Friday, May 20, 2011

The Third Week

From Left to Right: Pea shoots, green garlic, turnip greens,
carrots, spinach, chives, and arugula
Our third week of CSA came this week from Bell Organics.   This week it included carrots, turnip greens, pea shoots, spinach, arugula, chives, green garlic, and salad greens. My mother and I have realized, with the help of Gwen Crist from Slow Food Utah,  that for the first couple weeks spring greens are what we are going to get.  Personally, I am still excited to see these fresh greens and I was especially excited to see carrots.
Carrots are full of vitamin A and they do help protect your vision.  The only problem with growing carrots in Utah is our soil.  The soil in Utah is full of clay and rocks, which makes it hard, alkaline, and lacking in nutrients.   For carrots, the density of soil makes it hard for the carrot to push down into the ground, making them stout.  With the right soil you can grow carrots.   Also, you don't only have to eat the root of the carrot plant, you can also eat the carrot greens.  We have included a recipe using carrot greens so you can see what I mean.  We had never eaten carrot greens before so we were surprised at how good they tasted.
Hopefully you are enjoying your local vegetables and are using everything you have.  Remember, don't waste anything you get.  Hopefully,  we will get some better weather and we can all start tending our own gardens.  I know my family got worried about our tomatoes with this cold weather.  Almost June and time for the farmer's markets to begin.

Vegetable Stock

We hardly ever throw food away at our house and, when we do, my Mother isn't very happy about it.  There is an old Tuscan saying: Non si tira via niente, which means-nothing gets thrown away. So, she saves all the ends of vegetables like the kale stems, celery ends, onion peels, etc in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. She also saves the rinds from our hard cheeses to use in her soups and stocks. Then, she makes up a vegetable stock that she can use later to make soups, risotto and other dishes.

Vegetable Stock
2 potatoes
end of celery stalk
extra carrots
stalks of kale or other greens
left over parsley
1-2 onions
1 tbl peppercorns
cheese rinds
salt to taste

  1. Place all of this in a stock pot with about 3-4 quarts water depending on the amount of vegetables you have. 
  2. Season with salt and bring to a simmer for about 1 hour or until broth has a nice flavor. 
  3. Let cool and then pour through a colander to get a clear broth. She then places 2-4 cups of broth in plastic bags, labels them and places them in the freezer for later use. 

Carrot Top and Red Lentil Soup

Just as promised here is the recipe with carrot tops. The tops of the carrots are loaded with potassium which can make them bitter, so the use of them in food is limited. However, it is edible, so you may mix some in with a mixed lettuce salad.  When we googled this, many authors stated that even some animals don't like the bitter taste of carrot tops but we tried them and found them not to be bitter at all. My mother has even been testing some of these recipes on her co-workers and her office mate found this soup to be really filling. This recipe is delicious and I hope you love it.  Have a ball making it!

Carrot Top and Red Lentil Soup
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil 
1 medium onion, chopped
Carrot Top and Red Lentil Soup
3 cloves of garlic
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
5 cups vegetable stock (Look at the recipe on my blog)
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 cup of red lentils (these are usually grown in Northern Idaho)
2 cups carrot tops, chopped
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese or other hard cheese

  1. Heat olive oil in large pot or dutch oven, over medium heat.  Add onions and cook until sweating for about 8-10 minutes.  Add garlic and stir for another minute.  Add diced carrot and celery, and cook additional 5 minutes.
  2. Add vegetable stock, potatoes and lentils and cook for 15-20 minutes or until almost tender. 
  3. Add carrot tops and cook additional 5 minutes. Let cool a little and it is ready to serve. 
  4. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese.

