Garlic, I love you!

What are the benefits of garlic?

Garlic (Allium sativum), is used widely as a flavoring in cooking, but it has been used as a medicine throughout ancient and modern history; it has been taken to prevent and treat a wide range of conditions and diseases.

Garlic belongs to the genus Allium and is closely related to the onion rakkyo (an onion found in Asia), scallion, chive, leek, and shallot. It has been used by humans for thousands of years and was used in Ancient Egypt for both culinary purposes and its health and therapeutic benefits.

National Garlic Day may be a holiday best celebrated alone or with a hefty box of breath mints and a very charitable loved one, but few foods are as deserving of their very own day of recognition as the amazing, edible bulbous plant. Celebrate National Garlic Day on April 19 with your favorite garlic-laced meal and a few fun facts about this delicious, flavor-packed add-in that can do almost anything, from reducing your cholesterol to keeping vampires at bay.

11 Things You Might Not Have Known About Garlic

1. YOU CAN EAT MORE THAN JUST THE STANDARD GARLIC CLOVE.

When you think “garlic,” you inevitably picture garlic cloves, but despite the ubiquity of that particular image of the plant, it’s not the only part you can eat. Green shoots that can be especially delicious and tender when they’re young. Think of them as garlic-flavored scallions. They make a wonderful addition to pestos, soups, and butters.

2. CHINA PRODUCES THE MOST GARLIC.

Garlic is native to central Asia and has long popped up in European and African cooking, too. But it’s China that currently holds the record for most garlic grown, China grows a staggering two-thirds of the world’s garlic, believed to be around 46 billion pounds per year.

3. AVERAGE CONSUMPTION OF GARLIC IS BELIEVED TO WEIGH IN AT AROUND TWO POUNDS PER PERSON.

Even with just two pounds, that means eating roughly 302 cloves per person per year.

4. GARLIC’S HEALTH BENEFITS ARE MYRIAD, INCLUDING AN ABILITY TO REDUCE CHOLESTEROL.

The best way to release the health-happy power of garlic is to cut it, which turns garlic’s thiosulfate compounds into allicin, an antibiotic and antifungal that is believed to reduce “bad” cholesterol as it inhibits enzymes from growing in liver cells.

5. ALLICIN IS ALSO GOOD AT COMBATING HEART DISEASE.

Allicin helps nitric oxide release in the blood vessels, relaxing them and bringing about a drop in blood pressure. . Keeping blood vessels relaxed and lowering blood pressure is good for the heart and the rest of the vascular system.

6. GARLIC CONTAINS VITAMINS, MINERALS, AND ANTIOXIDANTS THAT ARE GOOD FOR YOU.

Garlic bulbs are filled with potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, selenium, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and Vitamin C.

7. GARLIC’S USE AS A HEALTH AID DATES BACK TO ANCIENT HISTORY.

It’s believed that Egyptian pharaohs plied their pyramid builder with garlic for strength, and an ancient Egyptian medical document, the Ebers Papyrus counts 22 different medicinal uses for the plant. Garlic pops up in texts from Virgil, Pliny the Elder, Chaucer, and Galen, all of which detail its various uses and share lore about the magic plant.

8. DESPITE ITS ASIAN ORIGINS, ITS NAME IS DERIVED FROM ANGLO-SAXON SPEECH.

A combination of two Anglo-Saxon words—“gar” (spear) and “lac” (plant)—is believed to be the source of the plant’s name, specifically in reference to the shape of its leaves. ,

9. GARLIC’S REAL HEALTH BENEFITS ARE PROBABLY THE REASON FOR ONE OF ITS MOST PREVALENT MYTHS.

Garlic had long been recognized as a wonderful health aid before writer Bram Stoker introduced the concept of the vampire, a beast repelled by garlic to the public with his 1897 novel Dracula. In the book, he uses it as a protective agent, and it’s believed that Stoker lifted that idea from garlic’s many medicinal purposes, particularly as a mosquito repellent.

10. YOU CAN USE GARLIC TO MAKE GLUE.

The sticky juice that’s in garlic cloves is often used as an adhesive, especially for delicate projects that involve fragile items like glass. You just need to crush it to get to the sticky stuff which, despite its smell, works surprisingly well as a bonding agent for smaller jobs.

