Friday, February 26, 2010

Snow Day and Pumpkin Gnocchi

Today was an official Snow Day. Every school district here in Rochester New York and surrounding areas was closed today. I drove home from Buffalo early this morning after a fun night visiting with some friends from college. The Thruway commute was not a fun experience, but upon arriving home I actually embraced the snow-got some great shots and got inspired to make a great comfort meal.Rachael Ray created a Decadent Pumpkin Gnocchi recipe on her show not too long ago. I highly recommend this meal- instead of pumpkin I used Butternut Squash.

---Recipe Follows---

Rachel Ray's Decadent Pumpkin Gnocchi
  • 2 pounds butternut squash, kuri squash or sugar pumpkin, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon
  • A few sprigs fresh sage, very thinly sliced
  • 2 bundles farm fresh spinach trimmed and washed or 3/4 pound bagged spinach, stemmed
  • 1 pound good quality fresh gnocchi
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano for topping

Pre-heat the oven to 400˚F.

On a baking sheet, toss the squash with the EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes, turning once. Remove the squash, turn off the oven and place a large platter in the oven to warm for a few minutes.

When the squash has been in the oven for about 15 minutes, bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet or pot with the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook gently, 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the wine and stir for 1 minute, then add the cream and bring to a bubble. Reduce the heat to keep the cream at a rolling simmer and let reduce for 7-8 minutes, until the cream coats the back of spoon.

When the water comes to a boil, add salt and, working in batches, add the spinach and wilt for 30 seconds. Remove to a plate with a spider or tongs and drain. To the same pot of water, add the gnocchi and cook until they float and are hot through, about 3 minutes.

Remove the warm platter from the oven. Arrange most of the roasted squash and spinach on the platter. Toss the drained gnocchi with the sauce and arrange on top of the squash and spinach. Garnish with the remaining squash and spinach and lots of freshly grated cheese.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Meyer Lemon Pie

Yesterday was my birthday. 24 on the 24th. That's the first and last time that will happen. I'm not impressed by birthday's anymore. Actually I dread them. This one turned out to be pretty stressful, trying to stretch myself between different events with different people. I'm only one person people! What I prefer on a birthday is a nice dinner. In or out i'm not picky oOooo and Fondue! And that's just what we had yesterday, a nice dinner out and fondue in. It was a dream...
I went to visit family today and wanted to add to the dessert presentation, so I did some researching, looked at what I have a lot of and made a.....Meyer Lemon Pie.
Meyer lemons are crazy things! They taste like a cross between an orange and a lemon. They're even orange tinged,making them easy to identify. I thought that this pie would need less sugar next time, considering the lemons are so well, not sour. The only adjustment I made was to add another Meyer. I wanted it chock full. The pie turned out to be more of a curd. And I used a pie dough recipe that included a TON of butter. I wouldn't use that again, it definitely wasn't flaky or delicious. But, to everyone else it was quite the crowd pleaser. Isn't that great when others only see the good, while all you can think is, "i should've added that later on, this needs more____," Nonetheless, I was so pleased that my family enjoyed it-just wish I got better pics of the final product.

Recipe to follow:

Shaker Lemon Pie

Adapted by Smitten Kitchen

Makes one 9-inch pie

2 large lemons, preferably Meyers
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
4 tablespons butter, melted
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 egg white
Coarse sugar, for sprinkling

Dough for one double-crust pie [See recipes here and here.]

Thoroughly wash lemons, then dry with paper towel. Finely grate lemon zest into a bowl. Using a mandoline, slice lemons as paper thin as you can get them; remove and discard seeds. Add slices to zest and toss with sugar and salt. Cover and set aside at room temperature for 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Roll out half the dough 1/8 inch thick on a lightly floured surface, fit it into a 9-inch (1-quart) pie plate, and trim the edge, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang.

Mix the macerated lemon-sugar mixture with eggs, melted butter and flour until combined well. Pour in to prepared pie shell.

