Monday, 24 August 2009

Daring Cooks' challenge - Gnocchi de mató

Since I've signed up for the Daring Cooks' challenge, I thought it might be a good idea to practise with previous recipes. So to start off slowly without trying anything too complicated, I opted for May's recipe - Ricotta Gnocchi.

First problem, source Ricotta. When checking out what exactly Ricotta was made from, to my delight I discovered that it was just the Italian version of requesón or mató as it is known here in Catalunya. Mató (known as brossat in Tortosa and a main ingredient for passissets - more about them later) is a main ingredient here, used much like ricotta in both sweet and savoury dishes. Grand, main ingredient easy to find and the other ingredients are more everyday stuff (eggs, flour).

As instructed, I strained it overnight in the fridge (mató tends to be quite liquidy) and proceeded to make the gnocchi. They turned out to be easier than I thought in making.. Didn't even fall apart on my first attempt!

I decided to go with the basic recipe - just a dash of nutmeg and plenty of parmigiano. The trick is to handle them as little as possible to ensure a fluffy filling that is quite different to the more common gnocchi de patate but still as deceptively filling.
According to my official taster (E), they passed the test although he suggested the next time they should 'accompany' something else (i.e. I'm still hungry) and that I should try a wild mushroom sauce made with ceps (porcini). So I guess, round one passed. Will I make them again? Probably - they were a lot easier to make than I thought - the most time consuming moment, forming the gnocchi (trying not to make them too big nor too small) but I definitely think I'll try E's suggestion in the Autumn (when there's fresh ceps around).

Thursday, 20 August 2009

The Daring Kitchen

Have been toying with the idea of joining the Daring Kitchen's baker's challenge for quite a while but have been put off since my oven does all or nothing (so I discovered one Christmas when trying to make my first Christmas fruitcake - Crispily black on top and gooely, uncooked mixture inside - lovely!). Why do things by half? It can just about cope with a pizza although it complains every so often, overheating its electric circuit and shutting completely off while giving a *lovely* aroma of burnt plastic. It's on the books for a change, but it's a matter of E and I seeing eye to eye about roller-drawer or hinged oven doors, and changing the hob as well (E wants vitro, I love gas) so I think it's going to be a while before we change it.. Anyway, so I reckoned that the world was not ready for my experiments as a baker (I don't think E was either as he openly discourages me from baking cakes etc!).
Thankfully I've found another challenge to keep me occupied that doesn't necessarily require an oven. Here's hoping that I can encourage E to help out since he likes me blogging and the like. He's an extremely good cook. I suppose it's his training (he did a degree in hotel management which included stints in the kitchen) but he's more a case of open-the-fridge-and-see-what-I've-got-to-make-dinner type of chef, not a fan of following recipes at all.. So it's going to be a push to get him to stick to the text. Don't you just love a challenge?

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Food for thought

Found an interesting article in the Guardian entitled Everyone's a Critic which discusses the idea of educating kids' palates. It talks about a trip with a crowd of two-year old's to Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck..
Wow, Imagine feeding green tea and lime foam to a two-year old! - Would have liked to be in their shoes!

P.D. Was discussing the whole idea with E afterwards, and he came up with a very good point.. For kids, every taste is new to them, so in some ways the finer qualities of foie or oysters would be lost on them until they have sufficiently developed their palate to know what they do and don't like. He has a point; especially when we think that there's many adults out there that haven't developed their palate either, turning their nose up at a lot of things without really trying them

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