Basic Risotto with peas, ham and pea shoots

Basic Risotto
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5-7 cup vegetable or chicken stock
2 cup chopped onion (can use leeks, shallots)
1 cup dry white wine or pale ale
2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tbl butter or extra-virgin olive oil to finish

For the Ham, Pea and Pea Shoots

1- 1 & 1/2 cup peas
1 cup chopped ham (or other meat such as prosciutto)
2 cups pea shoots
  1.  Place the broth in a saucepan, heat to boiling. Reduce heat and maintain at a simmer.
  2. Heat oil in heavy-gauge pain. Saute the onion for 10 minutes over low heat, stirring constantly, to make them sweat but do not let them brown.  Add 1/2 cup of the hot broth into the onions and cook for another 5-10 minutes until they are glistening and all the broth has cooked away.
  3. When all the broth has cooked away in the onions, add the rice and saute for another 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the kernels are lightly toasted. Do not let the kernels scorch or color.
  4. Increase the heat to medium and add the wine, again stirring constantly until all the moisture has evaporated. While stirring frequently, add 1/2 cup of the broth and cook until the rice has absorbed most of the moisture. Continue adding broth, 1/2 cupful at a time, stirring occasionally at first then constantly as the risotto thickens.
  5. After about 15 minutes, add the peas and ham to the risotto but continue adding broth as above until the kernels are tender but al dente and the dish has a creamy suspension. This can take anywhere from 5-7 cups of hot broth to accomplish.  Stir in half the cheese, season with pepper and 2 tbl of butter to finish.
  6. Spoon servings onto plates and garnish with pea shoots on top. Garnish with additional grated parmesan cheese.


Almost any vegetable (asparagus, arugula, fresh mushrooms), cheese, sauce or meat can be added to the basic risotto recipe.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pasta Fagioli with Kale

This is another one of my grandma's recipes.  This traditional Italian dish varies from town to town and family to family in Italy.  The name means "pasta and beans" and is pronounced as pasta fazool for the region of Italy that my 'great-Nonni' came from. It was originally a peasant dish and had no meat in it, but that has changed. You can put proscciuto or any kind of meat you want into it, but this recipe goes without. This is simple recipe that is simply delicious.  This is one of my cousin Alena's favorite dishes and she orders it in almost every restaurant she goes to, even when we visited a restaurant in Rome. But don't pronounce it pasta fazool in Rome or the waiter may not serve you!

Pasta Fagioli with Kale
3 tbl. olive oil
1 celery stalk, diced
6 garlic gloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 cups vegetable broth
One 14 oz can diced tomatoes (we used frozen tomatoes from last year)
8 oz whole wheat pasta (small type like elbow or ditalini) 
2 cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups kale, chopped leaves only ( or any other green in season ie. spinach) 
salt and pepper to taste, grated parmesan for serving
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon parsley
2 bay leaves
  1. Heat large dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil to heat. Add onion, cook 2 minutes. Add garlic, cook 1 minute. Add celery and carrot, cook stirring constantly for about 5 minutes. Add oregano and parsley. Add tomato paste and heat, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
  2. Stir in tomatoes, broth, bay leaves and 3 cups water. Bring to a simmer. Add pasta. Cook, stirring for 5 minutes. Add kale and cook 5 more minutes. Add kidney beans and reduce heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Ladle into bowls and garnish with parmesan cheese. (remember to save the kale stalks to make vegetable broth later in your week)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dried Cherry and Cream Scones

This past summer my Mom and I fell in love with Woodyatt Cherries.  We bought tons of bags of them so that we would have enough over the winter and spring.  After eating them and using them for our recipes, we finally ran out of them in April.  Woodyatt has his cherries all year round and they are delicious on their own.  They are great in granola and scones! These scones make a great dessert and they are easy to make! Make sure to visit him at the Farmers Market and stock up for the year.  Hope you love them! 

