Friday, December 13, 2013

Gnocchi with Fontina Sauce

After having a lot of fun with the last Blogger's Choice swap, I was eager to join in for this round.  The blog I was assigned was The Cookaholic Wife.  There were so many yummy looking things on there, but after much deliberation I settled on trying my hand at homemade gnocchi,

I love gnocchi and if it's on the menu, 9 times out of 10 I will order it, but I had never made it myself.  ----- made it sound so simple that I knew this was the recipe to go with.  And it was definitely easy!  To save time I opted to heat my potatoes in the microwave, then while they were cooking I prepped the rest of the dish.  She said to use 1/2 - 3/4  cup flour.  I used 1/2 and thought the consistency was good but I think I'll use a bit more in the future, as the dough got sticky as I rolled it out.  I also was using a small cutting board to roll the dough, so I did it in a few batches and would toss each batch into the pot as I went along, removing them when they started to float..  Next time I will prep all of the gnocchi and put it in the pot all at the same time since I ended up with mostly cold gnocchi,  I don't know why I thought this way was  good idea!

The sauce was so rich and creamy.  I may, in the future, cut down a little on the butter and use skim milk instead of heavy cream just so it doesn't feel as heavy.  I think this was the first time I thought a sauce was too cheesy.  But I would totally try this sauce out on macaroni & cheese.  Maybe I'll make some homemade macaroni in a few weeks...hmm....

Honestly, if I knew how easy it was to make gnocchi I would have done it years ago.  Who knows what's in those prepackaged ones you buy at the store?  I think homemade is the way to go for this in the future!!  I have so many more dishes that use gnocchi that could benefit from this change.

And a big thank you to our trusty swap leader Sarah of A Taste of Home Cooking who does all the leg work for us so we can just cook and enjoy!

Gnocchi with Fontina Sauce (from The Cookaholic Wife)

Gnocchi  Slightly Adapted from Closet Cooking
1 lb. baking potatoes
1/2 - 3/4 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
 1 tbsp. milk  

- Scrub the potatoes well and prick with a fork. Use your desired method to bake the potatoes. (I cheat and use the microwave for the sake of time, but the oven is fine too.)
- Once the potatoes have cooled enough to handle, scoop out the insides of the potatoes into a medium bowl and mash with the milk.
- Add the egg and salt and stir with a fork until combined. Start with the 1/2 cup of flour and use your hands to combine until a soft dough forms. If the dough is too sticky to work with, add additional flour.
- Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes. Roll the dough into long 1/2 inch wide rolls.
- Cut the dough into 1/2" pieces and dip in remaining flour, shaking off the excess.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place a dish towel over a wire rack.
- Using a slotted spoon, drop batches of the gnocchi into the boiling water, making sure not to crowd the pot. Once the gnocchi float, about 2-3 minutes, remove with the spoon and transfer to the dish towel. Let drain before serving.

Fontina Cheese Sauce
Slightly Adapted from:

6 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. shallots, minced
1/2 cup heavy cream
7 oz. Fontina cheese, shredded
3 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped
- Once the pot of water for the gnocchi is boiling, heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Add the butter and shallots and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the butter is melted and the shallots are soft.
- Stir in the heavy cream and heat to an almost boil. Gradually mix in the Fontina cheese and Parmesan cheese, stirring until the mixture is smooth.
- Remove immediately from the heat.
- Serve the cheese sauce over the gnocchi. Garnish with oregano. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Crunchy Molasses Cookies - Great Food Blogger Cookies Swap

Last year I participated in a cookie swap from a message board I'm on.  I had fun with that swap, so when I heard about the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap I knew I wanted to be a part of it this year.  The concept of it is that food bloggers from all over join in for a small donation to Cookies for Kids' Cancer, then you are assigned three bloggers to send a dozen cookies to and you'll receive three dozen cookies in return from other bloggers.  Doesn't that sound like a great swap?!

There are so many food blogs out there, so it was nice to be connected to blogs I otherwise wouldn't have known about.  The bloggers I was assigned were:
The Crafty Foodie
Embracing Homemaking
Cardio Cats and Cooking

Knowing I needed to make at least 3 dozen cookies (with a few extras for us to enjoy here) and knowing that this was to raise money for Cookies for Kid's Cancer, I turned to my Best Bake sale Cookbook, which happens to give all proceeds from book sales to the same charity!  I wanted to make something "holiday"-ish.  One of my favorite holiday flavors is gingerbread, so these molasses cookies are the perfect holiday treat!  And my favorite part of these cookies is the sugar coating they get before going into the oven.  It helps bring out the sweetness from the otherwise spicey cookies.

I baked them, packed them up and sent them off to the recipients.  Then as I was on my way home from the post office I realized that I hadn't taken a picture of them!  What is a girl to do??  Bake more, of course!  I knew that I wanted to make holiday treats for our neighbors, so I whipped up another batch for them, and this time I remembered to take a picture before giving them away.  And another thing about making the extra batch was that I adjusted the bake time so they didn't come out quite as well done as the ones I had sent to my swap recipients.

Oh, and the best part of this swap?  Receiving cookies!  I was sent walnut sable cookies from La Peche Fraiche which I think lasted 2 days in our house, Ritzy Peanut Butter Crackers in Chocolate from Crackers on the Couch (when I opened this box the scent of chocolate and peanut butter wafted through the air...every box should have this scent!) and yummy jelly cookies from Mooshu Jenne.

I'm looking forward to doing this swap again next year!

Crunchy Molasses Cookies (slightly adapted from The Best Bake Sale Cook Book)

1 1/2 sticks (6oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar, plus additional for rolling
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 cup robust molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cardamom

- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle and beat until smooth and creamy.  Add the egg, molasses, and vanilla, one at a time, beating well between additions.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Place the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices in a separate bowl and mix well.  Add to the butter mixture.  Beat until everything is well incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat again.
- To form the cookies, break off small pieces and roll into 1 inch balls.  Roll the balls in sugar and place 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.  Using your hand or the bottom of a water glass, press down until flattened.  Transfer to the oven and bake until the cookies begin to brown at the edges (approx. 10 minutes).  Cook on the cookie sheet.  Transfer to a wire rack and repeat with the remaining dough.