Summer Gnocchi

July 29, 2015  /   /   //  4 Comments

Summer_Gnocchi So this summer has been crazy hot here in LA and the humidity has been out of control! I’m originally from Chicago and this sticky, hot weather is all too familiar. I just really hate wet heat. Yuck. Unfortunately I’m not the type of person (aka a normal human being) that’s willing to not use my oven or stovetop just because of the heat, BUT I do get a little more strategic about my cooking when the weather gets this hot. For example, for today’s summer gnocchi, I baked the potatoes early in the morning or late at night, when my apartment is the coolest, then I made and formed the actual gnocchi during the day and stuck them in the freezer (they freeze SO WELL). Then I waited until the early evening, when the weather was starting to cool down, opened up all my windows and doors, to ensure a nice air flow going through my apartment and quickly, but carefully cooked up this tasty little number! I know the method seems both tedious and cray, but I promise it’s not that intense and it’s what keeps me cooking through the blistering heat! Do you guys have weird “summer’s here, but I don’t want my face to melt of while cooking” tips to help you cook through the hot summer months?!

Now onto this glorious gnocchi! I love a good gnocchi; light, fluffy, pillowy, and soft. I think this recipe hits that mark pretty well and don’t mind the seemingly millions of steps included, that’s mainly for gnocchi making newbies. I just want to make sure no panic ensues with making this dish. :) Also, because it’s summer we’ve incorporated sweet corn and zucchini. I love fresh corn and you’ll notice that aside from the charring, corn barely hits the heat before the dish is plated. Why? I think fresh, raw (sweet) corn is one of the best tasting things in the world! If you prefer your corn cooked through a little more, feel free to saute them for a couple minutes before pulling them from the heat. This dish is perfect for both entertaining or quite nights in and the recipe makes quite a bit of gnocchi, so you’ll have plenty to freeze and use for future occasions! Enjoy! xx, Jenny
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Summer Gnocchi (with Charred Sweet Corn and Zucchini)
Serves 4 (1/2 recipe of gnocchi)

1/2 pound (about 2 medium) russet potatoes scrubbed clean
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup all purpose flour (plus more for incorporating if needed and dusting)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium zucchini, diced
2 ears sweet corn, slightly charred and removed from the cob
fresh thyme leaves
fresh sweet basil leaves
shaved ricotta salata

1. Preheat oven to 400˚F.
2. Using a fork, prick holes all over each potato.
3. Place the potatoes directly onto the center rack of the oven and bake for 50 minutes to an hour or until completely fork tender.
4. Allow potatoes to cool for about 30 minutes. Peel and rice (using a potato ricer) onto a clean surface. **If you don’t have a ricer, gently grate potatoes on the fine setting of your box grater.
5. Create a well in the center of your potato pile and fill with egg yolks, cheese, salt, pepper, and 1/2 of the flour. Sprinkle the remaining flour over the entire pile.
6. Beat egg mixture with a fork, incorporating more and more of the potato and flour from the sides into the mixture and you mix.
7. Continue to mix together until a crumbly and uneven pile forms. Using your hands, gently begin kneading the dough together until a smooth ball forms (adding 1 teaspoon of extra flour at a time, as needed); make sure not to overwork the dough.
8. Lightly sprinkle the surface with flour and divide the ball of dough into 8 even sizes. Loosely cover all but one piece with a kitchen towel or lightly wet paper towel. Roll the reserved piece into an 18” long rope (about 1/2” thick) and cut out 20 equal pieces.
9. Roll each piece through a gnocchi paddle to create ridges or just use the back of a fork.
10. Repeat until all the dough has been used.
11. Scatter gnocchi onto two lightly flour baking sheets (make sure they’re not touching), lined with parchment, cover with paper towels and refrigerate for 1 hour. **You can also freeze any excess of gnocchi you have for a later time! Freeze on the baking sheet before bagging up to ensure they don’t stick and freeze together!
12. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with a handful of salt.
13. Add gnocchi to the boiling water, in batches, removing them as soon as they float to the surface. Repeat until all gnocchi have been boiled.
14. Place a large skillet over medium heat and melt butter. Continue to cook until butter begins to brown and releases a nutty aroma. Lightly season with salt and pepper.
15. Bring the heat up to medium-high and sauté the zucchini for 3 to 4 minutes. Add gnocchi and continue to sauté for 3 to 4 minutes or until gnocchi begins to toast and zucchini has softened. Lightly season with salt and pepper.
16. Add charred corn, toss together and quickly remove from heat.
17. Transfer gnocchi to a serving platter and top with fresh thyme, basil and ricotta salata. Adjust seasonings and serve immediately.

