Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lots of Cooking!

Or should I say, "lots of photo downloading."  We aren't going hungry here that's for sure.  I just haven't been on top of the photo downloading game.  Like with any new routine, it just takes some time.

Last week we ran into our friend, Derick, who said, "when are we having gnocchi again?"  No better time than the present so I was excited to present a lovely meal for our wonderful friends Saturday night. 

On the menu:
Spinach and Fig salad
Gnocchi with Hot Italian Beef Sausage and Mild Turkey Sausage - with sundried tomatoes (if you want to keep this meal vegetarian you can replace the sausage with chopped fresh peppers and some hot italian seasoning)
A new spin on Boston Cream Pie

The Spinach and Fig Salad was a super easy hit.

Figs (sliced)
Parmesan Shaved (optional)
2 slices of Fresh Sourdough Bread cut and toasted for croutons
Balsamic Vinegar

To make the dressing, I reduced balsamic vinegar with about 6 figs and mashed the figs as the vinegar thickened.  I then strained it.  It was a thick and rich dressing.

Gnocchi with Sausage and Sundried Tomatoes
3 lbs Gnocchi (I can give you the recipe if you would like to make it from scratch or you can buy it at Central Market or Mandolas Italian Market)
4 Hot Italian Beef Sausages (Fresh not Packaged)
2 Mild Turkey Sausages
1 jar sundried tomatoes packed in olive oil
20 Sundried tomatoes rehydrated and not packed in oil
1 28 oz can chopped tomatoes (high quality italian)
large bunch of fresh basil

1) Cut up the sundried tomatoes not in oil and put them in a container.  I like using my kitchen sheers to do this.  Then open the jar of sundried tomatoes in oil, cut them, and add the tomatoes and oil to the container.  This saves about $5+ in sundried tomatoes and gives plenty of olive oil flavor to all of them. (Extras keep beautifully in your fridge, so don't be afraid to make will note that I used the remainder to roast chicken yesterday!)

2) In a large suace pan, cook the sausage to just done.  Strain out the juice or any excess oil, wipe the pan and put the sausage back in on low/med heat.  Add both sets of tomatoes and about 1T of the reserved olive oil (this is the only oil in the dish).  Again, with the sheers, cut the cleaned fresh basil in strips directly into the pan.

3) Let simmer until all the flavors are on spot.  The hot sausage will add a nice kick

4) Cook the Gnocchi al dente (do not over cook or it will be mush), and mix the gnocchi into the sausage meal.  We got 4 servings + 2 large bonus servings for the men + 2 meals of leftovers from the above!!  Makes lots of food

Boston Cream

Paul's favorite part of a Boston Cream Pie is the Cream which is a Bavarian Cream.  Mine was always a big hit until we went to Tartine in San Francisco.  (An absolute MUST if you are there).  The two Eclairs he has had have been stamped in his memory.  The Cream filling is a vanilla bean filling.  So to honor this, I created a vanilla bean bavarian cream.  Since I didn't want it to get lost in the heaviness of cake, I created layers of pastry, cream, and then chocolate ganache.  Here is the finished product.

I took the extra cream, and pastry, and made my first Napolean for a party on Sunday night.  It didn't stand a chance, so I am hoping it was a hit!

Happy Bellies!

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