Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ricotta gnocchi with lemon zest and parsley

I was never a big fan of gnocchi (pronounced nyo-kee). Too many times I tasted gnocchi that was too dense and heavy. I always assumed that it was quite difficult to get right, so I never attempted it at home. Most gnocchi is made with potato, which seemed very challenging. But when I found a recipe for ricotta gnocchi, I thought I could give it a shot. This gnocchi is actually quite traditional too- but it is usually found in the Florence region of Italy.

I promise it is not too difficult. As the main ingredient is ricotta rather than potato, all you have to do is peel open a container of ricotta instead of baking potatoes and scooping them out. I made it for a friend of mine on a weekday night, and we were able to enjoy it in 30 minutes. It was fun making gnocchi for her while she snapped photos. Makes food blogging a whole lot easier!

The ricotta gives it a light, airy texture which makes for the best kind of gnocchi. The outside is perfectly crispy- so addicting! Another reason why I love this recipe is the use of lemon zest- it tastes so vibrant and spring-like. I really try not to exaggerate, but this is the best gnocchi I have ever had. Don't believe me? Try it and find out! :)

Pan-Fried Lemon-Ricotta Gnocchi
Recipe from Jaden's Steamy Kitchen (slightly edited)
serves 2

1 cup whole milk ricotta
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (plus extra for garnishing)
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon lemon zest (plus extra for garnishing)
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup all purpose flour, sifted
1 tablespoon chopped parsley (plus extra for garnishing)
1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Combine ricotta, parmesan, yolk, zest, parsley, and salt in large bowl. Mix well. Sprinkle half of the flour on the mixture, gently turn with spatula a few times to incorporate. Dump mixture on clean, lightly floured countertop. Sprinkle remaining flour on top of the mixture. Gently knead with your fingertips, just bringing together the mixture until flour is incorporated through. This only should take a minute or two.

2. Divide dough into 4 parts. Take one part and roll into a long, 1" diameter log. Cut gnocchi into 1" pieces.

3. Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil. when butter is just lightly browned, add gnocchi in single layer. Fry on one side for 2 minutes, flip. Fry other side for 1-2 minutes. Timing really depends on how big/thick your gnocchi is. Do a taste test - do you taste flour? Not done yet. Serve with a sprinkling of lemon zest, parmesan and parsley.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Make your own Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt is one of my current favorite foods. Lately, I've been eating it almost every day! Yogurt for breakfast, yogurt for lunch, sometimes as a healthy after-dinner dessert... Unfortunately, this habit is tough on the wallet. Fage yogurt, my indulgence of choice, costs a hefty $2 for a single serving (cheaper at Costco!) Considering the amount of yogurt I eat, I thought it'd be a better option to try my hand at making it on my own.

There are a ton of Greek yogurt tutorials out there. I found the process very easy. Here's how I did it:

Greek Yogurt
  • two quarts + 2 tbsp of milk (I like 1%)
  • 2 tbsp of plain yogurt
1. Warm 2 quarts of milk over the stove on medium. Bring just to a simmer and turn off immediately when that point is reached.
2. Pour the milk into a large, non-metal bowl. Cool until lukewarm (~100 degrees F). If a skin forms, remove it.
3. Mix 2 tbsp milk with 2 tbsp yogurt. Pour into the lukewarm milk.
4. Cover the milk with saran wrap. Wrap the bowl with a big towel or blanket. Place in a warm spot- the oven with the pilot light on, oven at 100 degrees, a crockpot on very low, or in my case, near my radiator. You want somewhere that will stay at around 100 degrees for at least 8 hours.
5. Check at 8-12 hours to see if it is set. If you pick up some yogurt with a spoon and the yogurt seems gelatinous and the hole stays pretty clearly defined, then it is probably ready. If not, leave for another hour or two.
6. Line a strainer/colander with paper towels. Put the colander over the bowl that will allow liquids to drain. Pour yogurt into the colander on top of the paper towels. Let it drain in the fridge until it is to the consistency you like (maybe 4 hours). If it gets too dry, just add some of the whey (the watery stuff being drained) back out. Whisk to get rid of lumps.

Once the yogurt is done, there are so many options for serving and eating the yogurt. Yogurt dips are great. In the mornings I eat it with a little honey mixed in. You can also use it in place of sour cream, or as a marinade for meat. The options are endless!

Here is one of my favorites. Greek yogurt parfait!

Greek Yogurt Parfait
  • Greek yogurt
  • strawberries
  • banana
  • sliced almonds
In a glass, layer Greek yogurt, strawberries (I microwave-defrost
frozen ones so they are a little syrupy), sliced bananas, and almonds. Serve.

It's decadent but under 300 calories. Truly amazing.

EDIT: I had to add this (unintentionally) funny Fage commercial to this post ;)

"Plain will never be the same."