Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Making these today and will add some work in progress photos.  Gnocchi is so easy to make and SO yummy to eat with a simple sauce.

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Here is the dough after being mixed by hand.

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I roll it right on to the parchment paper to sit and not too long before cooking.  If you let it sit it becomes sticky.  If you are not cooking it immediately put a little flour on you parchment paper.

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Ingredients

2 – 8 ounce sweet potatoes

1 clove garlic, pressed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

Add all ingredients to list

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Bake sweet potatoes for 30 minutes, or until soft to the touch. (Mine took over an hour to cook)
  2. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  3. Once the potatoes are cool enough to work with, remove the peels, and mash them, or press them through a ricer into a large bowl. Blend in the garlic, salt, nutmeg, and egg. Mix in the flour a little at a time until you have a soft dough. Use more or less flour as needed.
  4. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. While you wait for the water, make the gnocchi. On a floured surface, roll the dough out in several long snakes, and cut into 1-inch sections. Drop the pieces into the boiling water and allow them to cook until they float to the surface. Remove the floating pieces with a slotted spoon and keep warm in a serving dish. Serve with butter or cream sauce.IMG_9451.jpgI served this with a butter sauce which is quick and easy to make. Saute a couple heads of chopped garlic, add about 1/3 cup of butter.  Melt it than add basil and oregano.  The recipe calls for dried, but I used fresh from my garden.  Add a little Parmesan or Romano on top and have a lovely dinner.

You can dress up gnocchi in as many ways as you can sauce pasta, garnishing them with an unheated pesto sauce, or tossing them with foaming butter and slivered sage leaves. You can mix them with a chunky tomato sauce or smother them in a wild boar ragù.  A little olive oil added to the dough makes for a silkier consistency, but it is optional.

How to Make It

Preheat the oven to 400°. Spread a 1-inch layer of salt in a small roasting pan. Prick the potatoes all over with a fork and arrange them on the salt in a single layer. Bake until fork-tender, about 11/2 hours. Remove them from the oven and slit them lengthwise to release their steam.

 

Working over a medium bowl, sift the all-purpose and cake flours with a large pinch of salt. Measure out 4 lightly packed cups of the riced potatoes (1 pound), and transfer the potatoes to a work surface. Sprinkle the sifted flour mixture over the potatoes and drizzle with the olive oil. Gently form the dough into a firm ball.

Test the gnocchi dough: Bring a small saucepan of salted water to a boil. Using your hands, form one 3/4-inch round (a single gnocco). Boil the gnocco until it floats to the surface, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the gnocco to a plate and let cool. It should be light and tender but still hold together. If the gnocco breaks apart in the boiling water, the dough has too little flour; add more. If the gnocco is tough and chewy, the dough has too much flour; cut in a little more of the reserved riced potatoes.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide the dough into quarters. Working with one piece at a time, gently roll the dough into a long rope about 1/2 inch wide. Using a sharp knife, cut the rope into 1/2-inch pieces.

Roll each piece against the tines of a fork to make light ridges. Transfer the gnocchi to the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough. Let the gnocchi stand at room temperature for 1 hour to dry. I use a gnocchi board shown here.

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If you are not going to eat your gnocchi immediately, which I suggest then bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Add half of the gnocchi at a time and boil over high heat until they rise to the surface, then cook for 15 seconds longer. Using a wire skimmer, transfer the gnocchi to the bowl of ice water.

Drain on paper towels and pat dry. Toss with oil and refrigerate for up to 3 hours or freeze the gnocchi on baking sheets in a single layer. Transfer them to an airtight container or resealable plastic bags and freeze for up to six weeks.

I like to plan serving gnocchi right out of the boiling water, draining it well, adding a little EVOO and whatever sauce sounds good for the meal.

but if you did freeze them, then to serve, sauté them in butter until heated through before proceeding.

For Chestnut Gnocchi, substitute 1/3 cup chestnut flour for the cake flour before forming the gnocchi dough.

 

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Basic Orecchiette Pasta

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This handmade pasta is delicious with the classic broccoli raab sauce, with an uncooked sauce of tomatoes and basil, or in a cream sauce with mussels and mint. The dough comes out best if you work the water in very slowly; don’t try to bring in too much flour at one time. Flour amounts are listed by weight (oz.) and by volume (cups); use either measurement.

