotta Gnocci

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 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)

Videos that might help:

- Judy Rodgers' Gnocchi Demo
- Making Fresh Ricotta Demo
- Making Ricotta Gnocchi

For the gnocchi:
1 pound fresh ricotta (2 cups)
2 large cold eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon 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 butter, sliced
2 teaspoons water

{ For more instructions visit the daring cooks entry for ricotta gnocchi }

Update: I have sinced flickred aka 'flickr searched' and found some photos of spinach and ricotta gnocci and ricotta and beet gnocci. I guess I will just have to create a trio of gnocci and then decide which type I like the most :)

Evan Kleiman's Gnocci Made With Ricotta and Beets by ExperienceLA
Evan Kleiman's Gnocci Made With Ricotta and Beets by ExperienceLA

Spinach and ricotta gnocci by Elin B
Spinach and ricotta gnocci
by Elin B

And the original,
Ricotta Gnocci 3 by peabirdwoman
Ricotta Gnocci 3
by peabirdwoman
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