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November 13, 2010

Stocking up: Preggie prep & gnocchi

The baby is almost here, and I wanted to be prepared.  Diapers?  Baby clothes?  No!  I’m talking about food.  While I’m sure my favorite Chinatown eateries will be seeing plenty of baby-fatigue-driven business in the coming months, I also wanted to make sure our freezer was fully stocked.  Behold, the frozen fruits of my third trimester nesting!

what's for dinner?

I made:

I bought:

  • chicken pot pies from the Bakery House
  • indian dinners (anything Deep is usually good) and rotis
  • ice cream

I got ingredients:

  • roasted butternut squash (from the csa, destined for soup or baby food)
  • sausages (chorizo, hot italian, and chicken with apple)
  • bacon (pre-cut into bits, and whole slices)
  • short ribs (for meat sauce)
  • shredded chicken
  • peas
  • edamame
  • fruit (blueberries, cherries, raspberries, peaches)
  • butter

Yeah, it’s stocked.  It’s so stocked you can barely get the door shut.

One of the last dishes I made was gnocchi.  My sister Anne tried to convince me to make the Bouchon recipe (video), but I’m more Mark Bittman than Thomas Keller.

There is only one “trick” to making gnocchi — getting the amount of flour right.  Too little, and your gnocchi will fall apart.  Too much, and it just won’t taste very good.  Bittman suggests setting a small pot of water on to boil, and throwing in one or two to see if they have enough flour to make them hold together. 

I prefer another technique.  Don’t worry about it, just don’t boil them when you cook them.  I realized long ago that the gnocchi I prefer when I go out is pan-fried.  If you pan-fry them, it’s almost impossible to put in so little flour that they will fall apart.  (They basically won’t roll out with that little flour.)  It’s virtually no extra work to cook.  Like boiling them, you can throw them straight from the freezer into the hot pan, and they’re done in a few minutes.  Serve it up with gnocchi’s best friends, bacon and peas, for a straight-from-the-freezer dinner that tastes anything but.

gnocchi's best friends

Potato Gnocchi (from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything)

  • 1 pound starchy potatoes
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • salt and pepper

Set a pot of salted water to boil.  When it is boiling, throw in the potatoes, unpeeled, and reduce to a simmer.  Remove potatoes when tender, about 45 minutes.

Drain, rinse with cold water, then peel.  (They should practically rub off in your hands, but you can use a peeler or knife to get you started.)  Mash the potatoes.  If you have a ricer, use it.  If not, just use a fork or a masher. 

Add some salt, pepper and a half cup of flour, and stir.  Keep adding flour gradually until it comes together in a dough you can handle.  Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead for a minute or less.  Now, break off a piece, and roll it into a rope a 1/2 inch thick.

cutting the gnocchi

Cut the gnocchi into 1 inch pieces.  If you feel fancy, you can roll it against a fork to get those little tine marks.  (I never do this.)  Put the pieces on a baking sheet with wax paper and a little bit of flour.  Don’t let them touch.

freezer bound

Put on your Thomas Keller hat.  You are now ready to IQF (that’s individual quick freeze — who knew freezing stuff on cookie sheets had its own acronym?)  Stick the baking sheet into your freezer.  In 30 to 60 minutes, they will be solid enough for you to shake into a ziploc bag without them sticking together.  Reward yourself by telling one of your sous chefs to clean up.

being a sous chef stinks

  1. secretsalt posted this
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