Daring Cooks – Zuni Ricotta Gnocchi

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14 May Daring Cooks – Zuni Ricotta Gnocchi

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One of the hardest things about writing a food blog is coming up with ideas. I constantly walk the line between indulging my whims and keeping it real. So, for a monthly infusion of inspiration, I decided to join the Daring Cooks, the Daring Bakers’ newly launched sister challenge.

The rules are simple: Make the monthly recipe, then post about it on the 14th. Miss too many challenges and you’re kicked out of the Daring Kitchen.

Participation, not stellar results, is all that’s needed.

Good thing, too. This month’s recipe is Ricotta Gnocchi and the dish lived up to my tag line. The results weren’t pretty.

This gnocchi isn’t made with potatoes. Instead it relies on well-drained, fresh ricotta, a couple of eggs and a drizzle of butter. Being new to the challenge, I decided to stick to the recipe, which can be found here.

I diligently strained the ricotta overnight, followed the tips in Judy Rodger’s video and resisted the urge to over handle the dough — which, if I am totally honest, was next to impossible given their flaccid texture. This tray of uneven lumps is my ricotta gnocchi in its uncooked state.

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As suggested, I chilled the formed dough for an hour. The gnocchi was so soft at room temperature I didn’t think I’d be able to get them in the boiling water whole. I then boiled the chilled gnocchi in plenty of salted water…

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and this is what I got.

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Dear heavens. The only thing in my kitchen that’s allowed to be this white, pasty and lumpy is me.

Would you eat this? Me neither.

So, instead of finishing the results with drizzled butter and a sprinkling of Parmesan, I fried them in a variation of the sage and lemon sauce I used last year for my much prettier butternut gnocchi.

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The final results? The gnocchi was incredibly light. If it weren’t for the fried exterior, it would have had no texture at all. It also verged on tasteless. Not unpleasant, just nondescript. When I come across this sort of recipe in a book, I scribble “Why bother?” in the margin.

While I like the fact this is low-carb, its low-flavour factor means I won’t be making it again. If you’re curious to try some, I’ve got a whole plate if Daring Cooking sitting in the fridge.

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Anyone ever had ricotta gnochhi? If so, did you like it? Or does the blame for this daring debacle fall squarely on me?

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No Comments
  • Amy I.
    Posted at 16:19h, 14 May Reply

    I had similar results, but I was so excited that I actually completed the darn challenge that I actively chose to ignore the bland awkwardness of the gnocchi :)

  • Kasey
    Posted at 16:21h, 14 May Reply

    I’ve tried making ricotta gnocchi in the past and the results were just kind of a mess. Good call on frying them up.

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 16:39h, 14 May Reply

    Amy and Kasey, you make me feel so much better!! Thanks for commenting.

  • LegalAlien
    Posted at 16:39h, 14 May Reply

    My second attempt was much worse than that.
    The important is that you boldly saved the day!

  • anjelikuh
    Posted at 16:57h, 14 May Reply

    LOLL, you are far from white, pasty and lumpy, Christie! The gnocchis stil turned out lovely 😀 I love your writing style, keep up the good work!

  • Junglefrog
    Posted at 17:04h, 14 May Reply

    O haha… they don’t look so bad really… Well… apart from the falling apart maybe. I don’t think I will be making them again either. It’s just so much work and my husband doesn’t like them at all. And cooking them just for my own pleasure, well is frankly not that pleasurable.. :)

  • lisamichele
    Posted at 17:09h, 14 May Reply

    Mine collapsed too, and although I think it had to do with my mother (people are helping me through an inury at this time) not letting the water come to a full boil, and draining them after 2 minutes, I also wonder if there was another reason – although my homemade ricotta was bone dry and the batter nice and fluffy and workable. In any event, I loved reading your post, especially ‘Dear heavens. The only thing in my kitchen that’s allowed to be this white, pasty and lumpy is me. ROTFLOL!

  • jenncuisine
    Posted at 17:12h, 14 May Reply

    I think this gnocchi really needs a lot of seasoning incorporated into the dough. I added a lot of parsley into mine, and I think that really helped give it some flavor.

    A lot of people had issues with them falling apart while cooking….I think maybe the reason why mine were successful was because I really twisted the cheesecloth and squeezed every last drop of liquid that I could out. I’m wondering if just letting the ricotta drain like the recipe says really isn’t sufficient…

    That was a great idea to fry them! How creative!

  • Rose
    Posted at 17:38h, 14 May Reply

    A+ for effort! All prior attempts at making gnocchi have ended in a hungry, angry, semi-tipsy Chef (me) in bitter disbelief munching on doughy, nasty, watery gnocchi.

