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Gnocchi with Mascarpone and Lemon

November 3, 2013 Leave a comment
Mascarpone and Lemon Gnocchi

Mascarpone and Lemon Gnocchi

For those in the United States (sans Arizona and Hawaii), today marks the end of Daylight Savings Time.

In the days leading up to today, we’re often reminded to turn back the clock and “enjoy that extra hour of sleep.”

Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel like I get anything extra.  As a matter of fact, I feel like I’m losing out in the deal.

My body decided that (new) 5:30 was a good time to be awake and as a result, I’ll be ready to be in bed by (new) 8:30.  If this holds true, I won’t even be awake to hear the jazz music during “Homeland’s” opening credits.  Sad!

Because of the time change, my stomach wants to eat all meals at its “normal” time so I find myself unnecessarily snacking while I await the real mealtime.  Fun-sized Kit-Kat anyone?

I get that it may light when I arrive at work tomorrow, but what good does that do me when I have to drive  home in the dark?

I understand the reasoning behind it and I’m all for helping our farmers, but somehow the rest of the world seems to manage without changing clocks.

Point being, I’m not getting anything extra here and you’re not either.

So I say, as a nation, lets rally around getting rid of Daylight Savings Time.  If not, I suppose I could move to Hawaii.  Now that would be something extra!

Since you received that extra hour of sleep today, why not take advantage of that energy and make this delicious Gnocchi recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis.  Enjoy!!

Ingredients:

  • 8oz Mascarpone Cheese (at room temperature)
  • 1 Whole Egg + 1 Egg yolk (at room temperature)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Zest of 2 Lemons
  • 1 Cup Parmesan, Grated
  • 1 Teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 Cups All-Purpose Flour (plus additional for forming the gnocchi)
  1. Combine both cheeses, the eggs, lemon zest and salt in a large bowl and mix with an electric hand mixer on medium speed until all ingredients are well incorporated is light and fluffy.  This will take about a minute or two.
  2. Slowly mix in the flour until a dough begins to form.
  3. Once mixed, sprinkle a large sheet pan with flour.
  4. Using 2 kitchen teaspoons, drop 1 teaspoonful-sized ball of dough on to the floured sheet pan.
  5. Repeat until all of the dough is used.
  6. Gently shake the sheet pan to cover each piece with flour.
  7. Then with floured hands, gently shape each piece in to an oval.
  8. Repeat until complete.
  9. At this point the Gnocchi are complete and can be frozen for future use or cooked immediately.

Your uncooked gnocchi should look similar to this:

Finished gnocchi before cooking

Finished gnocchi before cooking

To freeze:  Place entire sheet pan in freeze for approximately 30 minutes.  When gnocchi have hardened, transfer to freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.

To cook immediately:  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  In batches of 6 to 8 pieces of gnocchi, carefully drop in to boiling water.  The gnocchi will float to the surface when they are done (typically 3-4 minutes).  Carefully remove with a slotted spoon and serve with your favorite sauce.

 

The sauce used for the pictured gnocchi is a brown butter and thyme. To make this sauce, simply melt a stick of butter with a teaspoon of salt in a skillet until it begins to brown. Remove from heat and stir in tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves. Pour over cooked gnocchi.

Gnocchi finished with a brown butter and thyme sauce

Gnocchi finished with a brown butter and thyme sauce

Grilled Pizza – Part II

August 20, 2012 5 comments
Grilled Pizza Threeway

Grilled Pizza Threeway

With grilling season winding down for a lot of people I thought I’d do a second installment of grilled pizza just to remind people that you shouldn’t be afraid to try this method.

You can find the instructions, as well as some flavor combinations in my original grilled pizza blog entry here.

Here are my 4 grilled pizza promises:

I promise, if done properly, your dough won’t fall through or stick to the grill grates.
I promise that you will have some pretty darn tasty pizza.
I promise you’ll want to experiment with the endless combinations of toppings.
I promise that you will want to have a pizza party and impress your friends.

