Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Ricotta Extravaganza

It seems to be Ricotta Day on Sarah's Kitchen today.

When I was in high school, I took a cooking class in which we made these ricotta cookies.  They were amazing.  It might have been because, not having come from an Italian family, I have never had ricotta cookies before, but whatever the reason, they were good enough that I asked the cooking teacher for a copy of the recipe and I think my mother still has it in her recipe binder.

Of course, my mother having this magical recipe in her recipe binder doesn't help me right now, so I am going to have to make it up as I go along (or "borrow" ideas from people online.  Librarians are good at "borrowing").

When searching for ricotta cookie recipes, I kept getting hits for ricotta gnocchi.  Gnocchi is maybe one of my most favorite things in the world, but I am pretty sure I usually only have potato gnocchi.  I typically only get this dish in restaurants, so don't really know what it is that I'm eating (I am a very trusting restaurant patron).

As an aside, Il Villaggio in Boston's North End is an awesome place to go for gnocchi.  Their gnocchi with creamy tomato basil sauce is incredible.  Actually, the whole place is incredible.  It's a tiny little hole in the wall on Hanover Street with totally reasonably prices.  I showed up at 7pm on a Saturday night there once with seven people and they sat us in 15 minutes.  The bread is crusty, staff friendly.  Hmm, maybe I'll ditch the whole cooking idea and just go there for dinner tonight.

I could write a book about tangents.

Anyway, I have decided to make ricotta gnocchi in addition to ricotta cookies.  It's ambitious, I know, but this weather puts me in a cooking mood.  (And by the way, why warm, spring-like weather puts me in the mood to close myself in my kitchen and cook, I have no idea.)

An Afterthought: I made all the food and it came out outstandingly.  The cookies yielded dozens and dozens and are currently being enjoyed by the poor, starving teachers at work.  The gnocchi was super good and super easy, once I remembered how to roll it.  I took some pictures, but I don't think they came out too well.  I'll check later and post them if they're any good.  Until then, the recipes follow...

Ricotta Gnocchi Recipe  
Borrowed from Nibbledish

    * 1 lb whole milk ricotta
    * 1/2 cup fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano
    * 1 to 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
    * 2 teaspoons salt
    * 1 large egg, beaten slightly in small bowl

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, except 1/2 cup of the flour. Mix together with hands until it forms a ball. Put dough on a wooden board and sprinkle with the remaining flour, and knead until no longer sticky.

Break out into small balls, about a handful. Roll into strips, and cut into 1-inch pieces, then roll with thumb on gnocchi board (optional).

Sprinkle with flour and spread onto a platter until ready to boil.

Cook in boiling water until floating. Doesn't take long at all.

Ricotta Cookie Recipe

Borrowed from AOL Food

    * 1 cup butter softened
    * 2 cups sugar
    * 1 15-ounce container ricotta cheese
    * 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    * 2 large eggs
    * 4 cups all-purpose flour
    * 2 tablespoons baking powder
    * 1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease large cookie sheets.

In a large bowl cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add ricotta vanilla and eggs and beat until combined. Add flour baking powder and salt and beat until dough forms.

Using two tablespoons drop dough onto cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake for 15 minutes or until cookies begin to turn golden. Remove cookies to wire rack to cool.

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