**For charred corn:
Place the ears of corn onto a baking sheet and set under a broiler for 3 to 4 minutes, turning every 30 seconds, until the corn is lightly charred all over.


Coconut Oat Bars

July 27, 2015  /   /   //  3 Comments

coconut_oat_bars Today we have this recipe for you for Coconut Oat Bars. This is kind of a riff off of our Oatmeal S’mores Bars, but it’s different. Basically this is a big oatmeal cookie on the bottom layer, and a coconut macaroon on the top layer. The macaroon gets nice and crispy on the outside, and a stays a little soft on the inside, while the oatmeal cookie does pretty much the same thing. I love these bars because when you put the effort in to make them they seem to last longer. I am not sure why that is. Anyway, these keep really well at room temperature and I was bringing them with me to eat after I ate my lunch and it was the perfect hit of sugar. Love these! coconut_bars oat_coconut_bars coconut_oat_bar_recipe

Coconut Oat Bars
Makes 1 (8”x8”) pan

oatmeal cookie dough:
1 2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
coconut macaroon:
3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a 8”x8” baking pan with parchment and set aside.
2. Oatmeal cookie dough: In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.
3. In another mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla and continue to mix together. Scrape down sides of the bowl and add dry ingredients. Stir together until well combined and a dough forms. Fold in oats until fully incorporated.
4. Coconut macaroon: Place all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir together until fully combined.
5. To assemble: Press dough into the bottom of the baking dish, in an even layer. Pour macaroon mixture over the cookie dough and spread evenly over the entire surface.
6. Bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown and the cookie dough cooks through.
7. Allow the dish to cool, at least 30 minutes before cutting into bars and serving.



Creme Fraiche Panna Cotta

July 25, 2015  /   /   //  4 Comments

creme_fraiche_panna_cotta Today we have one of my all time favorite desserts, PANNA COTTA…but today we’ve stirred a little creme fraiche into the mix for a creamy texture and a slightly “sour” flavor. I love panna cotta because it’s such a simple dessert, but so so yummy. I really love the soft texture. We’ve used sheet gelatin in our recipe today, because I’m partial to it….powdered gelatin has always weirded me out…the smell, the texture after its blooms…BUT I know it’s also easier to find at the supermarket, so I’ve provided measurements/instructions for using both!

This is also a really great dessert for this time of year because it required no oven use and minimal stove top use, plus it’s really a simple, blank canvas, ready for you to put your own creative touches to; whether that means by way of fruit coulis, salted caramel sauce, or a little fresh fruit and nuts, like we’ve done today. I love using fresh fruit to top panna cotta and since blackberries are huge, sweet and juicy right now they’re perfect with this rice and creamy panna cotta! I also like the crunch and light flavor that the pistachios provide. The white chocolate crispy balls aren’t necessary, but we’re kind of obsessed with them over here (as I’m sure you’ve noticed) and throw them ito whatever we possibly can. :)

We hope everyone is keeping cool this summer season and we highly recommend this creme fraiche panna cotta for your next summer dessert inspiration. Enjoy! xx, Jenny creme_fraiche_panna_cotta_recipe

Crème Fraiche Panna Cotta
Makes 3 cups

1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup crème fraiche
4 sheets gelatin (or 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin)
fresh blackberries
crushed pistachios
white chocolate crispy balls, optional

1. Pour milk, cream, sugar, and crème fraiche into a saucepan and whisk until smooth.
2. Place saucepan over medium-low to medium heat and simmer until sugar dissolves, stirring.
3. Fill a mixing bowl with ice water and add gelatin sheets to “bloom”. Once sheets have become soft and pliable, stir them into the milk mixture.
4. Stir until gelatin dissolves.
5. Remove milk mixture from the stove and pour into 6-8 ounce ramekins. Transfer filled ramekins to a baking sheet and place in the refrigerator to set. Allow panna cottas to set up in the refrigerator for at least 4 to 6 hours and up to 2 days.
6. Top with berries, pistachios and white chocolate crispy balls, if using. Serve.