Because for some, it will become an addiction, I cannot promise a reserved seat in grilled pizza rehab.

Since grilled pizza is somewhat my latest addiction, I thought I’d give a couple of new combinations a try.  Instead of one large pizza, I (with Darcie, my sous chef for the evening by my side) made 3 mini-pizzas (technically 4 which I’ll explain shortly).

The first one was bacon, spinach, mushrooms, and fresh ricotta.  We’ve done a similar version so what made this stand out was the ricotta.  The crust was brushed lightly with a garlic butter. Not a bad combination at all.

The second pizza had the same crust base (butter/garlic) but was topped with prosciutto, roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, and fresh mozzarella.  The salt of the prosciutto combined with the sweetness of the roasted tomatoes made this my favorite of the samples.

Finally, for the final pizza I made a Reuben pizza.   Basically, the Reuben pizza was exactly like the sandwich, only in pizza format.

Initially when the Reuben pizza came to my mind I thought it would be as simple as copying the sandwich.  However, I was afraid the Thousand Island Dressing as the base would make the pizza too soggy.  So I talked it over with the wife and she agreed but we couldn’t agree on how to improvise.  So we came up with 2 options (his and hers).

Her version had a plain crust with a very light sprinkle of Swiss to act as the glue.  Then a layer of corned-beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and a drizzle of Thousand Island.

My version used a spicy brown mustard as the base.  Then corned-beef, sauerkraut, Swiss and topped with Thousand Island.

Both were very good in their own ways, especially if you like Reuben’s.  Her version was probably closer to a real Reuben while my version was more like a version you’d find in a good New York Deli.

If I did it again, I’d probably use wheat dough and sprinkle in some caraway seeds.

The Reuben Pizza experiment wasn’t perfect but it still wound up being delicious.  Here is “his” version of the Reuben Pizza.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • Basic Dough
  • Brown Mustard (enough to put a thin coat on the crust)
  • 1/2 pound corned-beef, cut in to squares (don’t skimp here — spend a little extra and get the good stuff)
  • Sauerkraut (more or less based on your preference)
  • 1 1/2 cups Swiss cheese, grated
  • Thousand Island Dressing

Follow instructions to make pizza dough and shape in to desired size.

Paint the crust a thin layer of mustard.

Top with corned beef, sauerkraut, and cheese.

When the pizza is finished, drizzle the entire pizza with the Thousand Island Dressing.

Reuben Pizza

Reuben Pizza

 

 

Pasta in Garlic Sauce

August 4, 2012 4 comments
Pasta in Garlic Sauce

Pasta in Garlic Sauce

If you run a food blog, love to cook, or you breath, then chances are you’ve heard of Pinterest.

If you’re unfamiliar, Pinterest is a site where registered users from all over the world “pin” just about anything they think of. Movies, books, fashion, photography, funny quotes, and of course, recipes.  Its an online bulletin board of sorts meant to peak your interest and inspire.

When I first heard of Pinterest I wasn’t sure what to make of it.  But then I started looking over my wife’s shoulder as she browsed the site.  Seeing all of the magnificent looking desserts she viewed, I decided to give it a whirl on my own.

I’m glad I did.

I mainly review the food and drink “pins” and I’ve been incredibly inspired by so many talented food bloggers that I discovered.  The blogs I found through Pinterest have given me tons of recipes of to try.  Pinterest may have even been the final piece of motivation I needed to start my own blog.

Most recipe “pins” are unique, but sometimes there will be one or two “pins” that keep showing up over and over again.  These recurring “pins” are known as a ‘repin’ and serves as a measure of popularity.

Such is the case with the recipe I’m about to share. I’ve seen this recipe pinned so many times that it was virtually impossible for me not to want to give it a try.

Pinned as “Spaghetti in Garlic Gravy with Herbs and Lemon Marinated Chicken and Cherry Tomatoes”, this recipe is a refreshing summer pasta dish that makes excellent use of fresh cherry tomatoes that are cropping up in backyard gardens all over the country.

