Thursday, February 28, 2013

Gnocchi Pomodoro

Picture of Gnocchi Pomodoro Recipe
Courtesy of The Food Network
In order to stretch my culinary skills once more I thought I would attempt something I swore off at the beginning of this blog as part of our Pasta Bolognese week...making homemade pasta.   Not only am I going to attempt this but I am going to try none other than David's favorite pasta, gnocchi.  Honestly, every single time we go to an Italian restaurant he gets the gnocchi and gives his full review by the end of our meal.  His target audience?  Well, that's just me.  But I think he's had plenty of experience to offer a well thought out and seasoned opinion.

Now I venture into uncharted territory where he will be evaluating my own homemade gnocchi.  After extensive research by both Jen and myself on how to up the chances of gnocchi success, we stumbled upon this article.  While I fully intend to employ the baked/not boiled strategy, I unfortunately do not have a potato ricer,  But guess who does?  Jen!  She literally has every kitchen gadget known to man.  Instead, I will do the traditional mashing method.
Crocs?  Really sir?
After reading the article, we also decided that Mario Batali's Gnocchi Pomodoro would be the best recipe given the cooking methods and the tomato based sauce.  Plus, choice of footwear aside, the man can cook.  

I wish you much success with this weekly supper and keep your fingers crossed for me as well!  This will definitely be pushing my limits!

Happy Cooking!

Gnochi Pomodoro

Total Time: 3 hr 20 min
Prep 50 min
Inactive 30 min
Cook 2 hr 0 min

Pomodoro Sauce:

1 (28-ounce) can whole Italian tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
Salt and pepper
Crushed chile flakes
6 to 8 large fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 cup cream

6 large baking potatoes, like russets
2 egg yolks
4 ounces (1 stick) butter, melted
Pinch salt
Pinch white pepper
Fresh grated nutmeg
2 cups flour
Grated Parmesan, to serve


To make the Sauce: 
Take the tomatoes out of the can, cut in half, and remove the seeds. Chop the tomatoes into small pieces and reserve the juice. In a saucepan, add olive oil and garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper and chili and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes. If necessary, add the reserved juice. Add the basil. Finish with cream.
To make the gnocchi:
  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  • Bake the potatoes for approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until tender. Scoop each potato out of its skin into mixing bowl. Mash the potatoes to a fine consistency.
  • In a separate bowl, combine egg yolks, melted butter, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add the egg mixture to the potatoes and mix together. Add flour to mixture, 1 cup at a time, and mix until smooth.
  • Scoop out and make finger sized rolls on floured board. Cut with knife into bite sized pieces. Roll each piece over the back of a fork to make a round form. In a pan, freeze until hard enough to handle, and put into portion sized bags.
  • Fill a large pot with water and add a pinch of salt and boil. Drop gnocchi into boiling water 3 or 4 at a time so the water doesn't stop boiling. The gnocchi is ready when it floats to the top. Drain gnocchi and scoop out into bowl and add sauce. Add fresh Parmesan and serve.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Fishy Fishy

Fishy Fishy
I'm sure many of you out there have been hearing the never ending saga of horse meat.  My first question is are you really eating those Swedish meatballs at Ikea?  And if so, maybe you should just stop eating them horse meat scandal aside.  My MO in Ikea is to get in there, get my bookshelves and get out.  The endless maze passing the meatballs is unavoidable but the term Swedish meatballs doesn't really reel me in.  

McDonald's Square Fish
One other article came out in the wake of this meat labeling scandal: the mislabeling of fish.  Apparently there is quite a scandal concerning the labeling of fish where local vernacular cannot be used to label a fish.  I've attached a great informational article from the Huffington Post about this scandal.  Take what you will from it, but I see it as problem blown way out of proportion.  For all you Catholics out there, this is a big time for fish.  Every Friday, many of us are flocking to Micky Dee's for a filet o fish.  Why isn't anyone asking the question of where this fast food giant gets its square shaped fish patty?  We are not demanding to know what is contained in this sandwich. Also, now with their fish McBites, what is in there exactly?  No one seems to be talking about these issues though.   

Duxbury- Island Creek Oysters
My theory when it comes to most things is to buy local.  If you support your local fisherman or farms you know where its coming from and you boost your local economy as well.  Win/win.  I am a self proclaimed oyster-holic.  Where do I get these fine delicacies of the sea?  From right where they are "grown".  I drive my little mini down to Duxbury and pay wholesale to the men that pulling them out of the bay.  You have never tasted anything so fresh.  For Thanksgiving this past year, my first ever Thanksgiving, I got my turkey from a local farm in New Hampshire. They asked if i wanted a before picture and I politely declined.  So in conclusion to settle the meat and fish debacle, I offer a simple solution.  Please everyone support your local farmers, fisherman and butchers.  You will be rewarded with amazing quality and an extremely knowledgeable person who is selling you these products.   