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I made mine with chicken and home-made pesto with basil from my garden, with a little cilantro and parmesan on the top.  It was yummy and very easy.  It does take a little time. I usually watch the cooking channel or a funny movie.  You have to happy when you cook.

Ingredients

225 g/ 1 1/2 cup semolina flour

255 g/3/4 cup + I Tbl unbleached all-purpose flour

255 g/1 cup warm water

2 tsp salt

Preparation

1. In a bowl, whisk the flours together well. Mound the flour on a work surface, make a deep well in the center and pour 2 Tbs. of the water in the center. With two fingers, stir in a little flour from the walls of the well. When the water is absorbed and a paste has formed, repeat with more water until you have a soft but not sticky dough.

You can do this in your KitchenAid with the dough hook.

2. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until it’s smooth and supple, 7 to 8 minutes. If it crumbles during kneading, wet your hands to moisten the dough slightly. Cut off a golfball-size chunk of dough; cover the rest with plastic wrap. Roll the chunk into a cylinder about 1 inch in diameter. With a very sharp knife, slice the cylinder into disks about 1/8 inch thick

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3. Pick up a disk. If it’s squashed from cutting, squeeze it slightly between your thumb and index finger to return it to a circular shape. Put the disk in the palm of one hand and press down on it with the thumb of your other hand. Swivel your hand (not your thumb) twice to thin the center of the ear, leaving the rim a little thicker. If the dough sticks to your thumb, dip your thumb in a little flour as you work. Repeat with the rest of the dough. As you finish the disks, lay them on a clean dishtowel. When you’ve shaped an entire cylinder, sprinkle a little flour over the ears and repeat the process with a new chunk of dough.

4. If you’re not cooking the pasta immediately, spread the rounds out on floured baking sheets and leave them at room temperature at least overnight, or until they’re hard enough that you can’t slice them with a knife. (The time they take to dry depends on humidity and the moisture level in the dough itself.) Once the orecchiette is dry, transfer them to covered jars and store at room temperature.

5. You can as an alternative, freeze them on a baking sheet with parchment and then put in a sealed container once they are frozen.  Cook directly from the freezer – do not thaw.

 

6. Bring a large pot filled with salted water to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Add the orecchiette and simmer until they float to the surface, 2-3 minutes.  Simmer for 1-2 minutes more, until al dente.  Remove immediately with a slotted spoon and serve right away.

 

The recipe I used is from “Pasta by Hand” by Jenn Louis and I totally recommend buying this book!

Basic Orecchiette Pasta

Gnocchi with Peas, Ramps & Mushrooms

It’s easier than you think to make this puffy pasta at home
Potato Gnocchi with Ramps Recipe

Gnocchi doesn’t have to be laden with sage and brown butter to have a good time, and this recipe, with its trifecta of springy ingredients, is here to prove it. If you can’t find ramps at the market just yet, scallions work just fine. But freshly grated nutmeg makes all the difference here to complement the peas, mushrooms and fragrant tarragon. So bust out your Microplane and get to work.

Gnocchi with Peas, Ramps & Mushrooms

Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen

Yield: 2 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1 pound russet potatoes

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated

Kosher salt, to taste

½ cup all-purpose flour

4 tablespoons butter, divided

4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, diced

¼ cup fresh peas

4 stalks wild onions, such as ramps, sliced diagonally

½ teaspoon chile flakes

½ cup reserved pasta water

1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, grated

1 tarragon sprig, picked

Zest of 1 lemon

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Bake the potatoes for 1 hour, or until very tender. As soon as the potatoes come out of the oven, cut them in half lengthwise and scoop out the potato, discarding the skin or saving it for another use. Press the potatoes through a ricer or food mill, and spread out on a sheet tray while still hot. Let the riced potato cool to room temperature.

2. Once the potato mix is cool, transfer it to a large mixing bowl. Mix in the egg yolk, grated nutmeg and a pinch of salt. Gently mix in the flour until the dough comes together, being careful not to overmix. Test a piece in boiling water; boil for roughly 2 minutes. It should float for roughly 2 minutes. Then check the gnocchi for taste and structure; if the gnocchi falls apart during the boiling, it needs more flour.

3. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and roll into ½-inch-diameter logs. Cut into pieces roughly 1 inch long. Place the gnocchi pieces on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and flour. Store in the refrigerator until ready to cook.

4. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of butter. Once the butter is bubbling, add the mushrooms, peas, spring onions and chile flakes. Sauté lightly for roughly 2 to 3 minutes until tender. Add the pasta water to the pan and turn off.

5. In a large pot of boiling water, add the gnocchi; once they float, continue to cook 2 more minutes. Once they are cooked, remove and add to the pan of vegetables. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and Parmesan cheese. Cook until glazed. Plate and top with tarragon and lemon zest, then serve.

And what are ramps, if you don’t know by now and some tips on how to use them.

Every April the culinary world gets ready for the Great Ramp Race. (Okay, it’s not actually a race at all, but rather a sort of cultural phenomenon.) Chefs, restaurants, home cooks, food writers, and greenmarket enthusiasts all go bonkers for this garlicky spring vegetable.

Ramps are versatile, delicious, and one of the first green things to appear after a cruel winter. But whether you faithfully worship at the altar of alliums or you’re a first-time ramp buyer, it’s worth reading through this list of common mistakes before diving into this year’s batch. Here’s how to make the best out of springtime’s most pungent offering.

1. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask What the Heck Ramps Are

If you’re not actually sure what ramps actually are, it can feel intimidating to ask, especially with chatter reaching a fever pitch in your natural food co-op. This is a safe zone, so ask away: Ramps are wild leeks, foraged from shaded, woody areas. They’re one of the first signs of spring and one of the first edible green things to hit markets. Their flavor is a combination of garlicky, oniony, and pungent. You can use them anywhere you would use scallions or spring onions.

Pickle your ramps, and you can eat them all year long.

2. Don’t Expect a Leisurely Stroll Through the Market

If you’ve ever powered through a Black Friday shopping excursion at the mall, you have a frame of reference for how seriously local eating enthusiasts take ramp season (we are only slightly exaggerating here). Don’t roll up casually to the market at 11 and expect to find an abundance of ramps—they’ll likely be picked over or totally gone. “They go fast,” says Jessie Damuck, Bon Appétitrecipe developer. “Get there by 8 if you want your pick.”

3. You’re Gonna Need More Than a $20 Bill

When we’re talking ramps, we’re talking steep prices. It’s in part because these spring alliums are foraged, not cultivated. It’s more labor-intensive to hunt through the woods for a bunch than to simply pull them up from a tidy garden row, and that’s reflected in the cost. But demand is creating an undeniable hike. They can be about $20/pound this year. If you’ve got a shady and cool hillside on your property, we suggest pulling on a pair of muck boots and doing some digging (don’t take all of the ramps from a patch, or they won’t repopulate next year).

Ramp Pesto. Because basil is for sissies.

4. Make a Game Plan Before Buying

Ramp season is a very exciting time, and we understand that. But don’t just buy up a vendor’s stand because they’re there. More than likely, a few days’ worth of garlic breath will leave you with ramp fatigue and fighting to find ways to use them. Instead, do a little research beforehand. There are countless of ways to use ramps, beyond simply slicing and sautéing as you would any other allium (they are just leeks, after all). Roast or grill them whole—the high temperature will render the bulbs tender while making for some seriously crispy leaves. And yes, you can, and should, eat the entire thing. Once you’ve tired of eating them as a side dish, make a pesto with walnuts, Pecorino cheese, and whole ramps (blanch the greens first). For your next batch, dunk them in a buttermilk batter and fry them whole. Bet your neighborhood tapas bar charging $75 for a ramp tasting menu hasn’t thought of that! Still, have more ramps? Pickle them with a mix of red chiles, bay leaves, fennel seeds, black pepper and salt, vinegar, and sugar. They’ll keep for two weeks unless you preserve them by canning; in that case, you can eat ramps all year long.