Dried Cherry and Cream Scones
4 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons grated orange peel
1/2 cup sugar 
4 teaspoons baking powder 
1 teaspoon salt 
1-1/4 cup butter chilled unsalted butter, cut in 1/2 inch pieces 
1 cup dried tart cherries  (Woodyatt)
2 large eggs, slightly beaten 
1 cup chilled half and half (or buttermilk)
1/2 cup chopped nuts such as pecans or almonds (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 375˚ F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat. Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl. Work in butter with fingertips until mixture resembles course crumbs. Stir in the cherries.
  2. Beat eggs and half and half together, then stir into flour mixture until dough comes together. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead gently, about 4-6 turns. Divide dough in half and pat each into a 7 inch round. Cut each round into 6 wedges; transfer to prepared baking sheets, spacing the wedges apart. Sprinkle with additional sugar and nuts. (optional)
  3. Bake about 25 minutes or until golden brown and beginning to color on top.
  4. They are great served warm with some local cherry preserves. Don't store in plastic bags since it tends to make them soggy. Just place on a cooling rack and cover with a clean dishtowel over night. Since this make 12 scones and we are only a family of three, we usually makes these to bring to a gathering but they also freeze well. Just pop them out of the freezer and into a toaster oven or warm oven for a few minutes.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Second Week

From left to right: Tarragon, Arugula, and Russian Kale
We got our second week of our CSA from Bell Organics.  Hopefully you enjoyed your CSA from last week and found my recipes helpful and delicious. This week we got Russian kale, Chinese kale (Chinese broccoli), arugula, tarragon, spinach, and salad greens.  Sorry about the image, we cooked the Chinese kale immediately and we hope you know what spinach and salad greens look like. For this week you might find the pizza dough recipe very helpful, especially because two of the recipes are pizzas.  This week should be another good time to experiment with different types of salad.  Find things that compliment each others flavors.  Also feel free to use the recipes from last week for this week too.

If you have any recipes that you would like to see on this blog or recommendations, feel free to contact me or comment.  Remember that in less then a month on June 11th, the Downtown Farmer's Market will begin!

Chicken Tarragon Pizza

Chicken Tarragon Pizza

Tarragon is called the "King of Herbs" by the French, and with good reason. It is the main flavoring in many of the sauces that form the foundation of classic French cuisine, as well as the basis of many Italian dishes too. This aromatic blend enhances the flavors of egg, chicken and fish dishes, and is also used as a basis for salad dressings. The scent and taste of tarragon is disliked by many garden pests, making it useful for intercropping as a companion plant, to protect its garden mates. It is also reputed to be a nurse plant, enhancing growth and flavor of companion crops. For this recipe it enhances the taste of the chicken and makes this recipe even more delicious!

Chicken Tarragon Pizza
Pizza dough (see previous post)
2 cups cooked chicken, cubed (McDowell Farm)
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, softened and sliced 
4 ounces shredded mozzarella or feta cheese
Parmesan cheese to taste
Tarragon pesto (can double this recipe and then freeze in ice cube trays for later use):
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tbl. chopped fresh tarragon
  • 2 tbl pecans
  • 1 tbl fresh lemon juice
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
Alfredo sauce (optional, but this is a basic sauce that we use a lot at my house):
  • 2 tbl flour
  • 2 tbl butter
  • 2 cups warm milk
  • 1/2-1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 450° F. Roll out pizza dough on pizza stone.
  2. To make tarragon pesto (great for use in barbecued chicken skewers): Puree first five ingredients in food processor. Add the olive oil and blend until a coarse paste forms. Add 2 tbl water. Mix with the cubed chicken.
  3. To make alfredo sauce, melt butter in heavy saucepan then add flour and cook for 2-3 minutes while constantly stirring. Slowly add warm milk (I heat it for 2 minutes in the microwave) while stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat and add grated parmesan cheese. 
  4. Preheat oven to 450° F. Roll out pizza dough on pizza stone.  Spread the alfredo sauce on the pizza dough. Save any reserved sauce in the refrigerator for later use. Evenly spread the chicken terragon mixture over the bechamel, then spread on the sun dried tomatoes and shredded cheese. Place in oven and back for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Take out, serve, and enjoy.
*For a healthier version, omit the alfredo sauce and just mix the chicken with the tarragon pesto, spread the sun dried tomatoes and cheese and bake. We made it both ways and although the healthier version was good, it was a bit dry so we, of course, preferred the one with the alfredo sauce. 

