Sunday, 17 March 2013

Homemade beet gnocchi with beurre blanc sauce

I was always a little terrified to make homemade gnocchi because I've heard so many horror stories about how difficult it is. While I will admit it is time-consuming, I am here to tell you it is NOT HARD AT ALL. I took many short cuts and mine still turned out beautifully. I made them with beets instead of the traditional potatoes, per this Food & Wine recipe. It also calls for ricotta which, from my research, is not typically in potato gnocchi. It took me about 2.5 hours to prepare (an hour of which is just cooking the beets), so I would recommend making it the day before you serve it. You can store the uncooked gnocchi in the refrigerator for a couple of days or freeze them individually on a cookie sheet, then toss them in a bag and keep for a couple of months (see notes at end of recipe).
Aren't they gorgeous?


Makes about 8 1-cup servings.

2 lbs. medium beets, scrubbed
Olive oil
1 c. part skim ricotta
1 egg
3/4 c. shredded white Italian cheese (I used a blend of Asiago, Fontina, Parmesan and Provolone)
1 Tbsp. salt
3 c. flour

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Coat the beets in olive oil, salt and pepper and wrap individually in foil. Bake for an hour, let cool and then peel.
2. Roughly chop the beets and puree them in a blender or food processor.*
3. In a mixer with a paddle attachment, combine 1 1/2 c. beets, ricotta, egg, cheese and salt on low speed until blended. Keeping the mixer on low, add the flour 1/2 cup at a time until combined.**
4. Separate the dough into 10 pieces. Roll the pieces out into ropes about 1/2 inch in diameter. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces.***
They freeze beautifully.
5. To cook the gnocchi, bring a 2-quart pot of salted water to a boil. Add about 15 gnocchi at a time, wait until they float and let them cook a minute or two more. Remove and set on an oiled surface.

*The beets are technically supposed to be a bit overcooked so they become a puree, kind of like mashed potatoes. However, mine were a tad under-cooked and were more finely minced than anything, and that worked just fine in the recipe.
**After adding 2 cups of flour I thought there was no way I needed to/could add more flour. Add it anyways! It's completely necessary!
***If you don't want to cook the gnocchi immediately, you can freeze or refrigerate them. Cover a cookie sheet with waxed paper and lay the individual gnocchi on the sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze or refrigerate overnight. Then, transfer to a large plastic ziploc baggie and seal tightly for longer storage (3-4 days in the refrigerator or 2-3 months in the freezer). You can cook them from frozen.


Serves 4.

Beurre blanc (makes 1/2 cup):
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
1 Tbsp. chopped onions
1 stick of chilled butter, cut into 8 pieces
Salt and pepper to taste

Other ingredients:
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped
2 chicken bratwurst, cooked and cut into small pieces
1/2 c. bacon, fried and chopped finely
4 c. beet gnocchi, cooked
1/2 c. Italian blend cheeses (I used a blend of Asiago, Fontina, Parmesan and Provolone), for serving
Fresh parsley, chopped, for serving

1. Make the beurre blanc sauce. Stir the vinegar, wine and onions together in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until greatly reduced (1 Tbsp. liquid remaining).
2. Remove from heat and stir in two pieces of chilled butter until incorporated. Return to low heat, and stir in the rest of the butter adding 1-2 pieces at a time. Stir constantly. Once all of the butter is incorporated, remove sauce from heat, cover and set aside. Add salt and pepper to taste.
3. In a large frying pan, toast the walnuts over medium heat about 3-5 minutes. Add the bratwurst, bacon and gnocchi; heat, constantly stirring, until everything is warm. Remove from heat, add 1/4 c. beurre blanc and stir until everything is coated.
4. Transfer to four serving bowls and top with 2 Tbsp. cheese and a pinch of chopped parsley.