5. Don’t Forget to Clean Them…No, Seriously

“If you thought leeks were dirty, wait till you get your hands on ramps,” says Rick Martinez, recipe developer. Ramps have two things working against them in the dirt department: They have plenty of crevices for mud to hide in (check where the leaves meet the stem), and, as mentioned before, they’re pulled up from the forest in the muddiest part of spring. Some vendors will clean their ramps before bringing them to the market, but don’t assume that they’ve completed the job. Rinse them thoroughly before using, and gently pat dry.

6. Know How to Store Them

Once you’ve brought home your haul, don’t just chuck them on the countertop until dinnertime. Roll them in a damp paper towel, place in an unsealed plastic bag, and keep them in the fridge. Make sure the delicate leaves are covered by the towel and don’t bend or crush the plant. Don’t be surprised when your entire refrigerator smells like garlic. It’s all part of the experience.

7. Never Be Afraid to Let Your Love of Ramps Be Known

We should be honest: Not everyone will be as enamored with spring’s stinkiest offerings as you are. “Don’t expect your non-foodie friends to get stoked about an all-ramp dinner,” says Damuck who, for the record, created an all-ramp menu while in culinary school. Dawn Perry, a digital food editor, agrees: “My parents are like, ‘Aren’t they really just like scallions?'” (The author of this article’s parents have ramps growing behind their house and are truly perplexed and amused by the price they fetch.)

Gnocchi with Peas, Ramps & Mushrooms

Gnocchi More

Gnocchi has always been something I would order when we went out to eat all over the world.  I wanted to see what the lightest and most tasty one might be.  I have tried so many different kinds.

Today I made Sweet Potato Gnocchi using Gluten Free Flour.  The recipe was quite simple, even though you had to let the ricotta drain in the refrigerator.  Adding gluten free flour made it almost impossible to blend together.  I finally added two eggs and some regular flour to be able to pull it together and roll it out.

It tasted a little different than plain flour, not better, but different.

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I decided to try a slightly different sauce, so I made a Rosemary Cream Sauce with fresh rosemary from my garden.  Rich and delicious, even though I prefer a slightly more simple sauce. I was able to use the last of the Heavy Cream left over from the Millionaire’s Shortbread.  Next time less cream and simpler with less calories.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

INGREDIENTS

    • 2 1-pound red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), rinsed, patted dry, pierced all over with fork
    • 1 12-ounce container fresh ricotta cheese, drained in sieve 2 hours 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
    • 2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
    • 2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
    • 2 3/4 cups (about) all purpose flour

PREPARATION

    1. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place sweet potatoes on plate; microwave on high until tender, about 5 minutes per side. Cut in half and cool. Scrape sweet potato flesh into medium bowl and mash; transfer 3 cups to large bowl. Add ricotta cheese; blend well. Add Parmesan cheese, brown sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, and nutmeg; mash to blend. Mix in flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until soft dough forms.
    2. Turn dough out onto floured surface; divide into 6 equal pieces. Rolling between palms and floured work surface, form each piece into 20-inch-long rope (about 1 inch in diameter), sprinkling with flour as needed if sticky. Cut each rope into 20 pieces. Roll each piece over tines of fork to indent. Transfer to baking sheet.
    3. Bring large pot of water to boil; add 2 tablespoons salt and return to boil. Working in batches, boil gnocchi until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer gnocchi to clean rimmed baking sheet. Cool completely. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

ROSEMARY CREAM SAUCE

  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup fresh grated parmesan, plus more for serving
  • pinch fresh grated nutmeg
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • kosher salt and pepper

. To make the sauce. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook until it begins to brown, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the rosemary and then slowly pour in the cream. Whisk in the parmesan, nutmeg, cayenne, and season with salt and pepper. Simmer the sauce for 3-5 minutes, whisking until smooth. Keep warm over low heat.

6. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the gnocchi until they float to the top and are cooked through, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the gnocchi using a slotted spoon or spider strainer and drop it right into the sauce, gently tossing to combine. If the sauce thickens up, add a splash of the gnocchi cooking water to thin it a bit.

7. Divide the gnocchi among bowls. Top with rosemary and parmesan, of desired. EAT!

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After I finished dinner and cleaning up I was browsing on line and found one of the most complete gnocchi sites that I will share here.