Pizza With Fig Jam, Prosciutto, Gorgonzola, Balsamic, and Arugula

Arugula, another leafy salad green that is full of vitamins A and C and low on any unnecessary calories. Many people describe arugula as bitter while others may say it has a peppery,  mustard-like taste. Arugula is known by many names, such as rugola, rucola, roquette, garden rocket, Roman rocket, or Italian cress. You can always use arugula for salads, but you might want to mix in other greens to tame this peppery green. In this recipe though, the fresh, peppery green adds important vitamins and phytochemicals to the homemade pizza. Remember, for this recipe you can buy crust at the stores or us the recipe that is already posted on this blog. I hope you enjoy this pizza and the many different flavors it brings with it.
The "Pizza"

Pizza With Fig Jam, Prusciutto, Gorgonzola, Balsamic, and Arugula
Cornmeal, for sprinkling
1-pound pizza dough (Or enough dough for a good sized pizza)
2 cups crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (About 4-6 ounces)
1/2 cup Fig Jam (bought at Whole Foods)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon dijon mustard
8 thin slices of prosciutto or sausage
8 cups arugula
  1. Preheat oven to 450° F.  Sprinkle rimless baking sheet generously with cornmeal.  Roll out dough on floured work surface to the size of a pizza; transfer to prepared pizza stone or pan. 
  2. Spread fig jam over prepared crust.  Sprinkle gorgonzola over the fig jam evenly. Sprinkle with pepper.
  3. Bake pizza for about 10-12 minutes.
  4. Then immediately add the prosciutto (or sausage) for the last 5 minutes of baking. Bake pizza till it is golden brown.
  5. During this time, you can whisk the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and Dijon mustard together. Then add the arugula and toss to cover.
  6. Take the pizza out when done and mound the arugula on top. 
  7. Cut into pieces and serve.

Stir-fried Beef with Chinese Kale

Stir-fried Beef with Chinese Kale

Other than my mother being Italian, my stepmother is Chinese, and when I saw the Chinese kale sitting in our CSA box, I instantly knew what it was and what to do with it. Chinese kale is used for dim sum, a traditional Chinese late morning meal that is often taken with tea. At dim sum, you can get all kinds of food; boiled, fried, steamed, baked, and broiled.  There are sweet dumplings and savory dumplings that contain either meat or vegetables or both.  I have gone many times to dim sum with my stepmom and her family and I love it every time. I often see this exact recipe below at the dim sum restaurant we go to, only it’s called Chinese broccoli (Chinese broccoli is the same as Chinese kale, but the kale is just picked a little earlier).  I hope you get a taste of dim sum from this recipe!

Stir-fried Beef with Chinese Kale
6 cups of Chinese Kale, chopped
    (leaves and stems included)
2 cups of beef, thickly sliced
2 tablespoons of Olive oil
2 tablespoons of Oyster Sauce
2 tablespoons of Soy Sauce
1 tablespoon of Garlic, chopped
A pinch of Sugar
  1. Set a wok or heavy pan over high heat, wait till it is hot.
  2. Add olive oil, and wait till it is even hotter.
  3. Add the beef and fry to your liking.  Remember frying the beef too long will make it very tough, 2-3 minutes is usually enough to make the beef medium-rare.
  4. Remove the beef from wok and store it to the side.
  6. Now put the wok back on medium-high heat and wait for it to get warm again.
  7. Add the chopped garlic, stir till aromatic.
  8. Add Chinese kale, stir the kale and garlic together.
  9. Add the oyster sauce, soy sauce, and sugar.
  10. Add the beef back in and stir fry to combine well.
  11. Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The First Week

From left to right:
Spinach, Collard Greens, Kale, and Beet Greens
This week my family got our first Early Spring vegetable share from Bell Organic CSA. I assume many other people did, so I am beginning to post recipes.  For those who don't know what a CSA is, it is Community Supported Agriculture, which means you pay in advance for part of a farmer's total crop.  This week in our CSA we got beet greens, collard greens, kale, spinach, salad greens, and green onions.   For the greens just make salads. You can come up with your own recipes as well! I encourage it!

