Monday, November 4, 2013

Gnocchi with sausage and leeks

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My kitchen broke. The dog ate my cookbooks... Those are about the best excuses I can come up with for my lengthy absence from this blog that was once such a big part of my life. They're not even good excuses. Heck, I don't even have a dog (if I did, my husband would probably be pretty happy if he ate a few of my cookbooks). But a lot has happened since my last post in April. My tiny one turned one... and started sleeping through the night (most of the time). My job changed. Then changed again. My manager changed. My husband's job changed.

Through it all, I have been cooking - a lot. Fortunately we are moving past the phase of baby food and I can serve one meal to my whole family at least a few times a week. This may sound ridiculous to the childless, but all you moms know exactly how monumental this is. Last night's dinner was Polish: kielbasa, pierogies and sauerkraut. And you know what?? Both kids ate kielbasa and pierogies. It made my day. These are the small victories that mean so much to working moms...

I have a stockpile of photos and recipes from the last few months, so it's time to get back to blogging. This one is a highlight - from a cookbook Mom gave me a few months back...

Note well: the gnocchi need to be started a day ahead so plan accordingly!

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Gnocchi with sausage and leeks
Adapted from Fabio's Italian Kitchen by Fabio Viviani

2 leeks
1 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
6-8 Sweet Italian sausages
1 c. dry white wine
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 recipe potato-ricotta gnocchi (follows)
Good quality EVOO for drizzling
Parmigiano-Reggiano

Preheat oven to 375F.

Clean the leeks well and slice pale green and white parts into thin rounds.

Heat the butter in a saute pan over medium heat and brown the sausages on all sides. Add the wine and reduce. While the wine is reducing, toss the leeks with the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread the on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes.

Once the wine has reduced and leeks are roasted, drop gnocchi in a pot of salted boiling water. Remove gnocchi as soon as the first ones rise to the top. Add to the pan with the sausage mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to a serving platter and top with the leeks, a drizzle of good Extra-virgin olive oil and some shaved Parmesan.

Potato-ricotta gnocchi

6 medium baking potatoes
1/2 a whole nutmeg, grated (I used less!)
1 Tbsp. salt, plus pepper to taste
1 egg yolk
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup semolina flour
2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 425F.

Bake the potatoes for an hour until they are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Cool for a couple hours then scoop out the insides. Mash until very smooth using a fork or potato ricer.

Add the nutmeg, salt, pepper to taste, egg yolk and ricotta. Mix to combin and refrigerate overnight, covered.

The next day, spread the semolina in an even layer on a baking tray.

Place potato mixture in the bowl of a stand mixer and add the flour on low-medium speed. Once the mixture has come together, remove it from the bowl and cut into fist-sized pieces.

Roll each ball into a cigar shape and cut into 1-inch pieces. Place on the baking tray and then refrigerate for 20-30 minutes to set. Cook as noted in recipe above.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Salt Lick Green Onion and Cheese Souffle

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My last post was on the eve of my second daughter's birth: seven months and twelve days ago. It's amazing how much can change in so little time. Hurricane Sandy left her mark when little one was just seven weeks old. There was Newtown and more recently the Boston bombings... I was on maternity leave for nearly four months and have now been back at work for nearly four.

And it is work that led me to this post.

More specifically, it is work that led me to the Salt Lick.

Since returning to work, I've had three business trips - two to Texas and one to Michigan. The Michigan trip was a snowy disaster and one trip to Texas found me locked in my hotel room with a stomach bug. (The saving grace was a nice dinner when I recovered out with my two favorite people from work.) But the other trip to Texas was for a team meeting and I have a great team. These are people I would actually choose to hang out with if work hadn't thrown us together by chance. Needless to say, it made for some fun nights.

On one of those nights, the boss, a true Texas carnivore (not sure green is in his vocabulary), chose to take the team for some finger-licking good BBQ at the Salt Lick. I had heard of the Salt Lick during a recent season of Top Chef, so my little eyes lit up when he mentioned it. I had decided to buy the cookbook before we even arrived (my teammates laughed at my eagerness, but then several of the guys decided to tote home a copy for their wives!)

The barbecue was good - really good. Especially the ribs washed down with more than a couple pitchers of Shiner Bock. If I find myself in Austin again, I'm going back for more. In the meantime, I'll content myself with the book.

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Green Onion and Cheese Souffle
from the Salt Lick Cookbook by Scott Roberts and Jessica Dupuy

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup milk, room temperature
½ cup grated Gruyère cheese
½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
6 oz. pancetta, finely chopped (optional)
1 – 2 bunches green onions, cleaned and sliced on the bias into ½” slices
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
4 egg yolks
salt and pepper to taste
8 egg whites
1 tsp. cream of tartar

Pre-heat the oven to 375º F and butter a 1½ qt. soufflé mold.

Pre-heat a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add the butter and melt until frothy. Add the flour, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring constantly for 2 to 3 minutes, creating a roux.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the milk, whisking vigorously. Return the pot to the heat and bring this mixture to a boil so that the sauce will thicken. (This is a basic white sauce.)

Again, remove the pan from the heat and add the grated cheeses, stirring well to melt.

In a large skillet, cook the chopped pancetta (if using) over medium heat. When pancetta is fully cooked and a little crispy, add the green onions to the pan and sauté briefly. If you are not including the pancetta, simply sauté the green onions in a tbsp. of butter.

Add the green onions, mustard, and egg yolks to the cheese sauce. Taste this mixture and season with salt and pepper. (Be sure to season well or over-season slightly, since this mixture will be diluted by the egg whites later.) Let this mixture cool completely.

Whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar in a copper bowl to soft peak stage. In three stages, carefully fold the egg whites into the soufflé base. Transfer the mixture to a buttered 1½ qt. soufflé mold. Bake at 375º F for 30 minutes, or until risen and lightly browned on top. The soufflé should jiggle only slightly when finished.
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