    Your gnocchi, by my standards look beautiful. Rustic is a good word :) Congrats on doing the challenge – that’s all that matters, right?!

  • DJM
    Posted at 17:47h, 14 May Reply

    I don’t think they look bad! Imperfection is part of the joys of life. I added lemon zest and black pepper to mine, and I think without them, the gnocchi would have been very bland.

  • Kristine
    Posted at 18:29h, 14 May Reply

    Try it again with your own ricotta! I made a small batch (enough to serve 2) and the cheese only took 15 minutes to make and only got 15 minutes of draining. I think the gnocchi are only as good as the ricotta, which is only as good as the dairy that goes in it. Make sure you like the smell and taste of the milk products you use in this recipe. Agreed about the lumpy, white and pasty, though. Not sure there is much to do about that (for the gnocchis anyway). Kristiine

  • Barbara Bakes
    Posted at 18:39h, 14 May Reply

    I like my gnocchi, but I did add basil and Parmesan cheese and served it with a marinara, so the simple flavor of the gnocchi was nice. The fried ones look nice!

  • Suzy
    Posted at 18:52h, 14 May Reply

    I think I got lucky with the cheese I made..I only had skim milk and I read later that skim milk produces dryer cheese! Who knew! I thought it would flop because it wasn’t full of fat. I also did the step of pushing it throw a sieve..not sure if that helped but it did result in a fine dry cheese “powder” to work with. I also seasoned mine better than the recipe called for because I was afraid it would be tasteless. Good effort and at least you didn’t scrap it. Thanks for visiting my blog :-)

  • Esi
    Posted at 19:11h, 14 May Reply

    I should have fried them! Maybe that would have helped. I completely forgot the chilling step, but it looks like it didn’t help much. Oh well, hope the next one is better!

  • Coco Bean
    Posted at 19:18h, 14 May Reply

    Ha ha, you are too funny. People seem to be very up in the air about this challenge eh. Atleast now we can say that we have made the dreaded “ricotta gnocchi” (dum dum dummm). Most people have hardly tried real gnocchi let alone spent hours trying to mould cheese into tiny lumps!
    Oh yeah, love your name (naturally) and it’s always great to meet another Canadian food blogger!

  • Cheri
    Posted at 19:38h, 14 May Reply

    I definitely think it makes a big difference if you use homemade Ricotta or not… or so it seems with the results that people are getting. That being said your fried Gnocchi looks very appetizing and I am going to have to try that Butternut Gnocchi. They looks super good!

  • Lauren
    Posted at 20:18h, 14 May Reply

    Your gnocchi look amazing, I love the sauce that you used =D. I’m sorry that they didn’t work as well as you hoped.

  • CRUISNDIVA
    Posted at 20:20h, 14 May Reply

    Mine was how shall we say pretty “blah” too, if it wouldn’t been for all that cream, vodka and shrimp in my sauce it would have been a VERY bland, boring dish. I guess they can’t all be winners but you did a great job documenting everything and if it makes you feel any better, yours look delish!

  • giz
    Posted at 20:20h, 14 May Reply

    ha ha – your picture of the gnocci in the pot is almost identical to mine – guess we did something right – it was a fun challenge

  • Cheryl
    Posted at 20:56h, 14 May Reply

    Wow, it’s crowded in her tonight. Is there a 2-for-1 special at the bar?

    In an effort to keep things real, I will proudly agree that your gnocchi are super ugly. Keep telling it like it is, Charmian, keep telling it like it is.

  • Connie Weiss
    Posted at 21:10h, 14 May Reply

    I didn’t have the best of luck with this challenge either. I feel badly that I didn’t like it…thinking I need to give it another try with better ingredients. Maybe this is why I’ve been married so many times. hmmmm.

    Can’t wait for the next challenge!

  • Margie
    Posted at 23:15h, 14 May Reply

    You might not be happy with your gnocchi results, but the post is a great read. Plus, I would not turn down a plate of that fried gnocchi, looks fab. Your series of toast is awesome! Thanks for checking out my blog.

  • Audax
    Posted at 00:50h, 15 May Reply

    What a lovely read your post is and the honesty is refreshing yes the photo says it all and I really like how you saved them. I think if you make the ricotta this makes a huge difference. I thought these ricotta gnocchi were little pillows of yummmmmminess. Bravo on you honest comments. I think gnocchi is one of those foods that you love or hate nothing in the middle. Cheers from Audax in Australia

  • abby
    Posted at 01:06h, 15 May Reply

    hi christie, i think you need to try them using homemade ricotta, mine definitely had flavour and the ricotta itself is so easy to make

  • Arundathi
    Posted at 01:44h, 15 May Reply

    I think the point is that you fried it up and tried to “rescue it”. We actually loved our gnocchi. Maybe the key is in the draining? I used store bought ricotta and thought it held up fine.