Most of all, try not to waste anything. Sometimes these fresh veggies come so fast that you don't have time to cook them all up! I am learning what veggies are coming in season and had already selected the recipes I wanted to try before we picked up the CSA share.  Next week, I will post easy pizza and frittata recipes that go with just about anything type of cheese and vegetable and are great for leftovers.  For frittatas you simply saute your leftover vegetables and then throw in some cheese and/or meat in with some eggs and cook them up.  For pizza you do the same except with dough and pizza sauce.  These are both great things to make if you have anything leftover.  Feel free to make either one of these any day of the week.  They are great for busy families!

If you get anything in your CSA that you need a recipe for,  contact me and I will post one! Enjoy your first week of fresh vegetables!

Spinach, Beet Green and Ricotta Pie

Just like collard greens, spinach is extremely good for you. Spinach was the vegetable that made Popeye super strong! This vegetable is full of vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, calcium, iron, and vitamin C.  It can help prevent bone problems and cancer.  This recipe will use spinach in such a way that everyone will want to eat it.  Since we received a fairly large share of beet greens in this week's box, I decided to add about 1/2 cooked beet greens with 1/2 cooked spinach. I was a little worried that the red from the beet greens would create an odd colored dish but, as you can see, it still looks appetizing.  I also wanted to make a homemade crust rather that use a prepared pie crust so go ahead and use your favorite crust recipe if you have one.   Hopefully, you will love this recipe and love eating it!
Spinach, Beet Greens, and Ricotta Pie

Spinach, Beet Green and Ricotta Pie

Crust (or use a 9" prepared pie crust)
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal (we didn't have any so we used semolina flour instead)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons ice water

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 10 ounces of cooked spinach (I used beet greens as well)
  • 8 ounces of mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
  • 15 ounces of ricotta cheese (we used homemade)
  • 3 large eggs, beaten to blend
  • 1/3 cup basil pesto (homemade from last summer)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ground pepper to taste
Making Crust (Optional):

  1. Coat a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate with cooking spray. 
  2. Mix cornmeal and flour in a bowl.  Add egg and butter and mix together.  Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until a dough ball forms. This will form a sticky mass of dough.  Press into pan.  If dough is too sticky, add a little cornmeal. 

Making Pie:
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚ F
  2. Place a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the chopped onion in the butter until very soft and translucent, about 12 minutes.  Mix in the spinach and other greens. 
  3. Combine remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Add the spinach/onion mixture and stir to combine all ingredients thoroughly.
  4. Transfer filling to prepared pie crust.  Bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until puffed and golden.  Let stand at least 15 minutes before serving. 

Quinoa, Kale, and Sausage with Kale Chips

Quinoa is not grown in Utah, actually the only place in the U.S.A. it is grown in is San Luis Valley, Colorado. It is a grain that is very good for you and extremely delicious. Kale is another healthy vegetable packed with vitamins K, A, and C.  The sausage I used is Colossimo Red Wine sausage.  Together the combination of these three things makes a delicious meal.  One thing I have learned is that just about any greens, when sauteed, go great with sausage and make a really filling meal. You can mix up these recipes by adding different grains but I really like the nutty taste of quinoa. By adding the kale chips you give this meal a little crunch.  Feel free to play with this recipe!

