This is a very speical day, and not only because it’s Celine’s birthday or because Ricki’s fabulous Sweet Freedom is available tomorrow!
Today The Daring Cooks make their début! I’m genuinely excited to be part of this groovy group of culinary crusaiders, bravely going to new and uncharted foodie-lands. I know this group is going to help me flex my creative muscles in the kitchen, veganizing new foods and old favourites, and if this first challenge is any indication of the fun we’ll be having than I know this is going to be a blast!
I’m sincerely honored to have been named the Daring Alternative “Cookie”, meaning I’m trolling the Alternative forums to try to field questions and help find solutions for my fellow Alternative Daring Cooks. This is really exciting because I know I’m going to have many opportunities to learn so much, and even more importantly, to get to know my fellow Daring Cooks even better.
Tofu Ricotta Gnocchi…can you feel the Yum?
The Inaugural Challenge recipe is the Zuni Ricotta Gnocchi from The Zuni Café Cookbook by Judy Rodgers, and it could not be more fitting that our founding Mothers, the wonderful, the fabulous, the ridiculously underpaid Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice and Lis of La Mia Cucina host this first challenge. I loved them before, but after making this month’s challenge, I love them even more!
This month’s challenge, the Zuni Ricotta Gnocchi, is a blast! (For the recipe go visit Lis – she’s got it up on her blog). It it’s delicious, fun and easy to make, too. Oh, and really easy to veganize! I suggest using everyone’s favourite tofu ricotta recipe, found on the PPK and in Veganomicon. You’ll want to make a few subtle changes, but it’ll work famously. This tofu ricotta recipe will yield about 25 gnocchi, about half of the challenge recipe’s yield.
If you’ve never made this ricotta recipe, I have just a few suggestions 1) add way more garlic because it’s so tame you can’t taste it; 2)add whatever herbs you’d like – you can add more than is called for; 3) make this in advance. I’d suggest 24 hours, to really allow time for the flavours to take hold.
The big change that I made to the ricotta recipe was to add gluten flour to the ricotta once it was all mashed to paste. I used between 1/4 and 1/3 cup gluten, and I let it set a good few hours before forming the gnocchi. It worked like a charm. I had doubts, but it was a slam dunk.
There is one thing to keep in mind – do not follow the main challenge instructions which tell you to be delicate with your ricotta. You need to man-handle the stuff, I mean really, really knead it, and force it into little gnocchi, squeezing tight with your hand. That’s the ticket. I tried to be sweet and gentle with the first few and they came apart in the boiling water. A tight squeeze makes for a solid little gnocchi.
The other cooking directions for the challenge are valid and work with the ricotta. After boiling mine up and flouring them I let them set a good hour, even more, in the fridge before pan-frying them as per the challenge and that seemed to work well. You could let them set longer, too.
I really can’t stress enough how fun and easy this challenge was! I had fun making it, and my family had fun devouring it. Give it a try – it’s worth it!
Would you like to play with your food? Everyone is welcome in The Daring Kitchen! I would especially like to extend this invitation to any vegans and vegetarians out there – this is an excellent opportunity to flex your creative culinary muscles and veganize omni fare. Learning to prepare delicious “omni-friendly” meals is a wonderful talent to develop, and it’s such a relief to have more recipes in your repetoire!
And…be sure to come back tomorrow for a very special interview! Woo…how mysterious and exciting is that!