11. GARLIC CAN CLEAR UP SKIN TROUBLES.

You can battle both acne and cold sores with garlic, simply slice cloves in half and apply them directly to the skin. Hold for a bit, as long as you can stand and while the smell might not be the best, the antibacterial properties of the miracle plant will speed along the healing process.

Here is a great article by Food52 about buying and using garlic:

ARROWFOOD

11 Things You Might Not Have Known About Garlic

BY KATE ERBLAND APRIL 19, 2018

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National Garlic Day may be a holiday best celebrated alone—or with a hefty box of breath mints and a very charitable loved one—but few foods are as deserving of their very own day of recognition as the amazing, edible bulbous plant (okay, “bulbous plant” might not sound super appetizing, but it’s certainly accurate). Celebrate National Garlic Day on April 19 with your favorite garlic-laced meal and a few fun facts about this delicious, flavor-packed add-in that can do almost anything, from reducing your cholesterol to keeping vampires at bay.

1. YOU CAN EAT MORE THAN JUST THE STANDARD GARLIC CLOVE.

When you think “garlic,” you inevitably picture garlic cloves, but despite the ubiquity of that particular image of the plant, it’s not the only part you can eat. Hard-neck varieties of garlic produce “scapes,” green shoots that can be especially delicious and tender when they’re young. Think of them as garlic-flavored scallions. They also make a wonderful addition to pestos, soups, and butters.

2. CHINA PRODUCES THE MOST GARLIC.

Garlic is native to central Asia and has long popped up in European and African cooking, too. But it’s China that currently holds the record for most garlic grown. Per a 2012 study, China grows a staggering two-thirds of the world’s garlic, believed to be around 46 billion pounds per year.

3. AVERAGE CONSUMPTION OF GARLIC IS BELIEVED TO WEIGH IN AT AROUND TWO POUNDS PER PERSON.

Even with just two pounds, that means eating roughly 302 cloves per person per year, as each clove typically weighs about three grams.

4. GARLIC’S HEALTH BENEFITS ARE MYRIAD, INCLUDING AN ABILITY TO REDUCE CHOLESTEROL.

The best way to release the health-happy power of garlic is to cut it, which then turns garlic’s thio-sulfinite compounds into allicin, an antibiotic and antifungal that is believed to reduce “bad” cholesterol, as it inhibits enzymes from growing in liver cells.

5. ALLICIN IS ALSO GOOD AT COMBATING HEART DISEASE.

Allicin helps nitric oxide release in the blood vessels, relaxing them and thus bringing about a drop in blood pressure. Keeping blood vessels relaxed and lowering blood pressure is good for the heart and the rest of the vascular system (and it’s tasty).

6. GARLIC CONTAINS TONS OF VITAMINS, MINERALS, AND ANTIOXIDANTS THAT ARE GOOD FOR YOU, TOO.

The bulbs are packed with potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, selenium, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and Vitamin C.

7. GARLIC’S USE AS A HEALTH AID DATES BACK TO ANCIENT HISTORY.

It’s believed that Egyptian pharaohs plied their pyramid-builders with garlic for strength, and an ancient Egyptian medical document—the Ebers Papyrus—counts a stunning 22 different medicinal uses for the plant. Garlic also pops up in texts from Virgil, Pliny the Elder, Chaucer, and Galen, all of which detail its various uses and share lore about the magic plant.

8. DESPITE ITS ASIAN ORIGINS, ITS NAME IS DERIVED FROM ANGLO-SAXON SPEECH.

A combination of two Anglo-Saxon words—“gar” (spear) and “lac” (plant)—is believed to be the source of the plant’s name, specifically in reference to the shape of its leaves.

9. GARLIC’S REAL HEALTH BENEFITS ARE PROBABLY THE REASON FOR ONE OF ITS MOST PREVALENT MYTHS.

Garlic had long been recognized as a wonderful health aid before writer Bram Stoker introduced the concept of the vampire—a beast repelled by garlic—to the public with his 1897 novel DraculaIn the book, Van Helsing uses garlic as a protective agent, and it’s believed that Stoker lifted that idea from garlic’s many medicinal purposes, particularly as a mosquito repellent (think of the blood-sucking).

