Monday, November 11, 2013

Gluten Free Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Bolognese ..

Lately, I've been on the gluten free tip.

Finding rich, healthy and local ingredients have been my main focus as well as finding ways to replace wheat flour with other flours like almond or coconut.

Fortunately, my boyfriend loves to cook as much as I do... Together with some wonderful experiments, we made a truly fantastic classic gluten free dish of gnocchi with a classic Bolognese.

I really like this better than most regular gnocchi. It's light, fluffy, full of flavor and absorbs the sauce really well.

Below is Marc's Gnocchi recipe he made by taking my suggestion of using almond flour instead of regular flour.

We tried a typical gluten free flour but the almond flour turned out to be the winning combination. 

Gluten-free Gnocchi Marc Stylee:
- About 2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
- About 1 cup almond flour
- Cream
- Salt

Peel and cube up some sweet potatoes and boil them until soft. Drain and mash with a fork until smooth, adding salt and a dash of cream to taste.

Begin adding flour to the mixture and combine to form a mass of dough. When in doubt, err on the side of less flour first -- it's easier to correct with extra flour than the other way around. Knead for a minute or so to bring the dough to a pliable consistency.

A note on almond flour: because there is no gluten, kneading won't make it more elastic, so don't expect a stretchy substance. The goal is a dough that's firm enough to be handleable without coming apart, but not so firm that it has trouble sticking to itself or becomes dense.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. In the meanwhile, pull off a chunk of the dough and on a floured surface, roll a "play-doh snake". Cut off little nubs, about an inch deep, and place on a floured surface or wax paper. Repeat until all the gnocchi have been formed.

When the water is ready, begin boiling the gnocchi in batches, to avoid overcrowding. When they've finished cooking, they'll naturally float to the top.

(Developing a feel for the dough can take some experimentation. You'll know how far off you are if the gnocchi come apart in the water, or stay sunk on the bottom like rocks.)

Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a warm serving dish greased with some butter or olive oil to keep them from sticking.

Once the gnocchi are all cooked, serve immediately with a tasty sauce, or however your beautiful heart desires. I like a good Gorgonzola sauce, or a hearty ragù, but it's your call

Rena's Spaghetti Bolognese:

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, diced
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 -2 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (ceylon) 
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon fresh chili flakes
1 pound ground beef or buffalo 
1/2 pound hot chicken Italian sausage, removed from the casings
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cup red wine
2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes and their juice
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 - 2 cups home made bone broth
2 teaspoons brown sugar (if needed)
1/4 cup heavy cream

2 Tbs Crème fraîche
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 pound gluten free gnocchi
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring, until browned and the fat is rendered, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook, stirring, until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, bay leaves, thyme, oregano, cinnamon, nutmeg and chili flakes and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the beef and sausage. Cook, stirring, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook until the meat and vegetable mixture almost seemed glazed or caramelized. Add the wine and cook, stirring, to deglaze the pan and remove any browned bits sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cook an additional 2-5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and their juices, the tomato sauce, bone broth, and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, to keep the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan, until the sauce is thickened and flavorful, about 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Add the cream, butter, c
rème fraîche and half of the parsely, stir well, and simmer for 2 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and adjust the seasoning, to taste. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When the water is ready, begin boiling the gnocchi in batches, to avoid overcrowding. When they've finished cooking, they'll naturally float to the top. (Developing a feel for the dough can take some experimentation. You'll know how far off you are if the gnocchi come apart in the water, or stay sunk on the bottom like rocks.) Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a warm serving dish greased with some butter or olive oil to keep them from sticking.

Add the pasta to the sauce, tossing to coat. Add 1/2 cup of the cheese and toss to blend, sprinkle with leftover parsley. Divide among pasta bowls and serve with the cheese passed tableside. (Alternatively, toss only the desired portion of pasta with a bit of the sauce at a time in a serving bowl, reserving the remainder for another meal.)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Ode to Bone Broths...

Dear Bone Broths,

How I love thee... 

You nourish and comfort in the winter months. Flavor soups, rice, beans and such. 

You use all the parts that would go to compost or trash, yet breathe wonders of life into flavors, energy and health. 

Your healing properties are immeasurable and your flavor even more so. 

If done right, you are the best magic of any culinary delight... 


Bone broths are truly one of the greatest things you can add to your culinary arsenal. They are more affordable than boxed, canned or concentrated broths like a bouillon cube or paste (IF you use your ingredients wisely) and also reduce useless waste as well as add a wonderful nutritional benefit.

One of my favorite ways to get into the habit of making broths is to have a large sturdy freezer bag in my freezer.

Anytime I start chopping onions, veggies, or meat with bones, I VERY carefully clean and wash the leftover items and then slowly add them to my bag of treats in the freezer which eventually becomes my store house for ingredients that go into the broths.

