Monday, April 27, 2009

Project Update

So I read entirely too many blogs. What can I say, I find inspiration from other people, and I can't seem to get enough inspiration. Unfortunately, that inspiration has caused me to start innumerable projects that I have never finished. I have several lists of projects to get done, but rarely "find the time" to do them.

So when I read about the Project Procrastination Party on The Inspired Room, I decided that, even though I'm going back home during this time, I still have tons of projects that I can catch up on, or even just get more work done on, during the same timeframe.

I've still yet to come up with a list of things I want to finish/work on, as I have a to-do list a mile long that I'm avoiding (yes, I'm the ultimate procrastinator), but I'll put it up soon.

In the meantime, I need to get my butt up from the computer and go clean some dishes and start on dinner while the little one is asleep.

P.S. For those reading this in Google Reader, I apologize for the influx of posts. I combined another of my blogs with this one, and it created a new post for every post I brought over. Sorry!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Foodie Fights

I've been following a blog for a while, called "Macheesmo." It's highly entertaining, and I am regularly in awe at the great cooking projects that Nick comes up with to try. So when he posted about this new idea, Foodie Fights, I was stoked!

Here are the basics: several blogs are chosen to compete, given two ingredients and a few rules, and tasked with making a dish with those ingredients and blogging about it. The entries are judged by popular vote (with two guest judges, for fairness), and a winner is chosen! This week’s challenge was potatoes and lemons. So here’s my entry:

Gnocchi e carciofi al limone (or, Gnocchi and artichokes in lemon sauce)

The ingredients:

Approx. 2 ½ pounds potatoes, peeled and diced
Approx. 1 ½ cups flour
Salt to taste
The potatoes are easiest to deal with if blanched instead of boiled. The easiest way to do this is to boil a large pot of water and put the diced potatoes in either a blanching basket or a colander, just above water level. Cover the lid and let the water boil. The steam will cook the potatoes. You want them firm to the touch, but soft enough to poke through with a fork. Mine took about 15-20 minutes.

Here is a picture of the potatoes blanching:

… and done …

After your potatoes are blanched, pour them into a large bowl, salt them liberally, and hand-mash (you can also put them through a potato ricer, but alas, I don’t have one).

Add the flour, about 1/3 cup at a time, until the mixture is firm, smooth, and no longer sticky. You may need more/less flour, depending on the moisture of your potatoes, and the relative humidity of your kitchen. Mine took quite a bit, a little more than 2 cups.

With two small spoons, roll a small amount of the mixture between the spoons to create an oblong oval shape. At this point, you can score them with a fork, but it is optional.

Once formed, drop the gnocchi into boiling water. Each piece will drop to the bottom, then float a moment later. Let them float for about 2 minutes (about 3-4 minutes total cooking time), then strain them out and place on a paper towel or cheesecloth to dry.

I completely neglected to get a picture of them boiling, but here they are when done.

Unfortunately, home-made gnocchi isn’t always the prettiest. But it is pretty darn tasty, and highly satisfying knowing you made them yourself!

Lemon Sauce with Artichokes
4 Tablespoons salted butter
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
Fresh basil leaves
2 cups cream (can also use half and half for a lighter version)
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of oregano
10 ounce jar artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed, and chopped

Grate lemons on zester and set aside.

To juice lemons, roll them under your palm on a flat surface. This helps release the juice from the rind.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then add garlic and lemon zest, sautéing until highly aromatic and garlic is browned. Add lemon juice and sauté another minute.

Remove browned garlic from pan.

Add 2-3 shopped basil leaves, then cream and spices.

Turn heat off and add artichokes, coating evenly in sauce.

Serve over warm gnocchi and top with 2-3 basil leaves for garnish!

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