Tag Archives: salt

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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Homemade Sea Salt, Boiled Peanuts and More!

Last week I promised you all updates on my experiments making sea salt at home and boiled peanuts. After hours of fun watching pots of water boil, I’m ready with the results.

Homemade Sea Salt

-1 gallon sea or ocean water

-that’s it

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First of all, the most common question I’ve gotten about harvesting your own sea salt is, “Is it safe?” According to my research, the rule of thumb is: if it’s safe to swim in, it’s safe to make salt from. I don’t normally post recipes which require a disclaimer, but this was too cool a project to pass up.

No matter where your water came from, or how clear it looks, you’re going to want to filter it. A coffee filter will be good enough, I used a double layer of butter muslin. If using cheese cloth, make sure to do four or five layers. Now fill a pot with the filtered water, and boil it for, like, three hours. Check it periodically, but don’t expect much change for the first two and a half hours. Eventually you’ll get down to a sludgey consistency like in the picture.

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At this point I switched it over to a frying pan and turned the heat down to medium-low, just a good simmer to evaporate the last of the water. Remember, while you don’t have to worry about burning salt you don’t want to burn your pan. As far a yield goes, I got 4.5 ounces from one gallon, which is about half a cup. Way more than I expected. Your’s may be different based on the salinity of the local water. Be sure to store the salt in an air-tight container since salt absorbs water from the air. You can also use a salt pig, which I just learned about and totally need to make one of.

Boiled Peanuts

-1 pound raw peanuts, in shell (they can be tricky to find but it’s very important they are raw, in shell)

-1 gallon water to start, you’ll probably need more later on

-2 Tablespoons salt

-2 Tablespoons paprika (or Old Bay)

-2 Tablespoons honey (optional and not traditional, but I like it)

You ready? Pay attention: Put everything in a pot. Stir a little. Boil four to six hours, depending on how soft you like your peanuts. You’ll probably need to add some water periodically as it boils away. Done. Be sure to keep them in the water so they’ll keep soaking up flavor.

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In regards to the, “and More!” promised by my title, I’m officially announcing the start of a youtube show in which I demonstrate scratch-made recipes with only two ingredients. It’s kind of ridiculous how many I have. I’ll let everybody know as soon as the first one is up, which should be by Wednesday.

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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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