Onion ends, garlic bits, leek greens and carrot ends with the greens are a very common staple of my frozen bag of treats.

Each bag of broth always yields a new result but it is one of my more favorite pass times when on some of my culinary journeys.

Please let me introduce you to one of my favorite broths I have ever made...

This magic of wonder was made from several bits and odds from a local organic CSA box I was getting at the time. The leftover carcass is from a house smoked pasture raised chicken I brined and smoked here at home.

I then later added whole pepper corns, bay leaves and a few fresh herbs like thyme and oregano.

The stock was then strained and made into a fantastic risotto, meat sauce and a few other culinary delights that truly would have been nothing if it wasn't for the flavor bomb of this stock that combined smoked chicken bones, fantastic locally grown veggies and time and love...

A typical bone broth should cook at least 24 hours.

Re-puprosing good vegetable bits and flavors.... 

Some of the greener parts of onions, leeks and garlic may not be appropriate for a fine dish but can add worlds of flavor to your broths.

Don't be afraid to use those parts. However, it's extremely important to clean them well and make sure nothing is rotting or dirt or mold goes into this collection.

Apple Cider Vinegar is also extremely crucial in this process as it naturally can kill certain bacteria. AVC also leeches many vital nutrients from the bones and veggies creating a more nutritional meal that is more readily available for your body to absorb.

There are so many more resources you can look into on the subject and by no means am I an expert. I only hope to share what resources I have.

To better food and health.

Below is a wonderful recipe on medicinal bone broths.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner

First Course

Buckwheat Bilni with creme friache caviar, diced shallots and chives
Parsi Deviled Eggs 
Parmesan Crisps 
Fresh Olive Oil (Hand picked and pressed in Spain by my mother) 
Sliced Ham from Spain
Champagne Toast!

Main Course

Smoked Turkey
Potato Gratin

Risotto Stuffed Pumpkin
 Sauteed Green Beans in White Wine and Shallots 
Sour Dough and Artichoke with Mushrooms Stuffing 
Yams with Candied Walnuts

Risotto Stuffed Pumpkin


Sauteed Green Beans in White Wine and Shallots 

Sour Dough and Artichoke with Mushrooms Stuffing 

Smoked Turkey 


Chocolate Mousse with Berries and Spiced Whipped Cream

Cherry Pie

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Country Fried Yams with Sauteed Chard and Poached Eggs

This is a great weekend brunch meal and even more so for when you have it with friends and mimosas. enjoy! 

Country Fried Yams with Sauteed Chard and Poached Eggs

Serves 4 / approximately 15 - 20 mins


2 Large yams chopped into 1/4" cubes
1 bunch of chard chopped into 1" pieces  
4 cloves of garlic (chopped into a fine dice)
1/2 small onion (diced small)
1/4 stick of butter (butter is preferred)
2 Tbs of white vinegar (for poaching)
2 pots of boiling water with 4 cups of water each
8 eggs poached (see poached eggs recipe below) 

Salt and Pepper TT

1. Cut the yams into 1/4" cubes. This is easiest to do by cutting the yam in half first, then quarters then into 1/4" slices then 1/4" cubes. 

2. Drop yams into boiling water and let boil for about 5 mins. You do not want to cook the yams fully. This is just to break down the starches in the yams. Drain yams from water into a collinder and let sit for 5 mins. 

3. Set second pan for boiling water for poached eggs and add vinegar and salt. (this helps create acidity to keep the eggs from falling apart in water). 

3. Saute 1/8 stick of butter in a pan and let melt till pan is well coated. Add the cubed yams and let simmer in butter until well browned. Do NOT stir! This can take anywhere from 10-20 mins depending on temp and altitude. 

The idea is to do a shallow deep fry and flip the yams in the pan so they are well tossed in the butter and get an even coat. The yams should be crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. Stirring will turn it to mashed yams so DO NOT stir!  

4. In a medium sized pan, saute onions and garlic till nice and translucent with the remaining butter. Add chopped chard to pan and let saute for 5-15 mins. (until well cooked). Add salt and pepper too taste. Cover and set to side. 

5. Poached eggs: 

There are many resources online to make a perfect poached egg. How I was taught to make poached eggs was...

1 pot of boiling water with 2 Tbs of vinegar and salt. 

With a slotted spoon in hand, drop in one egg at a time and instantly start reforming the egg into a nice shape. 

Remove egg from boiling water and only do one egg at a time. 

Food Food Food

Hi Everyone,
I am finally jumping on the blog bandwagon.

Unlike what most people would expect me to do and create an audio blog, I have chosen to blog about my second favorite love, Food.

For those who know me well, they have tasted my delightful treats and enjoyed what pleasures can be had in my kitchen.

This blog is to share all the wonderful recipes with everyone and hopefully inspire more ideas.