Archive for August, 2011

Gnocchi time!

So, it’s been 2 years since I was taught how to make gnocchi…thankfully I have a photographic food memory and the original recipe. First, I boiled a large russet potato and then put it in the oven to dry out for a bit. (total cooking time around 45 minutes) Then I mixed a pinch of salt, 1/2 C. flour and sprinkling of nutmeg. I used a ricer (see pic below) to ‘sift’ the potato and mixed everything together with two egg yolks. I kneaded the dough a little and rolled it into a log. I then cut 2inch sections and tried to make the fork indents, somewhat unsuccessfully. I dropped several gnocchi into a boiling pot of water and pulled them out once they floated to the top, approx. two minutes. I made a quick tomato and basil sauce and everything resulted in a novel, tasty meal.

Ricer for the potato

Gnocchi close-up

fluffy little potato pillows with fresh tomatoes and basil

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Tomato canning with Slow Food Chicago

I had my first canning experience this past Tuesday evening at Logan Square Kitchen. I joined Sam Radov, the pastry chef at the Publican, and a slow food crew for several hours to peel tomatoes, stuff them into jars and process them. So fun! I may need to purchase some canning equipment!

Great spot for private events

Yummm...tomatoes

Tomato squishing time.

Simple sauce to accompany that summer fish

I picked up two sole fillets at Whole Foods today that totaled $3.68. I made that into a yummy meal with a simple sauce.

First, I sauteed some sliced shallots in a mixture of olive oil, butter, and thyme. I then poured in about 1/2 C. of white wine to deglaze the pan. While the wine cooked down, I added the fish fillets and seasoned with salt. I flipped the fillets after a few minutes, once the fillets were opaque white (cooked), I put them to the side to finish the sauce. I added 1/2 C. chicken broth and 1 T. of fresh dill. After a few minutes I added 1/4 C. heavy cream and poured it all over the fish!

Loved that the sauce ran into the potatoes and brussel sprouts!

Zucchini pancakes with cacik (Turkish time)

Zucchini pancakes are surprisingly flavorful! Give them a chance!

1. Shred three large zucchini’s, heavily salt them, then leave it to draw out the water for 30 mins-1 hour
2. Squeeze the water out of the zucchini and add 1/2 C. of finely chopped feta cheese, 1/2 C. parsley and 2 or 3 T. of dill. (fresh herbs!) no need to add salt!
3. Mix together 4 eggs and 1/2 C. flour and then add it to other ingredients
4. Mix thoroughly and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 3 hours
5. Scoop out zucchini mixture onto hot griddle and fry until golden brown and cooked in the middle

cacik (yogurt sauce)
-Finely chop cucumber and mix in puree clove of garlic
-Add container of 2% plain greek yogurt and season with salt
-Sprinkle dish with olive oil and fresh mint when serving

Great veggie option!

Spanish tortilla with potato (tapas)

Spanish tortilla has two ingredients, potato and eggs. What makes it special is the preparation.
1. I used my mandolin to slice several potatoes
2. I then cooked the slices in canola oil at a temp just below deep frying
3. I used my immersion blender to whip 12 eggs for a bit to make fluffy
4. Into a non-stick pan with heated olive oil, I layered whipped egg, then potato, then salt, then egg, then potato, then egg, etc.
5. I capped the frying pan with a lid and let it cook on medium for about 10 minutes. I then flipped the tortilla into another oiled frying pan and placed it into the 200F oven to bake for 15 or more minutes.
6. I made sure the browned side was face up and sliced it into cubes for easy eating. Tasty with hot sauce!

Pretty dish.

Chicken croquetas (Spanish tapas style)

Special thanks to Jaime, my Spanish friend, for his advice on making both the chicken croquetas and Spanish tortilla!

These little bites were a fair amount of work but perfect to serve at a cocktail party. Here’s my version:
1. roasted a chicken – kept the roasting juices and let them separate into fat and broth in the fridge. pulled off all the meat and put it in the freezer. made chicken stock with the bones, carrots, onion, celery, water for 12 hrs. (overnight, it’s low maintenance)
2. night before the party, I made the filling, a basic bechamel sauce. Started with 10 T. of roasting fat from fridge, olive oil and butter (about equal parts of each). On a side burner I added 5 C. of milk and 2 C. of chicken broth, including the roasting broth separated from the fat until warm. I added 14 T. of flour to the heated oil mixture and stirred until fully blended. I then added the the water milk/broth to the oil/flour mixture and stirred for 20-30 minutes. I tasted the mixture and added salt as needed. After defrosting the frozen roasted chicken pieces lightly, I finely cut the pieces into shreds. I then added the chicken to the bechamel once it started to thicken. Once thick enough, pour into bowl and refrigerate overnight.
-My recommendation is to make sure the bechamel is sticking to itself more than the outside of the pot, like glue. It needs to be thick enough to shape later the next day.
3. On party day, remove the bowl of filling from the fridge. Take two spoons and start making lots of quenelles. Check out the technique on youtube, it takes practice!
4. Then I dipped each quenelle in egg wash and then in seasoned bread crumbs.
5. In a pot, I heated canola oil to deep frying temperatures. In batches on 6, I fried the outside until golden brown and then put them in the oven at 200F to keep warm until serving.
6. Tasty!

Karen and I quenelled for awhile...

Pre-fry croquetas

Egyptian maid becomes cooking star!

Turquoise Cafe (Turkish)

The seating outside, in front of their restaurant, has an intimate, charming quality to its decor. The service staff is attentive and the delayed timing between courses allows for a relaxing meal experience. The cocktails, warm bread, and baklava were all excellent. The entrees fell a little flat in comparison. The zucchini pancake was tasty and something I’ll definitely try making at home. I ordered the Manti, turkish ravioli filled with veal, and unfortunately it did not meet my expectations. I appreciate that the pasta is made from scratch but I’m not sure if it’s living up to the promise of taste and texture.

Gold finches enjoying my basil plant

Waste not, want not.

Carrot, Leek and Ginger soup

Although I could have gone the cold soup route, I decided to make hot leek and carrot soup with a homemade chicken stock base. I added ginger for kick and freshness and some cream at the end. When I served myself a bowl, I added a spoon of greek plain yogurt and squeezed some lemon juice over top. Still good for summer.

Carrots, leeks, ginger, potatoes soon to get a white wine deglaze

Blended to creamy yumminess

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