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Ricotta gnocchi is not a recipe special to my family. Although the dish is eaten in almost all parts of Italy, it is frequently unknown to some people. To me, it recalls sweet memories of my childhood. It takes me back to my summer holidays at my grandparents’ in the mountains of Trentino, a place where I was simply just happy. A bit like Marcel Proust and his beloved Madeleine. These ricotta gnocchi awaken my mémoire involontaire.
Unlike the big city where I was raised, in Trentino they still always use fresh products sourced from local suppliers.
As a child, I loved going shopping with my nonna to buy fresh ricotta in the dairy shop. And then I’d often eat it straight away for breakfast. I’d spread it on bread with a bit of sugar – a great way to start the day.
I rang my nonna a few days ago to ask for her ricotta gnocchi recipe.
A very simple, yet tasty dish. Here’s the ingredients you’ll need, and how to prepare it…
For 2-3 persons:
250 g firm ricotta (alternatively you can use ricotta bought from a supermarket, even if the quality is not quite the same)
100 g wheat flour, type 00 (the kind you use to make pizza). You might have to add a little more flour to produce a dough that is firm, but still elastic
2 tbsp. grana padano cheese
A pinch of salt
Optional: grated truffle
Bring some water to the boil (salted to taste).
While the water heats, put the ricotta, egg, some of the flour, salt and grana padano into a bowl. Knead everything together with your hands to make a dough. If it’s not firm enough, add some more flour.
Once the dough is ready, put it out on a work surface dusted with flour, and roll into medium-sized balls (or any other preferred shape).
Sprinkle some flour on the shaped gnocchi, and immerse them in the water.
Add the butter and sage to a frying pan, and heat until the butter turns brown.
As soon as the gnocchi have risen to the surface of the water, remove them from the water using a skimmer spoon, add to the pan and fry in the sage butter.
Sprinkle with grated truffle or grana padano according to preference.
Our recipe for this Week comes from Austria, and it’s introduced to us here by Jessica May.
I can still clearly remember how my grandma often made apricot dumplings during the holidays. I always found this quite special, and it seemed like grandma’s very own indulgence routine.
Nowadays, apricot dumplings are usually eaten as a dessert. They used to be thought of as a main course, as indeed were the majority of Austria’s other pastry dishes.
Did you know that this one-time luxury dish, which then became part of the menu of ordinary households everywhere, is now protected as part of the nation’s culinary heritage? Unbelievable, but true!
It is one of the traditional dishes to have its recipe kept in a safe in the Austrian National Library in Vienna, so as to preserve it for posterity.
So, here is grandma’s very own indulgence routine:
Preparation time: approx. 30 minutes
Resting time: approx. 1 hour
Cooking/baking time: approx. 30 minutes
Total time: approx. 2 hours
Ingredients for making 5 portions:
500g quark (curds)
100 g butter
250 g flour
1 pinch of salt
some wheat semolina, to bind the dough
This is enough dough to make 10 dumplings.
Knead the curd, eggs, butter and salt into a smooth dough, add approximately 1 – 2 tbsp. semolina, and knead again thoroughly. Chill for about 1 hour to allow the semolina to swell.
Pit the apricots You could use plums instead of apricots, if you prefer.
Shape the dough into a roll, and divide it into 10 equally-sized pieces. The dough can be a little sticky, so always dust your hands with some flour when encasing the fruit in the dough. The dough casing should be about 1 – 2 cm thick depending on the size of the fruit
Steep in slightly salted, gently simmering water for about 20 – 30 minutes (depending on whether you are using fresh or frozen fruit). The dough should rise nicely, and the fruit be soft on the inside.
At the same time, melt some butter in a pan, add the bread crumbs and sugar, and brown slowly over a gentle heat. You can decide how much butter, bread crumbs and sugar to add. It’s all down to your individual taste. Once cooked, drain the dumplings, add to the browned bread crumbs in the pan, coat all over and serve hot. If you like, you can sprinkle them with some icing sugar and cinnamon.
