Tag Archives: Homemade

recipe goodness :: how to make homemade butter

How to Make Homemade Butter

Homemade Butter

Butter is something that is easy to take for granted. Whether to cook with or butter your toast, that lovely yellow cream is something we use almost daily. Yet rarely do we think of it as something we can make ourselves. But man is it easy. And really, really good when you do. Buy the best, local heavy cream you can find, plug in your electric beaters and start schmearing.

Homemade Butter

1 pint heavy cream {I use Grazin’ Angus Acres grass-fed}
Flaky salt to taste {Jacobsen Sea Salt or Maldon}

Optional add-ins: Honey, Thyme, Sage, Rosemary, Orange  or Lemon Zest, Whatever your heart desires

  1. Pour cream in a metal bowl and beat with electric beaters on high until the cream becomes solid and separates from the buttermilk {will become a bright yellow}.
  2. Pour into a cheesecloth-lined strainer with a bowl underneath to catch the liquid and place in the fridge for an hour to allow more of the buttermilk to separate.
  3. On a clean surface or cutting board, press with cold hands or a flexible dough scraper to knead the butter and remove more buttermilk. This is also the time to mix in any flavors if making flavored butter. Sprinkle salt to taste and then form into a ball, roll into a log or press into a container to store if you don’t eat it all right away.
Beat cream until it separates and looks like this

Beat cream until it separates and looks like this

And then strain and knead until it looks like this

And then strain and knead until it looks like this

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recipe goodness :: homemade soft pretzels and mustard from scratch

Homemade Soft Pretzels

Homemade Soft Pretzels

Fall is the time for wooly sweaters, weekend projects and Oktoberfest. Instead of a typical apple pie pastime, I had my taste buds set on a rather adventurous experiment of making homemade soft pretzels and from-scratch mustard. After grabbing several generously sized bags of mustard powder and whole mustard seeds at Kalustyans, the idea of making my own mustard swelled into making four different kinds — it is my favorite secret ingredient, after all. It also didn’t hurt that my cousin and her beer-brewing fiance were in for the adventure and came bearing homemade suds and the same amount of experimental exuberance.

The result? After tasting a piping hot pretzel from my own oven, dare I say I’ll never buy a pretzel from the corner cart again. As for the mustard — four may have been excessive, but it revealed a few standout favorites which I’ve included below. Each of these Oktoberfest treats was made with relative ease, but you may want to consider making the mustard ahead of time as it will continue to mellow out each day — and at first taste, you {and your nasal passages} will quickly understand why mustard plaster was a treatment for pleurisy back in the day.

Homemade Mustards

Homemade Mustards (left to right clockwise: coarse rosemary, brown sugar, red wine)

Homemade Soft Pretzels
Recipe From the Fresh Loaf Makes 6 large pretzels — you might as well double it!

1 teaspoon instant yeast {or bread starter}
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2-3 cups all-purpose unbleached or bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm milk (approximately 110 degrees, which is 1 minute in my microwave)

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix together until it forms a ball. I start with 2 cups of the flour and mix it together until it forms something like a thick batter, then add more flour a handful at a time until it’ll form a nice ball that I can knead by hand.
  2. Either use an electric mixer to mix the dough for 5 minutes or remove it from the bowl and knead it by hand for 5 to 10 minutes until the dough begins to get smooth and satiny.
  3. Return the ball of dough to a clean, greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set it aside to rise until it has doubled in size, approximately an hour.
  4. Before shaping, start preheating the oven to 425 degrees and bring a large, wide pot of water to a boil.
  5. Roll and rest the pretzel dough

    Roll and rest the pretzel dough

  6. Cut the dough into 6 pieces. Roll each one into a short log, cover with a towel, and let the dough relax for 5 to 10 minutes. After it has relaxed you should be able to roll it out and stretch again fairly easily.
  7. Let them relax again and give each a third roll and stretch session until about 15 inches long and about as big around as your index finger. They’ll nearly double in width while baking, so it is ok to roll them out quite thin.
  8. Place a rope of dough on the work surface in front of you. Take each end in a hand, loop the dough away from you, and bring the ends back toward your stomach, crossing them about an inch above the rope. Apply a little bit of pressure to make the loops stick together, but not too much because you don’t want then to flatten out.
  9. Dunk each of the pretzels into the boiling water for 5 seconds, then place them onto a baking sheet and sprinkle with coarse salt immediately while wet (I use the kosher stuff that is easy to find at the grocery store).
  10. Place the baking sheets into the oven. It took around 15 minutes for my pretzels to get golden and brown. Remove from the oven and eat immediately.
Homemade Fig Mustard

