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Smoky Baked Potato Wedges with Hickory Smoked Bacon served with Spanish Red

Ingredients:

1 large potato (1/2 pound), scrubbed, unpeeled, quartered and boiled in slightly salted water until tender

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 Tablespoons cream cheese, softened 

1 teaspoon good quality dijon mustard, Maille Fine de Dijon

2 Tablespoons milk

1/2 teaspoon Spanish sweet smoked paprika, Pimenton Dulce de la Vera

1/2 cup grated manchego cheese (or can substitute gruyere or swiss cheese), divided into 2 (1/4 cup), 1/4 cup to mix in the mash, 1/4 to sprinkle on top of the potatoes

salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

1/4 cup crisp hickory smoked bacon bits

1 Tablespoon chives, finely chopped

- While potatoes are still hot, scoop the flesh and put in a bowl.

- Mash potatoes and mix in extra virgin olive oil, softened cream cheese, dijon mustard, milk, Spanish sweet smoked paprika, chives, grated cheese and season with salt and pepper (to taste). 

- Spoon mixture on potato skin wedges, top with the remaining grated cheese and a few bits of bacon. 

- Bake in a 375’F oven for 12-15 minutes or until cheese has melted and tops are browned. 

- Top with remaining bacon bits and a few dashes of paprika (pimenton).

Makes 1-2 servings

(Source: goddessofscrumptiousness)



Gnocchi… it’s so easy!

Gnocchi literally means “lumps” in Italian. There are many types of gnocchi. In Tuscany, gnocchi are made out of ricotta cheese and seasoning, the gnocchi alla Romana in Rome are made with semolina, egg and cheese, while the gnocchi a la Parisienne are prepared from choux pastry with milk and cheese. Although gnocchi is more like a dumpling, it is actually classified as pasta.

What I made here are the most widely made and known type of gnocchi, the humble potato gnocchi which I believe, anyone can make.

I chose to use instant mashed potato flakes because the secret to making good potato gnocchi is to make the potato as dry as possible (it means that you will use less flour, and because of this you will end up with a more light and tender gnocchi). If you use boiled potatoes to mash, the potatoes end up too wet, and while it is a good idea to just bake your potatoes with their skins on, the process is a bit more time consuming… and Patience is not one of my outstanding virtues.

Making gnocchi at home is one of those kitchen projects that make me relax and calm. It is really just like playing with playdough. I relish the fact that after I am done entertaining myself, I can then look forward to entertaining my tummy afterwards.

Although you can cook gnocchi in any kind of sauce you like (mine is Gorgonzola Cream) I most of the time make it simple by just tossing these babies in mildly sizzling butter to make these a bit crispy and just serving these with a generous sprinkling of parmesan cheese and parsley. Simple and straight forward crisped up potato gnocchi… Buon Appetito! :)

Ingredients:

Potato Gnocchi

3 1/2 cups instant mashed potato flakes

1 2/3 cups freshly boiled water

1 large egg

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 - 2/3 cup plain flour

_____________________

8 cups water (to poach the gnocchi)

1 teaspoon salt

Procedure:

1. Place the potato flakes in a bowl and pour the freshly boiled water over. Stir with a spatula until the potato flakes fully absorbs the water and form a mound of mashed potatoes.

2. Liberally dust your work surface (wooden/bamboo board/counter top) with flour. Make a well in the center of the mound of mashed potatoes and add the egg, nutmeg, black pepper and salt.

3. Using a fork, mix all the 5 ingredients together. Add 1/4 cup (of the 2/3 cup) of flour into the potato dough to bind the mixture. If the gnocchi dough feels wet then you can add the other 1/4 cup or more of the remaining flour, or if you feel it too dry just add a little bit of water. Knead the dough with your hands until you have a nice dry doughy consistency.

*To make sure that your dough is the right consistency and won’t fall apart once you cook it, try testing 1 piece of the dough by dropping it in the simmering water. If it falls apart, then you need to add a bit more flour to the dough.

