Monthly Archives: November 2012

Nudies!

Now that I have your attention, I want to talk about gnudi, pronounced with a silent “g”. Gnudi is a cross between gnocchi and ravioli.  Or you could call them a naked ravioli-just the filling, none of the pasta. However you describe them, I call them awesome. They got three thumbs up from my 5 year old son.

They’re kind of like a meatless meatball or a naked ravioli

This recipe for gnudi borders on violating my one basic principle that I require of recipes on this blog; its not really super easy. However, I stand by my declaration that if you are going to bother to cook, you might as well go big. With the help of your freezer, this recipe can make enough for two, maybe even three more meals. It does meet one of the secondary requirements and that is that it can be made gluten-free. Since these gnudi do not rely heavily on flour as an ingredient you can use some standard gluten-free flour like Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour.

For the marinara sauce, can use your favorite red sauce from a jar or your own homemade if you are that ambitious and have that kind of time. It will also work well with a pesto.

Once you’ve eaten some of the fresh batch you can put the rest in the freezer.

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 15oz container of low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 tbsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • (1) 10 oz package frozen spinach thawed, drained and chopped
  • 4-5 cups flour white, whole wheat or all all-purpose gluten-free
  • 2-4 cups marinara sauce

Do ahead: preheat oven to 375. Prick sweet potatoes with a fork and bake on  tray for 50-60 minutes. Allow to cool. Peel and discard skin then mash flesh with a fork.Thaw spinach in a colander. Wrap spinach in a clean dishtowel and squeeze excess water. Chop into small bits and squeeze once more in a towel. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs whisk in ricotta, parmesan, oregano, pepper, nutmeg and ¼ tsp salt. Whisk until smooth and fluffy, about 1 minute. Whisk in spinach until incorporated. Fold in 2 cups of mashed potato. Sift 1 cup of flour into bowl and gently fold in. Mixture may still feel wet.

Spread 2 cups of flour on a baking pan with raised sides. Gently scoop ricotta mixture and roll into 2 ½ tbsp balls then drop onto flour. Toss flour over the balls to coat when finished. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

*To Freeze: put uncooked balls into freezer for a minimum of 4 hours on the baking sheet. Transfer into airtight containers making sure not to crowd each one. Put a piece of parchment over each layer to prevent sticking.

Cook:

From refrigerated-bring a large pot of water to a boil adding a pinch of salt. Shake off excess flour from each gnudi before dropping in the water being careful not to crowd the pot. Boil for 5-6 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl. Cover with marinara or sauce of choice.

From frozen-take gnudi out of the freezer and put on a plate 1 hour before cooking being careful not to leave any touching each other on the plate. Cook in a pot of boiling water for 8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl. Cover with marinara or sauce of choice.

This recipe was adapted from Clean Eating magazine’s Nov/Dec 2012 issue by chef Joanne Lusted. Originally I tested this recipe exactly as printed but I had half a package of spinach and half a container of ricotta left over so I essentially doubled the recipe. Here it makes plenty for your freezer at no extra effort.

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A Practice Bird

As we gear up for Thanksgiving, which is next week (how did that happen?) I decided that it would be a good idea to get into the swing of things with a Starter Fowl in the form of a roasted chicken. I love a roast chicken because of all the possibilities, mainly leftovers and stock. The day after roasting a chicken I throw the carcass in a pot and clean out all the stray veggies in my produce bin  to make a few quarts of chicken stock which I will keep in the freezer for future soups. One bird, so many uses.

If you happen to have a rosemary plant or some other fresh herbs in the house this is an excellent place to use them. I had some fresh thyme leftover from another recipe to I put it to use here.

Its not absolutely necessary to truss the chicken. In fact I seem to be out of kitchen twine whenever I need it so I often don’t bother.

I bought a big bird (4.5 lbs) and invited some friends over for dinner last Sunday night. Roasting is pretty simple stuff and takes anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 hours depending on the chicken’s weight. Once its the oven you have a little time to fix your other dishes. My guests brought potatoes and wine, all I supplied was a green salad to make an easy casual dinner with friends

Chicken

1-2 lemons depending on the size of your bird

salt and pepper

herbs (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350. Remove any gizzards and innards from the cavity, set aside to use in the stock. Rinse and pat dry inside and out. Slice the lemon in half and rub all over the inside and outside. Salt and pepper the cavity then put the lemons inside. Add herbs if you have them. Sometimes I put a few cloves of peeled garlic in there. Salt & pepper the outside. Place the chicken on a roasting rack in the middle of a shallow pan and fill the pan with an inch of water.

