I know it's warming up here in Australia, so let's just pretend for a bit that we are in the middle of a blistery cold winters day.
A hot chocolate under a warm blanket to start proceedings
Home made ricotta
Home made gnocchi
Ricotta gnocchi with rich tomato sauce and lashings of finely grated parmesan, eaten under a warm blanket
Slow living at it's best
Once you know how easy it is to make Ricotta Gnocchi, you will add it to your favourite weekend meals. It is way easier than you might think, and results in a light pillowy gnocchi that is definitely worth it. Plus it is a great way to spend a weekend afternoon. Make it with family or friends to make it even more enjoyable.
HOMEMADE RICOTTA (You can use store ricotta for this recipe you may just need to adjust the amount of flour you use in the gnocchi recipe)
This is a quick and simple way to have fresh ricotta in full supply on an ongoing basis. If you have milk in the fridge, there is no need to race to the shop for store bought ricotta. Ricotta is made a little differently commercially, however, this make at home version is brilliant, and able to be enjoyed in the same ways of the store bought variety, without the extra additives.
Use the best quality milk you can afford, preferably full fat. It doesn’t work well with milk that is pasteurised/heated to high temperatures like long life UHT milk.
The process involves heating milk, adding vinegar and draining. That is it. The draining process is the only process where you need to think about how you would like your end result. If you drain for a short amount of time (15 minutes), you get a wet ricotta, whereas if you drain for longer (30 minutes) you get a more firm version. Great for cheesecakes. If it is drained even longer you can get what is called Paneer, which is a very firm version and can be moulded and sliced. I would encourage you to play around with the process. Trial and error will help you with what version you prefer.
INGREDIENTS 1 litre of full-fat milk
1/3 cup cream
1/2 tsp of sea salt
2 tbsp or 40ml of white vinegar
Line a sieve with a muslin cloth, over a large bowl. This will be used to drain the ricotta once it has separated.
Combine milk, cream and salt in a medium sized saucepan over a low heat. Slowly heat the milk until it is just starting to simmer. Stir to combine.
Add vinegar and stir slowly to mix through.
Milk will start to separate and curds will begin to form. Once this starts you can turn off the heat.
Allow to sit for approximately 10 minutes.
Using a large spoon gently scoop the curds from saucepan and place in the muslin-lined sieve to drain.
Drain for 15 minutes or to desired consistency.
Yields approximately 1 cup
Ricotta can be eaten immediately or stored in the fridge in airtight container for up to 3 days.
The cream is included for a lovely soft ricotta, however, can be omitted for a different texture.
Sieve - a strainer with wire or plastic mesh
Muslin - a lightweight cotton cloth with a plain weave that allows liquid to pass through but retains solid material. Any lightweight cotton cloth with a loose weave can be used. You may need to double it over if the ricotta drains too quickly. Ensure it is clean and washed after purchase.
Curds - the milk separates into curds and whey when the vinegar is added. Curds are the solid component.
250 grams of ricotta (if you have a wet ricotta you may need to drain the excess moisture to create a firmer ricotta or you will need more flour)
1 cup of finely grated parmesan cheese
11/2 - 2 cups of plain or all purpose flour
2 whole eggs
1/4 tsp of sea salt
Semolina flour for dusting (or plain flour)
1/4 tsp salt in boiling water
Gently combine ricotta, parmesan, 1 and 1/2 cups of the flour, eggs and salt. Bring it all together to form a ball. You are looking for a dough that just comes together and is not too sticky to roll. If you need to, add more flour, 1 spoon at a time until you get the desired result. The dough should be really light. You can add more flour than the recipe indicates if you need, to get it to this point.
Line a tray with baking paper and sprinkle withsemolina flour. This is where you will place your gnocchi once ready.
Flour a surface with some plain flour for rolling your dough.
Divide dough into 6 sections.
With your hands, roll each section into a log about the diameter of your thumb.
Cut with a knife or pizza cutter sections of the dough about 2 cm long.
Place pieces on prepared tray and dust with extra semolina flour. This keeps them separated.
Once all prices are ready, and you are ready to cook, fill a saucepan with water, add 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt and bring to the boil.
Once boiling, add in gnocchi. Do not overcrowd - you may need to cook in batches.
Once gnocchi rise to the surface they are cooked and can be removed. This only takes a couple of minutes, if that.
Drain and serve with your favourite pasta sauce.
Notes: this recipe is highly depending on the type of ricotta you use and the size of your eggs. If you use a wet ricotta and large eggs then you may need more flour. Just remember you are aiming for a dough that is not too sticky so that you can roll it out easily. It should still feel quite light.
If you are preparing earlier, then cover gnocchi with a tea towel or plastic wrap for a couple of hours
Gnocchi can be frozen for later use.
ROASTED GARLIC AND ONION PASTA SAUCE
1 onion peeled and halved
1 bulb of garlic, whole or 8-10 cloves (not peeled)
1 tbsp or 20ml of Olive Oil
1 tsp or 5 grams of Sea Salt
1 cup (250mls) of good quality liquid chicken or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 Handful of fresh basil
Parmesan cheese grated
Salt and Cracked Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 150C/300F
Line a small baking tray with baking paper
Place onion halves on baking tray with garlic and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt
Roast for 1 hour
In the meantime, pour passata and stock, 1/2 teaspoon of salt into an oven proof dish and place in the oven for 1 hour (cooks at the same time as the garlic and onion are roasting)
The tomato sauce will start to caramelise on top so stir every 20 minutes. This mixes this flavour through and creates a new layer to caramelise.
After 1 hour, remove roasted onion, garlic and the tomato sauce from oven.
Chop off the top of the head of garlic and squeeze roasted garlic into the tomato sauce.
Combine all sauce, onion, garlic and 1/2 cup of parmesan in a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth.
Salt to taste
Rip basil into pieces and mix through sauce just before serving
Serve over pasta of choice and sprinkle parmesan on top with freshly cracked pepper