Friday, April 20, 2007

Presto Pasta Night

The husband and I have craved homemade lasagna for months. And every time we go to Italian restaurant lasagna is either their best/top dish or a special on the menu. Unfortunately since we don't eat beef or pork, we couldn't have the all around favorite Italian pasta dish. After the last time that happened, we agreed to make it at home. When we were younger my mom made lasagna couple times. I know she fiddled with variety of recipes to make her own. I liked hers a lot but couldn't remember how she made it. Really, all it took was a phone call to ask but I was determined to make my own lasagna.

I can proudly say I made lasagna from scratch for the first time. (I didn't make the pasta though that'd be great) I followed directions on the back of the Barilla box. I won't post the recipe because Barilla sells pasta almost everywhere and the recipe is probably on their website. If you desperately want a recipe, email me and I'll send it over. However I don't think it's worth the time and effort to follow their recipe. (No offense to any of you that follow the recipe and enjoy it.)

It was too bland for my taste. Maybe I'm used to eating my mom's that included all kinds of spices and ingredients or maybe I am not used to having salt and pepper as the only seasonings in my food. I like my dishes to have oomph and this one didn't have it.

Also, I didn't think it was as fabulous as I had hoped because of the amount of time and energy it required for an okay result. I don't mind slaving over in the kitchen for hours (I grew up watching my mom make Indian food daily) using lots of ingredients but only if their is payoff.

Overall, the lasagna was edible but certainly not exceptional. This means I am on a lookout for a great turkey lasagna recipe. If any of you have suggestions or recipes, please feel free to share.

Regardless of the outcome, I'm submitting this for Presto Pasta Night hosted by Ruth. I am making myself feel better by saying, it obviously wasn't that bad since I put in the effort to assemble, eat, and freeze it all. In couple weeks, I'm hoping to defrost it, add some seasonings and herbs for my kicked up version.

This coming fall I am hoping to try again, thoroughly researching recipes and blogs before round due (two in italian).

Monday, April 16, 2007

I made Gnocchi?

Couple days ago I had a "I must try to make this dish" moment. A strong inkling for me usually means revamping a favorite recipe or trying something new. This time it was the latter. I read blogs, cookbooks, websites about gnocchi but never tried making it. With the precise steps and very few ingredients, the thought of making it was terrifying. On several occasions I thought, if I make a mistake, there's no turning back and I couldn't just add ingredients to cover up the mess. It was scary. I was intimidated to make gnocchi at home. However I knew I had a large bowl full of left over mashed potatoes. I made mashed potatoes to go with scallops and caramelized onions. That dish was good but not a favorite. Since gnocchi consists of boiled or baked potatoes, mashed, I found this and this recipe. As nervous as I was, I convinced myself to make it for dinner. And that is how gnocchi with sage butter emerged in our house for the first time.


1 1/2 cups left over mashed potatoes
1/2 - 3/4 cups Flour, divided
1 Egg
pinch of salt

3 tablespoons Butter
10 sage leaves
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
ground white pepper

Put the mashed potatoes through a sieve. From my research the best product for this is a potato ricer but since I don't plan on investing in one, sieve with bigger net holes works fine. Don't use a fine sieve, because the potatoes won't pass. Dust countertop with some flour and spread potatoes on the counter top. Make a well in the potatoes. Then add 1 egg, 1/2 cup of flour and salt. Knead the dough. Add additional flour to the dough or countertop, if necessary. Dough should be soft but not sticky. Divide the ball of dough in quarters.

Lightly flour hands and counter. Take each quarter and roll out with hands to make a rope. The rope should be 1/2 inch in diameter. Cut the ropes in 1/2- 3/4 inch pieces. Using a fork and your thumb, gently press each piece into the back of the fork with your thumb. It will have fork marks on one side and slight indentation on the other. As the pieces are formed, lay them on a dusted or parchment papered cookie sheet.

I froze half of mine for another special night. I smell tomato and basil sauce in the air...

To cook the gnocchi bring a pot of water to boil. Add salt to the water when it comes to a bubble. Then add some gnocchi to the boiling water. (Do not over crowd or they will stick to each other or the bottom of the pot). As they rise to the top, remove with a slotted spoon. Repeat until all are cooked.

To make the sauce; melt butter on medium heat in a medium saute pan. When it bubbles, add sage and let it cook and crisp for 1 minute. Add cooked gnocchi to the pan. Cook the gnocchi with the sauce for 1 - 1 1/2 minutes on each side. This will brown the gnocchi. Serve hot.

Thanks to epicurious, Elise and few other googled recipes, I made gnocchi for the first time with great success! Though intimidating at first it's really simple and worth the time and effort. I'll definitely add it to my repertoire.

Because of the great flavor combination of sage and butter for the sauce, this is my contribution to the Weekend Herb Blogging cooking event hosted by Sher at What did you eat.

Weekend Herb Blogging was invented by Kalyn to increase herb usage in the our daily cooking. It has been a huge success because bloggers all around the world contribute to the event.