Make Something New Every Day

This blog is inspired by all those who love to cook, whether experienced or not, and who continue to experiment with new ideas & ingredients, and best of all, share their passion with others.

The first entries are recipes prepared by the students of Lionel Wilson College Preparatory Academy in Oakland, CA. Fifteen students with varying cooking experience participated in my weekly workshop (via Tutorpedia), and successfully prepared various meals, snacks, and baked goods as part of an after-school program.

Along with the recipes from that class, I will continue to add new seasonal items, spanning every genre of the culinary world, as well as a helpful list of links to recipes, instructional videos, and places to shop and volunteer in your area.

Feel free to ask me questions and share your recipes and ideas as well. I look forward to cooking with you.

October 6, 2011

Gnoc-Gnoc-Gnocchi at Heaven's Door

Part Deux of my Rainy Day Woman Homage to Deliciousness is homemade gnocchi with pesto. This is my 3rd attempt at gnocchi, and I nailed it. The recipe I used has very good instructions, but since I don't have a Nona to show me the light (and perhaps you don't either), I wanted to add some helpful photos & a few extra tips that made a big difference in my results.

Here Are My Top 5 Tips for Good Gnocchi

  1. Work with confidence. Reading through the recipe and staying organized will keep you ahead of the game. If you execute each simple step, you will get a great final product.
  2. Set out all of your ingredients ahead of time. Once the potatoes are cooked, you'll want to work quickly to combine the dough and shape the gnocchi.
  3. Steam adds unwanted moisture. Let the riced potatoes cool a bit before mixing in the other ingredients. You can use less flour this way, resulting in light, tender dumplings.
  4. When shaping the gnocchi, keep your hands, work surface, and tray floured to prevent sticking.
  5. Freezing the gnocchi before cooking helps. Make sure you have a large roomy pot of salted boiling water, and let them cook for a full 2 minutes once they rise to the surface. Keep the tray in the freezer and cook the gnocchi in batches.
Cooling the riced potatoes on the counter.
A well in the potatoes, filled with yolks, cheese, and seasonings.
Using a bench scraper to quickly & cleanly combine the ingredients.
Once the flour is added, test the dough for firmness. It should give slightly & hold its shape. Only use enough flour to get to this point. 
Separating the dough into 1/4s, rolling it out, and cutting even pieces.
Roll each piece on a gnocchi board, or use the back of a fork using a "somersault" motion. Dust with flour to prevent sticking.
The crevice in the gnocchi helps it cook quickly & remain tender. Freeze on a floured tray. Don't crowd them. 

Here is the recipe I used. It has terrific instructions. I hope my tips & photos help you achieve the same success I did. Good luck! (Makes 3-4 servings)

1 cup of washed & dried basil leaves
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
olive oil
salt & pepper

Using a mini-prep or blender, pulse the basil leaves & garlic until finely minced.
Add the pine nuts and cheese, and drizzle liberally with olive oil (about 3 tablespoons to start)
Blend, and check the consistency. Add more oil until you get a pesto.
Season with salt & pepper.
Either refrigerate in an airtight container for up to one week, or freeze in ice cube trays, then transfer to a freezer bag. Defrost cubes of pesto as desired.

Makes about 3/4 cup

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