Sunday, September 30, 2012

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with a White Wine, Butter, and Sage Sauce

2.5 lb butternut squash
12 oz flour
Salt and pepper

1.5 tablespoons of butter, divided
¼ cup white wine (I used pinot grigio)
1 shallot, diced
3 sage leaves, chiffonaded
Salt and pepper

Parmesan Crisp:
Grate some parmesan and place in a circle on a silicone baking sheet (I used a small ring mold to shape them). Sprinkle on some black pepper. Bake at 300F for 5 to 6 minutes.

For the gnocchi:

Carefully slice the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Roast at 400°F, cut side down for 30 minutes. Flip and roast for another 45 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes, then scoop the flesh out and puree in a food processor. Let the pureed squash cool to room temp, and season with salt and pepper.

Place in a bowl, along with the flour, and knead into a dough, adding extra flour if need be. Cut the dough into 8 pieces. Roll out one piece at a time, covering the remaining dough with plastic wrap. You’ll want to roll out each piece into a long 12” hot dog shape. Start from the middle, and slowly work your way to the outside. Slice into pieces approx ¾” wide.

Use a fork to give the pieces the classic gnocchi shape; it’s much easier to learn from a video:
Just make sure the pieces are floured so they don’t stick to your fork. This takes an exceedingly long to do if you’re not familiar with it; either that, or I’m not cut out to be an Italian grandmother.

Some mixed success my first time out

 Place your finished gnocchi on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You can leave to let dry for up to two hours. I froze what I didn’t cook by sticking the whole baking sheet in the freezer, then placing the individually frozen gnocchi into a Ziploc bag (so they didn’t stick to one another). I have no idea if they’ll be good or not, but I thought I’d give it a try.

Cook the gnocchi for 2-3 minutes in salted boiling water. When they start to rise in the pot, they’re finished.

For the Sauce:
Melt ½ tbsp butter in a small pan. Add the shallots, and cook until translucent. Add the wine, and reduce by half. Stir in the remaining tbsp of butter, whisking it while it melts, then add the sage and take off heat.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Frozen Nutella-Peanut Butter Pie with Oreo Crust

This week's theme is baking, thought I feel like I'm kinda sorta cheating by doing a recipe that doesn't have a whole lot of literal baking in it.  On the other hand, it's pie, and how can making a pie be anything but baking? This recipe is from Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts by way of I used chocolate filled oreos for the crust, if that makes a difference to you, and added the nutella.

2 cups, oreo cookie crumbs (slightly less than 2/3 of a package, pulsed in a food processor)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt

6 oz. cream cheese, at room temp.
¾ cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup nutella
¾ cup peanut butter (regular-ass smooth peanut butter)
1 tablespoon vanilla extact
2 cups heavy cream

3 tbsp. nutella
3 tbsp peanut butter
8 mini reeses cups
2.25 oz. chopped hazelnuts.

For the crust:

Whiz the oreos in a food processor until you have a fairly fine consistency, then dump in a bowl. Add the sugar and salt, and mix. Pour over the melted butter, mix, and spread the mixture in a buttered 9.5” pie pan. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the crust for about 15 minutes. Let cool.

For the filling:

Using a mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, sugar, and salt for 2 minutes, until fluffy. Add the peanut butter, nutella, and vanilla. Mix to combine. Place mixture in a bowl, and clean out your mixing bowl. Switch to the whisk attachment, add the heavy cream to the newly cleaned bowl, and whip until you have soft peaks. Transfer 1/3 of the whipped cream to the pb & nutella mixture, and mix well.  Gently fold in the remaining 2/3 of the whipped cream. Transfer the filling to the cooled crust, and freeze.

