Sunday, January 31, 2010

Potatoes with Style

Poor in NYC? Need a way to feed yourself and others on the cheap? Well, if you don't have alot of bucks and are willing to put a little time and effort into this next adventure, this meal is for you!

Gnocchi, Gnocchi, Gnocchi, Gnocchi!

Just 3-4 plain old russet or idaho potatoes (depending on size), 1 large egg, 1 cup of flour and a dash of salt will feed a party of 4 or even more! in NYC that adds up to approx $5-$7. I say $5-$7, because you can't just buy 1 egg or just 1 cup of flour. Most traditional recipes don't even need egg.

Yes...Make it homemade! There are plenty of recipes out there on the web that will show you how to make it. There is no special equipment needed except your hands, a fork and a little time. But if you have a food mill or potato ricer, an Gnocchi paddle, these can help but really don't speed up the process.

Now, I'm new to making Gnocchi from scratch, but not new to making my own pasta, so most of the On-line Tutorials were easy for me. Once you get the knack for making any kind of dough, it's a quick process. I recently made my own batch-took me about 60 minutes after the potatoes were cooked and cooled.

Sauce options:
  • Simple Marinara Sauce (Cheap!)
  • Pesto
  • Gorgonzola Cream Sauce
  • Alfredo Sauce
  • White or Black Truffel Olive Oil and Fresh Sage and Rosemary
  • Fresh Sage and Butter (Cheap!)
  • Putanesca
  • Wild Mushroon or Porcini
...the list can go on and on...just think out of the box
Here are some links to sites that I found extremely helpful in my quest to make homemade Gnocchi:

YUMMY and Satisfying! I encourage anyone and everyone to make Gnocchi from scratch...You know what goes in it. You know who made it and you know it will taste better than if you bought it.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Saltines and Omega 3

Now, I grew up eating Sardines, so they don't skeeve me out and I feel bad for those folks who can't seem to get past the little critters.  They are so tasty!  What I didn't know was that Sardines are rich in Omega 3's, which made me feel even better about eating them.

My favorite way to eat sardines is with saltine crackers. Simple, delicious and as plain as can be.  I only buy one kind of Sardine...Brisling-2 Layer in Olive Oil.  That's the only way to go.

I was watching Alton Brown on the Food Network a few weeks back. The episode was about those funny little fish called "Sardines". He had this one really amazing recipe with Avocado and Grilled toast that just made my mouth water -- Sherried Sardine Toast.  I haven't made this recipe yet, but I must admit, I keep thinking about it...

So for the folks out there afraid of little fishies...Try out the recipe above or go with my favorite standby-Saltines and Sardines.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Respect the Chef!

So, since I've been out of a job for way over a year, thought I would go down TV memory lane, since this blog is about food, cooking and the kitchen for the most part.
Not that I watch any cooking shows religiously, I however do have my favorites.  I have grown with many chefs that have come and most regrettably gone to another rhelm or just disappeared from the media.
The following chefs, in no particular order are my most favorite and extremely respected by me.

Food Network:
  • Alton Brown-Good Eats
  • Anne Burrell-Secrets of a Restaurant Chef and admittatly Worse Cooks in America
  • Any and all shows with Mario Batali and Morimoto
  • Bobby Flay-Throwdown
  • Emeril Lagasse -Wish the food network would bring him back
  • Any Iron Chef
  • Jamie Oliver
PBS (cooks I grew up with):
  • Julia Child
  • Jacques Pepin
  • Jacques Torres (miss him on the air)
  • Lidia's Italy
  • Emeril Lagasse
  • Jeff Smith
  • Martha Stewart (before she went prime)
Travel Channel:
  • Anthony Bourdain
No TV Shows:
  • Nobu
  • My Father
  • My Nana
  • My Sister
  • My Mother
  • My Great Nana and Nona

Cookbooks Galore

I was an advid cookbook and magazine collector before the web became a major source of information on food (yeah I might show my age...but I did have overlap-Real Info didn't really start heavily until 2000-HAH!). So all my cookbook collections serve me extremely well to this day.
Here is a list of some of the cookbooks I reccommend to anyone who loves to cook or bake...These books, no matter the resources of the Web are invaluable!  Mind you-The Web is 80% up to date, but if you want to capture some history of recipes, books are the way to go, since eventually publishing stops for some of these publications and even some family Heirloom recipes are lost forever.
I have tons more, but here are a few to get started (In no particular order). Mind you, these are heavy, fat books except for "The Stinking Cookbook".

  • The Professional Pastry Chef ISBN: 0-772-01597-6
  • Dessert Circus ISBN: 0-688-15654-1
  • The Dean and Deluca Cookbook ISBN: 0-679-77003-8
  • The New Professional Chef (CIA) ISBN: 0-442-01961-0
  • The Joy of Cooking ISBN: 0-684-81870-1
  • The Stinking Cookbook ISBN: 0-89087-730-0
  • Webster's New World Dictionary of Culinary Arts ISBN: 0-13-475732-7
  • Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Handbook ISBN: 0-88011-326-X
  • Jacques Pepin-Today's Gourmet ISBN: 0-912333-07-3
  • The Frugal Gormet Cooks American ISBN: 0-688-06347-0
  • The Oxford Companion to Food 2nd Edition ISBN: 0192806815/ ISBN-13: 9780192806819
Magazine Favorites of the Past...
  • Saveur
  • Food & Wine
  • La Cucina
  • Cooks Illustrated (Show is on PBS.)
  • Gourmet

Hankerin’ for junk food?

I don’t know about anyone else out there, but I LOVE potato chips. I hadn’t thought about making them from scratch for a long, long time, until I recently made a huge batch of Gnocchi and had 2 russet potatoes left.

So the end result was that I did make a batch of homemade potato chips. And folks, these taste so much better than ANY Store bought brand. Yes, these just happen to be plain, but you can do so much with these, just like any other potato recipe.

  • For a cheesy touch, while hot, sprinkle some parm cheese
  • For an herbal touch, chop up some fresh rosemary and sprinkle on top
  • Use Sea Salt for seasoning, some black pepper, paprika or cayenne pepper for heat.
  • Use all combinations above…the ideas are limitless! And you better believe these are much healthier and tastier than the store bought brands.

Cucumber Cravings

I was watching the food network-Iron Chef (repeat) with Bobby Flay and Morimoto the other day. Flay created some dish, can’t remember the main ingredient, but he did something with Cucumber that got me thinking...

Flay’s soux chef had cut the cucumber into a noodle style and mixed it with sherry vinaigrette. Sounded so yummy, so I came up with my own version.
Cucumber Noodle Salad
Approx 2 Servings
Special Equipment: Mandoline with a thin Julienne blade.
  • 1 Large Cucumber
  • Half Pint Cherry Tomatoes quartered
  • Few Sprigs of Tarragon roughly chopped
  • About 10 Leaves of Mint roughly chopped
  • 1/4 lbs or less of Feta Cheese
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 2-3 Tbls of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • S&P to Taste

Preparation Instructions:
  • Use your Mandoline with a the Julienne blade to cut the cucumber into long noodles.
  • Add Cucumber to a bowl with chopped herbs and tomatoes, mix gently with your hands.
  • Place mixture on plate or in a Bowl. Sprinkle Feta Cheese over salad mixture, then add S & P. For each serving, drizzle extra virgin olive oil and squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon over the salad.