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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

When Life Gives You Lemons...

Here is a good article about Limoncello, that intensely lemony liqueur loved by millions.

http://www.italiannotebook.com/food-wine/amalfi-lemon/

It focuses on the Amalfi coast area.

My favorite Limoncello wasn't from Amalfi, but was instead from the tiny island of Capri. That's [ˈkaːpri] with the emphasis on the first syllable.

That was, until I tasted the Limoncello from Sicily which is made from their GREEN lemons. The Sicilian green lemon tends to be less acidic and more floral.

Whichever type of lemons are used, this is a nice Italic beverage that you can get in most local liquor stores.


Ci vediamo più tardi!

---Enzo

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sicilian Gnocchi - an American variant

I made this recipe the other night. It was a big hit so I figured I'd post it here for folks who might be interested.  The pics aren't in order but you'll get the idea.

Ciao!


My pictures (in reverse order!) of the process can also be found at: https://www.facebook.com/nivho/posts/10152055025804810

Ingredients
·         2 large russet potatos, baked & mashed smooth
·         1/4 - 1/2 cup pistachio flour
·         1 3/4 cup flour (more as needed to get the right consistency
·         1/4 teaspoon salt
·         1/4 teaspoon white pepper
·         4 oz toasted pine nuts
·         seeds from 1 pomegranete
·         12 - 16 oz butternut squash chunks*
o   6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
o   1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed

Directions

Pistachio Flour -
Make pistachio flour, if need be by putting the roasted, unsalted nuts into a food processor until smooth enough. Grind in short bursts to retain the flavorful oil naturally in the nuts.

Potato -
Preheat oven to 400F. Prick potatoes all over with fork. Bake 45 minutes, or until soft. Cool 10 minutes, or until easy to handle. Peel potatos and then into a large bowl, mash them until smooth. I use a potato ricer to get a nice consistency.

Roast butternut squash -
Place the butternut squash chunks in a roasting pan (or on a baking sheet with edges). Add the butter and brown sugar. With clean hands, toss all the ingredients together and smooth into a single layer, if possible.  Roast for 45 minutes at 400 degrees, until the squash is tender and the glaze begins to caramelize. While roasting, turn the squash a few times so they brown evenly. Set aside (I drain off any remaining liquid and just let the squash begin to cool).

Pine Nuts -
Toast the pine nuts in a *dry, non-stick skillet being careful not to let the pine nuts burn. You only want them toasted. Let them cool on a papertowel, spread out in a single layer. Set aside for later.

Pomegranate seeds -
De-seed the pomegranate into a bowl. Cover and put in the fridge for later use.
VIDEO: http://lifehacker.com/5895852/deseed-a-pomegranate-in-10-seconds-using-a-wooden-spoon

Gnocchi -
Lightly flour a baking sheet (or two) and your work surface.
To the bowl with the mashed potatos, gradually add the flour until the dough is firm but smooth and slightly "tacky" but not sticky. I start by adding 1/4 cup of the pistachio flour and folding it into the potato. The I add 1/4 - 1/2 of the normal flour at a time until I get the right consistency. Use your hands so you get a feel for the dough. About 5 minutes or so of kneading is what mine generally take. Once the dough is smooth, put it back into the mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap for about 10 minutes.

Cut the gnocchi dough ball into four equal pieces and put all but one back into the bowl and cover. Transfer the first piece of dough to lightly floured work surface. Roll into a long snake/strand about 3/4-inch thick. Using a pastry scrapper, cut into 1 inch lengths. Do this for each of the pieces of dough.

Roll each bite into a ball quickly and then gently press each ball into the tines of a fork to form grooves in the dough. Hold a fork at about a 45-degree angle (I face the back of the fork away from me but other folks hold it so the back is facing towards them) with tines of the fork touching the work surface. With your thumb (perpendicular to the work surface) gently press each "pillow" of dough down the tines. As you press, the dough will begin to curl around your thumb or fingers. Help it along, as you remove it from the fork. There will be a pattern of raised stripes across the gnocchi.

Place the finished gnocchi onto a lightly floured baking pan as you finish them.

Cook only the amount of fresh gnocchi that you will be eating immediately (that day). Any remaining gnocchi can be frozen. Put the excess fresh gnocchi on a baking sheet, leaving a bit of space between each piece. Freeze. Once they are frozen you can place in a plastic freezer bag.

The Gnocchi Boil -
Bring a large pot of water to a boil with 1 teaspoon of sea salt added. Lower the temperature so the water is at a gentle boil, not a vigorous boil.  Add the gnocchi but not too much at once. Stir lightly so they don't stick together or to the bottom of the pot.  Watch them and once they are ALL floating at the top (1 - 3 minutes) use a slotted spoon and scoop them out of the boiling water into a warming (medium heat) non-stick fry pan with 1 tablespoon of organic extra virgin olive oil. Be careful when putting the gnocchi into the frying pan because the water from the gnocchi could spatter when it goes into the oil.

When the gnocchi start to brown *slightly*, add the pine nuts, and squash (I drain the liquid/butter from the squash first). Lightly toss until all ingredients are warm, transfer to plates and garnish with the pomegranate seeds.


Good alternate recipe with pictures: http://www.chezbettay.com/pages/dinners1/dinrs_gnocchiN.html


Here are my pictures from dinner. Sorry they're not in order!