Monday, July 27, 2009

Gnocchi...With a French Twist !!

Gnocchi...why isn't that an Italian dish?...and if so, what's it doing in Julia Child's Volume One "Mastering the Art of French Cooking"?
Let me begin my cooking journey at the beginning. I have always been interested in food, eating it, cooking it, talking about it. Many family stories revolved around food.
My mother was Italian and my mother-in-law was Hungarian so I learned early on about making everything from stuffed cabbage and chicken paprikash to lasagne and pasta dishes.
The earliest memory I have of French food was when I was about 12 years old. My family and I would go into New York City and eat in one of the most wonderful French restaurants, Pierre Au Tunnel. Sadly, it closed a few years ago but I always ordered the same things. Escargots and Frogs Legs. I can still taste them !! Garlic and oil and just sheer yumminess!
But I digress. So I decided to choose the gnocchi recipe from Julia's cookbook. The name of the dish is Gnocchi Gratines au Fromage.
Although I've never made the Italian version of gnocchi, a potato dumpling, I was just plain curoius to see...rather this would turn out. Join me please as I try to explain the steps with the photos.

First I had to make a Pate A Choux (Cream Puff Paste). Julia says every cook should know how to make this! I only needed half the amount for this recipe so the other half went into the freezer. You just never know when you'll be craving French Dessert Puffs !
I measured the flour just as she said. Sift it into a cup and be sure not to press down to get the correct amount. Done !

Next I boiled the water and butter and added the flour and the 4 eggs, one at a time, beating the heck out of it...til I thought my arm would fall off!! Mix in the potatoes and cheese and beat some more.

She says to take a dessert spoon and on a lightly floured board, roll the dough with the palm of your hand to a certain size. Here is where I found a much easier way. Just roll the dough into a long thin rope and cut the shapes. So much easier! Really Julia...we need shortcuts!!

Poach them...don't boil or they'll fall apart, she says for 15 to 20 minutes. This I found way too long. The next batch I poached just a few minutes.
They really did have a great flavor. Very buttery and light as a cloud but almost too light!

Place into a buttered baking dish and when ready, heat on the stove and put under a broiler a few minutes. I didn't heat on top of the stove. I think I would have broken my pretty dish !

And here's the finished dish, browned from the broiler.
As I stated, I did like the flavor of the gnocchi but they were almost too light and delicate with the swiss cheese over top. My son said he thought they were great ! So... that's something !!
Would I ever make them again. Probably not. Certainly not in the summer in my hot kitchen!
Well, there you have I dare say it??? Bon Appetit !!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hazelnut Chocolate Biscotti

I seem to be on a biscotti kick lately but I don't know why exactly. Probably because I can bake them ahead of time and they will keep very well for the weekend farmers market. It does get crazy towards the end of the week with the baking and anything I can get ready and out of the way is a good thing ! Oops...did I say a good thing?! OMG!.. that brings me to my Hazelnut Chocolate Biscotti I found in one of Martha Stewart's baking books. I'm not sure which book because I found it at the library and made photo copies of some of her recipes. Anywhoo..I did make some changes to the original, but not much really. After I had the dough mixed together I had some doubts about how it would turn out. It seemed wetter than other biscotti dough I have made before, but then I did add some Frangelico Liqueur. They do have a great hazelnut flavor and are nice and chocolatey. Give them a try, why don't ya' !

The recipe calls for gently pressing the logs to flatten. Mine didn't need pressing..they flattened on their own!

The recipe made about 2 1/2 dozen ( not 4 dozen as Martha's book states).

I have to admit, I did not brush the tops with egg white, nor did I sprinkle the tops with sugar. They do look a little grayish on top so perhaps the egg white would help deepen the chocolate color. Maybe next time !

Ok.... obviously this is not biscotti !!!!! But, come on... are these not the cutest puppies ..or what??!!! They belong to my oldest son, Jim and his wife. This is the second litter for mama Noah, a sweet lovable St. Bernard. This time she had 12 puppies. Had to throw that in !! They are only a few days old here.