10. YOU CAN USE GARLIC TO MAKE GLUE.

The sticky juice that’s in garlic cloves is often used as an adhesive, especially for delicate projects that involve fragile items like glass. You just need to crush the cloves to get to the sticky stuff which, despite its smell, works surprisingly well as a bonding agent for smaller jobs.

11. GARLIC CAN CLEAR UP SKIN TROUBLES.

You can battle both acne and cold sores with garlic, simply by slicing cloves in half and applying them directly to the skin. Hold for a bit—as long as you can stand!—and while the smell might not be the best, the antibacterial properties of the miracle plant will speed along the healing process.

This is a great article from Food52 on how to buy and use garlic.

Garlic

There are many, many varieties of garlic, but they can all be classified as either hardneck or softneck garlic. Softneck garlic truly has a soft neck, meaning the central stalk is pliable enough to be manipulated — this is the type used to make garlic braids. Softneck garlic tends to be milder in flavor and to have more cloves per bulb (up to 20!); hardneck garlic, on the other hand, has fewer cloves but they’re larger (3, last photo) and easier to peel. 

When you buy garlic, as is true when you buy onions, you’re looking for hard, dry bulbs; like onions, they’ve been cured, which means they will last longer and store well. After being cured, the roots and stalk (1, photo below) are trimmed and the outermost layer of paper wrappers is removed. The garlic is ready to hang out in a cool, dry place in your home for months. Both types of garlic store well once cured, but softneck garlic will keep for a much longer time than hardneck, which is why you’ll usually find softneck garlic at grocery stores.

If stored long enough, you’ll eventually see little green sprouts in your garlic cloves. We generally don’t bother with removing them, but if you prefer to, just flick them out with the tip of a sharp knife. ( Iread once that they are a bit bitter, so I remove them)

Garlic

For those who think garlic is garlic, it isn’t all the same. Different varieties carry unique flavor profiles, but you’ll likely have to head to your local farmers market to try varieties like Inchelium Red, Kettle River Giant, Purple Glazer, and Sicilian Silver. Once you leave the supermarket, you’ll see more color variation, like purple streaks (2) in both the bulb wrappers and the cloves.

Once you get to know your local garlic farmer, you’ll have an easier time getting your hands on garlic at other stages of growth early season treats like green garlic and garlic scapes(the latter of which are only produced by hardneck garlic) and wet or fresh garlic (which is fully mature garlic that is eaten immediately after it has been harvested, without going through the curing process).

Garlic Cloves

If you’ve ever come across black garlic, that’s not a specific variety, it’s garlic that’s gone through fermentation and the flavor could be described as having a lot going on: “First there’s a hit of sweetness, followed by a faint hint of smoke, then a pungency that lingers long after the sweetness is gone.” If you’ve tried it and you weren’t immediately converted to its charms, cook with it, as the flavor changes with heat. 

For some, garlic cloves can be as aggravating as shallots. as recipes will call for a set number of cloves, but when heads of garlic can have such a wide range of clove sizes, there’s room for interpretation. We assume a mediumish-sized clove of garlic is about a half teaspoon once minced. 

Garlic

It’s hard to find a savory dish that we don’t like to use garlic in, but if garlic isn’t the first thing you reach for when you start cooking, we’ve got 5 ideas to get you started using more of it:

  • Pair garlic with your favorite protein: Try it with any protein
  • Introduce garlic to your favorite vegetable.
  • Make garlic bread or try grilling it.
  • Roast garlic to bring out its softer side.
  • Enjoy garlic in soup.
Garlic, I love you!

Poor Man’s Beef Stroganoff

What’s for dinner on a weeknight? Got some hamburger in the freezer, some fresh mushrooms, sour cream and a few other additional items and you have the poor man’s version of Beef Stroganoff:

I served it with a ten-minute instant pot recipe for artichoke. They are on sale this time of year, so perfect accompaniment for a simple dinner.

The recipe can vary based on the ingredients you have on hand. I find ground beef gives the best flavor but you can certainly substitute another type of ground meat such as ground turkey or pork.  If using something other than beef, you’ll likely want to add some extra Maggi or Beef Bouillon for a richer flavor!

This easy Ground beef stroganoff recipe is made from scratch with fresh ingredients (no Cream of Mushroom soup as there is too much sodium). This way too simple to make!  You’re literally just  minutes away from getting this beef stroganoff on the table!