For the garnish:

In a microwave, carefully melt the nutella in 30 second bursts on medium. Transfer to a plastic bag, and snip of the corner. Drizzle over the pie. This parts a pain in the ass, due to melted chocolate being the worst substance in the world to work with, but do your best. Repeat with peanut butter, which is thankfully much easier to work with. Chop the Reese’s in half, and place around the outside. Sprinkle on chopped hazelnuts. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Peach Gazpacho

I don't always eat soup, but when I do it's usually gazpacho. This is another Daniel Humm recipe; I made his strawberry gazpacho previously. Luckily, even though its September I was able to buy some pretty decent peaches. I feel like my plating looks the same anytime I make something like this, but really how many ways can you present something like this (assuming you only have one type of bowl)? Anyway, you can find the recipe here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Scrigno di Venere (Pasta Wrappers Filled with Spinach Fettuccine, Porcini Mushrooms, and Ham)

This recipe comes from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. The idea is that you wrap fettucine in a pasta wrapper, then tie it up to look like one of those purses of gold coins mercenaries from the middle ages would be paid with. However, when it came time for me to secure the pasta wrapper, I had no such luck. It’s rather difficult to manipulate the pasta wrapper without tearing it, so I ended up with a pasta crunchwrap supreme. My negligible photography skills sure weren’t helping either.  Nevertheless, I finally got around to cooking this recipe, which I had been eyeing up ever since I bought Essentials two years ago. Would I make it again? Ehhh, probably not; at least, I wouldn’t bother with the wrapper, but the spinach pasta with the sauces? DELICIOUS. Ham and porcini is a perfect combination of ingredients.

For 2 servings:

Pasta Wrapper:
2 large eggs (4 oz.)
6 oz. unbleached all-purpose flour

Make a well with the flour, add in the eggs, and beat the eggs with a fork (or your fingers), slowly incorporating the flour until you have a mass of dough. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for 7 to 10 minutes, until silky in texture. Spritz with non-stick cooking spray, wrap in plastic, and let rest for at least 30 minutes.

Green Fettucine:
2 large eggs (4 oz)
6 oz. unbleached all-purpose flour
5 oz frozen spinach

Saute the spinach over medium/medium-low with some salt for a few minutes, to help draw out the moisture. Place the spinach on paper towels to remove excess moisture. Mince into small piece and add to the flour. Proceed using the same method as the pasta for the wrappers.

Rolling out the pasta:

Lightly flour the dough. Pass through the widest setting of the pasta machine 4 times, folding the dough into thirds each time. Proceed to roll the dough through thinner settings, one increment at a time, until the desired thickness. My pasta machine goes from 1 (widest) to 9. I rolled out the sheets of fettucine to a 7, and the pasta wrappers to a 6. I cut the fettucine with the attachment on my machine, but you could hand cut (to make tagliatelle) the green pasta as well.

To make the pasta wrappers, cut the long sheets of pasta into thirds. Brush the edges with water, and combine to make a large square of pasta. On a floured surface, use a rolling  pin to combine the pieces. Cut two 8” circles (I used the removable bottom of a tart pan as a tracer).

Cooking the pasta:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta wrapper one at a time (they grow in diameter in the water) and cook for 30 seconds. Remove and place in an ice bath to stop the cooking, then place on a towel. Cook the fettucine in the boiling water for 1-2 minutes, then drain the water, reserving some for the sauce. Save 4 strands of fettucine for tying up the wrappers

Ham & Porcini Sauce:

1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot, diced
¼ lb. ham, cut into pieces
1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup porcini soaking liquid (see below)
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup parmesan cheese

Soak the porcini mushrooms in warm water for half an hour. Strain the liquid through a coffee filter and reserve. Chop any large pieces of mushroom into bit sized pieces. In a large pan over medium heat, add the butter, then cook the shallots until golden. Add the porcinis, and 1 cup of the reserved soaking liquid. Simmer until the liquid is absorbed. Add the ham, cook for half a minute, then add the cream until thickened. Turn off heat and set aside until your fettucine is cooked. Pasta’s ready you say? Great, put the pan over low heat, toss in the fettucine along with the parmesan cheese and toss to cook. Add ¼ cup of the reserved water from the pasta if you need it (I did).