On to the recipe:
Hazelnut Chocolate Biscotti
2 1/4 cups A.P. flour
1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
12 oz. ( approx. 2 cups) semi sweet chocolate chunks ( I used chocolate chips)
1 1/2 cups ( approx. 8 oz. ) blanched hazelnuts ( I bought already chopped hazelnuts and toasted them in the oven, then rubbed them a bit of try to remove some skins)
4 large whole eggs, plus 1 lg. egg white, lightly beaten ( I skipped this egg white step)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp. Frangelico liqueur( my addition for a more pronounced hazelnut flavor).
sanding sugar for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350. Line a large sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a food processor, pulse the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, 1 cup chocolate chunks ( chips) and hazelnuts til chips and nuts are the size of peas. ( I don't own a processor yet so I just put the chopped nuts and chips in a bowl with the flour mixture).
In bowl of electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat the whole eggs and sugar til mixture holds a ribbon like trail on the surface for a few seconds when you raise the whisk. ( here's where I added the frangelico).
Switch to the paddle attachment.
With mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and remaining 1 cup of chunks(chips) and beat til just combined.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into 3 equal pieces.( I just spooned the dough onto the parchment).
Shape each piece into logs 18" long ( mine were about 13" long).
Transfer to prepared baking sheet ( mine were already there!).
With the palm of your hand, gently press the logs to flatten slightly ( I skipped this step as they were already flattening on their own!).
Brush egg white over logs and sprinkle with sugar ( again, I skipped this step...boy I sure seemed lazy!!).
Bake, rotating pan halfway through, til logs are just firm to the touch about 20 - 24 minutes.( mine took a few minutes longer than 24 minutes).
Transfer to wire rack to cool about 20 minutes.
Place logs on a cutting board and slice with serrated knife 3/4" thick. Place slices back on sheet, cut side down and bake slices til firm to the touch and completely dry, about 10 - 12 minutes.
Can be kept in an air tight container at room temp. for up to a week.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wicked Good Pumpkin Whoopie Pies !!

Yes, I know it's the middle of summer and pumpkin should not be on anyone's mind right now but I just felt like it, okay ?!! So after making the chocolate whoopie pies last week I remembered these wicked pumpkin whoopie pies I made last fall and how amazingly good they were. I also had some mascarpone cheese in the fridge that I hadn't used yet so I replaced the cream cheese called for in the recipe and used the mascarpone...yikes it's good !! I also added a tiny bit of cloves. I like lots of spice flavor with pumpkin.

It reminded me of Ina Garten's recipe for pumpkin roulade that I made at Christmas last year... fabulous!! But a whole lot easier !So, I urge you to give it a try, winter, spring, summer or fall! You will thank me...really!!
The cookie:
3 cups A.P. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 (15 oz.) can of pumpkin puree
2 lg. eggs
1 cup canola oil
2 cups light brown sugar
2 tbsp. molasses
Preheat oven to 350. Grease sheet pans.
Beat pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar and oil til fluffy.
In med. bowl, combine dry ingredients.
Add molasses and dry ingredients to wet mixture and beat on low til well blended.
Scoop lg. rounded spoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet spacing 2" apart.
Bake 10 - 13 minutes or til the tops spring back when touched.
6 oz. cream cheese ( I used mascarpone cheese).
1/4 cup unsalted butter - softened
2 cups confectioners sugar
4 tbsp. marshmallow creme
2 tsp. water
Combine all ingredients in a med. bowl. Beat til fluffy. When pies have cooled, place a scoop of filling onto one pie and top with second. Wicked Good !!

Monday, July 13, 2009

A No Baking Day...well almost !

Mondays are for me what should be a no baking, no guilt day. What in the world am I referring to, you may ask? Well, after a busy weekend of baking and selling all of my goodies, I try to give myself a day know, no alarm waking me at 5 AM, running downstairs to preheat the oven and so on...and the guilt part. Well, if I find myself watching the Food Network channel at 2 PM , I feel I deserve it..a little "me" time !

Anyway, having said all that, I went to visit my friend today. He has been sick and just got out of the hospital so I headed out with my camera because I knew I would be travelling on a pretty country road and I might see something photo worthy! Headquarters Rd. winds through some beautiful Bucks County scenery with a creek that follows alongside most of the drive. You always see deer so it's best to drive slowly and I did see a few in someone's driveway. I hope you enjoy the photos. And why was it almost a no baking day?..because when I got home I managed to find time to bake a few batches of cookies...what can I say? Blame it on that new cookbook I just bought !

