Food Buzz


Monday, September 20, 2010

Sometimes it's fun to prepare a restaurant style dinner at home!

I have been getting all ramped up for this week's TV premieres... most specifically The Event (starring Jason Ritter... swoon!).  I thought it would be fun to come up with some sort of fancy dinner to make/eat while watching the shows tonight.  This is something my mom and I used to do when I lived at home... usually in honor of the Oscars or the Emmys.  We would make something fun or order in Chinese food and celebrate while ooing and aahing over all of the fancily dressed celebs walking the red carpet.

I also wanted to get in some autumn themed dishes as practice for an upcoming "chef potluck" night that I am going to in early October.  I have to come up with an autumn themed dish that also has a relationship based story behind it.... Wish me luck.

I remembered seeing a recipe for butternut squash gnocchi in one of my notebooks o' recipes and thankfully I found it pretty quickly.  This girl is hungry!  The original recipe is from Sunset Magazine

Butternut Squash Gnocchi
Serves: 8

1 butternut squash (about 2 lbs.)
About 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
3 to 3 1/2 cups flour, plus more for shaping
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese (or other hard cheese, such as asiago or pecorino), plus more at the table
Freshly ground black pepper

1.  With a fork or sharp knife, poke holes all over squash. Microwave it on high 10 minutes. Let sit until cool enough to handle. Halve squash lengthwise; scoop out and discard seeds. Flesh should be tender when scraped with a fork; if it isn't, microwave on high (cut side down) in 1-minute intervals until tender. Let sit until cool enough to handle. Scrape out flesh (discard peel) and mash until smooth.

2.  In a large bowl, thoroughly combine 2 cups mashed squash (save any extra for another use), 1/2 tsp. salt, the white pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in flour, 1 cup at a time, until a dough forms (it will pull away from inside of bowl).

3.  Turn dough out on a generously floured work surface. With well-floured hands, knead dough 10 to 12 times.

4.  Divide dough in half and cover 1 batch with plastic wrap. Roll other batch into a 3/4-in.-thick rope and cut into 1/2-in.-long pieces. Put pieces on a floured baking sheet and set aside. Repeat with remaining dough.

5.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil gnocchi until they rise to the surface, about 4 minutes; cook 30 seconds longer and then lift with a slotted spoon, making sure water drains from gnocchi, and place in a large serving bowl. Gently toss with butter and top with cheese and a sprinkling of black pepper. Serve hot and pass extra cheese at the table.


I thought for a first try at gnocchi, it was pretty good. I honestly haven't eaten a lot of gnocchi in my life so I don't have a lot to compare it to.  I thought they looked really pretty, and tasted good with lovely autumn notes from the nutmeg and squash.  Unfortunately, they were a little heavy, not light and fluffy and pillow-like as I had hoped.  But they were still edible and something I would play around with again in order to perfect them. I know that the important factor is to mix "just the right amount" of flour in... perhaps I was heavy handed or maybe I kneaded a little too much..

Once they were done, tossed them with sage infused melted unsalted butter and a little Parmesan cheese. :)  Cheese makes everything better.  I used pre cut squash from Trader Joe's.  Two bags yielded one cup of cooked mashed squash.  Also instead of microwaving, I roasted mine at 375 degrees for about an hour.

I also threw together a little farmer's market salad with baby and wild arugula, heirloom tomato and a great Trader Joe's dressing (Pear Champagne Vinaigrette) pictured below.

What are you favorite fall dishes?  Is there any dish you have always wanted to try cooking but never had the guts to do it?  Want me to try it first?  Feel free to send me a recipe or post here.

Chow for Now! :)

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