Homemade Fig Mustard

Fig and Port Grainy Mustard (slightly sweet)

½ Tablespoons Brown Mustard Seeds
1½ Tablespoons Yellow Mustard Seeds
½ Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 ¼ Cup Mustard Powder (not Coleman’s)
1½ Tablespoons Cider Vinegar
1/4 Cup Tawny Port
3 Tablespoons Chilled Fig Simple Syrup (recipe below)

4 Fresh Figs
½ Cup Granulated Sugar
½ Cup Water

  1. Add figs, sugar and water to a small saucepan.
  2. Over medium high heat, stir until sugar dissolves. Continue cooking a few minutes longer until figs become very soft.
  3. Mash the figs into the syrup and keep stirring. Once the figs are well mashed and fully incorporated into the mixture, remove from heat. Pour contents of saucepan through a strainer and remove the large bits of fig.
  4. The syrup that’s left is the fig simple syrup. You can use the fig bits in oatmeal, ice cream or just eat them. You will have syrup left over after making the mustard.
  1. Grind the mustard seeds in a spice or coffee grinder for a few seconds, or in a mortar and pestle. You should leave them pretty chunky (near whole) because you want this to be a grainy mustard…but you could grind them to whatever consistency you like.
  2. Pour the ground mustard seeds into a bowl and add the salt and mustard powder.
  3. Add in the vinegar, port and simple syrup and stir well. Once everything is thoroughly mixed, pour everything into a glass jar (with a lid) and refrigerate.
  4. Wait at least 12 hours before using.
  5. Mustard made this way will last several months if refrigerated in a sealed jar. This recipe makes 1/2 – 3/4 cups of mustard.

Brown Sugar Mustard (#1 crowd fav)

1 cup dry mustard
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp salt
dash cayenne
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil

Coarse Rosemary Honey Mustard (a standard whole grain)

½ Tablespoons Brown Mustard Seeds
1½ Tablespoons Yellow Mustard Seeds
½ Teaspoon Rosemary Salt
¾ cup mustard powder
¼-1/2 cup champagne vinegar
2 tbsp honey

Coarse-Ground Red Wine Mustard (packs a red vinegar punch)

1/4 cup white or brown mustard seeds
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4-1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup dry mustard
2 tsps salt
1/4 tsp allspice
2 tbsps cold water

  1. For any of the recipes above, place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor.
  2. Process for 30 seconds, scrape down the sides and process for 30 seconds more.
  3. Add additional liquid if to thick as mustard powder & seeds will absorb more of the liquid.
  4. Put in an airtight container and let stand at room temperature overnight or up to 1-2 days more. The mustard will mellow out in heat over time. Once it reaches desired mildness store in the fridge.

Favorite Dishes with Mustard:
Cumin & Dill Dijon Egg Salad with Radish Sprouts
Roasted Dijon Chicken Salad w/ Dried Cranberries & Sunflower Seeds
Whole-Grain Mustard & Rosemary Pork Chops

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recipe goodness :: early bird foods’ olive oil and maple syrup granola

Early Bird Olive Oil and Maple Syrup Granola

Early Bird Olive Oil and Maple Syrup Granola

I discovered the recipe through food52’s genius series, a weekly column of recipes that are nothing short of genius. I was in the mood to bake something quick and easy and was drawn to this nutty savory-sweet mix. One batch makes 7-8 cups, so this treat feed you for a few weeks {unless you’re like me and can’t stop grabbing a handful}.