Quinoa, Kale, and Sausage with Kale Chips
Quinoa, Kale, and Sausage with Kale Chips
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
2 cups quinoa 
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth (homemade so save those veggie scraps and chicken carcasses)
1lb sausage, chopped
2 cup chopped kale plus 3 kale leaves for chips
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese plus extra for topping, grated

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚ F
  2. Take kale leaves wash them, dry them and lay them on a baking sheet.  Spray them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Put in oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes but check them often.  Take them out when crisp.
  3. Rinse quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve and drain.  In a medium sized pot, heat oil or butter and add chopped onions and garlic.  Cook until golden. Add quinoa, toasting for about 3 minutes. 
  4. Add broth and other seasonings (I used coriander and turmeric... just be creative). Bring to a boil and reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes until the liquid is gone. 
  5. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet cook sausage.  Add chopped kale, stirring until wilted. Turn off heat.
  6. Combine quinoa mixture with sausage mixture and parmesan cheese.  Make any final seasoning adjustments.  Sprinkle with kale chips and additional parmesan cheese. Enjoy.

Collard Greens with Red Onions and Bacon

Not only are collard greens delicious, but they are good for you.  Collard greens have been proven to lower your cholesterol level and help prevent cancer. Just a cup of collard greens gives you tons of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, and folate.  Be careful when cooking collard greens because you DON'T want to OVERCOOK them. They do need a longer cooking time than swiss chard or kale but you may want to check them occasionally to make sure that they don't overcook.  This recipe is great and not only because there is bacon.  This recipe has a little spiciness to it, but it is still delicious. We ate it with our homemade gnocchi for a meal but I think it would go well with pasta, too.

Collard Greens with Red Onions and Bacon
Collard Greens with Red Onions and Bacon
4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into fourths
(from Christiansen Farm CSA)
1 medium red onion, chopped coarsely
1/2 chicken broth 
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1 bunch collard greens, coarse stems and ribs discarded and leaves and thin stems washed well, drained, and chopped coarsely

  1. In a deep heavy kettle, cook bacon over moderate heat until crisp and transfer to paper towels to drain.
  2. Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon drippings and in remaining drippings in the kettle cook onions, stirring occasionally, until browned slightly and softened.  Transfer onions with slotted spoon to a bowl. 
  3. To kettle add broth, vinegar, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, and about half of the bacon, stirring until sugar is dissolved.
  4. Add about half of collards, tossing until wilted slightly, add remaining collards, tossing until combined.  Simmer collards, covered, 15 minutes. Stir in onions and simmer, covered, 15-30 minutes more, or until collards are very tender.  Serve collards topped with remaining bacon. 

Gnocchi and Gnudi

For those who don't know what gnocchi and gnudi is let me tell you.  Gnocchi is a traditional northern Italian potato pasta, that is small and dumpling shaped.  Gnudi means "naked dumpling," which it basically is.  It is much like the stuffing of ravioli but without the shell around. They are both delicious and easy to be locally made.  Also it is recommended you get a potato ricer or vegetable mill to help with the gnocchi. Don't forget you can add herbs and spices to these recipes in any way you want. Hope you enjoy!

Potato Gnocchi
1 1/2 pounds of Russet potatoes
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, beaten well
1 1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour

