Sunday, February 28, 2010

Potato Gnocchi

This recipe was sent to me by a friend in Umbria. It is one of the dishes offered at her restaurant. simple to make and tasty! The trick for the sauce is to only use fresh ingredients.

Ingredients for 4/6 servings
For the gnocchi:
• 1kg potatoes
• 300g flour
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 1 egg

Wash the potatoes, put in a pan and cover them with cold water and cook them. When they are cooked, drain, peel and pass them through the potato masher onto a pastryboard.
Add flour , the egg and salt. Knead until you get a compact and smooth mixture.
Cut the dough, little by little, on the floured pastry-board and roll it until you obtain a roll about 2-3 cm thick and then cut into 2 cm cubes.
Sprinkle the gnocchi with flour and cut all the dough in small cubes. Do not over do the flour you will end up with hard rubbery gnocchi!
Put the gnocchi in a large pan with hot and salted water,stir and cook until the gnocchi return to the surface. Drain  them well  then add the sauce and freshly grated parmesan.

Garlic and basil sauce:
• 500g tomatoes
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Garlic
• Fresh Basil
• Grated parmesan
Gently fry the garlic cloves in the olive oil. Add the tomatoes and cook for 15m.
Add the leaves of fresh basil.

Another simple sauce is with Browned butter and fresh sage.
You need a stick of butter and some fresh sage,
Wash and pat dry the fresh sage leaves, then stack and cut them into thin strips Meanwhile melt the butter in a pan over low to medium heat, add the sage strips and sauté until the sage has become crisp and the butter has gained a golden brown hue and nutty flavor (but don’t let it burn!). Spoon over the gnocchi and add some freshly ground black pepper and grated parmesan 
There are loads of other ways to make gnocchi so take a look around these sites in english

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Pizza Pastry

OK, so you can buy pre made pizza pastry, but the satisfaction of making your own is yummy!!
If anyone has some interesting topping ideas let me know!

1 tablespoon active dry yeast, or 1 oz (25 grams) brewer’s yeast
1 1/2 cups  warm water
3 1/2 cups  flour
1 tbs olive oil
a pinch of salt
In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast on the warm water, and stir to dissolve it. Set aside until the yeast starts forming bubbles, about 5 minutes. 
Sift the flour. Pour the flour into a large bowl or on a work surface, the shape of a 'hill' with a center in the middle. Pour the yeast mix, olive oil, and a pinch of salt into the center.
Using a spatula draw the ingredients together. Then mix with your hands to form a dough. Sprinkle some flour on the work surface. Place the dough on the floured surface. Knead the dough  with your hands pushing and folding. Knead just long enough for the dough to take in a little more flour, and until it no longer sticks to your hands.
Usin your hand, spread a little olive oil inside a bowl and then transfer the dough into the bowl. On the top of the dough, make two incisions that cross, and spread with a very small amount of olive oil. This last step will prevent the surface of the dough from breaking too much while rising.
Cover the bowl with a kitchen cloth, and set the bowl aside for approximately 1½ – 2 hours until the dough doubles in volume. The time required for rising will depend on the strength of the yeast and the temperature of the room. When the dough is double its original size, punch it down to eliminate the air bubbles.
On a lightly floured work surface, cut the dough into three equal pieces. On the work surface, using a rolling pin and your hands, shape one piece of dough into a thin round layer. Make a pizza about 12 inches in diameter.
Home made pizza can be cooked in different ways:
Regular metal pizza pan (needs to be oiled before receiving the pizza)
Non-stick pizza pan
Perforated pizza pan (cooks very uniformly on the bottom)
Pizza stone. Place the stone in the oven about 10 minutes in advance to bring it to the right temperature. Excellent for uniform cooking. The pizza bottom needs to be kept floury to prevent it from sticking to the stone
Make a pizza about 12 inches in diameter and transfer it to the pan. Using your fingertips, push from the center to the sides to cover the entire surface of the pan with a thin layer of pasta. Repeat this step with the other 2 dough pieces to obtain 3 pizzas.
At this point the pizza is ready to receive its topping . Cook the pizza in a regular oven at 500 F (260 C) for about 20-25 minutes.
The cheese for a home made pizza, if present in the recipe, should be added 5-10 minutes before removing it from the oven.
To check if ready, lift one side of the pizza. The pizza is ready when the bottom surface is  light brown.

