RICOTTA CHEESE DUMPLINGS
Recipe from Berthe Bart
This is another "international" dumpling. The Italians call theirs gnocchi. They make them (most often) with potato flour; these are made with white cheese and semolina flour, making them more nutritious and substantial.
They are a delicious "poor people's food", the balls of dough transformed by being boiled in water into light and airy little vehicles to showcase your sauces.
If you've never done it, it's incredibly satisfying to watch the dumplings bob up to the top of your pot. This dish is mostly about texture, their taste is quite bland - good, but bland - it's the marriage with the sauces that makes these little critters shine. Most sauces are savoury - tomato, mushroom, truffles - but they are also delicious if eaten sweet. And somehow both versions are intensely comforting
- 500 g full fat ricotta cheese or farm cheese
- 3 eggs
- 200 g semolina
- 50 g butter
- 2 litres boiling water
- salt for water
1. To make your life easier, put the cheese through a potato ricer or a sieve to soften and mix it up (especially if you are using farm cheese.) Then mix first four ingredients and shape into small balls, about 5 cm, roughly the size of ping pong balls. .
Refrigerate, covered, for a couple of hours. You can also leave them overnight.
Boil a pot full of water. It should be large enough to hold them comfortably. Add salt. When the water comes to a rolling boil, drop the dumplings in. They are ready when they rise to the surface after 3- 5 minutes.
In Poland, where Berthe is from, these dumplings were most often a savoury dish, served with butter and salt, or mushrooms fried with garlic. They are also great with any pasta sauce you happen to have on hand. Berthe's grand-daughter likes them plain while her grandson loves them with mushrooms.
Across the border in Hungary, the dumplings are also served for dessert.
They are sprinkled with sugar, cinnamon, and breadcrumbs fried in butter. (250 g breadcrumbs fried till crunchy in 100 g butter)
That's how they're served in the home of one of our Food is Love grandmothers, Agi Adler, who was born in Budapest.
As a desert, it's not overly sweet, since the dumplings themselves are not sweetened, but it is crunchy, sugary, spicy and simply delicious. For added indulgence, a dollop of sour cream completes the experience. Agi Adler concedes that even not very sweet Hungarian desserts are rich!