How to Make Light and Tender Potato Gnocchi

Gnocchi More

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Sage Brown Butter

Made this the other day and forgot to take a photo of it, but it was SO easy and SO delicious I just wanted to share with a photo I stole online.

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I think I am in love with gnocchi.  I have some purple sweet potatoes in the refrigerator that I found at our local market, so am excited to see how gnocchi made with them will turn out!

So here is a simple recipe for Butternut Squash Gnocchi that I found in Bon Appetit.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1-pound butternut squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 12- to 14-ounce russet potato, peeled, quartered
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups (or more) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • Additional grated Parmesan cheese

RECIPE PREPARATION

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut squash lengthwise in half; discard seeds. Place squash halves, cut side up, on baking sheet and brush with oil. Roast until squash is very tender when pierced with skewer and browned in spots, about 1 1/2 hours. Cool slightly. Scoop flesh from squash into processor; puree until smooth. Transfer to medium saucepan; stir constantly over medium heat until juices evaporate and puree thickens, about 5 minutes. Cool. Measure 1 cup (packed) squash puree (reserve remaining squash for another use).

  • Meanwhile, cook potato in medium saucepan of boiling salted water until very tender, about 20 minutes. Drain. While potato is warm, press through potato ricer into medium bowl; cool completely. Measure 2 cups (loosely packed) riced potato (reserve remaining potato for another use).

  • Mix squash, potato, 1/2 cup Parmesan, egg, nutmeg, and salt in large bowl. Gradually add 1 3/4 cups flour, kneading gently into mixture in bowl until dough holds together and is almost smooth. If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls. Turn dough out onto floured surface; knead gently but briefly just until smooth. Divide dough into 8 equal pieces.

  • Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Sprinkle parchment lightly with flour. Working with 1 dough piece at a time, roll dough out on floured surface to about 1/2-inch-thick rope. Cut rope crosswise into 3/4-inch pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time, roll gnocchi along back of fork tines dipped in flour, making ridges on 1 side. Transfer gnocchi to baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour. DO AHEAD Can be made 6 hours ahead. Keep chilled.

  • Working in 2 batches, cook gnocchi in large pot of boiling salted water until very tender, 15 to 17 minutes (gnocchi will float to surface but may come to surface before being fully cooked). Using slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to same parchment-lined baking sheets. Cool. DO AHEAD Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover loosely and chill.

  • Cook butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat just until golden, stirring often, 3 to 4 minutes. Add sage; stir 1 minute. Add gnocchi; cook until heated through and coated with butter, 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan. Serve with additional Parmesan.

    Here is a useful Utube for making gnocchi using a gnocchi board.  It makes it so fast and so simple.  So worth the $5.99 and the space it takes in a drawer when not using.

    Using a gnocchi board

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Sage Brown Butter

Gnocchi is so tasty!

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Went to a local cooking class today and made this yummy and very easy gnocchi.  We made the gnocchi in class, then I came home and finished it for dinner.  It was a bit hit with the husband.  Gnocchi is so very easy to make and so yummy to eat.

Today we all brought 1-3 baked potatoes. ( Bake not boil ) I boiled mine and my potato ricer is now being replaced by a new industrial one.  It sort of leans to the right in the trash right now.  A very nice man in the class strong-armed a bit too much.  My potatoes were too hard, even after microwaving them.

Ingredients:

1-2 russet potatoes

1-2 eggs

2-3 cups of white flour

Nutmeg – a little dab will do

Make a basin for the egg in the middle of the riced potato and mix with hands. You can do this with the potato or the flour.  Blend it with your hands till looks like the picture in the middle and kind of medium soft to the touch. If it is too wet, add more flour. It just has to feel right.  Roll it into cigar shapes and cut into 1/2 lengths.

Flour your gnocchi board if you have one. I bought mine on Amazon (of course) for about $6.00.

gnocchi board

Putting a little flour on the board makes all the difference.  I like to roll my little cigar segments at an angle across the board.

