A houseful of guinea pigs

March 5, 2011

I love having kids. You can experiment on ’em.

Dinner tonight included three things I was making for the first time, and one I just kinda winged it on the recipe. I heard no complaints.

Any dinner that begins with short ribs is well on the way to being good...

We have had short ribs in tomato ragu with lots of paprika; ricotta gnocchi; and carrot croquettes with yogurt. And macaroni and cheese for son-in-law. And then we had ricotta fritters with Mexican chocolate sauce. And apple crisp with creme fraiche.

That was after the chicken and shrimp enchiladas for lunch.It is marginally possible they may be sorry to see me go.

The homemade ricotta I brought up here with me finally got put to good use. I had found a Food 52 recipe for ricotta fritters, and thought that was worth trying. That did away with about a third of what I had. So I turned to the trusty interwebs, found a recipe, and made ricotta gnocchi.

The ricotta fritters needed help. The recipe called for baking powder. One of the consequences of cooking in the kitchen of a gluten-free daughter is there ain’t no baking powder. So I went without it; consequently the fritters were a bit leaden. She also didn’t have oranges, to zest, or cloves, so I went without that, too. And they called for salt, and I had just used the last of same. And consequently, they were a bit bland.

But they assuredly hold promise. To make — take a cup of ricotta, a half-cup of flour (I used gluten free); a quarter-cup sugar, two beaten eggs, a pinch of cloves, some orange zest if you have it. Squish all that up together. The only way I see to do it is with your hands; I could do it with Miz Scarlett, but she ain’t up here. Refrigerate that for an hour or four.

 Meanwhile, make you some Mexican chocolate sauce, thusly:

  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate, grated or chopped
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Combine the chcolate and cream in a small, heavy saucepan and put over low heat, stirring occasionally, until chocolate melts. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla, cinnamon and cayenne. Keep warm until time to serve.

It’s astounding what cayenne does to chocolate. It’s marvelous.

Word of warning. When you go to fry these fritters, go toward the low side of medium high. They’ll burn on you in a heartbeat.With some baking powder, and the appropriate aromatics, these would be kickass. As it is, the chocolate is in Sweet Baby Jesus territory.Gnocchi. I’m kinda proud. It was pretty good!

While we’re on the ricotta subject, this gnocchi was pretty impressive for a first attempt. I’ll season it a bit next time out. Roughly, this was:

  • 2 cups ricotta (mine, being the homemade variety, was significantly drier and firmer than the grocery variety)
  • approx. 1 cup flour (I used gluten-free, for Child B)
  • 1/2 cup grated hard cheese of your choice (I used Gran Queso, because it was what I had, and I’ll double the amount next time)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted

Moosh it all together with your hands, adding flour as needed to make it the consistency of thick sugar cookie dough. Pinch off teaspoon=sized lumps, and roll into balls. Use your fingertip or a knuckle to make an indention in each. Chill until ready to cook. To cook, bring a big pot of water to a boil, and drop in gnocchi, not crowding the pot. They’ll sink. Once they rise back to the top of the water, cook for four minutes, then lift out with a slotted spoon.

They were good with the tomato ragu from the short ribs. Would be awesome with some pesto or some marinara sauce. That’s on my next weekend kitchen adventure.

The carrot croquettes were an as-close-as-I-can-get to a Food 52 recipe. Boil or steam the carrots until they’re nice and tender. Drain and mash them. Add a couple tablespoonsful of Greek yogurt, and healthy portions of coriander, cumin, chopped cilantro, and minced green onions, with panko bread crumbs to make it a decent doughy consistency. Pat out into patties, dredge in panko, and fry in hot-hot-hot oil until crispy.

And here’s the tip-o-the-week for those of you who are cooking gluten free. Crushed Rice Krispies make a phenomenal sub for panko. Seriously. I’m just sayin’.

And with that, I’m bidding you and y’mama ‘n ’em a good evening, because my granddaughter is about through with her dinner, and I need to get my last evening’s snuggle in before I have to leave here tomorrow. Y’all enjoy. 



One Response to “A houseful of guinea pigs”

  1. Kath the Cook Says:

    Congrats on the new grandbaby! Looking thru your older posts – what does PJF stand for? Do they have a web site? thinking about trying to make duck confit and need some duck. Also found a reply from you from one of my old comments. here’s the link to my orange cake that you were interested in. best – Kath the Cook


    Thanks for the link, Kath…will have to try that. PJF is Petit Jean Farms — local organic farmer/rancher, doesn’t ship out, sells from Russellville to Little Rock, Conway to Hot Springs, so just regionally. Your best bet for duck sourcing is D’Artagnan (www.dartagnan.com). Let me hear how the confit turns out!

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