Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Day as a Gnudist

Gnudi.  Translated into Italian:  nude.  Culinary translation:  a luxurious ricotta filling of a ravioli gone rogue, pasta blouse wantonly shed, a dumpling Lady Godiva.  What it most closely resembles is a potato gnocchi.  But what it brings to the table is a fluffiness and buoyancy, ahem, often missing from it's nightshade counterpart.  And while this is a savory dumpling, I couldn't help but imagine these glorious pillows translated into the sweet language of dessert as well.

Gnudi with marinara

Savory Gnudi

Ingredients

10 ounces sheep's milk ricotta, drained in a bowl lined with paper towels for at least an hour
1/2 cup romano cheese, finely grated
1/2 cup garbanzo/ fava flour (or regular ol' AP flour)


zest 1/4 lemon
pinch salt
1 tablespoon chopped basil
2 eggs

Procedure

Whisk together eggs, basil, salt and lemon zest. Stir in the ricotta and romano until the mixture is smooth. Gently fold the flour into the mixture until fully incorporated. Transfer to a pastry bag fit with a large open pastry tip and refrigerate for at least an hour, preferably 3 hours.


Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and squeeze the pastry bag until about an inch of dough emerges and cut the dough with a knife directly into the boiling water, holding the bag as close to the water as possible to avoid splashing. Squeeze and cut quickly, boiling the gnudi until they pop to the top of the water and boil for at least 8 minutes.  Remove gnudi with a slotted spoon transfer to your dinner plate.


I like a fine coating of homemade marina and a dusting of romano on my gnudi but a lovely brown butter sauce with mushrooms is a lovely way to go.

Sweet Gnudi



For the Gnudi

Ingredients

15 ounces cow's milk ricotta, drained in a bowl lined with paper towels for at least an hour
4 ounces chevre
2 eggs
1 cup pastry flour
1/2 lemon zest
generous pinch salt
1/4 cup maple sugar (not syrup, sugar.  If that's not available, substitute confectioner's sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla powder


Procedure

Whisk together eggs, zest, salt, maple sugar and vanilla powder. Add ricotta and chevre. Whisk the mixture until smooth. If the mixture is lumpy, smoosh through a sieve.

Gently fold in flour until completely incorporated.

Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag fit with a large open tip and refrigerate AT LEAST one hour but preferably several hours.


Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Squeeze the pastry bag until about an inch of dough emerges and cut the dough with a knife directly into the boiling water, holding the bag as close to the water as possible to avoid splashing. Squeeze and cut quickly, boiling the gnudi until they pop to the top of the water and boil for at least four minutes. Transfer to a paper towel and gently pat dry. Continue boiling and transferring the gnudi to paper towels until you've boiled all the dumplings.



For the apples

Ingredients


1 apple, peeled, halved, cored and thinly sliced

1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter
pinch salt
squirt lemon

Procedure

Melt butter, sugar, salt and lemon in a sauce pan. Add apples and saute until the apples are translucent and the caramel thickens. Set aside.


For the caramel sauce


Ingredients

1 1/4 cups sugar
pinch salt
squirt lemon
1/3 cup water

Procedure

Simmer all the ingredients over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely melted.

Increase heat to high, stop stirring and boil the sugar until the caramel turns a light/medium amber. Add the boiled gnudi and sauté until the dumplings are coated and start to brown.



Transfer the sweet little dumplings to a dessert plate and dot the plate with sheer slices of apple.  Add a scoop of mascarpone laced gelato and spend the day as a gnudist.