Showing posts with label Tuscan Cuisine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tuscan Cuisine. Show all posts

Friday, August 30, 2013

SUMMER'S GONE: HOLD ON TO THAT HOLIDAY FEELING BY COOKING RICOTTA GNUDI WITH FRESH TOMATO SAUCE - FINI LES VACANCES: FAITES DURER L'ÉTÉ, EN CUISINANT DES GNUDI À LA RICOTTA ET À LA SAUCE TOMATE

Gnudi 3 7 bis
The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color.
- Natalie Babbitt "Tuck Everlasting"

No summer in the winter time
Will keep you warm like a funeral pyre
And nothing like an august night
Drenched in your loving
- Danzig "Dirty Black Summer"
Sticky, static, sultry and stuffy August, oh how I loathe thee! Without respite, your hellish waves of scroching heat wash over us like tsunamis of blistering air. From morning to evening, we suffocate and are drenched in sweat. There is no escape fom this sweltering nightmare and the only thing we can do is accept our fate and curse the heavens above for giving us an unsavory foretaste of the purgatory.

Nonetheless, despite this month's unpleasant promiscuity, a part of me loves this barren, yet exquisite time of the year. Actually, there's something desperately romantic, majestically melancholic, deeply nostalgic and profoundly dramatic about August as it marks summer's last breath and announces the arrival of a new season I intensely cherish.

This is the last stretch before the great god of autumn makes his gloriously thunderous entry in a whirlwind of rusty leaves and fiery hues, thus casting a funereal spell of golden death and marvelous decay wherever he goes.

Thankfully, the torture doesn't last long and once we enter the third part of August, the weather becomes more friendly and imperceptible, yet unmissable signs of fall can be detected everywhere: the mornings get crispier and dawn mist repossesses the land, the sky turns a sharper shade of blue, sunsets are much more crimson than they were a fortnight ago, swallows are ready to leave while flocks of crows noisily reclaim their realm, trees begin to turn colors and mushroom as well as game hunting takes off on a shy note.

Some days in late August at home are like this, the air thin and eager like this, with something in it sad and nostalgic and familiar...
 - William Faulkner "The Sound and the Fury"


The fitful breeze sweeps down the winding lane
With gold and crimson leaves before it flying;
Its gusty laughter has no sound of pain,
But in the lulls it sinks to gentle sighing,
And mourns the Summer’s early broken spell, -
“Farewell, sweet Summer,
Rosy, blooming Summer,
Sweet, farewell!”...
- George Arnold
Of course, for most people, August represents the mournful end of the holidays and the abrupt comeback to reality. Not only does the weather tend to turn grey and cold, and people's tans start to fade, but their spirits and gleefulness too.

Ephemeral traveller, wave fairwell to purposeless fun, butterfly-esque frivolity, childish innocence, futile daydreaming, sunny smiles, gorgeous aimlessness and heathenly decadence for those things belong to the past; from now on, gruesome seriosity, tiresome monotony and mortiferous ennui is all you'll know!

Once the kids go back to school and vacationers metamorphose themselves into operative citizens, obedient robots, fast paced, busy and über-humorless workers again, life returns to "normal" and cheerful face expressions are replaced by crispated scowls, general irritation is once more at it's peak and everybody's rebounding with their boring old routine.

All we have left are our memories. We hang on dearly to those remnants of happier moments, because they help us go through all the gloom and long hauls that await us. They are our very own bubble of oxygen when we so desperately need to breathe and our light in the dark when we loose sight of hope...

Gnudi 6 6 bis
Life is a combination of magic and pasta. 
- Federico Fellini
So, in order to prolong that exhilarating feeling of joy and well-being, I've decided to blog about a traditional Tuscan speciality which is reminiscent of the hotter and leisurely days: "Ricotta Gnudi With Fresh Tomato Sauce".