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You can do this with your fingers and a spoon and fork, but the gnocchi board cuts the time, so you can do a whole batch in under five minutes with a little practice.  The one I have has a stand, so you can just put it right on the counter and roll the little gnocchi on to a piece of parchment.

Heat a pot of water and when it is boiling, just drop them in the water.  When they float to the top they are just about done.  I let them float about a minute, then take them out with a Chinese Strainerstrainer

Sauce is up to you.  Tonight I sautéed some pancetta, add a few sliced garlic cloves, some sliced cherry tomatoes and after I added the gnocchi to the sauce, I added a handful of fresh basil.  I grated fresh parmesano regiano  cheese on top, threw some spinach in another bowel, added some good oil and citrus vinegar and dinner was wonderfully ready.

Gnocchi is so tasty!

Road Trip: The Great Myth

Starting a “Road Trip” is exciting.  Ending a road trip is heaven. That is why there have been no posts on my blog for a while.  We went on a “Road Trip”.  We left on a lovely sunny day in Kingston and headed out to Cannon Beach, Oregon.

About an hour into the journey it started raining and continued raining the rest of the way to Cannon Beach.  I had wanted to go to EVOO, a cooking school where you cook and eat your dinner, but of course the day we arrived they did a lunch class.

Searching “TripAdvisor” online we found a restaurant that sounded heavenly.  Newman’s at 988, is a small cozy restaurant in the main part of town, run by a successful chef, John C. Newman C.E.C.  We had hope to walk to the restaurant, but it was pouring buckets. We were the first to arrive at 6:15 PM and were not joined by others for a while.  I saw a lovely Brunelo on the menu, so we ordered this delightful wine.  We discovered this wine in Florence several years ago.  After touring all day, we would find a small intimate cafe and share a bottle.  The one served here is on equal par with any we had in Italy.  IMG_5291

I love scallops and theirs sounded delish, so that was my choice for appetizer.

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And yes, it was as totally delicious as it looks.  I totally savored the first course.

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For my main course I ordered the duck, as I don’t usually cook it, but love it for a festive occasion, and after driving all day in the rain, anything deserved to be a celebration.  It was beautifully presented and very, very raw in the center.  I ate around the edges and decided not to say anything.  IMG_5297

Michael, my meat eating husband had a lovely sirloin and enjoyed his meal much more than I.  We ventured back to the room and watched a beautiful sunset, as it was still pouring down rain, so a walk on the beach was sort of out of the question.

Interesting fact:  Find your rooms via TripAdvisor, but book through the hotel. Booking, TripAdvisor and Expedia, etc get a certain rate, not always better, a certain amount,of rooms, usually ones that will not fill and charge you the same.  I asked when we checked into our room if they had any view rooms, as we could not get one online and they said of course and the view above is from the room.

We continued our drive in lovely weather the next day:

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Doesn’t this look like a fun road trip. Michael drove and I played “Angry Birds” on my iPad.  Michael likes to drive and I have to say I do NOT like mountain roads or rain, or big trucks.  I am beginning to wonder about the logic of a “Road Trip”.  My idea of a road trip is stop every few hours, find something interesting and meander for a while.  His idea is to have a destination and get there.

Arriving in Coos Bay, which we changed to at the last minute, we stayed (no photos please) at a hotel one step above a Motel 6, (if you remember those) right on the highway, with lots of road noise and no movies to watch.  We did find a lovely (sort of ) local restaurant that served Escargot and home made Gnocchi.  Only problem was it was way too rich.  I think I ate a pound of butter by myself with the meal.  IMG_2911

The best part of the restaurant, was the wine bottle water fountain that separated the bar from the entry.  We ate in the bar, as there was a party in the other room.  I have always wondered why some chefs think the richer the dish the better.  Moderation is lovely to me.  I didn’t photo the food, and really did not feel well later from all the butter. I cook with butter, but a little butter is a little better.

On to San Jose to pick up my wonderful six year granddaughter after a stop in my home town, Colusa, California for my 50 year high school reunion. That is another story for another time.

In San Jose we stayed in a lovely old mansion called the Dolce Hayes Mansion.  I wish we had more time to spend there, as it was elegant and very well maintained.  We headed to Hearst’s Castle in the morning with my granddaughter in tow.

