Tag Archives: olive oil

Btw, Gnocchi is Unbelievably Easy

Gnocchi is one of those things that many people only get at restaurants, partly because store-bought is usually not-so-good and partly because they have no idea how easy it is to make at home. Way easier than pasta, easier even than bread. More on par with cookies. That easy. Here we go:

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Potato Gnocchi for Two

-1 lb. Russett or Idaho potato (since it’s hard to get an exact amount of potato, go with anything between 14-16 oz.)

-1 egg

-1/2 cup all purpose flour

-pinch of nutmeg, if you like

-I don’t add salt because I salt the water pretty heavily.

First things first, if you have such a thing as a ricer in your kitchen, this is what its for. If not, that’s fine, we’ll use a regular potato masher. If you don’t know what a ricer is, click here.

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Boil the potatoes whole, until you can break them with a fork and the skin slides off. While they’re still hot, mash them up super-fine or put them in the ricer which is basically a giant garlic press. Scramble the egg(s) in a bowl and add to the potatoes and stir up real good. Now add the flour and stir until just combined. You don’t want to develop too much gluten or you’ll end up with hard gnocchi. A chef I used to work for said, “Don’t knead it, want it.” I’ve always liked that.

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Once it’s all mixed in, take a hunk (depending on how much counter space you have) and roll a snake about one to one-point-five inches wide. Cut into sections of a similar length and toss onto a well-floured sheet. Continue in this manner until all the dough is cut. There’s a cool (but not strictly necessary) maneuver you can do with a fork to make ridges, but I’ve found it very hard to describe. Therefore, here is a link with a video of a lady teaching others how to do it. Also some good looking sauces. Watch the video.

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While cutting the dough, get a big pot of water on to boil. Salt it like you would for pasta. Toss maybe twenty in at a time and be ready to take them out in about two minutes. You’re going to see them bob at the top for a few seconds, then start floating determinedly, this is when they’re ready. In another 30 seconds will be over-done and start to fall apart, so be quick. Using a slotted spoon, remove them to a bowl very quickly and toss in some olive oil or melted butter. Cook the rest in batches like this until they’re all done and switch to a different serving dish or serve on plates, so they’re not sitting in a pool of oil and water at the bottom of your bowl. Serve with pesto, marinara or whatever sauce you like.

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Whole Wheat Focaccia

Before I forget: binteo.com, a new social networking site which puts regular people in touch with experts, is currently in beta and looking for cooking experts. Check them out if you’re interested in being an expert or finding an expert in photography, gardening, fashion and a few other subjects I can’t remember off-hand.

Anyway, in American bakeries and grocery stores, focaccia tends to be a much thicker bread so the thinness of this one may be surprising to some of you. But take heart, you can still use it to make a lovely grilled cheese sandwich. Credit where credit is due, this is a variation on a recipe I originally saw in the New York Times a few months ago, and I always stick with my King Arthur Flours.

Whole Wheat Focaccia

-6 oz. (by weight) whole wheat flour (1 1/2 cups)

-6 oz. all purpose flour (1 1/4 cups)

-1 1/2 teaspoons yeast

-1 1/2 teaspoons salt

-1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil

-7 oz. (by volume) water (7/8 cup)

First things first, mix your flours together in a bowl.

Now, take a bigger bowl and your salt, yeast, oil and water. Pay attention because this is important: Some people have very strong feelings on the order in which you add the ingredients e.g. combine the yeast with the water to make sure it’s active, add the yeast to the flour to prevent clumping, add the salt at the end, etc. Unless your using a recipe which specifically says otherwise, do it however you like. And unless you haven’t used your yeast for 2 months or more, it’s probably fine.

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Stir until the salt and yeast are dissolved, then add in the flour mixture about one quarter at a time. Once the last of the flour is incorporated, cover the bowl and let it rest for 15 minutes. This will allow the starches and gluten to absorb the water in a process called autolyzation. The upshot of this is higher rising and less kneading.

Once the dough has had a chance to rest, knead it on a well-floured counter for 10 minutes. Keep a little pile of flour so you can dust your hands if the dough starts to get a little too sticky.

Now back into the bowl, oiled this time, and let rise at least 2-6 hours.

If you’ve got a cast iron griddle or 8 inch frying pan, awesome. Get it. If not, place some parchment paper (or flour) on a baking sheet.

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When done rising, flop the dough onto a floured work surface , form into a rough eight inch circle and transer to your baking sheet. Cover lightly with a damp cloth or oiled plastic wrap and let rise for one hour. Halfway through, dimple the bread with your finger tips and top. I like to keep it simple with: 1 Tablespoon olive oil, a sprinke of a big, crunchy sea salt and some dried rosemary. Lately I’ve been using Hawaiian Red sea salt.

Pre-heat the oven to 425F and let the bread rise the other half-hour.

Bake the bread in the middle rack of the oven for 20-25 minutes. The finished product should look a little like this.

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Alternatively, you can roll the dough out very thin after rising, and use it to make pizza. Boo-yah. Top it with whatever you like and bake it at the same temp for 15-20 minutes. This one has summer squash, home-made pepperoni a buddy shipped me from Iowa, mozzeralla and leftover marinara I pureed into pizza sauce.