Sauteed Gnocchi 
  1. Microwave the potatoes until tender when poked with a fork. Don't overcook them.
  2. As soon as the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them and feed them through the ricer or vegetable mill. Spread them out on a large baking tray or board and sprinkle  on the salt.  Then let them dry out and cool for at least 20 minutes. 
  3. Pour the beaten egg over the potatoes, and then 1 cup of the flour. Gather the mass together and knead, adding a little more flour as necessary to make the dough hold together. Keep it light; the more you work the dough, the more flour you'll need, and you don't want to incorporate too much or the gnocchi will be heavy and dry. A good criterion: slice the mass in half and examine the texture. It should look like cookie dough peppered with small holes. 
  4. Cut the dough into three equal pieces. Roll out each portion into a broomstick about 18 inches long, then cut crosswise into 2/3-inch pieces and toss them lightly in flour.  You should have about seventy-two gnocchi.  
  5. Take one piece of gnocchi and place it, cut side down, on the tines of a fork, then with your lightly floured thumb press into it, at the same time pushing it off the end of the fork and onto a floured board.  The gnocchi should have an indentation where your thumb was, and ridges from the fork tines on the other side. Repeat with all the remaining pieces, and cover with a clean towel.  At this point you should be cooked right away or quickly frozen.
  6. To be frozen: Spread the gnocchi out, none of them touching each other, on a floured baking pan or whatever will fit in your freezer, and freeze them.  When they are solid (about 2 hours) gather them together, shake off excess flour, and store them in sealed plastic bags. They should keep for 6 weeks although we have kept ours longer and they taste fine.  When you want to cook them after being frozen,  either saute or boil half a batch at a time, and double the amount of cooking water.  (Frozen gnocchi seem to taste better if you just saute them in a little oil right out of the freezer rather than boiling them first). 
  7. To cook fresh gnocchi: Bring salted water to a boil and drop five or six gnocchi in at a time. In 2 to 3 minutes, when they plump up and float to the surface fish them out with a strainer or slotted spoon.  You can then mix them with some tomato sauce, pesto sauce, sage butter or some fresh vegetables
1 pound fresh ricotta, drained
1 egg
1/4 freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Gran Padano
6 tablespoons fine bread crumbs (don't throw away that stale bread!)
1/4 cup flour, plus flour for rolling
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, a generous amount
1 cup dry spinach puree, prepared from 20 ounces frozen or fresh spinach (Optional)

  1. Start heating a large pot of salted water.
  2. Blend the ricotta and the egg together in large bowl.  Mix in the cheese, bread crumbs, flour, salt and pepper (and spinach if you want), and knead lightly. 
  3. Test the consistency of the dough by scooping up a heaping tablespoon, forming it into a ball, and flouring it. Drop it into the boiling water; if it does not hold its shape and rise to the surface of the water within a minute, add more bread crumbs to your dough. 
  4. When you have the right consistency, shape all of  the dough into small balls, rough lightly in flour, and lay them out on baking sheets covered in parchment paper. 
  5. To freeze them: do it the same way as you freeze gnocchi (look above). 
  6. To cook fresh gnudi: drop the gnudi gently one by one into the boiling water and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, until they rise to the top, and come to a rolling boil. To test for doneness, scoop out a ball and press it with your fingers: the dumpling dough when cooked should bounce back, leaving no indentation. 25 to 30 gnudi.

Our Homemade Pasta

Ever since I was little, my mom has made homemade pasta.  I remember sitting on the counter and watching her make it.  She did it by hand and sometimes I got to help.  My mom's family is Italian and she remembers watching her paternal Nonnie "grandmother" make homemade ravioli and pasta.  It is easy to make and is perfect with anything you want to put on it.  You can use any kind of flour,  semolina flour is the kind that most professional pasta makers use, but whole wheat flour and unbleached flour works too.  It's fun to make. You can always let it dry and use it later, but you need to make sure it is really dry or else it will go moldy.  I hope you love making pasta as much as I do.

Finished Pasta
How to mix the eggs and flour.
Homemade Pasta(Egg Noodles)
# cups of flour= # eggs + 1 

For example: 3 cups flour + 4 eggs

After kneading
  1. You combine the eggs and flour, by making a well in the flour, on any clean surface, and putting the eggs in the well. Beat the eggs with a fork and then slowly work the flour from the edges into the eggs, until you can use your hands to knead the dough together.  We have even done this entire process in our Kitchen Aid mixer and that work well, too. If the dough is too dry, add an extra egg. 
  2. You then knead it until it sticks together but is not to sticky and has a nice elastic texture.  Cut off small pieces and then press into the a rectanglar shape. Cover the remaining dough so it doesn't dry out while you are making the pasta.   We just invert a bowl over the dough to keep it from drying out while we are rolling out the dough.  You can then form it into what ever kind of pasta you want. We have a pasta making machine that we use to roll out the dough until it is fairly thin but you can also do this with just a plain rolling pin.  You can then store the dried pasta or cook it immediately.
  3. We dry the pasta on drying racks but you can also place the noodles on a dish towel spinkled with flour. We usually have one big pot full with the fresh pasta and they dry the rest out overnight and place in the refrigerator to eat later in the week.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Homemade Mayonnaise

