Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Back to the kitchen

Friends, I've been busy. And tired. And when I try and think back to what I have been cooking in the many, many weeks since I last posted, I can't think of a single thing before this weekend, when I all of a sudden rediscovered the kitchen. Hello, old friend. Friday night I made arroz con pollo for a hungry group of friends, then gilded the lily with the "Devil Dog" cake from Gourmet. Turns out I will be adding marshmallow frosting to my repertoire straight-away.

Then I was on a roll, and on Monday (Thank you, Mr. Columbus. Though I don't stand by your raping and pillaging of indigenous people, I sure was glad for a day off) I finally tackled the knobby pumpkins that came in our farm box. I wish I could tell you what kind they were, and if I'd kept my latest issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine, I probably could. (I just tried looking at the website but boy, has Martha done a few projects with pumpkins over the years...)

I peeled the pumpkins, removed the seeds and sliced them, then roasted the slices with olive oil and salt and pepper in a 4oo degree oven. The next day, I then smooshed the slices though a ricer to make a smooth puree (you need about 3/4 cup of puree). To that, I added one riced russet potato (a bit one, about 3/4 lb., boiled in its skin until soft then peeled before ricing). I let the whole mess cool before sprinkling it with 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour. Then, in a small bowl, I mixed together 1 large egg, 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 1/2 teaspoon each of minced fresh thyme, sage and salt, and then a good pinch of pepper and nutmeg. I added the pumpkin-potato mixture to the egg mixture and mixed gently until it held together in a dough, then turned it out on a well-floured surface and divided the dough into sixths. Then I made dough "snakes," and cut each snake into many 1/2-in. niblets.
A roll across a gnocchi paddle (or the back of a fork) and then a brief tour in boiling, salted water (just until they float) followed. Transfer floaters to an oiled, rimmed baking sheet and continue until you have boiled them all (try to resist the urge to cook them all at once, as this can get dodgy). Once all the gnocchi have been boiled, melt some butter, let it get golden brown and nutty, then drop in some whole sage leaves and the boiled gnocchi. Wiggle that pan around furiously so the gnocchi don't bond to its surface and so they get fully coated with delicious browned butter. Eat these while they are hot, topped with more Parmesan and, if you have some lying around, maybe some braised chard? Or sauteed spinach? Or fried pancetta or bacon crumbles?