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Roasted Soybeans and Firm Tofu: A Soybean Beginners Manual Vol. 2

For this portion of my series about soybeans, start by refering back to Volume 1. The rinsing and soaking process is the same for each recipe and for firm tofu the recipe is the same until you strain the milk from the cooked, ground beans.

Roasted Soybeans

-1 cup dried soybeans

-lots of water for rinsing and soaking

-oil, salt, spices to taste

First of all you’re going torinse and soak the beans overnight. Rinse them again in the morning and pour them into a colander to dry for a little while.

Preheat your oven to 350 F and spread them around on a cookie sheet. Lately I’ve been using one from Chicago Metallic and I’ve been very pleased with it.

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Place the sheet on the middle rack of the oven. Make sure to shimmy the pan every five minutes or the beans will stick. Roast for about 30 to 40 minutes. There are a lot of factors determining how long it will actually take, but you want them toasty looking, not to dark. If you’re not sure if they are done, eat one. We want crispy, not squishy. When they are crispy and golden, toss in bowl with a wee splash (one teaspoon) olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Try other spices and salts, too. I tossed these bad boys in some Old Bay. It’s alright. Maybe Lawry’s next time.

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Firm Tofu:

-1 cup soybeans

-4 cups water, plus more for rinsing and soaking

-2 Tablespoons lemon juice

Follow the instructions on soymilk from my previous post until you reach the point that you’ve seperated the okara from the soymilk. You’re not going to have anywhere near the quart of liquid you started with, this is normal.

Replace the milk into a pot and let it almost come to a boil over medium heat. When you start to see little bubbles around the edge of your pan swirl in the lemon juice in big, wide strokes.

Remove from heat, put a lid on it and wait 10 minutes. By then you should see a clear seperation of solid from liquid. Ideally you will have as few soy curds as possible, if you’re lucky you’ll have one big one. If seperation has not yet occured, add 1 more Tablespoon lemon juice and wait 5 more minutes.

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Strain the curds in the same manner as earlier (you can re-use your cheese cloth, but make sure to rinse it first) and give them a quick, gentle rinse to remove the lemon flavor.

Leaving the solids in the fabric, fold into a rough square and place on a cookie sheet that is propped up at an angle. Use a large, flat bottomed item to press the tofu block for about 45 minutes. I like my Dutch oven for this. The resulting tofu should weigh about a quarter of a pound and be firm enough that you can cut it into cubes or strips, or crumble it up onto a salad.

Taste of homemade tofu is something divine, so don’t miss this opportunity to just have some on it’s own, or sprinked with a little tamari.

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Unbelievable Flourless Chocolate Torte

This is my first blog post, so to make sure I get you all hook, line, and sinker I decided to go with my new favorite recipe for chocolate torte. This recipe has it all: only four ingredients, rich chocolate flavor, and room to play around. The only drawback is that it needs to chill at least 8 hours before serving. You will also need to make a steam bath, but that’s easy. By the way, people who are lucky enough to live in Iowa City can try a markedly similar recipe to this at Clinton Street Social Club.

-3 eggs, separated
-1/2 Tbl. sugar
-5 Tbls butter (this is equal to 1/4 cup + 1 Tbl.)
-1/2 lb. chocolate – You can use either milk or dark chocolate in this recipe, but keep in mind that there is very little sugar added.

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

Line the bottom of an 6 inch pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Combine the chocolate and butter in a saucepan and place over a low heat. If you need to, turn up the heat a little bit at a time, you don’t want to risk burning the chocolate, although the butter should keep everyone happy. Start stirring when the butter starts to melt.

If you’re feeling crazy you can use a different fat. I just made on of these with olive oil which worked out very well.

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When the chocolate and butter are smooth transfer to a mixing bowl, let it cool down and stir in the egg yolks. Then set this mixture aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until your arm falls off. You can also use an electric mixer, if you like having two arms. When things get good and foamy, or by the time soft peaks form, add the sugar and keep whisking until you get stiff peaks.

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Fold one quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate. When it’s fully incorporated flop the rest of the whites in a continue folding.

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Gently pour the batter into the 6 inch pan and smooth it out as best you can.

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Let’s talk for a minute about the top of this cake: it’s perfectly lovely as is, but there’s really so much you could do with it. Sprinkle some chopped nuts or dried fruit on there. Sprinkling on a thin crust of demerara or turbinado sugar on top would be nice. Or, you can wait until just before you serve it and hit it with some powdered sugar. Just promise me that you won’t, “BAM!” if you do. Say it. Say, “I promise.” Okay.
Now that the cake is in the pan you’re going to set up a steam bath, which means you take the cake pan, put it in a larger pan with some room to maneuver (a roasting pan works well or a 12 inch cake pan) and pour boiling water into the larger pan until it’s halfway up the side of the smaller pan. This is why God made tea kettles.

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Put the whole kit-and-caboodle in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove it from the oven and bath. Wait about an hour, until it comes down to room temperature, and then chuck it in the fridge for at least 6 hours or overnight. Remove the cake and set it on the counter about an hour before you want to serve it. If you’re lucky it will have pulled away from the sides of the  pan as it cooled. If not, use a thin knife to loosen the cake, then flip it onto a plate.

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Serve like how we talked about earlier or top with a spoonful of jam or marmalade.

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