I thought mayonnaise was only for sandwiches, but to my surprise you can use it for a lot of things, such as curry, aoili, saffron, and cooked mushroom. Easily made and much healthier, since you know what's going in it.  Let your imagination go wild and use this recipe for anything you want. My mother uses this basic mayonnaise to make this great wasabi and horseradish mayonnaise dip that we eat with potato pancakes and roasted asparagus. Maybe I'll post that recipe soon!

Homemade Mayonnaise
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 large egg yolks
3/4 cup canola oil
Homemade Mayonnaise

  1. The secret to success when making mayonnaise is to start the emulsion quickly. Using a combination of the egg yolks and Dijon mustard is the key to a great finished mayonnaise.  Combine the lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and egg yolks in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. 
  2. The mayonnaise will thicken as you begin to incorporate more oil.  Gradually add the canola oil to the egg yolk mixture, at first just adding it drop by drop, stirring with a whisk until each addition is incorporated. Once the emulsion is formed, add the oil about a tablespoon at a time, and continue stirring constantly until the mixture is thick. Yield: about 1 cup
Nutrition Facts:
Serving size: about 1 tablespoon   Calories: 100   Fat: 11.1g   Protein: 0.3g Carbohydrates: 0.1g  Fiber: 0g Cholesterol: 26mg    Iron: 0.1mg   Sodium: 2mg Calcium:  3mg

Simply Made Delicious Yogurt

Homemade yogurt is easy to make and you don't need a yogurt maker to do it.  I originally had a yogurt maker and it worked well, but after looking at a Cooking Light cook book I learned you could make it without one.  It's delicious and my mom loves to use it for breakfast with granola. The best part is you never have to buy yogurt in the store again. We just make the new batch using some of the old batch for the culture. If you have old baby food jars, they are great for making individual servings.
My mom's average breakfast:
Homemade yogurt and granola, and Woodyat Cherries

Homemade Yogurt:
42 oz milk ( 1% low-fat milk, 2% reduced fat milk or whole milk)
6 oz plain yogurt (Make sure it specifies "contains live and active cultures)*
  1. Place milk in large saucepan; heat the milk over medium-high heat until bubbles appear or to about 180 degrees for about 1-2 minutes. The milk will start to climb the side of the saucepan.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat. Let the milk cool until it registers 110˚ to 112˚ on a thermometer or until it comes to room temperature. 
  3. Heat your oven to 100 degrees and then turn it off.
  4. Transfer the milk to a large glass container. Stir yogurt into about one cup of the milk until smooth then mix it well into the remaining milk. Place plastic wrap on the glass container and place in the heated oven (now off)  for 8 hours or overnight.  Note that the 1% and 2% milk will take longer to set.  I usually use whole milk and do this right before bedtime so that I will have a fresh batch of yogurt when I wake up in the morning. To check if the yogurt is set, remove the plastic wrap, and gently shake the container to see if the yogurt is very thick. If not, let it sit for a few hours longer.  If it is thick, place the container in the refrigerator to chill.  Yield: 7 cups.
* For the first batch, you can use store bought yogurt but after that, just use 6 oz of yogurt from the previous batch. You will never have to buy yogurt at the store again unless, like me, you forget and eat your last 6oz before making the next batch!

Nutrition Facts: 
Serving size: 1/2 cup
Calories: 53 (1% milk)     Fat: 1.4g    Protein: 4.2g    Carbohydrates: 6.1g    Fiber: 0g Cholesterol: 5mg   Iron: 0.1mg    Sodium: 64mg     Calcium: 157mg