  • Karen
    Posted at 06:42h, 15 May Reply

    I used homemade ricotta instead which made forming the gnocchi really easy. I ignored the part about handling them as little as possible and just shaped it which made for some better looking gnocchi. So maybe the key is homemade ricotta (it’s certainly drier than store-bought!). I’m sure the taste would be better with homemade ricotta as well.

  • Esther
    Posted at 07:55h, 15 May Reply

    I did like mine but I think it helped a lot I made fresh cheese from full fat organic milk as that had more flavour than the normal ricotta we get at the supermarket. I think if I’d used that it would have been flavourless. That said we are never all going to like every recipe are we?

  • Carolyn
    Posted at 07:57h, 15 May Reply

    I made these a month or so ago, with a slightly different recipe. I posted about it here: http://tinyurl.com/dngwwv But the key is, as others have said, use home made ricotta or the closest thing available in your store. Most ricottas have a lot of preservatives and gums, making it sticky and bland. Also, herbs and parmesan cheese help.

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 10:03h, 15 May Reply

    Daring Cooks — thanks for dropping by. Yes, I know. Homemade ricotta is the key. It was a fun challenge even though I wasn’t as successful as some.

    Cheryl, drinks are always half price here. As for telling it like it is — I might not be able to make ricotta gnocchi, but I can always make lemonade out of my lemons.

  • The Diva on a Diet
    Posted at 10:31h, 15 May Reply

    You are not alone … I made some spinach ricotta gnocchi in February and the results were much the same. Feh. So not worth the trouble. I was seeking a low-carb pasta alternative … and was rewarded with a plate of tasteless mush! Epic fail! LOL

  • The Diva on a Diet
    Posted at 10:31h, 15 May Reply

    You are not alone … I made some spinach ricotta gnocchi in February and the results were much the same. Feh. So not worth the trouble. I was seeking a low-carb pasta alternative … and was rewarded with a plate of tasteless mush! Epic fail! LOL

  • Megan
    Posted at 12:54h, 15 May Reply

    Yours came out better than mine! Maybe we’ll have better luck next challenge.

  • Lily
    Posted at 14:00h, 15 May Reply

    Lol! “Pasty, white, and lumpy…” Love it!

    I had the same kind of feeling/results…but then again…I also forgot to salt the ricotta mixture! D’oh! I much prefer the potato gnocchi over this one for some reason…ricotta just kinda bland for me. I have a bag sitting in the freezer now and I’ll probably fry them up and season it more or pass them out to unsuspecting friendlies.

  • Olga
    Posted at 16:51h, 15 May Reply

    This is sort of unrelated, but your idea of butternut squash gnocchi sounds really good!! maybe I’ll try it :)

  • Eat4Fun
    Posted at 01:15h, 16 May Reply

    Congrats on completing the first ever DC challenge! I found the flavors to be subtle and light which is another way of saying boring and bland. lol! Nice thinking on the fly with the butter and lemon.

  • The Shulls
    Posted at 14:45h, 16 May Reply

    Oh boy, if that is your definition for not pretty.. hummm I wish you wouldn’t have seen my pictures! hahaha. They look so delicious. You did a great job!

    P.S. Thanks for visiting my blog :)

  • MaryMary
    Posted at 23:55h, 17 May Reply

    Sorry you didn’t love it…even so your photos look stunning and they do look pretty yummy frying up in the pan. :)

  • Tara
    Posted at 01:58h, 18 May Reply

    I added lots of lemon and salt to mine, then made a sage-lemon-butter sauce for it. It was heavenly. I dried my ricotta forever though. It looked like feta and was crumbly! But behold, it made perfect gnocchi.

  • Michael and Kenna
    Posted at 14:04h, 18 May Reply

    Well, no worries – I didn’t do so hot either! Thanks for checking out my blog as well! You did a good job with your writing – made me laugh!

  • Marta
    Posted at 16:22h, 18 May Reply

    Aww I’m sorry!!! Ricotta gnocchi are so hard to master. I didn’t participate in the challenge, but I went around checking ppl’s blogs and I was surprised by how many people did it flawlessly, this is not an easy recipe and the first couple of times I attempted it, I got stuff worse than you. At least they taste ok, right :)

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