The New Year is just around the corner, so what better time for a very traditional Jiaozi recipe from our Austrian sisters, Qionglin and Yuru WU.
Jiaozi is a well-known dish throughout China. The recipe varies from one region to the next. There are also different folding techniques, and the filling can be prepared according to varying tastes … using vegetables or seafood, for example. The Jiaozi we are showing you here, are made using mixed minced meat, carrots and oxheart cabbage.
Jiaozi is a dish traditionally prepared and eaten together by the whole family at New Year – and that’s how we do it in the WU home, too. Our grandparents and parents, and we the children, all gather round the dining table, and everyone has a part to play:
Papa, head chef of the WU family, prepares the filling, while Mama gets the dough ready. Then, once it’s all ready, Grandma rolls out the dough in the traditional manner, while we siblings fold the Jiaozi into their dumpling shape.
As a family, we all really enjoy it, and it’s a great way to start the New Year together.
for 4 – 6 people
750 g flour (type 450)
2.5 tbsp. salt
400 ml lukewarm water
500 g mixed minced meat
250 g chopped carrots
250 g chopped oxheart cabbage
3 tbsp. soya sauce
1 tbsp. dark soya sauce
1 tbsp. oyster sauce
1 tbsp. salt
2 pinches of pepper
3 pieces of scallions
30 ml of oil
20 g ginger
4 garlic cloves
For the dough, simply mix the flour, salt and water. When you see lumps beginning to form, knead the dough well with your hands. To test if the dough is soft enough, press it with your finger. If it regains its shape without any indent forming, then it is ready. If this is not the case, simply moisten your hands with some water, and continue kneading the dough. Once it has been kneaded, allow the dough to rest for a while. Do this by spreading a cloth or some cling film over the dough to prevent it drying out.
NOTE: The longer the dough remains wrapped in the cling film, the softer it will become, BUT don’t let it get too soft, so keep a close eye on it!
Now, let’s turn to the filling.
Add the carrots and oxheart cabbage to the minced meat, and season everything with the soya sauce, oyster sauce, salt and pepper. Mix the filling well. Now, heat the oil and add the finely chopped garlic and ginger. After 30 seconds, or once you can smell the aromas, mix the garlic and ginger, together with the oil, into the filling.
The filling can be varied according to your own particular preferences. For vegetarians and vegans, we recommend substituting the meat for vegetables with low water content.
Now it’s time to shape our dumplings. Sprinkle some flour onto your work surface, and put about a third of the dough onto the surface. If your work surface is large enough, you can put all of the dough out in one go. Cover the rest of the dough. You need small round discs of dough to make the dumplings. There are two ways of doing this:
The quick method: roll out the dough until it is about 2 mm thick, and cut out the discs using a large circular cookie cutter (approx. 10 cm in diameter).
Traditional method: shape the dough into a roll, and using a knife, cut it into equally-sized pieces about 4 cm long. Using your hand, press down the small lump of dough until it is flat, and roll out into medium-thick discs (approx. 2 mm). The discs should be about 10 cm in diameter. Make sure that the edge is a little thinner than the centre, so that after shaping the dumplings, they have the same thickness all over.
Now for the filling.
Place about 1-2 teaspoons of filling into the centre of the disc of dough, and seal. Take a look at the video to see how to fold the dumplings properly. You’ll soon get the hang of it with a little practice.
Place the sealed dumplings on a tray dusted with some flour, and cover with cling film to stop the dough drying out.
Now you just have to cook the dumplings in boiling water for about 7 to 9 minutes.
Finally, serve with a small bowl of soya sauce. And they’re ready.
As we say in the WU household, 请慢用 [qíng màn yòng] and 新年快乐 [xīn nián kuài lè]!
Christmas is just around the corner and for all of us who enjoy a sweet treat or two, Elisabeth Feulner has just the very thing for those grey, rainy days … streaming Christmas songs while baking yummy cookies. A sure way to get in the Christmas spirit, and you won’t be able to wait for the festive season by the time you’re cutting out these cookies.
