Potato Gnocchi

It may sound a little crazy to make your own gnocchi, but it’s really worth it.  It definitely takes a little time, but the good thing is that you can make a bunch and then freeze it into individual meals so that when you want it, it’s already done!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. russet potatoes (approximately 2 large)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, powdered
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg (make sure there are no large clumps)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1 cup flour, plus more for dusting
  • Robust Red Sauce
    • Make it a pink sauce by adding 1/2 cup cream and 1/2 cup powdered parmesan cheese
    • This sauce recipe will make enough for 3 recipes worth of gnocchi

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Scrub the potatoes and then rub them with olive oil and kosher salt
  • Prick a bunch of holes in the potatoes and bake them at 425°F for about 45 minutes or until very tender
  • Let the potatoes cool a bit and then cut them in half, scoop out the flesh and press it through a potato ricer – if you don’t have one of those, grate the potatoes on the large holes of a box grater
  • You should now have about 2 cups of mashed potatoes – on your countertop, make a mound of the potatoes with a well in the middle
  • Add 3 of the egg yolks to the middle of the well and the salt, pepper, nutmeg and parmesan cheese
  • Mix the potatoes into the egg yolks with your hands
  • Pour in half of the flour and continue to mix with your hands, using your knuckles to press in the dough
  • Fold the dough over itself and press down with your hands
  • Slowly sprinkle in the rest of the flour while continuing to press with your hands – add the 4th egg yolk if the mixture seems dry
    • The dough should give under pressure but should feel firm and not sticky
  • To check if the consistency is correct, take a piece and roll it with your hands on a well-floured board into a rope 1/2 inch diameter – if the dough holds together, it’s ready (if not, add more flour and fold and press a few more times and test it again)
  • Cut your ball of dough into 4 pieces – roll each piece out into a rope 1/2 inch diameter on a floured surface
  • Cut the rope into 1/2 inch-long pieces – you can either cook these as is or form them into the classic gnocchi shape, here’s how you do that
  • As you shape the gnocchi, lightly dust them with flour and line them up on a baking sheet
  • Set the gnocchi filled cookie sheet in the fridge for a few minutes so they get a little bit firm
  • When you’re ready to cook them, place a small batch of them into salted boiling water (you don’t want to cook too many at ounce because they will stick together if they’re touching while cooking)
  •  About 2 minutes after the gnocchi has floated to the surface, you can remove them from the water with a slotted spoon
    • I just place the cooked gnocchi into a strainer while the rest is cooking
    • While the gnocchi is cooking, I make sure to get my sauce well heated
  • Once all of your gnocchi is cooked, toss it together with the heated sauce and you’re ready to eat!
    • If you’re planning on making a few recipes (which I recommend) just freeze the extra gnocchi in freezer bags – when you want to eat it, just boil the frozen gnocchi in salted water the same way you cooked the fresh ones

Chicken Pot Pie

I had actually never tasted this classic comfort food until I made it last night.  I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.  If you have the time to make the dough, I recommend it – the consensus was that it tastes like a biscuit… so good.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1  1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, corn, green beans)
  • 1 large potato, peeled
  • 3/4 cup pearl onions (frozen or fresh)
  • 1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, whole but smashed
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 4 cups chicken broth (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pie crust (you can either use store-bought or homemade*)
  • 1 egg + 1 tbsp water (egg wash for the crust)
*This recipe will yield enough filling for two large pies or 4 individual pies –
if you want to make the large pie, you will need to double the dough recipe*
BAREFOOT CONTESSA’S PIE CRUST
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1  1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening (i.e. Crisco), cubed
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 2/3 – 1/2 cup ice cold water

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Drizzle olive oil over the chicken breasts and sprinkle with salt and pepper
  • Place them on a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 350°F for 35-40 minutes or until fully cooked
  • While the chicken is cooking, prepare the pie crust if you’re planning on making it yourself
    • Once the chicken is cooked, cut it into bite-size cubes
BAREFOOT CONTESSA’S PIE CRUST
    • Mix the flour, salt and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade
    • Toss in the shortening and butter and coat them with the flour
    • Pulse 10 times or until the shortening and butter are about the size of peas
    • While the food processor is running, pour in the ice cold water
    • Process until the dough is moistened and is beginning to clump together
    • Place the dough onto a floured surface and form it into a ball
    • Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 mins
  • Parboil the potato and then cube it – leave the water in the pot and keep the heat on
  • In the same pot, blanch the mixed veggies and pearl onions (if the onions are fresh, boil them for 2-3 minutes with the skin on; then remove the onions, cut the root and the onion should just pop out of the skin)
    • Put the prepared veggies aside for now
  • In a small saucepan, heat the chicken broth and bouillon cube
  • In a large pot or saute pan with high sides, melt the butter and saute the onions and whole garlic cloves
  • Remove the garlic cloves once they’ve become very fragrant and saute the onions over medium-low heat until they’re translucent
  • And the flour while stirring the mixture constantly over low heat – approximately 2 mins
  • Add the hot chicken broth to the flour mixture and whisk over low heat for another minute or until it thickens
  • Add 2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper and the heavy cream – continue to stir
  • Add in the cubed chicken, mixed vegetables, potatoes, pearl onions, parsley and thyme – stir the mixture well
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
There are two options for the presentation of this dish…
 
OPTION I – Make it into a classic pie 
    • The filling will be enough to make 2 pies – so either half the recipe, or double the dough
    • Cut the dough ball  in half and roll it out into a circle on a lightly floured surface
    • Drape the dough over the pie dish and press it down against the dish with your fingertips
    • Fill the pie with the chicken filling
    • Roll out the other half of the dough into a circle on a lightly floured surface
    • Cover the pie with this dough and make sure the edges are sealed along the edge of the pie dish
    • Brush the dough with the egg wash and make 3 slits on the top
    • Bake at 375°F for 1 hour  or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly – you may want to cover it for part of the time, just check on it while it’s baking to see if it’s getting too brown
OPTION II – Make it into individual pot pies
    • Cut the dough ball  in half and then in half again
    • Roll 1 quarter of the dough out into a circle on a lightly floured surface
    • Place the 1/4 of the chicken filling into an oven-safe bowl or ramekin
    • Brush the edge of the dish with the egg wash – this will prevent the crust from sticking to it
    • Drape the dough over the dish and leave about 1/2 inch hanging over the side – press the dough down against the side of the dish with your fingertips
    • Brush the dough with the egg wash and make 3 slits on the top
    • Repeat this with the remaining filling and dough
    • Bake at 375°F for 1 hour or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly

Mediterranean Meatloaf


This is another one of my mother’s recipes that was a staple in our household growing up.  It’s a Middle Eastern version of good old ‘meat and potatoes.’ 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • Handful of fresh parsley (approximately 10 stems), finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 lb. (or more if desired) baby potatoes, peeled
  • 1 small can (14 oz.) diced tomatoes

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Combine the ground beef, onion, parsley salt and pepper and mix well with your hands
  • Pour in the juice from the canned diced tomatoes, and mix well
  • Boil the potatoes and slice them into 1/3″ slices
  • Place the meat into the center of a baking pan with high edges (you don’t want the juice to leak)
  • Press down with your hands until the meat is about 1″ thick
  • With your index finger, divide the flattened meat into four by making a shallow indention and then make random shallow indentations with your index finger in each section (this will help keep the juices in the meat while it’s cooking)
  • Top the meat with the sliced potatoes and sprinkle with salt
  • Evenly place the diced tomatoes on top of the potatoes
  • Bake at 375°F for approximately 45 minutes
*Try serving this dish with fresh pita bread – makes a tasty sandwich!