Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Had a little bit of a cookathon the other week that produced some interesting results. True to form, not everything worked out the way it should.  Anyways, due to my fear of all things flour-related, I had a little help with this dish from my resident baker Ruedi. Needing and forming dough takes patience and technique: I'm fresh out of both.

The gnocchi itself was doughy and delicious. I would most certainly create it again. The sauce, however needs an overhaul. There isn't enough flavour or substance to bother with it again. Next time I might attempt the creamy sage sauce recipe I just found here: .

I've attached both the gnocchi and original thyme sauce that it went with for you to consider. Grating some of your favorite cheese on the finished dish does enhance the flavours of the sauce a bit, so I'd encourage to pour on the cheese.

Serves 3-4


For the gnocchi:
  • 1 lb sweet potato
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup chick pea flour
  • 1/2 t salt

For the sauce:
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 3 T lemon juice
  • 2 T chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 T olive oil for sautéing
  • Salt and pepper 


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the sweet potato for 30-45 minutes or until well cooked and soft all the way through. Peel and discard the sweet potato skin. Let the potato cool completely.

Place the sweet potato in a bowl and mash with a fork. Add the flours and salt. Knead the dough well, adding flour to assist in handling it. Avoid adding more flour than necessary, as it makes the dough tough.

When you can easily handle the dough, separate it into four segments and roll each part into long strands approximately 3/4'' in diameter. With a fork, cut each strand into 1 inch segments. If you'd like to make the segments look like gnocchi pieces, press a fork into them and round out the edges with your fingers (I opted not to). You can store these in the fridge for 2-3 days.

When ready to cook the gnocchi, boil a pot of water just as you would when making pasta.When the water boils, add a pinch of salt and the gnocchi. Keep the water simmering and stir occasionally to prevent the gnocchi from sticking. When they float to the surface of the water, let the cook for another 5-10 minutes to taste.

Sauté the onions in oil for about 10 minutes until soft. Add the lemon juiced and thyme and continue cooking for about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Mix with the gnocchi, adding grated cheese to top off the dish if you like (I do!).

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Mediterranean Chicken Milanese

For Ruedi's birthday last weekend, his siblings gifted him thirty-five tubes of Pringles. That's right: 35. We have everything from Extreme Dill to Ranch and Barbeque sitting on our kitchen table. Guess I should be looking up recipes that include chips, but the connection here is that it did get me thinking of breaded meats and well, here we are.

This particular meal also got me thinking of my varying preferences with respect to quality. My weekend coffee is an espresso we buy at the Italian market, but I'll line up at Timmy Ho's (aka TIm Horton's) for their bitumen-style piss coffee during the week. Street meat, the most suspicious of all meats is among my favorite summer day meals. Junk food of course, makes the top of the list too. Well, the chicken in this recipe was brought to you by your run of the mill grocery store. Now, this isn't unusual for me, but my exposure to locally and ethically grown meats has raised the question: am I going to permanently make the switch? The local food movement is intriguing. I love following other blogs that experiment with growing their own ingredients and sourcing through local producers. In the case of most meals, I notice a difference, but for the sake of convenience I'll pick up a package of water-soaked meat in order to make dinner happen.  I don't have an answer to my question yet, but I suspect that over time, I will buy locally as a rule.


Serves 4

  • 1 large egg
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs (or whole wheat)
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced in half horizontally and pounded into thin cutlets
  • 3/4 cup extra light olive oil

For the topping
  • 1 whole roasted red pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved long ways
  • 2 cups packed arugula leaves
  • A couple of slices of red onion
  • 2 T pine nuts
  • 8 – 10 shavings of Pecorino Romano or Asiago cheese

For the dressing
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 t balsamic vinegar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Fresh ground pepper

Monday, March 12, 2012

Eggplant Involtini with Herbed Ricotta

This recipe called for slices of eggplant to be wrapped around a ricotta filling. My eggplant slices weren't thin enough to make it work and I was on a schedule. Instead I built this dish quickly, like a lasagna: a layer of tomato sauce, layer of ricotta, and layer of eggplant repeated. I topped this off with a few cups of spinach left over from a half-finished salad. Not bad, not bad at all. 