I thought the name was too long, plus I omitted the chicken, so I simply call it Pasta in Garlic Sauce.  Enjoy!

Adapted from Godess of Scrumptiousness Blog

Ingredients:

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (box) pasta
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes

Cook pasta according to package.

Meanwhile, over medium heat, melt butter and olive oil.

Add garlic and saute approximately 1-2 minutes or until garlic is soft.

Add flour and stir.  Cook for approximately 1 minute.

Another Roux

The start of another roux: a recurring theme on my blog

Add chicken stock and simmer until thick.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add basil and drained pasta. Stir to combine.

Add tomatoes and cheese and gently toss.

Plate the dish and top with a small sprinkle of basil and a bit more cheese.

Summer Pasta

This is summer

Lower-Cal Alfredo

July 28, 2012 Leave a comment
Alfredo Main

Lower-Cal Alfredo

Years ago I went to a restaurant and and was looking over the menu. Unsure of what I wanted, I focused in on the Fettuccine Alfredo.

Pasta. Cream. Butter. Parmesan.  Sounded good to me.

The dish came, and it looked heavenly.  The pasta smelled wonderful and tasted equally as good.

The portion was decent but wasn’t huge, so I tackled the whole plate.

About an hour later things weren’t so good.  I felt like I ate a bag of cement.  It just sat there, filling my gut.  I was miserable.

A few days later I came across an article entitled “Worst Foods to Order When Dining Out”.  What do you think topped the list?  The article stated that Fettuccine Alfredo has more saturated fat than a whole pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby.  YIKES!

After reading the article, this chubby hubby vowed never again to eat the gut-busting, artery clogging dish.

That is, of course, until one morning I was watching (yep, you guessed it) Food Network.  The show was “Healthy Appetite” with Ellie Krieger.  She made a version of Low-cal Fettuccine Alfredo that, if it tasted as good as it looked, would get me back in the Alfredo eating game.  One-third the calories and fat, I couldn’t wait to give it a try.

Thank you over-priced cable television.

I modified her recipe slightly by adding more cream cheese and less Parmesan and omitting parsley in the dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 Clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 Teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 Cup 2% milk
  • Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 4 Ounces low-fat cream cheese (1/2 block)
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Box spaghetti noodles (or any noodle you prefer  – or even homemade)

Cook pasta according to directions.

Meanwhile, over medium heat melt the butter.  Add the garlic and lemon zest and cook for about 1 minute.

Alfredo Step 1

Melting butter with garlic and lemon zest

Stir in the flour to make a roux. Stir for about 1 minute.

Alfredo Step 2

Don’t be afraid to make a roux

Whisk in the milk, salt, pepper and cook, stirring constantly….

Alfredo Step 3

1% milk could probably work, but skim won’t

….until the liquid coats the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes.

Alfredo Step 4

Thick enough

Add in the cream cheese and Parmesan and stir until melted.  Lower heat.

Alfredo Step 5

Parmesan screams Italian, right?

Drain pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water.

Add pasta, along with half-cup of the pasta water to the cheese sauce and gently toss to combine.  If the mix appears too thick, add more pasta water at little at a time.

Alfredo Step 6

My favorite kitchen tongs that I use for almost every meal

Add to serving plate and top with another small sprinkle of Parmesan and top with parsley, oregano, or a combination of Italian spices.  Enjoy!

Alfredo Final

Bellissimo!

 

Kicked-Up Mac-n-Cheese

June 24, 2012 Leave a comment
Mac and Cheese

Kicked Up Mac n’ Cheese

Before I dive in to my latest recipe, you may have noticed a change to the look of my blog.  There was something about the old format that I didn’t like.  Perhaps, its just my a.d.d. kicking in.  Either way, I think I like this theme better and I’m going to stick with it….for now.

