Aug 31, 2009

Sweating for the soul: Potato Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce

Its summer, the sky is blue, no cloud in sight.

The kids will go swimming and my hubby is home.
It’s bloody hot in the kitchen and I have the glorious idea to cook.
Not a nice little salad or a refreshing cold soup.
I tell my boys and mother-in-law that I will make them Gnocchi.
The way I always do them. No not the easy ones with quark (curd cheese), I will make the ones with potato.
Heating up the kitchen with a big pot full of boiling potato, starting to make the Tomato sauce I already start to regret it. 
Peeling the hot little sprouts I start to curse and pray. 
While getting into a fight with the potato ricer I am ready to surrender.
But as soon as the first Gnocchi is in the water I smile. 

It will take at least an hour to clean everything and I am no longer in the mood to eat something as hearty as this little Italian dumplings.

I am still smiling as I clean the dishes and put the last Gnocchi away.


Ingredients

1 1/2 kg whole potatoes (the kind you would use for mashed potatoes)
3 eggs 
350 – 400g flour plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons salt
Nutmeg to taste
Your favourite pasta sauce (for example, this basic, delicious roasted tomato sauce)

Place the potatoes in a pan of cold water, bring to a boil, add a bit of coarse salt, and boil until a knife can be inserted easily through their center.
Drain and peel the potatoes while still hot and mash the peeled potatoes into a medium mixing bowl, using a potato masher or ricer. 
Let them now sit for 3 to 5 minutes. There will lose a little moister and the Potato will get a little colder so you can better work with them.
Don’t let them get to cold. Now you should put a lot of water onto the stove, like Sp√§tzle and all the other pasta, Gnocchi need a lot of salted water to cook in.
Now you have to stir in the salt and flour. Add the eggs one at the time. Now its time to turn the dough out on a floured work surface.
Knead it quickly until smooth. Be fast and don’t overwork the dough.
Don’t use too much flour or the gnocchi will be tuff and heavy.
Divide the dough in six to pieces.
Take one peace and roll it with the palms of your hands into long sausages, about 2 cm in diameter. Now with a knife/ palette knife you cut down peaces with a width of 2 – 21/2 cm.


Now if you like it fancy you can shape them with a fork or a whisk giving them the special look. 



To cook just drop them into the pan of simmering salted water, working in batches so they're not crowded. 

When the gnocchi rise to the surface, they're cooked.


Fish them out of the water with a slotted spoon and reserve in a colander while you cook the remaining batches.

Now you have some choices. 

I just reheated them in a little tomato sauce and served them. You can do that or sauté the gnocchi in a little butter and sage. Pile them into an oven proved dish and top them with cheese, fry them and make a salad.

Have a great time. And don’t let it get to hot in the kitchen.

Aug 29, 2009

Aromatherapy: oven roasted tomato sauce

I love to cook Tomato-sauce; the whole house smells after tomato and summer.

I cook sauce low and slow like my Italian Step-dad showed me or fast and short like a mother of twins has to.

But If I have time, if I have ripe tomatoes, if I really want an easy way to have a lot of flavour I roast them in the oven.



Ingredients


5 pounds ripe tomatoes
2 or 3 large smashed garlic cloves unpeeled
¼ Cup Olive Oil (I like to use one that is flavoured with a little rosemary)

¼ - ½ Cup fresh herbs (you can use anything from parsley to basil, rosemary, thyme…)

Sea salt and pepper, to taste



Preheat to 400 degrees F

Wash the tomatoes and cut them into halves, you can now cut out the stems. Sprinkle a baking pan with the salt and pepper, add the garlic and herbs, lay the tomatoes cut side down into the dish. 
  Now you only have to drizzle the oil all over the tomatoes and transfer it into the oven.
Let it cook for 1-½ hours. The smell will make you hungry but be strong. 
Ad this point you should let the tomatoes cool down enough to be handled. Remove the skins they are not longer needed. 
Now you have to decide if you like your sauce to be smooth or chunky. 
You can just put everything into the blender and mix until it has the desired texture. Or you use your trusty potato masher to crush the bigger chunks.

Now you can just cook a little pasta, put the sauce onto some fresh baked bread, use it as a base for a dip, cook with it.


See you next time.

Aug 18, 2009

First Therapy Session : chocolate chips cookies


Welcome dear friends to my first therapy session in the kitchen. 

Come on don`t be shy. Don`t let my horrible spelling and German ways take the fun out of it.

Sit down take a cookie, have some tea or milk. 

But you have to be fast, the twins are somewhere nearby and they love my cookies. 
The cookies are on the table in the jar, take one I made some extra this evening. 

What do you say? There are no cookies? 

You have got to be kidding. My boys ate them all.

Don`t panic! we make some more. 


It`s easy, it`s funny, the kitchen will smell delicious and if me make enough dough we can even freeze some for later. 

chocolate chips cookies 


Ingredients: 

1 cup butter 
2/3 cup sugar 
1 cup brown sugar 
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon salt 
½ teaspoon baking powder 
½ teaspoon baking soda 
2 eggs 
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract 
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips 

Heat oven to 375° F / 190 Grad Celsius. Line you baking sheets with parchment. 

Sift the dry Ingredients together ( the flour, salt, and baking soda/powder) in a mixing bowl. 
Combine the egg, milk, and vanilla in another bowl. 

Now you only have to cream the butter in the mixer`s bowl. Add the sugar and beat the mix until it`s light and fluffy. It`s time to add the egg mixture, but please don`t forget to reduce the speed before you do so. 
When all is well combined you slowly add the flour mixture. Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl. like to add the chocolate chips by hand but you could do it by machine. 
Scoop onto the baking sheets with a spoon or a Ice cream scooper, 6 cookies per sheet . 

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, starting to check them after 5 minutes. 

If you are so inclined you can rotate the baking sheet for more even browning. 

Remove the cookies from the pans as fast as possible and let them cool. 

Store or better hide them in an airtight container. 

But since you are here why not have one or two. As long as they are still a little on the warm side with a cold glass of milk. 



Oh no our time is up for today. 
I hope we see us in the next session. Have a great time.