The meatless dishes I'm finding are pretty concentrated in the cheese department and although I won't forego dairy, cutting back wouldn't hurt with respect to other recipes. Don't cut back on this one. Ricotta and cottage cheese give it a wonderful texture and build on it's already zesty flavour. 

Adapted From:

Serves 8

  • 2 large eggplants, sliced into ½ inch slices
  • Olive oil, for brushing

Ricotta Filling 
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 2 T each fresh mint, parsley and basil, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped (optional)

Tomato sauce 
  • 1 28 oz tin of whole tomatoes
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • 1 t sugar
  • 2 t salt
  • 2 t dried Italian herbs
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Grated asiago, for topping


Pre-heat the oven to 400F.
Start by grilling the eggplant. Simply brush each eggplant slice with olive oil and place on a very hot pan. Grill for 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and set aside. Continue until all the eggplant slices have been grilled.
To make the filling, simply combine all the ingredients and mix well.
Before making the involtini, make the tomato sauce. I use my food processor for this but you could use a hand blender or just finely chop everything and mix. I place all the ingredients in my food processor and blend until the sauce is relatively smooth.
Pour the tomato sauce in the bottom of an oven-proof dish.
To make the involtini, place a dollop of the ricotta filling onto a slice of eggplant and roll up.  Place in the tomato sauce and continue until all the eggplant slices have been used.
If you have any filling left over you can dollop it on top of the eggplant slices.
Scatter the grated asiago over the top and place in the oven.
Allow to bake for 15-20 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is golden brown.
Remove from the oven and serve with grilled bread and a green salad.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower Gratin with Butternut Squash

Flipping through my past entries, one can only assume I have a squash fetish. It has been regurgitated over the last year in a million different formats and with a myriad of ingredients. The truth is, squash is just that good. When baked, its smokey sweetness is hard not to love.  I feel like I'm nourishing my body when I eat it, as opposed to simply making a meal. As a great source of Vitamins A & B and a solid fiber provider, you too can fall in love. 

This particular dish is a great one for a meatless Monday. Nuts, cheese and veggies make this an almost complete dish. Adding legumes, quinoa, and/or seasoned couscous would complete it for sure. The most notable flavour from this combo is the vinegar-infused cauliflower. Adding a few tablespoons to this veg prior to baking it gave it an unexpected twist. Adding a little chopped rosemary seemed to soften this acidity.


Serves 8

  • 2 cups roasted cauliflower
  • 2 cups squash
  • 5 T olive oil (3 for the squash and 2 for the cauliflower)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups of Gruyere, grated
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1 T fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • Salt & pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

 Prepare the cauliflower as follows:

Cut the cauliflower florets into bite-size pieces. Add the pieces to a large bowl and toss well with 3 tablespoons of olive oil & the cider vinegar. Generously season the mixture with salt & pepper. Move the cauliflower to parchment-lined baking sheets (you will probably need two sheets to avoid overcrowding). Roast in the middle of the oven until the cauliflower starts to soften and brown, about 20 minutes.

While the cauliflower is in the oven, prepare the squash for roasting.  Slice off both ends and peel completely.  Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.  Continue cutting into bite-size pieces. Add the cut squash to a bowl.  Coat the squash with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Generously sprinkle with salt & pepper.  Move to a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Roast the squash until it is cooked through but not mushy; about 30 minutes. While the cauliflower and squash are cooking, caramelize the onions.  Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over low heat in a medium-sized sauté pan.  Add the onions and stir until they are well coated with oil. Stir the onions occasionally until they are soft; about 25-30 minutes. When done roasting, remove the cauliflower and squash from the oven.  Set aside to cool.

Coat a medium cast-iron skillet or casserole dish with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  Cover the bottom with 1/2 of the squash and 1/2 of the cauliflower, followed by the onions.  Add the remaining cauliflower and squash.  Top with the cheese, followed by the walnuts and the rosemary. Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees.  Put the gratin to the oven to cook until the cheese has melted and started to brown; about 20 minutes.