Tag Archives: Main Courses

I Don’t Know How She Does It: Ricotta Gnocchi

29 Jan

As I slowly awaken from the daze caused by moving halfway across the country, I am tasked with the behemoth job of… getting a job.  I’ve been working since I was 15 years old, and working in my present profession since two days after graduating from college.  So a brief break from the workaday world of 9 to 5 has been quite an adjustment.

While I’m eternally grateful that I’m able to slow down for a minute, I find that I’m not one of those people who enjoys just sitting around.  It’s been an interesting practice in patience, concerning myself with new ways to fill my day.  Many of which involve running mundane errands and taking the dog for long walks.  And cooking things I normally NEVER have the time to tackle.  Like homemade gnocchi.  For lunch.  In the middle of the day.

RICOTTA GNOCCHI (serves 6 to 8)
4C all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
1lb. ricotta cheese
Pinch of salt
Flour
Grated Parmesan cheese

Combine flour with ricotta, salt and egg.  Mix until dough forms a ball.  Turn on a lightly-floured board and knead until smooth; about 5-8 minutes.  Cut dough into eight sections.  Roll each section into long finger-shaped rolls 1/2in. in diameter and cut into 1/2in. pieces.  With index finger, press each piece in the center, rolling slightly to form a shell-like shape. Sprinkle with flour and let stand 15 minutes.  Shake off excess flour and drop gently into boiling salted water.  Cook until tender, about 12-15 minutes.  Drain well.  Toss with your favorite sauce and sprinkle with grated cheese.

Yum!

Yum!

These were SO FREAKING DELICIOUS.  I got so involved in the creation of them, though, that documenting the process with my camera fell by the wayside until they were halfway shoved down my face.

Here’s the thing: how on EARTH did T and my great grandmother, Grandma Rosie, have time to make things like this?  With multiple children running around the kitchen and demanding, hungry husbands?  It boggles the mind.  Maybe that’s why they look so grumpy in this shot.  Well, at least T looks fabulous and grumpy.

T and GR

Suddenly, returning to work seems like a welcome respite.  Mangia!

Happy Halloween! Italian Hamburgers

31 Oct

Remember the days when costumes were homemade and you put your candy in a pillowcase?  And, your parents made you give them HALF your candy, to eat later (which mysteriously disappeared)?  Those were the days.  I rotated two different costumes for years.  A witch (a black mumu my mother hand-sewed) and a gypsy (a hot mess of hippie clothes from my mom’s 1960’s stash).  One year we got CRAZY and I got to be a nurse (another white mumu sewed by Mom), complete with nurse’s cap borrowed from my aunt.  Amazing.  My brother was usually a hobo or an Army man.

Man, I thought my makeup was the coolest

We loved trick or treating– in St. Louis, it’s a tradition that you don’t get any candy until you tell a joke.  I didn’t realize NO ONE else does this until I moved away.  And I got a lot of blank stares when I demanded this of children on my doorstep.

I also loved carving pumpkins, but am still scared to do it myself without my father’s knife skills handy.  True story.  I can cut a fish filet but I just can’t tackle the orange beast.

Now that I think about it, Halloween is a busy time, especially if you have little ones.  So it’s best to keep the meal short and sweet.  To service that, I present hamburgers for Halloween.  Italian hamburgers.

ITALIAN HAMBURGERS (serves 4-6)
1 1/2lb. ground chuck
1C Italian breadcrumbs
2 eggs
Salt and pepper

1 thinly sliced white onion
Italian round buns, sliced in half
Oil for frying

Mix ground chuck, bread crumbs, eggs, salt and pepper together until well-blended.  Divide meat into six patties.  Press one onion slice on top of each hamburger.  Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet and fry on both sides until done.  Place on heated buns and serve.

It’s not pretty in the pan, but it tastes good, trust me.

Trick or treat!  And if you decide to binge on candy, I’M certainly not going to judge.  Mangia!

Fall Flavors: T’s Favorite Chili

5 Oct

As the weather cools off in parts of the country that are NOT Los Angeles, a trickle of pumpkin patch pictures are starting to show up on my social media sites.  It’s the season to bust out your turtlenecks, roll in a pile of leaves and head for a hayride.

In celebration of that, here’s a super-simple, old-school, basic chili recipe that T titled in her book “My Favorite Chili.”  So hang out this weekend, throw this together in a pot and prepare to appreciate autumn.

Circa 1982. I’ve never really been “one with nature.”

MY FAVORITE CHILI (serves 4)
3T vegetable oil
1lb. lean ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
3 strips green pepper, chopped
1 16oz. can chili beans in chili gravy
1 16oz. can whole tomatoes, finely chopped
2t chili powder
A few drops Tabasco sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
1t sugar

In a heavy saucepan, heat oil on high heat.  Add meat, onion, garlic and green pepper and saute together until meat is no longer pink.  Add beans, tomatoes and seasonings; stir to blend.  Bring to a boil, cover, lower heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes.

Like I said, this recipe is old-school.  It’s nothing fancy and it doesn’t have exotic ingredients, but sometimes, simplicity is best.  Like playing in a freaking pile of dead leaves when you’re seven.  AmIright?  Mangia!