Jan 27, 2010

I think I can, I think I can...

... and so can you!

Had dinner with a friend last week at one of our favorite spots and we ordered a gnocchi dish that was out of this world. Since I was still thinking about it a week later, I decided to try it at home. It's so easy!

I had a giant sweet potato so that’s what I used – but these would be great with a regular old russet too.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi in Brown Butter
Serves 3-4

What you need:
1 large sweet potato
1 cup all purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 egg
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
salt & pepper to taste
3 TB butter

How you make it:
Poke the sweet potato all over with a fork and bake at 400 degrees until it’s completely cooked and soft all the way through. Scoop out all the flesh and set aside to cool for a few minutes.

Combine the sweet potato flesh with the remaining ingredients. You can certainly use a food mill or do it by hand, but I used the food processor to mix everything together into a smooth dough. Coat your hands and the counter in flour and working in thirds, roll the dough into a long log. Cut into pieces the size of a quarter and roll them loosely between your palms into a rounded oval shape. You’ll need to keep flouring your hands to keep everything from sticking. Gently roll the pieces off the back of a fork to give them the characteristic gnocchi look and repeat with the remaining dough.

Heat the butter in a wide frying pan over a medium flame until it bubbles and begins to brown. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and gently drop the gnocchi one at a time into the pot. They’ll float to the surface when they’re ready – just scoop them out with a slotted spoon and transfer them to the hot butter pan. Sauté for a few minutes, turning occasionally, until the gnocchi are slightly browned. Taste to see if they need a sprinkle of salt (mine did!) or parmesan and serve immediately.

At the restaurant, the parmesan gnocchi were served in a roasted acorn squash “bowl” that was delicious. I also roasted some acorn squash halves, and they were good, but the gnocchi is the real star of the show. 

Jan 19, 2010

On a more positive note...

Go to Emersonmade's site. Order a too-cute valentine for your fella or maybe some of her adorable little flower pins for your best gal pal. Seriously, go now before they're all sold out. You'll thank me.

Jan 13, 2010

An Open Letter...

Hello all the single ladies! Don't you just wish you could send something like this every once in awhile??

Dear Mr. Right Now,

You’re charming, intelligent and funny. We seem to share a pretty long list of stuff we like. And kissing you doesn’t suck.

I think it would be nice to have somebody to go to the movies with. Grab dinner with. And yeah, I’d like to schedule some more couch time, but let’s be clear: I’m not booking the synagogue and searching for a white dress yet.

So on our second date when, mid-smooch, you felt like you needed to tell me you aren’t ready for a serious relationship and then you subsequently fell off the face of the earth… what the hell was that?

I have a great job. I’m smart. I read. I prefer single malt scotch or a cold beer to fruity cocktails or chilled Chardonnay. I cook. Pretty damn well actually. I can recite every line of dialogue from Top Gun and Navy Seals. I’m not hard to look at and I have great hair. My dog is cool. I believe in the importance of man caves and ‘Boys’ Night Out’. I don’t need you to clean up my yard, my gutters or take out my trash. I’m debt, disease and baggage-free. In short – I’m a catch. And, casually or not, you’d be lucky to have me.

You’re a cool dude and I’d like to hang out again. If I promise I’m not going to fall in love with you, maybe we can grab a pizza sometime.

Take care, 
The Single Gal

Jan 10, 2010

Where the hell have you been?

Oh wait, that’s your line, isn’t it?

Gosh, the new year just rolled in over me like a ton of bricks. Long days at work followed by catch-up dinners with friends and topped off with a Southern Blizzard – a quarter inch of snow that fell late last week and brought the city to a screeching halt. There’s nothing like the threat of winter weather to send everyone running for the grocery store in a complete panic. But rather than milk and bread, why not grab the ingredients for this slow-simmered sauce and make a home-cooked dinner for your fella or friends?

This will take you an afternoon to make but it’s well worth it. Plus, it freezes beautifully so even if it’s just you, go ahead and make it to stash in the freezer. Serve with lots of red wine and round it out with a salad of arugula and orange segments with lemon vinaigrette and a little tiramisu for dessert. Ragu recipe adapted from Mario Batali.

What you need:
2 duck legs and 2 duck breasts, skin removed
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
8 ounces red wine (Chianti preferred but any red wine that’s good enough to drink will work)
1 (28-ounce) can tomatoes, peeled & chopped
1 cup chicken stock
2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. short, wide pasta (campanelle or rigatoni)
3/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
Grated or shaved parmesan cheese for topping

How you make it:
Wash the duck legs and breasts and remove all fat. Pat dry. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil until smoking. Add the duck pieces and cook until brown on all sides then remove, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Add the onion, carrot, garlic and celery and cook until softened, about 7 to 9 minutes. Add the wine, tomatoes, chicken stock and dried mushrooms and bring to a boil. Add the duck pieces back to the pot and return to a boil, lower the heat, cover and allow to simmer for 1 hour. Remove the duck, pull all meat off the bones and return to pot, without the bones. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, or until quite thick. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water until "al dente", about 8 to 9 minutes. Drain pasta and toss with sauce. Stir in chopped parsley, top with parmesan and serve immediately.

NOTE: Most grocery stores stock whole, frozen ducks that you can cut into the pieces you’ll need. Just be sure to take it out of the freezer the night before so it has time to thaw!