Gnudi, pronounced "nood-ee" with a silent "g", derives from the dialect of Tuscany. The word "gnudo" (singular form) means "naked" in English. This name refers to simple dumplings that are similar to gnocchi (contrarily to the latter, they contain no potato as this ingredient is replaced by ricotta) and are basically rustic cheese ravioli without the pasta wrapper.

Gnocchi del Casentino (or strangolapreti, strozzapreti, ravioli nudi - other ways of designating this product) might not look pretty or extremely inviting, but their deceptive appearance should not stop you from trying them. Refusing to sample this humble, yet famous fare would be a blasphemy for gnudi are overwhelmingly heavenly and quite addictive. As a matter of fact, once you've tasted those little culinary gems, you won't be able to live without them anymore (it has become a classic at my place).

Made with the ripest of seasonal tomatoes, fragrant olive oil, fresh pink garlic, aromatic lemon zest and Parmesan that exude the south, this comforting and delectable dish brings a ray of Mediterranean sunshine to the table and uplifts your mood within seconds. There's no better cure for post-vacation blues!

Gnudi 4 6 bis
Ricotta Gnudi With Fresh Tomato Sauce
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit magazine.

Serves 2.

Ingredients For The "Fresh Tomato Sauce": 

6 Ripe tomatoes, deseeded and chopped finely
60ml (1/4 Cup) Olive oil
4 Garlic cloves (I used fresh pink garlic), chopped
1 Tsp Tomato paste
1 Tsp Castor sugar
Fine sea salt, to taste
Ingredients For The "Gnudi":
250g (8.8oz - 1 cup + 1 Tbs) Ricotta
1 Large egg, beaten to blend
1/4 Tsp Freshly ground black pepper
The zest of 1 organic lemon
45g (
~ 1/4 Cup + 1 Tbs) finely grated Parmesan (or Grana Padano), plus more
1/4  Tsp Fine sea salt

47g (1/4 Cup + 1 Tbs) All-purpose flour, plus more
Fresh basil, to taste

Method For The "Fresh Tomato Sauce:
1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan, over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, until it is crispy and pale brown, about 2 minutes.
2. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and sugar, then season with a little salt.
3. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently until the sauce is slightly thick and the tomatoes have disintegrated, about 20 minutes.
4. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Gnudi 5 5 bis
Method For The "Gnudi": 
5. In a large bowl, mix the ricotta, egg, pepper, zest, Parmesan and salt until well combined. 6. Add the flour. Stir until just combined and the mixture forms a ball (it will be soft and moist with some bits of ricotta remaining; add more flour by the tablespoonful if it feels too wet).
7. Dust a baking sheet generously with flour.

8. Using 2 large soup spoons, shape the dough into quenelles (football shapes). Place them on the baking sheet and dust with more flour (you should have 16).
9. Cook the gnudi in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until cooked through and tender, 5-6 minutes (the gnudi will quickly float to surface - continue cooking or the gnudi will be gummy in the center).
10. Using a slotted spoon, divide the gnudi among the plates/bowls. Top with the tomato sauce and more Parmesan, plus a little chopped basil.


Remarks:
If you have no fresh tomatoes, then you can use 1 (28 0z) can chopped tomatoes.
You can even replace the tomato sauce with "Sage Brown Butter Sauce".
The sauce can be made 3 days ahead (cover and chill) or frozen for up to 3 months.
For more flavor, I fried my gnudi in a little butter just before plating them.

Serving suggestions:
Serve this dish together with a green salad and some minerally rosé or northern Italian white.

Gnudi 7 14 bis
Gnudi À La Ricotta Et À La Sauce Tomate
Recette adaptée du magazine Bon Appetit. 

Pour 2 personnes. 

