You know the moment that you’ve made something amazing? The exact second when you taste something and you start dreaming of self-titled cookbooks, shows, and appearing on the Today Show?
This is that dish.
I’ll be honest. It’s really hard for me to tell what is ‘good’ from what is ‘eh’ sometimes when I craft recipes. I like most of the food I make, but I’m also the same person who thinks a big bowl of steamed kale and brown rice make a fine, fine dinner.
I get that not everyone has those same taste buds.
Sometimes I think the Universe played a cruel joke on me by making me fall head-over-heels for my sweetie.
BL, as I affectionately put it, has the taste buds of a 5 year old.
His favorite meals? Mac N Cheese, Pizza, Chix Nugget Salad, Stir-Fry, Lentil Tacos, Soups. Sure, fine, I love all those kind of foods too. But. When I start getting a little crazy in the kitchen, adding my own spin and spice to favorite recipes, I know he wishes I was making bean burritos instead. The other day he said, in the kindest voice mind you, ‘Can we stop putting Curry flavor in everything? I feel like that’s all we’ve been eating lately’
I could have gone on my Indian kick forever.
But, love is love, so you change it up a bit. You make hearty, not-so-scary, manly yet healthy meals and all is right in the world.
That’s exactly what we have here. I knew the second I tasted the sauce that BL was going to love this dish. I did a little jig in the kitchen knowing that I was going to make him oh-so-happy for dinner that night.
Because, if the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, I should be able to experience that once in a while, right?
What he lacks in flavor-adventure, he makes up for in everything else. Shoot this video for me so I can show people how to roll gnocchi like my grandmother taught me? No questions asked.
Try a zillion variations of chocolate chip cookies until I get the perfect one? Sigh. Yeah. He does it all.
Sometimes living with a food blogger isn’t always that fun. Sometimes the food is cold because I took too much time photographing. Sometimes we eat at 10PM because I started over 4 times. But when I get it right, I know. If BL loves it, I know everyone else will too.
So, in the spirit of upcoming Valentine’s Day, I hope you enjoy this easy, very impressive meal, worthy of anyone you make it for.
We made a video! And it was fun! The worst part is realizing all of the mistakes you made after you’ve finished filming. Oh well! YOLO.
I hope you enjoy. We have a few more coming in the next few weeks, think hummus, tofu, burgers, oh my!
Homemade Gnocchi with Mushroom Ragu
2 large baking potatoes
1 cup regular flour
1//2 tsp. garlic salt
2 tbsp. dried basil
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Clean potatoes and poke all over with a fork. Bake for 1 hour until really soft. Remove from oven, let cool and peel skins off.
Using a ricer, rice potatoes and place in a large bowl. If you don’t have a ricer, mash until there are as few lumps as possible.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, dried herbs, and salt. Slowly add the flour to the potatoes and stir into a dough forms. Wrap dough in plastic and place in fridge for 30 minutes.
Unwrap dough and place onto a lightly flour-dusted workspace. Divide the dough in 4 and roll each section into a 1/2 inch thick log. cut the rope into 1″ pieces. Using your pointed and middle finger, place fingers onto a piece of dough and pull towards you. Fold the other side over. You want to make a crevice where sauce can get in.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Place gnocchi in water and cook until they rise to the surface, about 3 minutes. You will do this in batches, being sure not to overcrowd the gnocchi in the sauce pan. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a cookie sheet in a warm oven.
Only cook the amount of gnocchi you intend to use. Freeze any additional gnocchi before cooking.
4 cups mixed wild mushrooms, chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 cup tomato puree
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/8 cup parsley, chopped
1 tbsp. butter
Heat the oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms, let cook for 10 minutes until reduced and caramelized, stirring only a few times. Season with salt and pepper. Add garlic, shallots, rosemary, oregano and cook for 5 more minutes. Add tomato sauce and red wine, stir and cook an additional 5 minutes. Add vegetable broth, reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in 1 tbsp. butter and sprinkle with chopped parsley.
BL approved. After he takes a bite, looks at me and says ‘A+’ I know we have found a winner.
There are a lot of things we eat in excess in my house. Topping the list: tomato sauce, spinach, frozen mango cubes, and salsa. I think BL single handily takes down a jar of salsa every week. Besides his chips and salsa obsession, salsa goes on most of his meal foods like salad, eggs, burritos, and more.
I have this very annoying compulsion to make most of my food from scratch. I’m sure I don’t have to dig too deep into my type-A personality to figure out where that need comes from, especially because I indulge it on almost a daily basis. Maybe it’s because most of the ingredients in packaged food disgust and/or scare me or that I like proving just how granola/do-it-yourself-y I really am. Whatever the reason, I also know that I get tired of buying endless amounts of salsa to feed BLs need, so I jarred my own. (P.S. Costco’s Kirkland Brand Organic salsa might be the best jarred salsa anywhere)
Thanks to my mother #2, BL’s Mom of Walnut Burger fame, I was gifted this recipe just in time for summer tomatoes. The other advantage of doing most things from scratch? You save a ton of dough. I bought lbs. of slightly-blemished organic tomatoes from the Farmer’s Market for just $0.75 a lb. Show me any market that you can get tomatoes for that price!