I remember thinking Hearst’s Castle was amazing when I was young and honestly wish I had not gone back.  As an adult having studied design and art, I found it a strange conglomeration of what wealth with little taste could put together.  I know most people think it is amazing.  I think it is amazing that someone would take that much uncoordinated antique pieces and architectural pieces to the top of a hill in the middle of nowhere.  What I loved as I child, I felt totally lacked cohesion and/or taste as an educated adult.  Showy and sensational, but cold and lonely at the top of the world.

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Claire was bored with all of the tour and I had to laugh, when the tour guide kept pronouncing wainscoting – wainscoating.  If you are going to be a docent, then know your words.  She kept referring to parties they had at the castle as if she were part of them.  I wanted to say, if you want to pretend, then dress the part.  Put on a party dress and make us feel part of the adventure.  Not so…..

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The lilies and the view were the best part of the day for me.  The ride up the side of the mountain was not.

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The dinner table with Heinz and Heinz somehow did not appeal to my artistic senses, so I was glad when we took the winding trip down the hill and the tour was over.  I wish I would never have gone back and have the magic be gone from my youthful memories.

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The best part of the day for me, was the opportunity to see the Elephant Seals at the beach.  There are tons of them, and they wobble up and out of the surf and fan each other with sand.

We were going to go to The Sea Chest Oyster Bar for dinner, but read it was NOT kid friendly and had about 100 people waiting outside to get in.  We ate at the next one down the road, where the oysters were fresh and everything else was fried.  I saw more fried food on this trip than anywhere in the last five years.  I am not a fan of fried food, unless it is delicate and delicious.  I did not encounter that on our journey.

From San Simeon we drove to Napa to go to two kid friendly wineries.  Sterling winery has a fun gondola that takes you to the top, where for $50 per person you sample nine different wines and get to keep the Reidel wine glass.  Claire got a “throwaway” backpack and treats for $25.  I had to laugh, as when we went there when I was in college, the drinks and ride were free, but you had to pay for the food.  Time changes things.  Here we are, finally enjoying the sunshine at the top of Sterling.  My son, Chadwyck joined us for the day.

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From there we went to Castillo de Amoroso, which is an impressive remake of an Italian Castle.  It has only been there a few years, but is very popular with the overseas crowd, that lined the steps taking selfies, and literally would not let you get by.

The castle winery was beautiful and the tasting room was down-under, but I did not drink the wines in the tasting, as I did not enjoy them.  I think they sell the adventure hear, not the wine.

By the time we got back to the hotel, I was ready to head home, rather than go through the Gold Country, which is what I had originally planned as the basis of our trip.  It would be three more stops and I had discovered by then, my husband was not big on impromptu stops, so we most likely would have driven through the gold country.  We stayed another night in Napa at the Hampton Inn.  It is not in the heart of anything, but was the only room we could get in the area.  It was not most expensive hotel of the trip, and although we enjoyed the outdoor fireplace with a bottle of wine (or two), it was certainly not the nicest.

Next morning we headed out to on our way home, spending the night in Grant’s Pass at WeAskU Inn, a rustic hotel on the Rogue River where Clark Gable supposedly stayed with Greta Garbo.  Love this little place right on the river with a cocktail hour and a great breakfast.

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On our last (hurrah) night on the road, we went to dinner at The River’s Edge where Claire could have clams  (her favorite) Oh my gosh, they are all gone! IMG_5782

I could have scallops one more time, and these were wonderful:

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And since Claire is the world’s best traveler, she got to have dessert!

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As she finished she stated very calmly: “Now I am all sugared up!”.

We were glad to be on the last leg of our “Road Trip” and home is always a wonderful place to go.  Will we do another field trip?  Not in my lifetime!

Let’s see, I gained about five pounds, got really tired of sitting in a car, and really wonder why people think this is a great idea.  Fly somewhere nice, stay in the same hotel, rent a car or car and driver and have a lot more fun!