Roll out the remaining dough into a 12-inch round on a lightly floured surface, drape it over the filling, and trim it, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Fold the overhang under the bottom crust, pressing the edge to seal it, and crimp the edge decoratively. Beat one egg white until frothy and brush over pie crust, then sprinkle with coarse sugar. Cut slits in the crust with a sharp knife, forming steam vents, and bake the pie in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350°F. and bake the pie for 20 to 25 minutes more, or until the crust is golden. Let the pie cool on a rack and serve it warm at room temperature.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Gratin

Geez. Maybe I should cook my way through Deb's Smitten Kitchen blog. Apparently, that's what I'm doing as of late. I can't help it. Her blog is so inviting and her adaptations, do-able.
Rochester NY has been getting hit with MASSIVE amounts of snow, as I know most of the country is as well. I must have gone out to shovel 5 times today. Towards the end of the day I was really wanting a nice comfort meal. And since Smitten Kitchen is such an easy reference to go to, I decided to make her version of Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Gratin. YUM. I especially loved the hints of Thyme in every bite. And spinach turned out to be a great addition to the meal.
Our amazing local (but expanding every day) grocery store, Wegmans, sells this colorful bagged chard. It's almost too beautiful to eat, but I'm glad I got over that and cooked it. :)

Recipe to follow...

Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Gratin

1/4 cup (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 pounds Swiss chard, leaves and stems separated and both cut into 1-inch pieces
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups heavy cream or whole milk
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons flour
2 pounds medium red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick rounds
1 tablespoon minced fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) coarsely grated Gruyére cheese

Prep greens: Cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter in a wide 8-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Add chard stems, pinch of nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring, until vegetables are tender but not browned, about 8 minutes. Increase heat to moderately high and add chard leaves by large handfuls, stirring, until all greens are wilted. Season with salt and pepper then transfer greens to a colander to drain well and press out liquid with back of a large spoon.

Make sauce: Combine cream or milk and garlic in small saucepan; bring to simmer; keep warm. Melt two tablespoons butter in a medium heavy saucepan over moderate heat and stir in flour. Cook roux, whisking, one minute, then slowly whisk in warm cream/milk and boil, whisking, one minute. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

Assemble gratin: Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter deep 9×13 baking dish. Spread half of sweet potatoes in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, a quarter of the herbs and a 1/4 cup of the cheese. Distribute half of the greens mixture over the cheese, then sprinkle salt, pepper, a quarter of the herbs and 1/4 cup of the cheese over it. Pour half of bechamel sauce over the first two layers then continue with the remaining sweet potatoes, more salt, pepper, herbs and cheese and then the remaining greens, salt, pepper and herbs. Pour the remaining sauce over the top of the gratin, pressing the vegetables slightly to ensure that they are as submerged as possible. Sprinkle with the last 1/4 cup of cheese.

Bake gratin for about 1 hour until golden and bubbly, and most of the liquid is absorbed. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Lobster Rolls, Wedge Fries, Corn-on the Cob, and Blueberry Crumble

Can you tell I miss Summer? This Valentine's Day I decided to make Barefoot Contessa's Lobster Rolls with corn-on-the-cob, wedge fries and a Blueberry Crumble for desert. But recreating a summer meal just doesn't make it come sooner, does it...Went on over to Smitten Kitchen for a Brioche Roll recipe. These rolls were pretty weighty, but then again my yeast never rose properly. My house is freezing... Found the Blueberry Crumble over at

Lobster Roll Recipe came from this book...

Brioche Rolls came from here!

Light Brioche Burger Buns

Makes 8 4 to 5-inch burger buns

3 tablespoons warm milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Sesame seeds (optional)

1. In a glass measuring cup, combine one cup warm water, the milk, yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about five minutes. Meanwhile, beat one egg.

2. In a large bowl, whisk flours with salt. Add butter and rub into flour between your fingers, making crumbs. Using a dough scraper, stir in yeast mixture and beaten egg until a dough forms. Scrape dough onto clean, well-floured counter and knead, scooping dough up, slapping it on counter and turning it, until smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. The dough will be on the sticky side so it can be a bit messy, but keep in mind that the more flour you knead in, the tougher the buns will get. Try to leave them tackier than you would a round loaf.

3. Shape dough into a ball and return it to bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, one to two hours. (In my freaky, warm apartment this only took an hour.)

4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using dough scraper, divide dough into 8 equal parts. Gently roll each into a ball and arrange two to three inches apart on baking sheet. Cover loosely with a piece of plastic wrap lightly coated in nonstick spray and let buns rise in a warm place for one to two hours. (Again, this only took one hour in my apartment and I suspect, you’ll also only need an hour for a second rise.)

