Posts Tagged ‘italian’

Easy Gnocchi

January 14, 2011

I think I loved gnocchi the moment I tasted my first little potato pillow. I’d been craving potato dumplings. Back in my hometown of Madison, Wisconsin, there was this little restaurant downtown on State Street that sold pelmeni, or Russian dumplings. Some were filled with ground sirloin, and others were filled with potato. Covered with dusting of curry powder and squirts of spicy-sweet Srichara, it was perfect for lunch, dinner, or after a night out at the bars.

But then I moved away to Tucson, Arizona (and sadly, the restaurant eventually closed so when I go home it is no more) and I wasn’t sure where I’d get my fix. Of course I attempted to make pelmeni myself, but I was still growing as a cook then and it turned out pretty disastrous. Before I boiled them the dumplings were about the size of a Superball. Neat little balls of dough filled with mashed potato season and salted. But a few minutes in a boiling water caused them to go supernova. The potato burst out of the dough. The dough quadrupled in size and suddenly I was faced with a pot full of potato bits and doughballs the size of baseballs. I still ate it of course, but needless to say, it wasn’t the same.

Easy gnocchi

This gnocchi is seriously easy to make, especially if you use potato flakes...yes, potato flakes.

Enter Trader Joe’s. Enter gnocchi.

I spotted them in the freezer section (they’ve recently been vacuum-sealed and moved to the past section) and seeing “potato” and “dumpling,” I went in for it. They were pelmeni, but that day another food love affair began. I served them with curry powder and Sriacha. I combined them with kielbasa and vegetables.  Just last night, I cooked them up and served them with a Boursin garlic cheese sauce with grilled portobella mushrooms.

But last night’s dish didn’t involve Trader Joe’s. I’ve gone rogue, you see. I make my own gnocchi now.

In June of 2009 my boyfriend and I went to Rome. On our last night there, my boyfriend’s brother and his girlfriend (who were living in Trastevere at the time) took us for one last great roman meal. We went to the a restaurant in Rome’s Jewish ghetto, a wonderful, dreamy place called Il Giardino Romano where I watched a man peeling crate after crateful of fresh artichokes (we ordered fried artichoke hearts for an appetizer) while we waited for our meal.

I ordered the gnocchi in a fontina sauce, and the first bite I won’t ever forget. Soft. Pillowy. Delicious. Sorry, TJ’s, I love you, but you just don’t compare. Homemade gnocchi, friends, that what I bit into.

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Ramp Risotto with Italian Sausage

May 6, 2010

I first read about ramps in Bon Appetit last spring. I had no idea what they were, but the idea of vegetables and greens unknown intrigues me. It inspires me to try new things.

Ramp risotto with Italian sausage topped with Parmesan and peccorino cheese.

Last Sunday was the first Baltimore Farmer’s Market of 2010, and I was looking forward to loading up on fresh, local produce. But by the time I rolled in late there was little left, if there had been many vegetables to begin. I guess the season is still pretty early for actual fresh, local produce, so my boyfriend and I managed to grab some fish, beef, and milk before we left. The lack of vegetables though was a gap we had to fill, so we made a beeline for Whole Foods and there, for the first time, I saw a table full of fresh ramps. While they were on the pricey side ($12.99/lb!) I had to give them a try, to see how different they were from spring onions or leeks or garlic or whatever.

A quick search of Epicurious brought me to a recipe for ramp risotto with Italian sausage. Since I actually had all of these ingredients in my kitchen, it kind of sealed the deal that this was going to be part of dinner that night.

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Spaghetti and Chicken Meatballs

November 14, 2008

I purchased some ground chicken recently with every intention of cooking it up into a dish of Thai Drunken Noodles. But lacking basil and motivation one evening, I did a Y-turn and though that spaghetti and meatballs would taste good, and why not make said meatballs out of chicken? Fried meat can be healthy, can’t it?

Spaghetti and Chicken Meatballs

Spaghetti and Chicken Meatballs

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