Happy 2009!

crepesAs I finish out week one of my visit at my parents’ house in the suburbs of Washington, DC, I have decided to start a blog. Seems like the thing to do on this first day of 2009. New year, new beginnings, new projects, etc. I have taken the opportunity over this past week to cook every day, something that I rarely have time to do in my real life. Dishes have included my first encounter with crepes (much easier than I expected, but then again, I had my mom by my side showing me how…and taking photos), a wonderful stuffed pork tenderloin and fennel puree (still working out the kinks of the puree – it was a bit thin), and a New Year’s Eve lasagna.

Today is gnocchi w/ cognac cream sauce w/ spinach. Here is the recipe for the gnocchi:

3 large potatoes (I use baking potatoes)
1 large egg (lightly beaten)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper (use white pepper if you don’t want the black spots to show)
1 1/2 to 2 cups all purpose flour

Fill a large pot with cold water. Add unpeeled potatoes and bring to boil. Cook till tender. Drain and cool till you can handle, and then peel. Put through a food mill or ricer, and allow to cool completely. Once cool, form a mound and make a well in the center. Put egg, salt and pepper into center of well and stir into the potatoes. Once combined, add flour a little at a time until you have a nice dough (it will still be a little sticky, which is ok because more flour will be incorporated as you roll them out). Knead with your hands for another 3 minutes or so Do not overwork or add too much flour or dough will become heavy.

rolling gnocchiCut dough into about 8 sections and on a well floured surface, roll each one out into a 1/2″ thick log and slice into 1/2″ sections. Roll each little section onto the tines of a fork, making an indentation with your thumb as you roll. You may need to dust the fork with flour so that the gnocchi don’t stick to it, and also keep your hands well floured. Spread gnocchi out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or wax paper that has been sprinkled with a little flour. At this point, gnocchi can be frozen on the cookie sheet and then transferred to a freezer bag once frozen.
gnocchi on baking sheetIf you are cooking them right away, bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add a good amount of salt, as if you were cooking pasta. Drop about 1/2 of the gnocchi in and stir immediately to make sure they don’t stick. After about 2-3 minutes, they will begin to rise to the surface. Cook for about 1 more minute after this happens. Once they have been floating on the surface for about 1 minute, fish them out with a spider or large slotted spoon. Put on a plate with a little butter and cover to keep warm while you cook the 2nd 1/2.

Serves 4-6 (refrigerate any leftovers [without sauce] and serve for lunch the next day sauteed in a little butter until just golden brown)

Cognac Cream Sauce w/ Spinach:
2-3 shallots, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup cognac
1/2 cup heavy cream
3-4 handfulls of baby spinach, well washed and dried
Salt & pepper to taste

Melt butter in a large skillet. Add shallots and garlic and saute till soft, 2-3 minutes. Add cognac and reduce. Add cream, salt and pepper and let it come to a simmer. Cook very gently for about 5 minutes. (you can be cooking the gnocchi while the sauce cooks) Add the spinach, which will wilt down in about a minute. Once the gnocchi are plated, spoon sauce over and serve with parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top.
gnocchi on plate

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