5. Set a large shallow pan of water on oven floor. Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack in center. Beat remaining egg with one tablespoon water and brush some on top of buns. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using. Bake, turning sheet halfway through baking, until tops are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Blueberry Crumble came from here!

Red-Velvet Cupcakes

frosting can this be bad?

Red Velvet Cake

Yield: 3 cake layers

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups canola oil
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) red food coloring or 1 teaspoon red gel food coloring dissolved in 6 tablespoons of water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place teaspoon of butter in each of 3 round 9-inch layer cake pans and place pans in oven for a few minutes until butter melts. Remove pans from oven, brush interior bottom and sides of each with butter and line bottoms with parchment.

2. Whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl.

3. Place oil and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. With machine on low, very slowly add red food coloring. (Take care: it may splash.) Add vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches. Scrape down bowl and beat just long enough to combine.

4. Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar and add to batter with machine running. Beat for 10 seconds.

5. Divide batter among pans, place in oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pans 20 minutes. Then remove from pans, flip layers over and peel off parchment. Cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 6 cups

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter room temperature
3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. With a handheld electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low speed to combine. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Home-made Oreos

Came across this recipe over at my FAV food blog site- Smitten Kitchen <3.>does call for shortening, but I felt a little better using my Organic Spectrum Shortening that I get from the local Co-op. These were wonderful, and definitely got better the more days they sat. The only thing I would say to those who like their Oreos really stuffed- you may want to double the filling. Deb's adaptation has a modest cookie to filling ratio. :)

---Recipe link follows---

Be careful dunking these- they soak up fast!

Thanks Deb!

Alice Waters Apple Galette

Today, I woke up with the inspiration to bake something. Anything! Whatever! Of course, I checked back to my Smitten Kitchen <3 and really enjoyed the simplicity of the recipe. Sure it was 9:30 AM, but I had an ABUNDANCE of apples!? I decided well...why not?
On a side note, the BBC show Skins kept me steamy company in the kitchen this morning. Anyone else enjoy the raunchiness?

--Recipe to follow--

Alice Water's Apple Galette

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, just softened, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
3 1/2 tablespoons chilled water

2 pounds apples (Golden Delicious or another tart, firm variety), peeled, cored (save peels and cores), and sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
5 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup sugar

MIX flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl; add 2 tablespoons of the butter. Blend in a mixer until dough resembles coarse cornmeal. Add remaining butter; mix until biggest pieces look like large peas.

DRIBBLE in water, stir, then dribble in more, until dough just holds together. Toss with hands, letting it fall through fingers, until it’s ropy with some dry patches. If dry patches predominate, add another tablespoon water. Keep tossing until you can roll dough into a ball. Flatten into a 4-inch-thick disk; refrigerate. After at least 30 minutes, remove; let soften so it’s malleable but still cold. Smooth cracks at edges. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 14-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Dust excess flour from both sides with a dry pastry brush.

PLACE dough in a lightly greased 9-inch round tart pan, or simply on a parchment-lined baking sheet if you wish to go free-form, or galette-style with it. Heat oven to 400#176;F. (If you have a pizza stone, place it in the center of the rack.)

OVERLAP apples on dough in a ring 2 inches from edge if going galette-style, or up to the sides if using the tart pan. Continue inward until you reach the center. Fold any dough hanging over pan back onto itself; crimp edges at 1-inch intervals.

BRUSH melted butter over apples and onto dough edge. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over dough edge and the other 3 tablespoons over apples. (Deb note: I found it nearly impossible to coat it with this much sugar, so I used a little less–more like 3 tablespoons. It made a lightly sweet tart, which we found perfect.)

BAKE in center of oven until apples are soft, with browned edges, and crust has caramelized to a dark golden brown (about 45 minutes), making sure to rotate tart every 15 minutes.

MAKE glaze: Put reserved peels and cores in a large saucepan, along with sugar. Pour in just enough water to cover; simmer for 25 minutes. Strain syrup through cheesecloth.

REMOVE tart from oven, and slide off parchment onto cooling rack. Let cool at least 15 minutes.

BRUSH glaze over tart, slice, and serve.