 

Road Trip: The Great Myth

Gnocchi Tonight

This afternoon about four, I decided Beet Gnocchi for dinner might be fun. I went with organic yellow beets, as the red seemed a little harsh with the sage.  The recipe is very straight forward and simple, but I would make a few changes.  I would add a little more flour, as the dough was VERY sticky.  I would make the individual gnocchi smaller next time too, to be prettier in the presentation.  I took the sage from the Butter Sauce, broke it up with my fingers and added to the top of each dish.  When I added a tiny bit of freshly grated Reggiano Parmesano it burst into lusciousness.  What a yummy dinner with a simple Arugula (had left over) and mixed greens said, dressed with Champagne vinegar and EVOO.  Not the most diet dinner, but surely was tasty.  Enjoy the recipe.

Beet Gnocchi with Brown Butter Sage Sauce

For the gnocchi
  • 1 lb. red beets (about 3 medium), trimmed ( I used yellow)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 11-oz. russet potato, whole and unpeeled
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 9 oz. (2 cups) all-purpose flour; more as needed
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
For the sauce
  • 4 oz. (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter
  • 10 large fresh sage leaves or 20 small leaves
  • Kosher salt
Make the dough

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350°F.

Put the beets in a baking dish, season lightly with salt and pepper, drizzle with the oil, and add 1/4 cup water to the dish. Cover with foil and roast until easily pierced with a skewer, 45 to 60 minutes. (Alternatively, roast the beets in a heavy-duty foil packet on a rimmed baking sheet.) When cool enough to handle, peel and cut the beets into chunks.

Cover the potato with about 1 inch of water in a saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, reduce to a gentle boil, and cook until easily pierced with a skewer, 35 to 40 minutes. Drain and let cool briefly. Peel the potato as soon as you can handle it. Pass the potato through a ricer into a large bowl, spreading it out to help any steam escape.

Combine the beets, egg, and yolk in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to the bowl of still-warm potatoes. Add the flour, 1-1/2 tsp. salt, and the nutmeg, and mix gently with your fingers until the dough comes together; it will be sticky. Add more flour, 1 Tbs. at a time, until soft but not sticky.

Shape the gnocchi

Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment and dust well with flour. Lightly flour a work surface. Turn the dough out onto the flour and gently flatten it by hand or by lightly rolling with a rolling pin until about 3/4 inch thick. If the dough is sticky, lightly dust the top with flour, too.

With a floured bench scraper or a knife, cut the dough into strips from 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide. With your hands, roll and lengthen the strips until about 1/2 inch in diameter. Using the bench scraper, cut the logs into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces (size is up to you).

If you want to give the gnocchi ridges, use the side of your thumb to gently roll each piece down the length of a gnocchi board or the tines of a fork, while simultaneously pressing lightly on the dough. (A fork will produce gnocchi with more pronounced ridges than a gnocchi board.)

Arrange the gnocchi in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets, making sure they don’t touch. If not cooking the gnocchi right away, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 4 hours. Even better, freeze the gnocchi right on the baking sheet until hard. (Frozen gnocchi are easier to handle than fresh and hold their shape better.)

Make the sauce

Combine the butter and sage in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the milk solids turn golden brown and smell toasty, about 10 minutes. Remove the sage leaves. (If you like, reserve them to serve over the finished gnocchi; leave small ones whole, but crumble large ones.) Season the sauce lightly with salt, and keep warm.

Cook and serve the gnocchi

Have the sauce ready and warm on the stove. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Reduce the heat to just below the boil. Add the gnocchi and cook, stirring once, until they float to the surface, 1 to 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon or similar utensil to transfer them to a bowl as they cook.

Gently toss the gnocchi with enough sauce to coat well, garnish with the reserved sage leaves, if you like, and serve immediately.

Make Ahead Tips

You can freeze the shaped, uncooked gnocchi for up to 1 month. Once frozen rock solid on the baking sheets, transfer them to freezer bags and return to the freezer. Cook as directed without thawing.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : 1 portion of gnocchi plus 1 Tbs. sauce, Calories (kcal): 570, Fat Calories (kcal): 350, Fat (g): 40, Saturated Fat (g): 22, Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 13, Cholesterol (mg): 150, Sodium (mg): 645, Carbohydrates (g): 46, Fiber (g): 3, Sugar (g): 4, Protein (g): 8

Gnocchi Tonight