Friday, February 26, 2010


Crêpes can be so versatile - savory or sweet they are making a comeback in America. Back In the 1970s, the became immensely popular  when cookware manufacturers encouraged home cooks to buy special pans to make this French classic. I love using the Crêpe pans, they make things so much easier and you get the thinnest Crêpes.

Crêpes are nothing more mysterious than thin pancakes. While there are commercial mixes for crêpe batter, you don’t need one.Here  is the basic recipe, followed by the classic Crêpes Suzette

Crêpe Basics

1 1/4 cups milk (or beer if you’re making savory crêpes)
1 Tbsp butter
3/4 cup  flour
pinch of salt
2 eggs

In a small saucepan, warm the milk and butter until the butter melts. Set the pan aside to cool 
Process the flour and salt together briefly in your food processor with the steel blade. With the motor running, pour in the milk mixture, then the eggs. Process just until blended.
Scrape the batter into a bowl and let it “rest” for half an hour. The batter may be made up to a day ahead, but may need to be thinned with a tablespoon or two of milk to come back to the right consistency.

Add 1 Tbsp vegetable oil to the hot non-stick skillet.(If using the crêpe pan follow the instructions) With a ladle or large spoon, add two generous Tbsp of batter to the pan. Quickly, use the bottom of the ladle to spread the batter to the edges.
As soon as the batter loses its sheen and the edges just begin to brown (30 seconds to a minute, depending on how hot the pan is), flip the crêpe with a non-metal spatula. The second side will cook very quickly, not even half the time as the first side.
Remove to a plate and cover with wax paper.
Repeat with the remaining batter, adding more oil to the skillet as necessary.
Use immediately or refrigerate, layered with wax paper.
Makes about 12 Crêpes

Crêpes Suzette

Crêpes Suzette are possibly the world’s most famous iteration of crêpes, for years the staple of table-side flaming for many a French restaurant.

4 Tbsp butter
3/8 cup superfine sugar
Zest and juice of 1 orange
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
3+3 Tbsp orange liqueur (Gran Marnier, Benedictine, Cointreau or Triple Sec)
3 Tbsp brandy or Cognac
12 crêpes (use above recipe)

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Stir in the sugar, zest and juice of the orange and lemon and 3 Tbsp of orange licqueur. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
One at a time, add each crêpe to the pan to coat it with the sauce. Fold the crêpe into a triangle and arrange each on the preheated serving platter. Keep them warm while you heat the brandy.
In a small saucepan over medium flame, heat the brandy and the remainng 3 Tbsp of orange liqueur.
Remove pan from the heat. Tilt the pan and carefully ignite the brandy with a match. Pour over the crêpes and serve immediately, garnished with orange segments if you like.
Yields 4 servings.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Zucchini Fritters

I came across a wonderful site called We Cook Italian, which is where I got this recipe from. I have taken the liberty of adding their recipe to my collection.

While not exactly low calorie, as long as you keep the oil hot enough the fritters will not absorb too much oil. These fritters are light and delicious and VERY addictive so make lots! Use a canola or safflower oil for frying. Olive oil is really not suitable.

1 1/2 Lbs Zucchini
Zest of 1 lemon
2tbs fresh chopped basil
salt and pepper

For The Batter:
2 Eggs, Separated
2 tbs Olive Oil
1 Cup Regular Beer
1 Cup  Flour
Salt and Pepper
Oil For Frying
Grate the zucchini and mix with a tablespoon of salt.
Place in a colander in the sink and allow to drain to remove excess liquid for 15 minutes. Rinse the zucchini and then pat dry with paper towels. Place in a bowl with the lemon zest, fresh basil and pepper. Mix well.
For the batter, beat the egg yolks well and then slowly add the olive oil. Next add the beer and flour. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and let the mixture rest for 1 hour. 
Just before you are ready to make the fritters beat the egg whites in a bowl until firm.

Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the batter mixture. Add enough of the batter mixture into the bowl with the zucchini to bind the mixture together. You may not need all of the batter.

In a heavy pot, heat the oil to 375 degrees F. Take spoonfuls of the zucchini in batter and slide them into the hot oil, cooking 4 to 5 at a time. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until golden and crisp. Place the cooked fritters on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Continue to cook the remaining fritters in the same manner. Serve immediately with lemon wedges and a sprinkling of sea salt
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All the recipes here have either been sent to me, adapted by me or found on the web. If I know the source I always give credit to the author/website. If you know of a source I may have missed please let me know.