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Joanne's Savory Summary - Korean Short Ribs

First off I apologize for my late post!  I had planned on posting Monday night but Monday became Tuesday morning followed by Tuesday evening.  Tuesday evening threw us a bit of a hiccup with David getting in a minor car accident which proved to be more time consuming than anything else (thank God).  So anyway enough of that and onto the supper.  And what a great supper it turned out to be! 

Since I figured my food store wouldn't have the correctly cut short ribs, I hit up the meat department looking for skirt steak, Jen's suggested alternative.  I found a 1 lb. skirt steak and a 1 lb. package of boneless short ribs and decided what the heck, I would give them both a try.  I opted to lower the total amount of beef since there's only two of us and we're not huge beef eaters to begin with.  The marinade was very easy to make.  Like Jen I also amped up the ginger since I am a huge fan too.  It smelled simply delightful.  Since I don't own a food processor (I know.  The horror!) I used my blender.  This proved to be a useful and effective alternative. 

Next, I cut my various cuts of beef into roughly 1 inch strips and covered them with the aromatic marinade.  I let that chill in the refrigerator for four hours while David and I went shopping.  The interim shopping trip alone ranks this as one of my favorite meal preps.  We returned, purchases in tow, and decided we would have an early dinner before the Oscars.  While the meat marinade mixture returned to room temperature, I started my rice and cut up my red pepper.  Since it was chilly and windy outside I decided to forgo using the grill and try out my new broiler instead. 

I put my broiler on high and let that eat up for a few minutes.  I used an oven safe griddle pan and spaced the beef evenly.  The beef cooked for about 5 minutes before I removed the pan and flipped the meat to cook for another 4 to 5 minutes.  Although the beef was still a bit pink, it was flavorful and delicious.  David and I used romaine lettuce leaves to eat the beef with.  David coated his lettuce with rice, some hot red peppers and leftover sauce from the griddle pan.  He went back for seconds, then thirds and finally brought some the next day as well!

This meal was absolutely delicious.  I agree with Jen that I can only imagine how flavorful the meat would have been had I let it marinate overnight.  Definitely something to try for next time!  And oh yes there will be a next time.  David will make sure of it!

Happy cooking!

Korean Short Ribs- Jen's Savory Summary

"Serenading" the
 Short Ribs
I'm going to apologize in advance for my giant mishmash of Asian cuisine  I went a little over board at Ming's Asian grocery store.  I want to start by saying that Jason said this was his favorite Sunday Supper thus far and he already wants to have me make it again.  I would happily oblige since it was so darn easy. This was the perfect Sunday Supper: make up the marinade, pour over the short ribs, take a nap, wake up, putt around a bit, then pop them under the broiler.   

Ready to go into the oven!
The marinade was so easy to make up.  I had my backseat chef, Jason, in the kitchen.  "Pears really?"  "That goes with that?"  Anyway, I pumped up the ginger. I'm a ginger addict.  I'm one of the few people who actually enjoy ginger ale in times when I don't have a stomach ache.  I marinated my short ribs for 4 hrs.  I can't imagine how more amped up the flavor would of been if I would of done it over night.  

Since I don't have a grill I lined up my short ribs on a grate over a cookie sheet to pop under the broiler.  I had the rack placed at the highest level in oven and I turned the broiler on high.  I also made sure to have the broiler going for five minutes prior to putting the short ribs in the oven.  I did this to prevent baking the ribs and not getting a good sear.  I cooked them for three and a half minutes per side.  This resulted in a medium well done short rib. 

Completed Short Ribs! 
I served them with some sticky rice and carrots, I know carrots don't really seem to go but Jason insisted.  The man loves carrots.  Also, for dessert I made some mango sticky rice, my favorite dessert from when we were in Thailand for our honeymoon.  I have a feeling we will be having this a lot since the smallest bag of sticky rice I could buy at Ming's was 12 lbs.  

Mango Sticky Rice! 

Monday, February 25, 2013

And the Oscar goes to...
Allllllrighty then
Well the culmination of Hollywood awards season is upon us, the Oscars.  In fact as I write this, I am stealing quick glances at the stars strolling down the red carpet.  I grew up watching many many movies.  Patrick Swayze as the infamous Johnny Castle in Dirty Dancing was practically a member of our family.  I still swoon every time I hear 'nobody puts Baby in the corner'.  My sister and I would watch and rewatch movies and then drive our parents crazy quoting the movies continuously.  Just ask Jen.  She does one mean Ace Ventura impression. what else goes with movies other than popcorn?  We grew up eating a homemade caramel popcorn.  It would be a special weekend treat and every so often I still make it for David and I.  It takes me back to movie marathons with my sisters and fighting over the biggest chunk of caramel popcorn.  I have included this family heirloom recipe below in the hopes that you incorporate it into your family movie night as well.  From a seasoned professional, I recommend eating it as fresh as possible so every morsel melts in your mouth.  

Happy movie and popcorn night!