A 2 ½ lb chicken should cook for 1 ½  hours

A 3 ½ lb chicken should cook for 1 ¾ hours

A 4 lb chicken should cook for 2 hours

A 5-7 lb chicken should cook between 2 ½ and 3 hours,

Set the timer on the oven for the full amount of time. My 4.5lb bird roasted for 2 hours. If you have another timer set it for 20 minutes. You can usually use your cell phone if you don’t have another kitchen timer. Baste the chicken every 20. Add more water to the pan if necessary. Check for doneness when the juice runs clear after piercing the leg with the tip of a knife.

How’s it going in there?

Once you have remove all the meat from the bird, you can use the carcass to make stock. Put the carcass in a large pot cover with water. Add any or all of the following:

  • Gizzards
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Herbs
  • Lemon, halved
  • Dried herbs
  • Salt
  • 5 peppercorns (or ground pepper)

Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer. Let simmer for up to 4 hours, the liquid should reduce. Drain with a strainer and cheesecloth into containers. Let cool before freezing.

Black Bean Chili

I love this vegetarian chili because it is so easy to make. If you like it with more spice, add in some extra chili powder. The spiciness will mellow a lot after an overnight stay in the refrigerator.

Vegetarian Black Bean Chili
1/4 cup olive oil
2 small onions chopped
2 medium red bell peppers, coarsely chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder (more if you like it spicy)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 15-ounce cans black beans, drained, 1/2 cup liquid reserved
1 16-ounce can tomato sauce

Garnish with;
Chopped fresh cilantro
Grated cheddar cheese
Chopped green onions

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, bell peppers, and garlic; sauté until onions soften, about 10 minutes. Mix in chili powder, oregano, cumin, and cayenne; stir 2 minutes. Mix in beans, 1/2 cup reserved bean liquid, and tomato sauce. Bring chili to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until flavors blend and chili thickens, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and top with cilantro, grated cheese, green onions

Apple Pie

Warm, soothing, delicious…

One of my very favorite things about fall is apple pie. There is nothing like the smell of fresh apple pie baking in your house to make it feel cozy and warm. Apple pie triggers the comfort sensors in your brain. The taste can soothe your weary soul. Apple pie provides a happy place.

I find that Granny Smith apples make the best pie; they are crisp and tart. Their sharp taste blends with the brown sugar to create a complex flavor. The crisp texture of Grannys meant they will not feel mushy once the apples have been baked. Now I know there are people who will argue til the cows come home that a crust made from scratch is superior and easy and I don’t begrudge those people their opinions one bit. But you must know this: those same people have gone on and on abut how much they love my pie crust which they are unaware comes from a box at the supermarket. That’s right, Pillsbury roll out crusts are my friends and I’m proud of it.

Since I am a dedicated pie maker and apple is my signature pie, I invested in an apple peeler-corer device that makes the prep work about a million times easier. We lovingly refer to is as the Apple Torture Device since it looks like something vaguely Medieval. Between the pre-made crust and the Apple Torture Device, it could not be easier to make a pie. You have my permission to eat the whole thing in one sitting.

APPLE PIE

7 granny smith apples

½ cup packed dark brown sugar

2 tbsp butter, cut into 8 small cubes

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1 package roll-out crust

Pre heat the oven to 350. Take the crust out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Peel and core the apples, put them in a large bowl. Toss the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg with the apples. Set aside. Roll out one crust on a floured surface using a rolling pin to lightly flatten it. You don’t want it to stretch out too much, it will be too thin and much up during baking. Place the crust in a 9” pie pan and lightly press at the top edges of the pan. Fill with the apple mixture dotting the top with butter. Roll out the second crust just enough to flatten it’s curled edges. Lat it on top and squeeze the edges of the top and bottom crusts together with your thumb and index finger. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut a few slits in the top for venting.

Bake for 1 hour at 350 or until crust becomes golden brown. You may need to place a tray in the lower oven rack to catch any overzealous pie juice. Let cool for 1 hour, preferably on a windowsill.