Thursday, August 26, 2010

Strozzapreti (Ricotta dumplings)

My sister and I live nearly 2000 miles apart. We usually only see each other once or twice a year, and in the weeks leading up to these visits there is a flurry of email to discuss food. We like to eat out for a couple of meals, and I introduce her to something new (or new to me) in Houston's awesome restaurant scene. And we make sure to visit a local favorite. But, most of the email discussion centers around what we will cook together in the kitchen. We scour our lists of receipes we want to try that are labor-intensive (note to self to update this with a link when I finally get around to blogging more cooking from our visit) or ones that are simply more fun with another pair of hands in the kitchen. Or, something eye-catching that we decide to try together.

The inspiration for this was something I saw while watching Iron Chef America. Though their uber-creative offerings are usually not for the home cook, I was captivated by a ricotta dumpling that was presented as part of one of the courses. A ravioli filling without dough - how perfect! But first, we had to find a recipe and turned to the web. We discovered that not only have plenty of other people made ricotta dumplings out there, but it even has a name - strozzapreti - which litterally means 'priest choker.' Thank goodness for a wikipedia entry and all of the bizarre content it contains. Some recipes referred to these as gnudi. Many contained chopped cooked spinach, but I was set on re-creating some fluffy, white clouds.
We made the ricotta (check out pics from this ziti casserole with fresh ricotta!) and an amazing tomato-onion-butter sauce to nestle them in (do click this link, you won't be sorry!) Who know blending those three simple ingredients could be so awesome? The sauce recipe calls for removing the onion at the end of the cooking process and after putting them aside on a plate, they wound up getting eaten with our fingers before ever reaching the table. I honestly can't remember the exact recipe we used (this is when being a lazy blogger comes back to bite me) so feel free to change things up.

Adapted from Food52

2 cups fresh ricotta (or fresh ricotta made from 1 gallon of milk)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese grated
2 eggs
5 tablespoons flour sifted
black pepper

If using purchased ricotta, drain for 1/2 hour so it looses the excess water.

Lightly beat the 2 eggs. In a bowl add the ricotta, eggs, sifted flour, 2 tablespoons of parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg freshly grated and use a fork to fold the ingredients gently. Taste for seasoning.

Line a tray with parchment paper.

Lightly dust your hands with flour and make little balls 1 inch diameter, using a teaspoon to help measuring the strozzapreti. Put the strozzapreti on the parchment paper as you go along leaving some space in between each. At this point you can refrigerate them until it's time to cook them (or even freeze them.)

In a large pot, bring water with a little salt to a boil and as soon as it reaches boiling point drop a few dumplings at a time. As soon as they float up remove them with a strainer and put in the serving plate where you have put half the hot melted butter. Finish cooking all the dumplings, serve with Hazan's tomato sauce and emaining parmesan cheese.