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Whoopie !!...pies, that is !!

Dashing through B J 's Wholesale one day this week to get some supplies, I happened to turn down the book aisle and, of course, couldn't resist checking out the cookbooks. I really didn't go there to buy myself a present,( heck, I just had a new roof put on my barn and I'm having some landscape work done around the house so isn't that present enough ?? ). But you know when that moment of weakness comes over you... impulse buying, I believe it's called...and in an instant you decide you have to have something? Yes, I found a cookbook " America's Best Lost Recipes " by the editors of Cook's Country Magazine. I love to watch America's Test Kitchen and lost recipes?? Intriguing, indeed !

So I brought home my cookbook present and one of the first recipes I tried were these Whoopie Pies. I especially liked that they use butter rather than shortening for their pies. The idea of consuming all that shortening in both the cake and the filling just doesn't seem very appetizing. These turned out very good. The cake part has a chocolatey taste and the filling is really yummy, sweet, of course, but so good ! Oh and an apology on the photo. They're very messy, what more can I say?! But so worth it !

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Just a bit more Rhubarb...Cookies and Rhubarb Lemonade

Well I tried to freeze the rhubarb, really I did, but I just couldn't stop myself from testing out 2 more recipes using this colorful amazing vegetable. It's almost as if I personally discovered rhubarb all by myself and I need to see how many ways I can create with it !

So in my last post I kiddingly mentioned rhubarb cookies but, turns out, there are several recipes I found for them. After checking out this site I baked the Rhubarb Cookies with Orange. These really were delicious cookies. I made one change, however. I added 1/4 tsp. of ground ginger. After reading a lot of rhubarb recipes I noticed many of them called for ginger so I decided to use a little bit and I think it added a nice extra spice flavor. Also, when I make these again, I would use 2 cups of chopped rhubarb rather than 1 1/2 cups. I felt it just needed a bit more. The cookies come out soft, kind of cake like and because of this, they would make terrific sandwich cookies, kind of like whoopie pie like...OMG.. whoopie pie rhubarb cookies !! Somebody stop me!!

The next rhubarb recipe I made (from the same web site), was Rhubarb Lemonade. Okay, this drink is so good!!! You have to make just do!! Because my rhubarb was so fresh, the amount of sugar called for in the recipe was a little too much. I would cut down the sugar if your rhubarb is growing in your garden and nice and tender like mine was.

Well, there you have it! All my rhubarb is gone and I need to move on! I've been gathering blueberries everywhere and freezing them. Between picking them myself and buying them at the farmers markets, I have quite a stash. Stay tuned for something blue...berry that is!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Rhubarb Bread Pudding

Topped with a dollop of sour cream sweetened with sugar or honey.

Cranberry Orange scones with golden raisins cut up instead of bread.

Look at those beautiful colors !!

Before baking.

It has a nice crunchy top and with velvety pudding below !

Ok, I admit it...I lied ...well, just a little bit!! I couldn't resist making something rhubarb this morning so the first recipe I made was this wonderful rhubarb bread pudding. I have perused the internet for so many rhubarb recipes between last night and this morning my head is all in a tizzy!! and I can't remember where I originally saw this recipe but let me just tell have to make it. It's that good!! I did make a few changes, can't just leave anything alone! As I don't usually have bread in the house, I dug into the freezer and found 3 cranberry orange scones and decided that using these would just make it so much better ( it did !). I also used 1/2 cup of half and half for part of the 1 1/2 cups of milk it calls for. I suggest adding 1/2 cup more rhubarb. It needed it once I tasted it. I also added 1/2 tsp. ground ginger as many of the recipes I read used ginger with the rhubarb so it seemed a good spice to add. With every bite you get the tart flavor of the rhubarb with the not too sweet pudding and it's just heaven ! I suggest you try this's really so good. Now, on to the rhubarb cookies. I actually found a recipe for them !! More on that later. Enjoy!!
Rhubarb Bread Pudding
1 1/2 cups milk ( I used 1 cup whole milk and 1/2 cup half & half)
2 eggs - beaten
4 slices of toast - cubed ( I used 3 large scones )
1 1/2 cups rhubarb - sliced 1/2" thick
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger ( my addition )
In a large mixing bowl, mix eggs and milk. Add toast ( scones ) , rhubarb, sugar and spices. Pour into a buttered casserole dish. Mine was approx. 6" x 10" dish. Bake for 1 hour @ 350. Let cool about one hour to be room temp. or refridgerate if you like it cold. A dollop of sour cream sweetened with sugar or honey or ice cream would be just fine !