  1. Brown beef, onions and garlic.
  2. Add mushrooms, sauce & seasonings.  Simmer a few minutes.
  3. Start your egg noodles cooking!
  4. Stir in sour cream and serve over egg noodles.

Sauce:

  • Sour cream may curdle if it boils so add the sour cream, after you have completed everything else.
  • You can use Greek yogurt if you do not have sour cream. I prefer “light” sour cream or non-dairy sour cream.

Add a little more flavor with any or all of the following:

  • A teaspoon or so of dijon mustard
  • Add a sprig or two of fresh thyme (or 1/4 teaspoon of dried)
  • Add a couple of slices of chopped cooked bacon with the sour cream. ( You can cook it covered with a paper towel for six minutes)
  • Add a small bit of smoked paprika and a dash of hot sauce

I like to serve over thick fresh egg noodles, but you could serve it over potatoes, rice or normal pasta.

Poor Man’s Beef Stroganoff

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 3/4 lb fresh mushrooms sliced ( I like a variety of fresh mushrooms)
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups beef broth (I have bone broth, which worked great)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
Instructions
  • Brown ground beef, onion and garlic in a pan until no pink remains.
  • Add sliced mushrooms and cook 2-3 minutes. Stir in flour and cook 1 more minute. ( I cook my mushrooms separately ahead of time, so there is less liquid)
  • Add broth, Worcestershire sauce, salt & pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer on low 10 minutes.
  • Cook egg noodles according to package directions.
  • Remove beef mixture from the heat, Let sit to cool a bit, stir in sour cream and parsley.
  • Serve over egg noodles.

Enjoy with a nice bottle of red wine!

Poor Man’s Beef Stroganoff

Pasta Mistakes to Stop Making

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Pasta is one of those things you’ve never going to stop making, so you should probably know how to do it well.  From the right size of pot to cooking time to storing leftovers, here are some pasta mistakes I suggest you stop making immediately.

Note: this guide is exclusive to standard, Italian-style wheat pasta. Many other types of noodles, like soba, glass, mixian, and rice vermicelli, as well as gluten-free pasta, sometimes cook differently, so for those, it’s best to consult the package for best practices.

 

1. Using a pot that’s too small

Sure, it’s a pain to wash a big stockpot, but you know what’s just plain dumb? Slowly shoving a pound of fettuccine into a one-quart saucepan until it snaps in half. When making pasta, especially longer noodles like spaghetti, linguine, and bucatini, it’s best to use a big pot (one with a diameter that is at least the same length as your noodle) with plenty of water. If you don’t have a stockpot, you can actually boil pasta in a skillet.

2. Not adding enough salt to the water

It may seem bonkers to toss a fistful of salt into pasta water, but keep in mind that you’re not actually ingesting all that water. To actually have a fighting chance at seasoning the pasta while it boils, you need a lot (like several tablespoons) of salt. There really isn’t an exact measurement to use here, but I would say a good rule is three tablespoons of Kosher salt per pound of pasta. If you don’t have Kosher salt, go buy some. Don’t use your fancy Himalayan pink or flakey sea salts (they’re expensive and most of this salt is going down the drain), nor iodized table salt (it sucks).

3. The water isn’t really boiling

In her brilliant book Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, Samin Nosrat says to evenly prepare noodles made with wheat, they must be cooked at a vigorous boil, as “the pandemonium keeps the noodles moving, preventing them from sticking to one another as they release starch.” This isn’t a mere suggestion, folks. Bring your water to a rolling boil, dump in the pasta, give it a stir, and ensure that the pot continues to boil.

4. Adding oil to pasta water

Some people think that to keep pasta from sticking itself in the pot they must add olive oil to the pot. False. If your pot is large enough, at a rolling boil, and you’ve stirred the noodles around after dumping them in, there’s no reason pasta should stick to itself or to the pot while cooking.

5. Overcooking pasta

If you’re cooking pasta according to the package directions, odds are you’re going to overcook it. Especially if you’re planning to mix the pasta into heated sauce, pasta will taste perfectly cooked (that is, soft with a slight bite, also known as al dente) when it’s pulled out of the pot about three minutes earlier than the package says.

