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This may be the last pasta post for a little while, as I’m going to try to be a little healthier for as long as I can stand it. Sweet potatoes are a favorite around the apartment, and they make light and fluffy gnocchi with more depth of flavor than regular gnocchi. Combine them with some crisp sage and pecorino, and they become truly delicious little clouds.
Sweet Potato Gnocchi
1 1/2 pound sweet potato (1 large sweet potato), pricked with a fork
8 ounce container of fresh ricotta, preferably local
3 ounces grated parmesan
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups flour
Roast the sweet potato in a 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or microwave on high for 4 minutes a side until soft. Let cool. Meanwhile, let the ricotta drain in a sieve or coffee filter for two hours to remove some of the extra liquid.
Scrape the flesh from the potato skin and mash, it should be about 2 cups. Add the ricotta and combine. Add the salt, brown sugar, nutmeg, and half the flour. Combine well. Add the rest of the flour in parts until the dough becomes a ball. You may not need it all.
Dump it onto a board and form a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour up to a couple days.
Cut pieces off the ball and roll into ropes about a half inch thick with plenty of extra flour. Slice into inch long pieces. They can be kept in a single layer and frozen, store in some flour.
Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage and Pecorino
2 cups gnocchi, made as above (1 cup per person)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves
6-8 sage leaves
1/2 cup grated parmesan
Cook the gnocchi in heavily salted water for 2-3 minutes, until they aggressively float. Meanwhile, Saute the garlic in the olive oil on medium heat until it starts to brown. Remove the garlic and add the sage. Be careful, because they will pop a little at first due to the water content. Add the gnocchi along with a little pasta water and swirl to combine. Allow to cook for a minute together, and then off the heat, add the parmesan. Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil over the top.
As soon as I saw this recipe, I knew I had to try it out. It’s a dense chocolate loaf cake that I like best warmed with some vanilla ice cream although it’s also great as a breakfast treat. This cake is definitely worth a try, and it’s really quick and easy to make. It’s an adapted version of Nigella Lawson’s Dense Chocolate Cake from How to Be A Domestic Goddess.
Nigella’s Chocolate Cake
2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup boiling water
Cream together the butter and sugar until light in color. Add the eggs one at a time as well as the vanilla. Add the melted chocolate slowly, and make sure everything is well incorporated. Combine the flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. Slowly alternating with the water, add the dry ingredients in fifths. Once everything is incorporated, pour into a 9×5 loaf pan lined with parchment paper. Make sure to leave an inch at the top. Extra batter can be used for cupcakes.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 325 degrees for another 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely before removing and serving.
Bread pudding is the perfect way to use up leftovers, whether it’s vegetables from last night’s dinner, bacon from yesterday’s breakfast (who has leftover bacon?!), or bits of cheese after that party. The important thing is to have some flavorings like onions, garlic, and herbs along with cheese and eggs to soak into day old bread and bake up into a lovely custardy breakfast. I like to make them in single servings or in cupcake pans so that I can take them with me on busy mornings. They also freeze well and you can heat straight from the freezer in single servings.
Individual Bread Puddings
1 cup milk
2 cups day old bread, cubed (small if making individual servings, they have to fit in the muffin cups)
1/2 cup grated cheddar
1/2 cup grated asiago
1/2 onion, minced (or leftover)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup spinach, chopped (or leftover)
1 cup mushrooms, sliced (or leftover)
1 cup white wine
2 tablespoons sage, minced
Parmesan cheese for grating
Saute the onion, garlic,sage, and mushrooms in a couple tablespoons olive oil until softened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the spinach and allow to wilt. Add the white wine and allow the alcohol to cook off, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
Meanwhile, in another bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Season with salt and pepper, and add in the cheddar and asiago. Add in the bread along with the vegetable mixture. Make sure the bread soaks up a lot of the liquid before cooking. Pour into lined muffin pans, individual ramekins, or a large baking dish. Top with grated parmesan and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes if using muffin pans and up to 45 minutes if using a baking dish. Make sure they have started to brown and puff up, to know they are done.
I’ve had some rolled oats in the cabinet for a while, and I decided to try this recipe to use them up. It’s a healthier version of my cheddar parmesan crackers, and the oats give them a heft that makes them a more filling snack so you will eat fewer and get full faster. Perfect for the new year, as many try to balance out all the holiday eating.
Cheddar Oat Crackers
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 ounces cheddar, grated
2 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
2 eggs, 1 beaten with a splash of water for egg wash
flaked sea salt such as Maldon
Soak the oats in the milk for a few minutes while you combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a food processor and pulse a couple times. Add the cheese and butter and pulse until it starts to resemble sand. Add in the oats and 1 egg, and pulse until it comes together. Turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap and form into a disc. Refrigerate for 2 hours until chilled.
Roll out in two sections between two sheets of parchment paper as thinly as you can, to about 1/8″. Cut or use a ravioli cutter or cookie cutter to create crackers. Put them onto a silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the crackers with the egg wash and sprinkle sea salt on top.
Bake at 375 degrees for about 12-14 minutes, until they start to brown. Let cool before removing and serving.
These make a great snack with drinks, before dinner, or just about anytime. These will be on my table for New Year’s Eve, but they were also out throughout the holidays and were great to munch on between all the big meals. I first had these kind of specially roasted almonds in LA last year, where they were artisanally roasting nuts with various spices. The options are endless, just take a look in your spice cabinet or refrigerator for inspiration.
Herb Roasted Almonds
12 ounce package of almonds, unroasted and unseasoned if possible
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus extra
2 tablespoons Aleppo pepper
2 tablespoons Herbes de Provence or chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons salt
Pour the almonds onto a foil-lined sheet tray. Pour the olive oil and spices on top, and using your hands, mix everything so the nuts are well coated in olive oil and spices. Spread them out and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until the nuts start to toast and they are fragrant. Toss when they come out of the oven to make sure they continue to absorb flavor as they cool. Add a little more olive oil if they seem dry, or to give more fresh olive oil flavor.