Ingrédients Pour La "Sauce Tomate": 
6 Tomates mûres, épépinées et hachées finement 
60ml d'Huile d'olive
4 Gousses d'ail (j'ai utilisé de l'ail frais rose), hachées 
1 CC de Concentré de tomate
1 CC De sucre semoule/cristallisé fin
Sel de mer fin, selon goût 
Ingrédients Pour Les "Gnudi": 
250g de Ricotta fraîche
1 Gros œuf, battu
1/4 de CC de Poivre noir, fraîchement moulu 
Le zeste d'un citron bio 
45g de Parmesan (ou de Grana Padano), râpé finement 
1/4 de CC de Sel de mer fin
47g de Farine blanche
Baslic frais, haché

Méthode Pour La "Sauce Tomate":
1. À feu moyen, chauffer l'huile dans une casserole moyenne. Ajouter l'ail et le faire rôtir pendant environ 2 minutes, tout en remuant régulièrement, jusqu'à ce qu'il soit croustillant et bien doré (brun pâle).
2. Ajouter les tomates hachées, le concentré de tomate et le sucre, puis assaisonner avec un peu de sel. 
3. Porter à ébullition, puis réduire le feu et laisser mijoter doucement pendant environ 20 minutes, jusqu'à ce que la sauce soit onctueuse
4. Goûter et rectifier l'assaisonement.

Gnudi 1 8 bis
Méthode Pour Les "Gnudi": 
5. Mélanger la ricotta, l'œuf, le poivre, le zeste de citron, le parmesan et le sel dans un grand bol et bien mélanger. 
6. Ajouter la farine. Mélanger jusqu'à obtention d'une consistance homogène et molle (ajouter un peu de farine - 1 CS à la fois - si le mélange est trop humide). 
7. Saupoudrez une plaque à pâtisserie généreusement avec de la farine. 
8. À l'aide de 2 grosses cuillères à soupe, former des quenelles. Les placer sur la plaque et les saupoudrer avec un peu de farine supplémentaire (vous devriez en obtenir 16). 
9. Cuire les gnudi dans une grande casserole d'eau bouillante salée pendant 5-6 minutes, en remuant occasionnellement, jusqu'à cuisson complète (les gnudi vont rapidement flotter à la surface - poursuivre la cuisson afin qu'ils soient parfaitement cuits et tendres).
10. À l'aide d'une écumoire sortir les gnudi de l'eau et les répartir dans les assiettes, puis ajouter la sauce tomate et saupoudrer avec un peu parmesan râpé ainsi qu'avec du basilic haché. 

Remarques:
Si vous n'avez pas de tomates fraîches à disposition, alors vous pouvez utiliser 1 boîte de tomates hachées.
Vous pouvez même remplacer la sauce tomate avec du "Beurre Noisette À La Sauge". 
La sauce tomate peut être fabriquée 3 jours à l'avance et conservée au frigo ou congelée (3 mois max.). 
Pour plus de saveur, j'ai légèrement frit mes gnudi dans un peu de beurre - juste avant de les servir.

Suggestion d'accompagnement: 
Servir ce plat avec une salade verte et une bonne bouteille de vin blanc minéral ou rosé pas trop doux (tous deux italiens, de préférence).

