You know you are obsessed with blogging when…

April 3rd, 2008

…your roommate’s boyfriend brings her flowers and your initial thought is “Yes! Something to take pictures with!”

In my last post, I raved about the Hazelnut Strawberry Cake. Well, you may have not noticed the amount of egg whites…by the time you have that cake and are dying with pleasure, you also have 15 eggs yolks! I hate to waste anything so I’ve been trying my best to figure out how to make something, anything with the yolks so I:

a. do not feel bad about throwing them out; and
b. do not feel guilty about eating them.

The other night I made a delicious spinach-caramelized onions-goat cheese quiche (sorry, no pictures- long day and too hungry!), which thankfully used a few yolks but I still had a little jar with 12 more…what to do…I also had some sage, ricotta, parmesean…so I decided to make ricotta gnocchi. I love making gnocchi with leftover mashed potatoes, butternut squash, sweet potato or pumpkin. So I gave it a shot with a simple sage brown butter (my simple and delicious go to sauce). They were really light and quite good. I incorporated the lilies with my pictures, as they are very beautiful and beckon in spring.

I am going to enter this into Project Foodie’s Leftover Tuesday #13. I know, I am a bit early but I was always one of those kids who liked to turn in her homework early! :)

Ricotta Gnocchi with a Sage Brown Butter Sauce
(adapted from epicurious)

1 cup ricotta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (and some more for sprinkling over the pasta)
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2/3 cup flour
extra flour for dusting

1. Mix the first six ingredients together.
2. Slowly incorporate the flour
3. Shape dough on a well-floured surface with lightly floured hands into 2 (1-inch-thick) ropes.
4. Cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces with a lightly floured knife.
5. Using a fork, roll the pieces against the fork to create groves. See P.S.

6. Cook gnocchi in 2 batches in a pasta pot of boiling salted water, adding a few at a time to pot and stirring occasionally, until cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per batch. They will begin to float when they are cooked and you can take them out. I will run one under cold water and taste it to make sure it is cooked through.
7. Lift out with a slotted spoon and drain in colander.
8. Meanwhile, melt butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-low heat until golden brown, about 5 minutes, and drop in the sage until crispy.
9. Toss gnocchi with brown butter in skillet and sprinkle with cheese.

P.S. How do you properly roll out gnocchi?
Check out this for pictures and more instructions.

Another Quick Dinner and Some Sage Advice…

February 28th, 2008

I have another confession. I love butternut squash. I can’t get enough of it. I am always looking for new, interesting and delicious ways to prepare butternut squash. One of my greatest successes but also failures was my butternut squash ravioli. Please, ask my family about that story and they will crack up!

A couple years ago, I decided I was going to make dinner for my family. I had this recipe in mind for butternut squash ravioli that filled wonton wrappers with a goat cheese butternut squash mixture. It sounded divine! I figured it would be fairly easy to make but I was very very wrong. I am a naturally messy cook but this was a disaster. Filling and wonton wrappers were everywhere. But I finally made a small bowl of butternut squash ravioli, which I put on my nicely set table and called my family to dinner. My sister, brother and parents each served themselves a couple (about 3) ravioli. They loved them but then asked “What is for dinner?” Yes, I kind of misjudged the quantity needed to feed a family of five. I will never live down that kitchen adventure but at least the ravioli tasted good!

I keep noticing Ruth‘s Presto Pasta Night but have never gotten my act together to add one to the roundup. For its first birthday, I decided to enter this dish. The original recipe came from a New York Times article encouraging the reader to eat more vegetables with less pasta. I cannot promise that we always do that but the pasta sauce is delicious. I added sage because butternut squash and sage are the perfect pair. Check out the round-up for other pasta dishes at Once Upon A Feast.

Pasta with Butternut Squash and Tomatoes
(adapted from NY Times)

Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped or pressed
1 shallot, sliced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 tablespoon sage, chopped
1 can (14.5 ounces) chopped tomatoes
1 pound peeled, pre-cut butternut squash (I love the already cut up squash you can buy at the store, it is worth the extra expense for me not to have to risk a digit cutting up the squash)

1/2 pound cut pasta, like ziti or penne

Freshly chopped parsley or Parmesan for garnish.

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.

2. Put olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, shallots, sage and pepper flakes and cook for about a minute.

3. Add tomatoes and squash, and cook with some salt and pepper.

4. When squash is tender — about 15 minutes — cook pasta until it is tender. Combine sauce and pasta, and serve, garnished with parsley or Parmesan.

P.S. Some more sage advice…One of my favorite dishes to make is a simple brown butter sauce with sage over ravioli or tortellini. Take about 3 tablespoons of butter and heat over medium heat until it begins to melt and bubble. Take about 5 leaves of sage (I like to dice them) and put in the melting butter. Cook until the butter begin to brown. Pour over some ravioli, sprinkle with Parmesan and eat! yummy!

Flamingos? Cilantro? Dinner?

January 28th, 2008

Ever since I started this blog, I have been wondering how I would figure out what to post. Would I allow my ideas for my blog to determine what I cook? Would my cravings control what I post? Would I just have inspiration? Would I post only the meals that photograph well? Then I realized that I know what will heavily influence my posts…my budget. Like many others, I am very conscious about how much I can spend monthly on food. Although I am definitely more liberal in this area, I have been trying to cut back and be smarter with leftovers. While I can’t wait to share with you my chicken-thyme-pear-brie sandwich or my shrimp feta pasta sauce, I also must work within the confines, or put more optimistically, the possibilities of my fridge.

A few weeks ago, I made a mango-avocado salsa to go with some halibut for some friends. I had a large amount of cilantro left and no idea what to make so I came up with a cilantro pesto. When I saw the event, Leftover Tuesdays, hosted by Project Foodie, I decided to enter this recipe. The pesto will last for about two weeks if you keep it in the fridge and the lemon juice helps prevent discoloring. I have eaten about 4 dinners already from this one recipe. In keeping with the Leftover theme, I used some flamingo shaped pasta that I have had lying around.

Cilantro Pesto

1 ½ cups packed Cilantro leaves
1 garlic clove, peeled
¼ cup walnuts
3 tablespoons olive oil

½ cup grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon lemon juice

1. Place all ingredients in a food processor (or blender) and blend until smooth. If it is not smooth, you may need to add more olive oil.
2. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Toss with pasta and sprinkle with some extra grated Parmesan.

P.S. Do you need/have some meat? Poach a chicken breast in a deep frying pan or sauce pan. Place the chicken in the pan, cover with water so that the chicken breast is half-way submerged, bring to simmer, cook on one side for about 5 minutes and then flip over the chicken breast for another 5 minutes. Continue to do this until the chicken is completely cooked (the meat will be white with no pink visible). Cut it into small pieces and mix with your pesto and pasta.