Disclaimer: This is not health food, but it's worth the indulgence, trust me. Leaving off the beurre blanc will cut 211 calories and 23 g of fat, but significantly reduces the deliciousness. You make the call :-)

Nutrition, per serving: 907 calories, 45 g carbs, 64 g fat, 41 g protein

Saturday, 16 March 2013

BLT toasts with ricotta

I was inspired by this dish from Food & Wine magazine for these delectable toasts. The F&W recipe was a little funky for me (I wasn't so sure about the pancetta and the pickled ramps/scallions), and then I remembered my mom's BLT cracker dip: bacon mixed with mayo and served on crackers with tomatoes, a guaranteed crowd pleaser. I decided to combine the two! You could add some lettuce to make this a true BLT but it's delicious just like this :-)


1 loaf French bread
1 c. ricotta cheese
1 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced
1/3 lb. bacon, fried
Salt and pepper

1. Begin by toasting the French bread. Preheat a broiler. Cut the bread into 1/2-inch thick pieces. Arrange the slices on a cookie sheet and brush the top side with olive oil. Broil for 1 minute or until golden brown. Remove from heat, flip the slices and brush the other side with olive oil; broil. Set aside.
2. Mix ricotta cheese, mayonnaise and 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Season mixture with salt and pepper.
3. Spread the sliced bread with ricotta mixture and top with about 1 Tbsp. each of bacon and tomatoes.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Overnight oats

 So, I've been hearing so much buzz about overnight oats lately I had to try them. I always prepare my meals the night before I go to work, so I was super excited about this new weapon to add to my breakfast arsenal. I usually just have Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts, but overnight oats took my go-to meal to a new level of yummy. Nutritional info is at the bottom of the post.

1/4 c. quick oats
1/4 c. Greek yogurt (full fat is the only way to go)
1/4 c. milk, 2%
1/2 c. frozen or fresh fruit (I used frozen mixed berries)
2 Tbsp. walnuts

1. Mix the first three ingredients together in a mason jar.
2. Top with fruit and nuts.
3. Stick it in the fridge overnight.

When you eat it in the morning, just stir everything together and ENJOY. It's sooo good. You can substitute any type of yogurt, milk, fruit or nuts.

Ready to eat
Gorgeous, right?
My recipe has 331 calories, 36 g carbs, 18 g fat and 10 g protein. I enjoy my full-fat foods way more than I should, but you could easily cut fat and add protein by using nonfat yogurt and milk and adding some sort of protein powder. 

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Queso Dip

My mom makes a queso dip that is extremely easy--cooked ground beef, Rotel tomatoes and cream cheese.  It's soooo good, but I wanted to develop my own version that's a little healthier and a little more sophisticated. Yes, I realize there is NOTHING sophisticated about creamy cheese dip with tortilla chips, but I try, oh, I try.

Anyways, my dip was inspired by this version (he used chorizo, guys! SO sophisticated). It was a little lighter than my mom's (the cooking creme I used has about half the fat/calories of cream cheese) and at least comparably delicious. P.S. Ruby, I totally made up the name of this dip by myself, with the help of Google Translate. Spanish pro up in hurr.

Queso salsa con carne

1 lb. ground turkey
2 Tbsp. butter
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 large onion
1 roma tomato
1 jalapeno, seeded
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup tequila
1 pkg. Santa Fe Philadelphia Cooking Creme**
2 cups Mexican cheese

**This stuff was on sale and I wanted to sample it. It was pretty dang delicious, but bottom line is it's processed crap, with maltodextrin, a form of MSG, corn syrup and sugar in it. Next time, I will make my own version to keep this dip as unprocessed as possible. So, what can you substitute for the creme? I would pick sour cream, plain Greek yogurt or creme fraiche (you'll need 1 1/4 cups). Then, add some Mexican flavor--onions, jalapenos, chipotle peppers, cilantro, cumin, taco sauce, even salsa. You can easily achieve the same effect without the processed crap.

1. Put the turkey, butter and spices in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Fry for 7-8 minutes.

Mmmm raw turkey.
2. In the meantime, chop the onion, tomato, jalapeno and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Add to turkey and cook for 4-5 minutes.
Fresh veggies
3. Once the turkey is almost cooked through, add the tequila and turn the heat up to high. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until it doesn't smell like alcohol anymore!
4. Turn the heat down to low. Stir in the cooking creme and cheese, cook slowly until everything is melted together.

Real cheese!