So, try it out! As far as canning recipes go, this one is pretty simple and only takes a few hours from start to finish.
4 jalapeno peppers chopped (leave seeds in for extra kick)
8 cloves of garlic chopped
6 tsp. canning salt
1 cup white vinegar
12 oz tomato paste
Put all ingredients into a large pot. Simmer for 20-30 minutes. Process 25 minutes in pint jars. Makes 6-8 pints.
To remove the skins, boil a small pot of water. Place the tomatoes in, a few at a time, and leave for ~60 seconds. Remove and place in a ice bath. When cool to the touch, peel the skins off and discard. Then chop tomatoes.
Place all ingredients into a large pot. Simmer for 25 minutes.
To process jars:
Heat a large pot of boiling water
Place salsa into steralized canning jars, leaving ¼” headspace at the top. Wipe the lid of the jar with a clean rag. Place the lid onto the jar and twist to close. Place the jars into the boiling water and process for 25 minutes. Remove. When they have sealed (you will hear a pop sound) store in a cool place until ready to use.
Recently I’ve been making my own tempeh and I am hooked. The flavor is unprecedented, a complete 180 from store bought tempeh. If you have had store bought tempeh and don’t like the bitterness of it, homemade tempeh has none of that. The fermented cake gets it’s flavor from Rhizopus oligosporus, a mold similar to bread mold. The bacterium helps to partially digest the beans making the amino acids (protein) and minerals easier to digest and absorb.
Nutrition aside, tempeh is one of the cheapest sources of protein. Grocery store prices are rising and protein is usually one of the most expensive items in the cart. If you’re looking to add a low-cost, nutrient dense protein into meals, tempeh is an excellent choice. Tempeh has a rich, nutty, mushroom like flavor and can be substituted in any recipe. My favorite way to serve tempeh is to lightly fry it and serve with your favorite dipping sauce. Creamy, garlic tahini sauce with fried tempeh is delicious!
You will need to purchase a starter. There are a few places online to get it, http://www.tempehonline.com is a great place and you will get the starter in a few days. While your there, you can pick up a tofu starter as that is the next cooks class topic I will be sharing. I am using soybeans in this starter recipe because they are easier to master than other types. However, you can use any type of bean you like. (Garbanzo bean tempeh changes lives and is perfect in your favorite pasta sauce).
Soak the beans overnight or 6-8 hours. From here you will need to remove the outer hull of the bean. The easiest way is to crack the beans in a food processor or with an emulsion blender. Transfer the beans to a food processor and pulse a few times. Rub the beans until the skins fall off. I place the beans in a large bowl and add water to cover. As you rub the beans the hull will rise to the top and you can scrape it off.
Cook the beans for 30-45 minutes until done. Drain the beans and dry thoroughly. Moisture is the enemy of spore growth so your beans must be dried completely.
Now you have to prep a container for incubation. You can use trays and they are definitely a greener alternative to plastic bags but I don’t think they make a good cake. In my experience, the bottom doesn’t firm up quite right. If you’ve used trays successfully, please let me know your method! I use sandwich plastic bags. Whatever you use, poke holes using a pin ¾” to and 1” apart. This will allow the mold to breathe.
Place the dried soybeans in a bowl, add 1 tbsp. vinegar and mix together. Add the tempeh starter and mix well.
Now you’re ready to fill the bags! Fill them halfway, seal and pack flat in a uniform layer no more than 1 inch thick.
There are lots of ways you can incubate your tempeh, a food dehydrator or yogurt maker works great. If your oven has a pilot light or proofing light, you can use that just add a thermometer to check the internal temperature. You might need to crack the oven door every now and then to keep the oven at the right temperature of 83-90°F for 22-28 hours. Make sure not to go over 90 as you will kill the starter and allow unwanted bacteria to grow. After 16 or so hours, you can reduce the temperature as the fermentation is now generating it’s own heat.
Once the cake is solid and has a mushroomy aroma, your tempeh is done. You can use right away, refrigerate or freeze. The flavor stays the same after freezing so you can make a batch to keep in the freezer. Take care not to stack them in the fridge as the internal heat will make the cake continue to ferment.
I hope you will try making your own tempeh. I know it seems like a lot of steps but like anything, once you do it a few times it becomes very easy. A second note, don’t be discouraged if your tempeh does not set up correctly the first time. I don’t know why but the first batch or so never turns out right at least with people I’ve talked to. So, start in small batches until you get it right. My first time was a disaster but the second attempt came out perfectly.
I will be posting a new amazing tempeh and asparagus recipe this week, just in time for your fresh tempeh use! What are your favorite tempeh recipes?