Caramel Popcorn 
  • 2 bags of air popped popcorn
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda


Preheat the oven to 325.  Combine the butter, corn syrup, salt and brown sugar in a large sauce pan over medium heat.  Once butter is melted and ingredients are combined, bring to a boil.  Add baking soda.  Pour immediately over popped popcorn in baking dish.  Place in oven for 1 hours, stirring every 15 minutes. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

World's Healthiest Food

Have I got your attention?  Here is a delicious tasty food that nutritionists tote as being super healthy, calorie BURNING and chock full of vitamins.  You want some?  Well this food is so popular in Korea that they serve it with every meal of the day.  What I'm talking about is kimchi. Yes, kimchi.  What is that you say?  Its a spicy pickled delicious cabbage and radish mixture.  If you prefer it not spicy, I would follow the First Lady's recipe found below.  Hers is an "Americanized" version lacking some spice but still has some delicious tangy and slightly spicy attributes.  Here is a traditional recipe. Or you can do what most Koreans do: buy it by the jar full for a super low price.  It can be found in American food stores in the Asian section or at your local Asian grocery store.  

I hope you enjoy this Korean treat!  

Mrs. O's Kimchi recipe

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Korean Short Ribs

Jason is craving BBQ, really really craving BBQ.  I can tell by his request email this week.  "Please make this..."  It was a link to a recipe in the NY Times dreaming of days in the summer with people gathering around hot grills and the sounds and smells of searing meats.

My husband has a self proclaimed addiction to good BBQ.  I do feel bad that we live in the city apartment with no grill in sight.  However I will attempt to whip up some indoor BBQ-esque with my trusty Le Creuest grill pan.  The recipe I am going to make this coming Saturday will, I hope, ease those BBQ cravings.  This is not your typical BBQ recipe.  It is Korean BBQ.  Prepare yourself for a new array of flavors, with a dull heat, tartness from the fruit, and some sour notes.  It is definitely a change from the typical BBQ chicken.  I really hope you enjoy this!  I'm already dreaming of summer just thinking of it....

Flanken Style Short Ribs
Photo credit NY times
Korean Style Short Ribs
taken from NY Times

3 pounds short ribs, cut in 1/2-inch slices across the bones (flanken-style)
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup rice wine
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne or gochujang
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
8 garlic cloves, peeled
1 small Asian pear, peeled, cored and quartered (or use an ordinary pear or tart apple)
1 1-inch chunk of ginger, peeled
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
Lettuce leaves
Sliced red or green hot pepper, optional
Ssamjang (spicy Korean soybean paste), for dipping, optional
Steamed rice, optional

  1. Rinse short ribs in cold water, pat dry and place in a wide shallow bowl. In another bowl, mix together soy sauce, brown sugar, rice wine, sesame oil, black pepper and cayenne.
  2. Put onion, garlic, pear and ginger in the work bowl of a food processor. Grind ingredients to a smooth purée, then add to soy sauce mixture. Add sesame seeds. Thin with ¼ cup water. Pour marinade over short ribs and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight. Bring to room temperature, drain and discard marinade.
  3. Cook short ribs on a hot grill or under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until nicely browned but juicy. Pile grilled meat on a platter and serve immediately with lettuce leaves on the side. Accompany with sliced hot peppers, ssamjang and steamed rice, if desired.
Note on recipe-  If you can't find the flanken style short ribs, you could always use skirt steak.  The cuts for short ribs typically found in American super markets are "english cut" meaning they are cut perpendicular to the bone.  This won't work for this recipe since those are made for a long slow braise.  You could go with the skirt steak idea or ask the butcher to cut them flanken.

Happy Cooking!
~ Jen
Completed Dish
Photo credit, NY Times

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Whose Your Crawdaddy? Friday, David and I celebrated Valentine's Day doing something I have been begging him to do for years, see live jazz.  I am a big fan of live music, any live music, while my more mild mannered husband prefers a quiet evening setting.  Since I'd never been to a live jazz show, I thought it would be something fun and new for us to try.  We went to Chris' Jazz Cafe.  I lived in the city for 2 years several years back and probably walked by this hidden gem countless times.  After some research, David discovered this was the premiere place to see live jazz in Philadelphia.

Chris' Jazz Cafe is the true definition of dinner and a show.  While we were eating dinner, we listened to the amazing jazz played by trumpeter, Wallace Rooney, and his band.  I am truly in awe of real musical talent so needless to say I was awestruck throughout their entire 2 hour performance.  David and I were fortunate enough to get a table up close to the performers.  We were seated at 7 and the show started at 8 so it was a perfect combination of having some time to talk followed by experiencing the jazz performance throughout the rest of our meal.  

The meal and wine were both fabulous but one dish I wanted to highlight was the crawdaddy pot pie.  David and I had this featured appetizer and it was truly a fight to get the last bite.  The pot pie was loaded with crawfish and the flavor was creamy and warm.  It was definitely a dish we don't see much which was why we decided to give it a try.  We were so glad we did.  In case you wanted to be adventurous and give this recipe a try I've linked it here.  I think I, however, will leave this one to the professionals at Chris' Jazz Cafe.