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Rhubarb still available...Yeah!!

I am embarrassed to admit that I have never made, and barely ever eaten, rhubarb...yes, it's true. I seem to recall a rhubarb pie my brother brought over to us one summer holiday. It was from some obscure bakery and I remember it as being overly sweet and the rhubarb was mushy. Well, as promised my "neighbor" (at the Saucon Valley Farmer's Market in Hellertown) Happy Farm from Kitnersville gave me some beautiful, fresh, just picked straight from the garden this afternoon... rhubarb! Can't get any fresher than that. According to Mary, farmers don't bring it to market once summer begins but it's still very much growing in the gardens and available. Guess the farmers are just too busy harvesting other crops for market...I don't know.. but I have it and I'm going to make something. Just not sure what!

So, I looked up some info on it and for now, decided to freeze it.Well maybe most of it. It's supposed to freeze very well. Of course, I'm thinking cookies but rhubarb cookies..hmm.. not really liking the idea but, stay tuned and we'll see what I can come up with. A great site to check out for all things rhubarb is Savor the Rhubarb I've still got that patty pan squash from yesterday to tackle! Hmm.. thinking patty pan squash cookies...Just kidding!! (Thanks Mary and Jean!)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4 th !!

Beautiful colorful zucchini blossoms !!

Cute patty pan squash !!

Hope everyone's having a great 4 th Holiday!! Our weather couldn't be more perfect. After a long day at the Wrightstown Farmers Market, the closest thing to BBQ this holiday was almost me standing out in the field with no shade and "cooking" in the sun, since my canopy wanted to take off in the wind!! More baking to do later but I wanted to share some photos with you of wonderful summer veggies and fruits offered at the market today. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

NYC and The Fancy Food Show...Bobby Flay !!

So much to little time!!

Amazing sight !!!!!!!

Til next time!
Back at the dock.

First...let me apologize....I haven't posted anything in such a long time that's it's downright embarrasing!! But, Wait!!!...I can explain...kind of. I've just been so very busy with 4 farmers markets to bake for it's just hard to find time..well..not just the time but I guess , for me, to just , quite frankly, be in the mood to "talk"!! Anyway, having "said" that, I can redeem myself with this post( I hope )!

I have been so looking forward to go to The Fancy Food Show in NYC. I needed to get inspiration and ideas for my cookie business and WOW!! did I ever get ideas and tons of inspiration!!

I dragged my sister along (hey, the lure of eating you're way through a show filled with one delicious morsel after another doesn't take too much coaxing!) and we had a great time!

Our beautiful early morning day started with a ferry ride from Atlantic Highlands, NJ to NYC. That ride was such fun. It always amazes me how many people commute by ferry and every day to the big city ! To see the Statue of Liberty and the city with it's tall skyscrapers is always awe have to see it in person to truly be amazed. Every time I see it , it's like the first time all over again!!

So we hailed a cab across town, get into the show and the first sight we see is...Bobby Flay doing an interview!! Wow...what a treat to be standing in front of one of my favorite Food Network stars!!

The show was just fabulous. There were 2 huge jam packed floors of booths and we did, literally, eat our way through. There were international displays( Italy was, of couse, our favorite!) . But all the chocolate, cookies, cakes and candies, teas, breads, olive oils, olives, and on and on !! Yikes!!
Our feet just kept moving and let me tell you by 5 o'clock they were a hurtin'!!

For me, the ferry ride back to NJ was the "icing on the cake". The weather was perfect, clear and sunny and I got the chance to see and photograph on of my favorite structures of the city...The Brooklyn Bridge. I don't know exactly what it is about that bridge that facinates me so. I think it's the combination of the gothic shape of the towers and the delicate flow of the cables...not to mention the proud American flags flying high on each tower...just the most beautiful sight!! Gives me goosebumps!! So, there you have it! Our day in the big apple and I can't wait to go back!! Enjoy the pix!!


Related Posts with Thumbnails