** If using powdered gelatin, bloom in about 1/3 cup of ice-cold water, by sprinkling the powder over the water. After a few minutes you should see the gelatin has absorbed the water and expanded. Stir this into your milk mixture until fully dissolved.


Crispy Grilled Pork Belly with a Sweet and Tangy Vinegar BBQ Sauce

July 22, 2015  /   /   //  11 Comments

grilled_pork_belly_recipe With summer in full swing barbecue is always on our mind, and when we think about barbecue three things usually come to mind: rub, smoke and sauce. That pretty much brings us to today’s recipe, which we created for Bravo’s Top Chef Home Edition! I’m sure most of you are familiar with the show Top Chef and what the home edition does is allow all of us watching from our sofas to join in on some of the high stress fun, without really any of the stress part, which is fine by me! The challenge we’re participating in is the “BBQ Like A Boss” which consists of creating a great dish incorporating the three components I mentioned above (rub, smoke and sauce). When thinking about this challenge we noticed that brisket, tri-tip, and ribs really seem to take center stage when it comes to barbecue so today we have a very easy recipe for crispy grilled pork belly that is rubbed in a simple blend of spices and finished with a tangy vinegar-bbq sauce.

When dealing with pork belly you want to make sure to leave the skin-side scored and then untouched. The rub is really meant to flavor the meaty-side so the skin/fat side can render out nicely and become crisp and delicious. Our dry rub is quite simple and no-fuss with the exception of ground ginger. We added ground ginger to this dry rub because it doesn’t impart an intense flavor like its fresh counterpart, but the combination of pork and ginger overall go really nicely together.

The key with a fatty dish like pork belly is to start on super high heat to allow the skin to brown and crisp, and then to lower the heat significantly and allow the meat to cook low and slow. This way you’ll get soft, juicy, kissed by smoke meaty goodness with a crispy crackling surface, which is exactly what you want! The onions and beer also provide a nice bed for the pork belly to sit on to ensure the bottom doesn’t burn and that the meat slightly steams and stays moist.

Finally we’ve finished our pork belly dish today with a vinegar based bbq sauce. Why vinegar based? We think it pairs nicely with the pork belly and the tang from the vinegar helps to cut through some of the richness from the meat. So there you have it folks, our dish for the “BBQ Like A Boss” Top Chef Home Edition Challenge. All you need to do, is pick a challenge off the site, make it and post it! That’s it! So easy, and so fun! There are so many challenges to choose from too, so good take a look and see what peaks your interest! If you’re looking for something a little different but still 100% delicious to grill up this summer, you should try this pork belly with vinegar-bbq sauce. It’s easy to make and a total crowd pleaser!!
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Crispy Grilled Pork Belly with a Sweet and Tangy Vinegar BBQ Sauce
Makes 1 (2lb) pork belly

vinegar bbq sauce:
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon racked black pepper, optional

1 (2 1/2 lb.) slab pork belly with the skin on
4 yellow onions, roughly quartered and chopped
2 (12 fl. oz.) bottles beer of choice, divided (can use broth as non-alcoholic option)
dry rub:
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1. Preheat grill to 450˚F.
2. For vinegar bbq sauce: Place all ingredients into a mixing bowl and whisk together until smooth and completely blended. Set aside until ready to use.
3. Place pork belly on a clean cutting board, skin-side up and score the skin. Pat dry with a paper towel and flip over so the meat-side is up.
4. Place all dry rub ingredients into a small bowl and whisk together. Pour rub over meat-side of belly only and rub over entire surface.
5. Place onions and one bottle of beer into a roasting dish, in an even layer, and top with pork (meat/rub side down).
6. Place roasting dish into the hot grill and cover. Cook for about 45 minutes.
7. Lower heat to 250˚F and continue to cook for about 1 hour. Remove lid and add remaining beer. Cover and cook for an additional 2 hours.
8. At this point the fat should have rendered and the skin should be extra crispy.
9. Carefully remove the pork belly from the baking dish and transfer onto a cutting board. Allow the slab to rest for about 10 minutes.
10. Chop into pieces and serve atop sliced white bread with a generous drizzle of the vinegar bbq sauce.

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