{dc} Vegan Zuni Ricotta Gnocchi

Vegan Ricotta Gnocchi2

The Daring Kitchen is composed of two groups: The Daring Bakers, which has been baking monthly since 2006, and The Daring Cooks, which has been cooking monthly since, well, now. This is the very first Daring Cook challenge. We were challenged to make Ricotta Gnocchi from The Zuni Café Cookbook. Needing no excuse to buy a cookbook, I ran out and bought it.

When I first read the challenge, I planned on making the traditional recipe. I went back and forth about making my own ricotta. The recipe strongly encourages you to use fresh ricotta and we have store here that sells great in-store made fresh ricotta.  I finally decided I was going to make my own ricotta.

But then I looked at the calendar and realized I procrastinated too long and I would have to make this on my one weekend day left: Sunday. It’s hard for me to cook during the week with work and having to get up early.  Because I was going to have to make this on Sunday, I decided to make it vegan. You see, I eat vegan 3 days a week on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.  I wasn’t going to make the gnocchi and not be able to taste it until the next day.

In reading The Alternative Cooks’ Forum, Shelly from  Musings From The Fishbowl posted that she made the recipe vegan by using the Tofu Ricotta recipe from Veganomicon. Score! I use that cookbook all the time. She already made gnocchi using the tofu ricotta and suggested we add between 1/4 and 1/3 cup of flour to help the gnocchi stay intact and that we don’t have to treat the gnocchi as delicate as suggested in the original recipe.

vegan ricotta cheese2

Yay! So I made my own vegan ricotta. You can find the recipe HERE. The recipe calls for basil. I didn’t have any, so I used lemon zest. The ricotta came together quickly and easily and I wrapped it up tightly in cheesecloth and set it in the refrigerator to drain.

Vegan Ricotta

Earlier in the week Isa Chandra Moskowitz, the author of Veganomicon and other great vegan cookbooks, tweeted (follow her on Twitter @IsaChandra) that she was free for the next 3 hours and shoot her any cooking questions.

pinkstripes@IsaChandra Okay…cool. I bought fava beans for the first time. What’s the best way to prepare/cook them?

IsaChandra: @pinkstripes Yum. Love them sauteed with creminis & garlic. Hit with truffle oil or salt at the end if you’ve got it.

Vegan Ricotta Gnocchi

So that’s what I did. I sautéed the fava beans with cremini mushrooms and garalic, added the boiled gnocchi (which held together marvously),  plated it on top of mâche, and drizzled truffle oil over all of it. OMG. I’m heaven. It may not look like much in my pictures but this was really too good.

Thank you to both Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice, the founders of The Daring Bakers and now The Daring Cooks, for selecting the first challenge. I loved making the gnocchi. It was fun! Please see either of their blogs for the original recipe.

Vegan Ricotta Gnocchi3


{db} “cheese”cake

It’s time for a Daring Bakers challenge again!

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

Raw Vegan Cheesecake

When I first read the challenge, I knew I wanted to make a vegan cheesecake. I’ve been dabbling in vegan baking and cooking and I’ve made traditional cheesecakes in the past. I decided to challenge myself by baking a vegan cheesecake. I read the Alternative Baker’s Forum at The Daring Kitchen and researched different recipes. I then found one for a RAW vegan cheesecake at Vegetarian Times. I’ve never made a raw dessert either, well, except fruit.

So, I made a Raw Cashew Cheesecake. The recipe uses raw macadamia nuts and dates for the crust and raw cashews, raw agave nectar, coconut oil, & lime juice for the filling. The result was a suprisingly light-tasting and refreshing dessert.

However, because of all the nuts and coconut oil it is not a low-calorie or low-fat dessert. One slice, like the one pictured, has 360 calories and 30 grams of fat.

You can find the recipe for it HERE.

Raw Vegan Cheesecake

Asparagus, Fingerling Potato, and Goat Cheese Pizza


I’m slowly making my way through  Daring Bakers challenges that occurred prior to me joining the group.  For October 2008, the host challenged the group to make Pizza Napoletana from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Bakers Apprentice.

This challenge called my name–I have the book and I love making from scratch pizza. One part of the challenge was to perform the authentic pizza dough toss. I did attempt it and the results were disastrous. One reason (and rather than my own inadequacies) my performance was sub par could have been that I reduced the size of the pizzas from 6 ounce to 4 ounce.

To top the pizza, I used a recipe I found in the May (already???) 2009 issue of Bon Appetit for Asparagus, Fingerling Potato, and Goat Cheese Pizza. In addition to goat cheese, the pizza is also topped with mozzarella and Parmesan.

The pizza was wonderful. The crust was thin and crunchy and flavorful, due to the delayed fermentation. Unlike most other pizza dough recipes that can be thrown together at the last minute, this one requires an overnight in the refrigerator. The toppings were great. I’ve never had potato on a pizza before and I had been wanting to try it. I loved it. I’m definitely adding it to my topping rotation. And goat cheese–enough said. 😛

You can find the recipe for the pizza dough  HERE at Rosa’s Yummy Yums, the host of the October 2008 Daring Bakers Challenge.

The recipe for topping the  pizza is  HERE.


{DB} Lasagne Verdi al Forno (Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna)

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge


This was a fun Daring Bakers‘ challenge. I’ve never made pasta before and don’t own a pasta roller. I debated about buying one, but decided against it. Because I rolled and stretched the dough by hand, I decided to mix and knead using my stand mixer. Hey, I’m lazy! I had to add an extra egg to make the dough moist enough, but other than that kneading it was a breeze.

fresh spinach lasagne

I made half the dough into short lasagne to fit my short baking pan. I made the other half into tagliatelle (or is it pappardelle?) because I wanted to roll it up and slice it and pick it up with my fingers  like I’ve seen so many TV chefs do (I’m picturing Jaime Oliver here, yum).

Fresh spinach pasta

I hung the pasta up to dry using chopsticks and my fruit basket. My husband walked into the kitchen and got scared for a bit. He thought I was going crazy and setting something up like a weird horror-movie Children of the Corn type sculpture. After I explained what I was doing he calmed down.

pasta drying

I made the béchemel sauce as directed. Instead of the meat ragu, I made Salsa di Pomodoro Invernale the vegetarian Winter Tomato Sauce from The Splendid Table to which I added a package of Trader Joe’s dried wild mushroom mix.  What was great about this is that I was able to spread out the making of all the parts over a few days so assembling and baking the lasagne was a breeze.


The lasagne baked beautifully and the béchemel sauce smelled wonderful with a hint of nutmeg. Individually, all the components were tasty. We’re having it for dinner tonight. I can’t wait!

{DB} Flourless Chocolate Cake and Coffee Ice Cream

The Daring Bakers challenge for this month is a flourless chocolate cake and ice cream.

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE’s blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.
We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge. You can find the recipes on their blogs.


Although the hosts suggested vanilla ice cream, we had the option of making any flavor. I’ve made vanilla ice cream countless times, so I decided to make Coffee Ice Cream {and yes, I used it in this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie selection too 😛 }.  The ice cream recipe comes from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop and you can find it here.

For me, the star was the ice cream. The texture and taste were perfect. As for the cake, I didn’t like the texture. It was too soft and light. As for taste, I felt it was missing something. Maybe salt? I halved the recipe and used Guittard semi-sweet chocolate.