Friday, December 4, 2009
The New York restaurant Kefi is one of those places that's my idea of a good place to eat. Casual, perhaps a bit too loud (ok, so that part isn't so ideal), with inexpensive, moderate portions that are very, very tasty. Perhaps the most delicious dish I have had there is the small, warm bowl of sheep's milk dumplings, tomatoes, pine nuts, and spicy lamb sausage. So you can imagine my delight when I saw that blogger Peter Minakis put up a recipe for ricotta dumplings. It is based on the recipe Michael Psilakis, the chef of Kefi, features in his new book How to Roast a Lamb: New Greek Classic Cooking.
I was so excited by the prospect of eating those dumplings again, that despite a recent series of culinary (and other) disasters, I decided to try my hand at making a batch. To my surprise -- and I should mention that where pastries and pastas are concerned, I am both inexperienced and untalented -- the dumplings were easy to make. There was also something luscious about rolling such soft dough. It takes a gentler hand, and cutting the soft little pillows that will become dumplings brings back some of the childhood pleasure associated with playdoh.
Here is the dough being mixed:
And later, in pieces, as I roll it out:
There was one small disaster. I intended to follow Minakis' recipe, but the supermarket I was in had only fresh chorizo. I had no idea what this substance was, but it was formed into a sausage shape, so I figured I could fry it and then cut it and fry it again to make it crispy. Unfortunately, I wasn't paying enough attention, and didn't realize that this soft, squishy chorizo flesh had its shape from a plastic casing. Plastic. Now imagine that meeting a hot cast iron pan, and you have an idea of my last few weeks.
So I decided instead to use the mushrooms, spinach, and fresh sage suggested by Minakis, and the sundried tomatoes and toasted pine nuts used by Psilakis. I also added my own touch, a bit of soft Egyptian feta that melted all over the dumplings. The melted feta doesn't look particularly photogenic, but it sure is tasty.
In the end, the dish was lovely, warm and comforting. The dumplings weren't as soft as those I had at Kefi, but I think a lighter hand with the flour will solve that problem. It would also be nice to try them with sheep's milk ricotta, but the cow's milk version was tasty enough. The key, as far as I see it, is to have the sundried tomatoes. The ones I was using had a sharp tang to them that kept the dish from being too rich. I'm also quite happy to have made a triple portion, since I now have several potential ricotta dumpling meals in my freezer.