4. Cut and divide the dough into four then cut each quarter in halves ending up with 8 tennis ball-size pieces.

5. Form each piece into long narrow tubes, 1/2 inch thick. And cut into 1 inch pieces.

6. Place all the cut gnocchi on a well floured baking sheet.

7. Bring a medium size sauce pan with 8 cups of water to a boil. Once the water boils, add the salt. Then turn the heat down to bring the water to a gentle simmer (very minimal bubbles- ideal for poaching).

8. Cook the gnocchi in several batches. Once the gnocchi floats and comes to the surface of the water (takes about less than 2 minutes), immediately fish it out of the water with a slotted/perforated spoon and place it in another baking sheet to prevent it from sticking together.

To make Butter-Crisped Potato Gnocchi with Parmesan Cheese and Parsley:

Melt 1/2 cup of unsalted butter in a skillet and add the cooked gnocchi. Pan-fry the gnocchi for about 8 minutes in the hot butter until slightly browned and crisp. Transfer into a serving dish and sprinkle with a generous amount of grated parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.

Other Sauces for Gnocchi:

Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Cream

1 recipe Potato Gnocchi (cooked)

4 tablespoons  unsalted butter

4 tablespoons Gorgonzola cheese

(if you can’t find gorgonzola cheese, you can substitute Danish blue cheese, that is only if you can’t really find a great gorgonzola in your area)

1 cup double cream

1/2 cup milk

cracked black pepper and salt to taste

picked fresh marjoram leaves, or torn fresh tarragon leaves, but I also mostly just use chopped parsley.

grated parmesan cheese

- Melt the butter in a shallow pan, add the gorgonzola cheese (making sure to break the lumps), double cream, and milk. Simmer gently until the gorgonzola has melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss the cooked gnocchi into the cheese sauce. Serve and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and any one of the herbs specified.

Gnocchi with Lemony-Chicken Sauce

1 recipe potato gnocchi (pan-fried in butter until crisped- refer to the Butter-Crisped Potato Gnocchi procedure)

1 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes

finely grated zest of 2 lemons

juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley

salt and pepper according to taste

- In a medium sauce pan, heat chicken broth and lemon juice and bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat. Whisk in the chilled butter, dropping a cube at a time until the sauce becomes a bit thick. Reheat and whisk if necessary.

Toss the crisped gnocchi into the lemony-chicken sauce and transfer into a serving dish. Sprinkle with flat leaf Italian parsley.

All recipes Make 4-6 Servings



CREAMY POTATO GRATIN

This is my own version of the classic French potato dish Gratin de Pommes de
Terre a la Dauphinoise

I par-boiled the potato slices (instead of baking it raw, which also cuts the baking time in half), made a bechamel sauce (instead of just milk), and integrated garlic and sliced green onions into the bechamel (instead of just rubbing the gratin dish with garlic). The marriage of the garlic and green onions make this savory… the result, a heartier and creamier dish.

Ingredients:

For the topping:

1/2 cup savory croutons/dry bread crumbs

1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

1/2 grated gruyere cheese

2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

For the Garlic-Green Onion Bechamel sauce:

1/4 cup unsalted butter

4 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 cup sliced green onions

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups milk

1/2 chicken stock

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

pinch of ground nutmeg

salt and white pepper to taste

1 1/2 cups grated gruyere cheese

6 medium-size potatoes, (peeled, sliced into 1/4 inch thick, and par-boiled in salted water)

Procedure:

Mix all topping ingredients and set aside until ready to use.

For the Bechamel: In a large sauce pan, melt butter. Once butter is melted add the minced garlic and sliced green onions, saute’ for 5 minutes over medium-low heat. Then add the flour and cook for a minute.

Add the milk, chicken stock, dijon mustard, pinch of nutmeg, salt and white pepper to taste. Constantly stir sauce until it thickens. Turn off heat and set aside.

Butter a gratin or shallow casserole dish. Ladle a bit of sauce on the bottom. Place the sliced potatoes over the first layer of sauce, then top the potatoes with sauce and grated gruyere cheese.

Repeat the process (potatoes, sauce, cheese) ending up with the bechamel sauce for the final layer. Evenly sprinkle the breadcrumb-cheese mixture over the top.

Bake in a 375’F/190’C preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until top is gloriously golden brown and cheese is bubbly. Serve warm.

Makes 8 servings.