Growing up I had my fair share of macaroni and cheese.  More often than not, it was the blue-box variety.  I’m not opposed to the orange powdery concoction, and on occasion I even crave it .  But most of the time I make it homemade.  While its bad for you no matter how you spin it, homemade has to be better than the chemicals out of the box.  Not to mention, I think it can be made from scratch in almost the same amount of time as the boxed kind (providing you don’t bake it)

When I make it homemade, I like to experiment with all sorts of cheeses.  If I have leftover cheese from a get together, in the melting pot they go.  Although I like to experiment, I typically stick to cheeses that melt easily. For me, Gouda, Fontina, and Cheddar work best.

For my latest attempt of this cheesy family favorite casserole, I  decided to bring some heat to the party by using pepper-jack.  I combined that with some bacon and diced jalapeno, for my kicked-up Mac-n-Cheese.

I think this recipe is a nice flavor and isn’t too spicy, but my step-son, who obviously likes it spicier wanted more heat.  That being said, this recipe is a guideline.  Feel free to use as much (or as little) spice as your (or your kids) heart desires.

Ingredients:

Bacon? Jalepeno?? Cheese???

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups of whole milk, brought to room temperature
  • 5 slices of thick cut bacon, cut in to pieces
  • 1 box of elbow noodles
  • 8 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • 8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
  •  1/2 of one jalepeno, diced, seeds and membrane removed (or kept intact for more heat)
  • 1 pinch of nutmeg

Cook bacon until crisp, drain on paper towel and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 and boil noodles according to directions.  Drain and add to a casserole dish.

Meanwhile, in a medium size pot, melt butter over medium low heat, add flour.  Stir and cook approximately 2 minutes (to make a roux).

Making a roux

Making the roux

Next, add milk and stir until warm and incorporated with the roux.

Add half of the cheese, stir until melted.

Add bacon and jalapeno, stir.

Add remaining cheese, except 1/4 cup and stir.

Step 2

All of the goodness mixed together

Once all the cheese is melted, add nutmeg and stir.

Pour over noodles and top with the remaining cheese.

Step 5

Ready to bake

Bake, uncovered 30 minutes or until top cheese is golden and bubbly.

Main

There’s bacon in there!

Pasta Carbonara

May 13, 2012 Leave a comment
Pasta Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara

I love pasta.  Who doesn’t?  Linguinie, fettuccine , rigatoni, ziti, and just about any other kind you can think of is okay by me.   While I love a good red sauce, sometimes I want to break out of the norm.    Carbonara is a nice choice when you’re feeling Italian but don’t want your mother’s hand me down sauce recipe to top it.  Plus, it has bacon!

I mentioned that my mom was a great Italian cook, but interestingly she never once (or at least I can’t recall) made this dish.  Considering how tasty, easy and authentically Italian it is, I’m actually quite surprised.  Then again maybe I shouldn’t be surprised considering I only recently made this for the first time.  Regardless, my family loved it, I loved it, and hopefully you’ll give it a try and you too will love it.  Did I mention it has bacon?

Ingredients:

Ingredients

Ingredients

1 pound spaghetti noodles
1/4 pound slab of Pancetta (Italian Bacon) – cut in to cubes or small dice (you can use regular thick cut bacon)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced (or more depending on taste – not pictured)
3 eggs (beaten)
1/2 cup grated parmigiana-reggiano cheese (or Pecorino or Parmesan — just please don’t use the green can)

Cook spaghetti noodles (don’t drain)

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, begin to cook the diced pancetta, when browned, stir in garlic.  When pasta is cooked, remove directly from the water (using tongs or a pasta spoon) and add directly to the pan of pancetta.  (Don’t dump the pasta and all of the water)

Add in 1 or 2 ladles of pasta water, stir to combine.

Add 3 eggs and cheese, stir with tongs for 1-2 minutes.  The heat from the pasta and pancetta mixture will cook the eggs, but will not scramble them.

Serve with a sprinkle of cheese.

This is one of those recipes where it is okay to add a little more (or less) without detracting any significant flavor.  Jazz it up to your liking.

Enjoy!!