The recipe I’m suggesting is one that I’ve been using for a long time now. There are two things going for it. First, you don’t necessarily have to be a baking maestro to make these cookies, and second – and the main thing, of course – they taste truly delicious. Just be sure to reserve enough time, because depending on the size of the biscuits you cut out, it can take a while to spread out each of the layers. I always tend to use relatively small cookie cutters, because I find this makes the cookies taste even better, and it looks like there’s more of them too.
Happy Christmas and happy baking!
150 g flour
40 g sugar
75 g butter
2 egg yolks
1 pinch of salt
100 g marzipan paste
50 g chocolate coating
50 g apricot jam
Combine the flour, sugar, butter, egg yolk and a pinch of salt, and knead into a dough. Roll out thinly and cut out the cookies. Bake in the oven at 200 °C for 5 – 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
Spread some apricot jam on the cookies, and add a piece of marzipan. Then cover with the chocolate coating and decorate with a walnut kernel.
Tip: You can use up the white of the eggs by making some macaroons later on.
I was born and raised in Munich as were my parents and grandparents before me, so, as a veritable child of Munich (or Münchner Kindl as the locals would say) when it comes to relaxing and enjoying some downtime, I’d recommend a convivial breakfast of white sausage.
Who invented the white sausage? There have always been numerous stories surrounding its origins, and they are all there to be read online.
And what is the basis of the old saying: “White sausage must never hear the chimes of the midday bells”? Well, back in the days before refrigeration, if the sausages were not pre-cooked, they would have to be eaten quickly otherwise they would spoil. Today, this rule is no longer applied quite so strictly. The important thing is to make sure you have some sweet mustard and pretzels to hand, and a beer is the perfect drink to accompany the meal.
For me, eating white sausage is also a way of life. Going to a traditional inn, you’ll often find yourself sitting and conversing with strangers at a table, and it’s a nice way to meet with friends, too.
Ingredients per person:
2 to 3 white sausages
1 to 2 pretzels
Boil some water in a saucepan – add salt to the boiling water.
Now place the white sausages in the saucepan and remove pan from the heat. Simply let the sausages cook in the hot water for about 10 minutes – and you’re done.
By the way – some families still retain the tradition of eating white sausage for dinner on Christmas Eve night.
Our fourth recipe comes from Ghana in West Africa and is presented by Theresa Messerer.
You may well be thinking that my name has nothing to do with Africa … but Eric, my partner’s, does. He was born in Togo and grew up in Ghana, and I love his recipes and cuisine.
Fufu is without a doubt the dish that is most typical of West Africa. Fufu is a mash made from warm water and cassava flour that can be served with a variety of sauces. But believe me, mashing fufu to make it nice and smooth and getting just the right balance between water and cassava flour can be hard work without a bit of know-how. I’ve therefore decided to show you a different, but equally delicious dish instead – beans and gari with ripened plantain.
Gari (also spelt “garri”) and beans are pretty much staple foods in West Africa. Gari, obtained from cassava, is used in a wide variety of different ways: fried, boiled, mashed, grated or ground. When my friends ask me what cassava is, I often say that it looks like an African potato. Cassava is also very commonly found and extremely popular in places like Brazil, Mauritius and other parts of Africa.
There must be a thousand variations of this dish and various ways of preparing it and pepping it up with other ingredients.
Here’s my recipe – I hope you enjoy giving it a go too:
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 45–60 minutes
2 cups balck-eyed beans
2 plantains (the riper the better)
500 ml vegetable oil
To taste: gari (cassava semolina)
Black-eyed beans are cooked in the same way as rice, with plenty of water and a little salt. If the water boils away too quickly, simply add some more. A lot of water is needed to ensure that the beans turn out nice and soft. Simmer the beans for a total of 45–60 minutes (+/-) until they are soft.
While the beans are cooking, cut the onions into half rings and fry in plenty of vegetable oil. The onions should swim a bit in the oil, which we will be using again later.
Slice the plantains and fry in the vegetable oil until golden brown. It best to use a little more oil here too, so that the plantains stay nice and moist.
Once everything is sizzling and cooked through, serve.