Gnudi 2 6 bis
Ricotta Gnudi with Pomodoro Sauce
Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine
ingredients
16 ounces ricotta (about 2 cups)
1 large egg, beaten to blend
1 large egg yolk, beaten to blend
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano plus more
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
1/2 cup all-purpose flour plus more
3 cups homemade Pomodoro Sauce or tomato sauce
Preparation
Mix ricotta, egg, egg yolk, pepper, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and 1/2 teaspoons salt in a large bowl until well combined. Add 1/2 cup flour; stir just until combined and mixture forms a ball (mixture will be soft and moist with some bits of ricotta remaining; add more flour by the tablespoonful if it feels wet).
Dust a rimmed baking sheet generously with flour. Using 2 large soup spoons, shape heaping tablespoonfuls of dough into football shapes; place on baking sheet and dust with more flour (you should have 30).
Cook gnudi in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until cooked through and tender, 5-6 minutes (gnudi will quickly float to surface; continue cooking or gnudi will be gummy in the center).
Using a slotted spoon, divide gnudi among bowls. Top with Quick Pomodoro Sauce and more Parmesan.
- See more at: http://www.celinescuisine.com/italian-food/ricotta-gnudi-with-pomodoro-sauce/#sthash.SyxX18a9.dpuf
Ricotta Gnudi with Pomodoro Sauce
Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine
ingredients
16 ounces ricotta (about 2 cups)
1 large egg, beaten to blend
1 large egg yolk, beaten to blend
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano plus more
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
1/2 cup all-purpose flour plus more
3 cups homemade Pomodoro Sauce or tomato sauce
Preparation
Mix ricotta, egg, egg yolk, pepper, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and 1/2 teaspoons salt in a large bowl until well combined. Add 1/2 cup flour; stir just until combined and mixture forms a ball (mixture will be soft and moist with some bits of ricotta remaining; add more flour by the tablespoonful if it feels wet).
Dust a rimmed baking sheet generously with flour. Using 2 large soup spoons, shape heaping tablespoonfuls of dough into football shapes; place on baking sheet and dust with more flour (you should have 30).
Cook gnudi in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until cooked through and tender, 5-6 minutes (gnudi will quickly float to surface; continue cooking or gnudi will be gummy in the center).
Using a slotted spoon, divide gnudi among bowls. Top with Quick Pomodoro Sauce and more Parmesan.
- See more at: http://www.celinescuisine.com/italian-food/ricotta-gnudi-with-pomodoro-sauce/#sthash.SyxX18a9.dpuf
Ricotta Gnudi with Pomodoro Sauce
Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine
ingredients
16 ounces ricotta (about 2 cups)
1 large egg, beaten to blend
1 large egg yolk, beaten to blend
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano plus more
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
1/2 cup all-purpose flour plus more
3 cups homemade Pomodoro Sauce or tomato sauce
Preparation
Mix ricotta, egg, egg yolk, pepper, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and 1/2 teaspoons salt in a large bowl until well combined. Add 1/2 cup flour; stir just until combined and mixture forms a ball (mixture will be soft and moist with some bits of ricotta remaining; add more flour by the tablespoonful if it feels wet).
Dust a rimmed baking sheet generously with flour. Using 2 large soup spoons, shape heaping tablespoonfuls of dough into football shapes; place on baking sheet and dust with more flour (you should have 30).
Cook gnudi in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until cooked through and tender, 5-6 minutes (gnudi will quickly float to surface; continue cooking or gnudi will be gummy in the center).
Using a slotted spoon, divide gnudi among bowls. Top with Quick Pomodoro Sauce and more Parmesan.
- See more at: http://www.celinescuisine.com/italian-food/ricotta-gnudi-with-pomodoro-sauce/#sthash.SyxX18a9.dpuf
Ricotta Gnudi with Pomodoro Sauce
Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine
ingredients
16 ounces ricotta (about 2 cups)
1 large egg, beaten to blend
1 large egg yolk, beaten to blend
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano plus more
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
1/2 cup all-purpose flour plus more
3 cups homemade Pomodoro Sauce or tomato sauce
Preparation
Mix ricotta, egg, egg yolk, pepper, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and 1/2 teaspoons salt in a large bowl until well combined. Add 1/2 cup flour; stir just until combined and mixture forms a ball (mixture will be soft and moist with some bits of ricotta remaining; add more flour by the tablespoonful if it feels wet).
Dust a rimmed baking sheet generously with flour. Using 2 large soup spoons, shape heaping tablespoonfuls of dough into football shapes; place on baking sheet and dust with more flour (you should have 30).
Cook gnudi in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until cooked through and tender, 5-6 minutes (gnudi will quickly float to surface; continue cooking or gnudi will be gummy in the center).
Using a slotted spoon, divide gnudi among bowls. Top with Quick Pomodoro Sauce and more Parmesan.
- See more at: http://www.celinescuisine.com/italian-food/ricotta-gnudi-with-pomodoro-sauce/#sthash.SyxX18a9.dpuf