2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt

Melt the butter in a small sauce pan, add the flour, and stir for 2 minutes, cooking until golden. Add the milk in two additions, stirring to incorporate. Season with salt.

Bringing it all together (finally):

Preheat your oven to 450°F, and move the rack to the upper third. Place some béchamel on a plate, and coat each pasta wrapper with it. Place the wrappers in small baking dishes (I used a corningware dish I had – seemed fitting for a throwback dish such as this). Fill with half the fettucine. Add the excess béchamel to each. Close up the wrappers so they come together at the top, and secure with toothpicks. Wrap two strands of green fettucine around each. Failing that, fold the pasta wrappers like they were a Cruchwrap Supreme. Awkwardly lay your reserved fettucine on top. Cook on the upper rack of the oven for 8 minutes.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Arepas de Pollo

I made arepas once before, but I tried to pan fry and finish in the oven, and they turned out horrible. Stick with pan frying, and make sure the discs of dough are fairly thin when you add them to the pan.

2 chicken breasts
½ lemon
Sprig of parsley
Red pepper flakes

Add everything but the chicken in a pot of water, bring it to a boil, and drop in the chicken. Cover with a lid, turn off the heat, and let it sit for 20 minutes. Remove the chicken, and shred with 2 forks.

14.5 oz can tomato sauce
1 cup chicken stock
¼ cup finely diced onions
1 clove garlic, diced
½ habanero, diced (would’ve used a jalapeno if I had some around)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
2 teaspoons oregano
½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
*N.B. I have no idea exactly how much of the seasonings I used. Measurements given here are pretty much guesswork

Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat, add some vegetable oil, then sauté the onion, garlic, and pepper for a few minutes until softened. Add in the tomato sauce, stock, and seasonings. Taste and adjust. When you’re happy with the taste, bring the sauce to a simmer and let it reduce, uncovered for 10 minutes or so. Once it’s at a consistency you’re happy with, add the shredded chicken and give it a stir to incorporate everything.

1.5 cups masarepa flour
1.5 cups water
1 teaspoon salt

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, bring the dough together with your hands, then cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Heat a skillet over medium, and add a lug or two of vegetable oil. Use your hands to shape the dough into six slim discs (3/4” or so thick) Pan fry the arepas for 8 minutes total, flipping half way.

Remove the arepas onto paper towels to sop up excess oil. Cut in half, top with chicken/tomato sauce mixture and queso fresco *cough*grocery store feta*cough*.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Pork Wellington with White Apple Puree

The stuffing for this ended up at the bottom instead of in between the two halves of tenderloin, hence the low visibility. Served with potatoes seasoned with salt, pepper and thyme, and tossed in duck fat.

Pork wellington recipe adapted from Alton Brown. Apple puree taken from the Eleven Madison Park cookbook.

White Apple Puree:
3 tablespoons butter, plus ¼ cup (half a stick) cold butter
4 cups (1 lb) granny smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
½ stick cinnamon
1 tablespoon sugar
¾ cup dry vermouth
1 tablespoon Mexican crema
1.5 teaspoon salt

Melt the butter in a large sauce pan with vertical sides, over high heat, and add the apples in cinnamon. Stir to coat in butter add the sugar, and continue to cook over high for about 2 minutes, without allowing the apples to brown. Add the vermouth and ½ cup of water. Cover with a parchment lid and cook the apples for another 5 minutes, until tender. Transfer the apples to a blender, and puree. Chill in the fridge, and add in crema and salt to season when ready to serve.

Pork Wellington
Recipe here. I did the stuffing my own way, so here’s that recipe:

1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and small diced
½ large white onion, diced
3 tbsp butter
1 teaspoon dried sage
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup dried pomegranate-flavored cranberries (from Iovine Brothers)

Melt the butter over medium heat, add in the apple and onion, season with sage and salt,  and turn the heat to low. Cover with a parchment lid, and cook for 10-15 minutes, until well softened. Remove lid, toss in breadcrumbs, and heat over medium for a minute. Remove from heat and add in the cranberries.