When serving up, Eric is very particular about the order of things: First the beans. Then drizzle some onion and some of the oil used to fry the onions over the beans. This gives the gari a nice crispy texture. To finish off the dish, place the plantains on top.
Seed crackers are a tasty, healthy snack and are made using a great variety of seed types. What’s more, the chickpea flour version doesn’t even have any carbs! They are the perfect accompaniment to a glass of wine or beer and taste great with salad, cream cheese, guacamole or pesto, or can simply be polished off on their own. Our boss, Monica Nadal, became such a fan that she absolutely had to have the recipe, and thus was born the idea of introducing you to some of our favourite dishes and treats.
At first glance, you could indeed be forgiven for thinking, “Wow! That’s a lot of ingredients!” (available in drugstores and organic food shops, by the way), but although the ingredient list is long, the preparation time is short. You may, however, be faced with one tiny problem: these crackers are so tasty that you’ll have to keep making them, over and over again.
Enjoy the baking, and the nibbling, of course!
For approx. 50 crackers
Preparation time: 15 min.
Baking time: 30 min.
Calories per cracker: approx. 35 kcal
80 g sunflower seeds
15 g pine nuts
80 g chickpea flour (alternatively wholemeal spelt flower)
40 g hemp seeds, hulled
40 g linseeds
10 g chia seeds
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp mild paprika powder
4 tbsp olive oil
Heat oven to 175°C. Cover a baking tray with baking paper. Coarsely chop the sunflower seeds and pine nuts.
Mix the chopped seeds and nuts in a bowl with the chickpea flour, hemp seeds, linseeds, chia seeds, caraway, ¼ tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper, thyme, rosemary and paprika powder. Add the olive oil and 150 ml water and stir into a dough using the beater attachment of your hand mixer.
Pour the dough onto the tray and spread thinly using a tablespoon or spatula. Place the tray in the oven (middle rack) and bake for 10 minutes.
Remove the baking tray from the oven and cut the layer of dough into squares (approx. 5 x 5 cm). Then bake the seed crackers for a further 20 minutes, until crispy.
The next in our series of recipes is one from Tunisia, brought to us by Samah Djebbi.
Back home, Sunday was always “Couscous Day with Tagine” for us. As children we’d always be helping Mama to prepare the food – peeling and chopping the vegetables and such. And you can be sure that we’d always try and pinch some of the fried diced potato … however loud Mama’s indignant protests, it was simply to delicious to resist! I often find myself thinking back on those days, and it’s always with a smile.
Sunday is Couscous Day with Tagine, no question. And it’s a childhood tradition that I carry on with my own family today. Now it’s my two sons who lend me a hand, and they too will happily pilfer some of those scrumptious potato cubes intended for the tagine.
Tagine is a kind of hearty soufflé, which can be served as a side dish or main course with some salad. There are various ways of making it. You can prepare with tuna, minced meat, or mozzarella. The version I’m showing you today is our own personal favourite – tagine with cheese and chicken.
2 chicken breasts
1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley
8 eggs (size M to L)
Salt and pepper
200 g grated cheese, e.g. pizza cheese, Gouda or Emmental
1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic
Oil for frying
Wash the potatoes and chicken, and dice into small cubes. Wash the parsley and chop finely, dice the onion. Fry the diced potatoes in a frying pan with plenty of oil, and allow to drip dry on some kitchen paper. Heat some oil in a saucepan and sauté the onions. Now add the chicken and the crushed cloves of garlic, season well with salt, pepper, coriander and turmeric, and sauté. Add a little water and simmer. Once the chicken is cooked well through (about 15 minutes), add the washed parsley and steam to leave a viscous liquid consistency at the end.
Now whisk the eggs in a bowl, then add all the remaining ingredients (chicken, potatoes and cheese), and mix everything well together. Add a little more seasoning if you like, and pour everything into a greased oven-proof dish.
Bake for around 30 min. in the oven at 180 °C, upper/lower heat on, until golden brown.
Remove from oven, allow to cool, then turn over onto a plate. Cut into pieces of the required size, and serve.