6. Tossing the pasta water

Most people simply dump their cooked pasta into a colander, letting all cooking liquid run down the drain. Don’t be one of those people. Instead, use a slotted spoon, spider, or tongs to pull out your pasta and drop it into your sauce or put it in a colander, leaving the pot of warm water on the stove. Starchy pasta water is the secret ingredient your sauces have been missing. Whether you’re making cacio e pepe or linguine with clams, a hefty splash of pasta water will thicken your sauce and encourage it to coat each noodle completely.

7. Rinsing the pasta after cooking

Shocking pasta with cold water after it comes out of the pot will indeed stop the pasta from cooking more, but it will also rinse away all the delightful starch that helps sauce cling to noodles. To avoid the overcooking factor, see rule #5. If you’re rinsing to ensure the noodles don’t stick together, you should simply be ready to add the pasta into your sauce as soon as it comes out of the pot.

8. Storing leftovers improperly

You can get very sick from poorly stored pasta, so if you pay attention to any of these tips, make it this one. After your pasta dish is cooked and divided among plates, any leftovers should be cooled, transferred to an airtight container, and refrigerated. When cooked food is held at a temperature between 40ºF and 140ºF, it’s known as the “danger zone” by the USDA. Bacteria love moist foods like pasta, so any leftovers should be stored in the fridge and fully reheated before you eat them again (and it’s best not to wait more than a day). You may feel bad about throwing away food, but we all know reheated mushy pasta isn’t very good anyway.

Pasta Mistakes to Stop Making

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

Chicche Verdi Del Nonno

GNOCCHI WITH BROWN BUTTER AND SAGE

 

A regional dish from the Italian province of Parma, these plump spinach gnocchi are excellent sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.  A regional dish from the Italian province of Parma, these plump spinach gnocchi are excellent sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

SERVES 4-6

Ingredients

1 lb. russet potatoes, unpeeled
Kosher salt, to taste
4 oz. spinach
14 cups semolina flour, sifted, plus more
2 eggs, beaten
18 tbsp. unsalted butter
16 leaves fresh sage, minced
14 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. finely grated Parmesan

Instructions

Put potatoes into a 4-qt. pot of salted water; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until potatoes are tender, 25 minutes. Drain; let cool. Peel potatoes; pass through medium plate of a food mill into a bowl.
Meanwhile, heat a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Add spinach and 1 tbsp. of water; cook until wilted. Press on spinach in a sieve to extract liquid. Finely chop spinach; stir together with potatoes and semolina and form a well in the center.
Add eggs and salt and, using a fork, beat eggs into potato mixture.
Transfer dough to a work surface dusted with semolina; knead to combine.
Divide the dough into 6 portions. Roll each portion into a 1⁄2″-thick rope. Cut ropes into 1⁄2″-wide pieces; transfer to a semolina-dusted sheet tray.
Melt 10 tbsp. butter in a 10″ skillet over medium heat; cook, swirling, until butter browns, about 6 minutes.
Add sage and nutmeg; season with salt and pepper.
Remove from heat; set aside.
Working in 4 batches, add 2 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. oil to a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Add dough pieces and cook, flipping once, until golden brown, 3–4 minutes.
Transfer to a baking sheet.
Wipe out the skillet and repeat with remaining butter, oil, and dough pieces.
Toss dumplings and brown butter sauce in the skillet until hot.
Serve sprinkled with Parmesan.
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Here is the photo of my version.  Served with a lovely red wine!
Would definitely make for friends.
I made the gnocchi about three in the afternoon, and just put them all together right before dinner.
Yummy~
Chicche Verdi Del Nonno

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

More Carbonara Tips

bucatini-carbonaraCarbonara is the ultimate easy and fast dinner, so every time I see another article on it with new or a more interesting approach I feel the need to share it.  Well Done is a food blog that I follow, as it has quick and easy suggestions.  Read on…

It has bacon, it has eggs, it has cheese, it has carbs. Why isn’t spaghetti carbonara the most popular breakfast food ever? People think it is difficult and time consuming to make, which it is not.  It is fast simple and simply delicious.

Maybe you are afraid you don’t have the right technique for making Carbonara. There is little to be afraid of.  Just follow a few very simple directions and you will have the best easy breakfast, lunch or dinner ever.  It was I make when I don’t feel like cooking.  I know I have all the ingredients in the pantry or refrigerator and can through it together in as fast as the pasta can cook.  I use bucatini as it has a hole in the middle and holds the sauce.

For the recipe you just need a couple of whisked eggs, some bacon chucks cooked with a chopped onion and the best parmesan cheese you can afford. The better the cheese, the better the carbonara.

Find a large skillet or pan that will fit all the dried pasta. If you can’t lay the spaghetti flat across the bottom, then use rigatoni or another loose pasta. Sprinkle with salt, cover with 4 inches of cold water, cover, and put on high heat. Yes, this goes against everything you’ve been taught. But it works!

While that’s going, cook your chopped-up bacon in a small skillet and, when it’s about halfway done, throw in some chopped onion. Keep cooking until they’re golden and the bacon is crisp, then set aside. No need to drain or anything.

In the biggest bowl you have, whip up your eggs until solidly yellow, then add the cheese.

When the pasta water comes to a boil, get your tongs. Use thm to stir the pasta to make sure it’s not sticking. When it’s al dente, start pulling out with the tongs and and throw it directly into the bowl with the egg/cheese mixture.Don’t drain! You’ll need that extra pasta water to temper the eggs and make it a sauce. Toss in some pasta, toss, toss in more pasta, toss again, and just keep going until it’s all in. Sounds like a lot of tossing, but it really takes less than a minute. You don’t need to place it  back into a pan, as the eggs are fully cooked thanks to the heat of the pasta.

Add in the bacon and onions in, keep tossing and plate with more cheese. Wasn’t that the easiest dinner ever?  Add a salad, or if you not diet conscious a great loaf of crusty bread is perfect.  I love mine with a good red wine.

Get with gusto!

More Carbonara Tips

Perfect Pasta

Must be the weather….  Rain – Rain – and more – Rain.  I found an article by Claire Saffitz in the recent edition of Bon Appetit and could not find it online, so scanned it (thus a tad crooked) and share it here.  I think it makes some good points.  
Carbonara

At restaurants, those noodles get coated in a silky, glossy sauce—the secret is an emulsion of fat, pasta water, and cheese.

Here are the 5 key steps to replicating that at home.

There’s something about pasta at a restaurant that just seems different. The sauce clings to each noodle perfectly, as if separation were physically impossible. That alfredo or carbonara is so sublimely smooth that it could never be replicated at home, right? Wrong. Here’s how to make pasta at home that is every bit as saucy and glossy as it is at your neighborhood trattoria. Get out your Dutch oven (or sauce pan or large skillet), and follow these 5 easy steps to at-home pasta perfection.

pasta-dutch-oven-sauce
Nikole Herriott

Photograph by Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott

1. Start in a Dutch Oven

A big one, so you avoid half-cooked pasta caking onto your stovetop, which can happen easily when saucing with a skillet. Higher sides mean the pasta won’t flip out as you’re tossing—and there’s going to be a lot of tossing.

pasta-dutch-oven add-flavors-cheese
Nikole Herriott

Photograph by Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott

2. Build Your Flavors

Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil into the Dutch oven (enough to cover the bottom) and heat over medium. Add some aromatics like garlic or shallots, then cook mushrooms or other veg in the oil until they’re tender.

pasta-sauce-dutch-oven-drop-noodles
Nikole Herriott

Photograph by Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott

3. Drop the Pasta

In a pot of very salty boiling water, cook noodles until they’re several minutes shy of al dente. Transfer them to whatever you’ve got in the Dutch oven, along with a ladleful of pasta water. The noodles should swim, and the liquid should be bubbling.

dutch-oven-pasta-finish-butter-noodles
Nikole Herriott

Photograph by Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott

4. Marry the Noodles and Sauce

Toss, toss, toss as the pasta finishes cooking. Then add a bit more pasta water. Toss some more, then slowly stir in some finely grated hard cheese—Parmesan, Pecorino, Grana Padano—little by little so it melts evenly and completely.

5. Finish It Right

Keep tossing until each strand or shape is coated and no bits of cheese remain. Remove from heat, stir in a spoonful of butter, and top with more cheese and some crispy bits (prosciutto FTW), then serve directly out of the Dutch oven at the table.

Perfect Pasta