Adapted very slightly from Early Bird Foods’ Farmhand’s Choice Granola

Makes about 7 cups

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, hulled
1 cup raw sunflower seeds, hulled
1 cup unsweetened coconut chips
1 1/4 cup raw pecan halves, left whole or coarsely chopped
1/2-3/4 cup pure maple syrup {I prefer a little less sweet}
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
Coarse salt

  1. Heat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Place oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut, pecans, syrup, olive oil, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl and mix until well combined. Spread granola mixture in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Transfer to oven and bake, stirring every 10-15 minutes, until granola is toasted, about 45 minutes.
  3. Remove granola from oven and season with more salt to taste. Let cool completely before serving or storing in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

More For the Early Bird:
Blueberry, Lemon & Coconut Pancakes
Secret DiLaura Family Frittata with Sweet Italian Sausage
Herbed Buttermilk Biscuits
Royal British Cranberry-Almond Breakfast Scones

How To Cook The Perfect Sunny Side-Up Egg
How to Cook the Perfect 8.5 Minute Egg
Southern Breakfast Egg Casserole

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recipe goodness :: homemade ricotta and melted leeks — the easiest winning appetizer you MUST make

Homemade Ricotta

Homemade Ricotta

I don’t typically like to tell people what to do. But I’m going to tell you — and you’re going to listen to me — you must make this NOW. Sure, I get a little more experimental in the kitchen than most, but when I tell you this will have you channeling your inner Italian Grandmother with ease and will also have you wanting to make fresh ricotta everyday, I hope you believe me. The beauty of this recipe is 1) how easy it is, 2) how proud you will be that you made YOUR OWN ricotta, and 3) it will have your guests ooh-ing and aah-ing over this deceivingly perfect flavor combo — let’s face it, this is really just onions and milk we’re talking about. It happens to also be an extremely inexpensive way to create an impressive appetizer, so with the holidays around the corner let’s get curdling!

I’ve included a few other variations in case you want to serve this different ways at all your holiday line-ups {everything can be made ahead of time, so you can enjoy a cocktail instead of sweating over a hot oven}. Plus 1.5 lbs of ricotta will probably get you through 2-3 evenings, depending on the size of your crowd.

Homemade Ricotta 

Makes ~1 lb post-drained ricotta 

1 pint whole milk {I use Grazin’ Angus Acres}
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup cultured buttermilk
Maldon sea salt

Equipment:
Large 1 gallon+ pot {le creuset if you have one}
Cooking thermometer that reads to 200 degrees
Very fine cheesecloth or clean tea towel
String
Colander and large bowl

  1. Using a large 1 gallon+ stock pot {I use my le creuset} heat whole milk, cream, buttermilk and a few pinches of salt on medium heat until it comes to a light boil. Stir milk frequently to ensure bottom does not scorch.
  2. Boil milk for 2 minutes, stirring, then remove from the heat and let rest in the pot for 1 hour to let the curds form some more.
  3. Place a large colander over a large bowl in the sink. Line the colander with very fine cheese cloth or a clean white tea towel so edges hang over the edge of the colander.
  4. Slowly pour the curdled milk into the colander/cheesecloth, letting the whey pour through to the bowl below and keeping the curds in the cheesecloth. You can use the whey to soften the cheese later or simply discard.
  5. Lift the colander out of the bowl and grab the edges of the cheesecloth/towel together. Hold up and let drain for about 1 minute+ until the the ricotta reaches the consistency you desire.
  6. Note: I like to keep it a little creamy so it is easy to spread, but if it gets thicker than you desire, you can always pour a few tablespoons of milk {or the strained whey} back into the cheese to soften.
  7. When you’re ready to serve, season with maldon sea salt to taste and prepare any of the variations below or your own inspired pairing.
Appetizer Variations:

  • Serve with water crackers or garlic crostini {recipe below}
  • Top with warm melted leeks {recipe below}
  • Top with drizzled honey or your favorite chutney
  • Sprinkle with Maldon sea salt, a drizzle of good olive oil and fresh thyme, destemmed
p.s. you can also make this ricotta for Homemade Gnocchi and Sauce: Channeling My Italian Grandmother

Melted Leeks

1 bunch leeks
1 stick butter
Kosher salt

  1. Cut off and discard root end and half way up the firm green stems. Slice each leek in half lengthwise to expose inner layers. Add leek halves to a bowl of cold water to release dirt. Use your fingers to check and clean outer layers.
  2. Pat dry and place each leek half flat-side down on cutting board and cut into 1/4-inch thick half-circle slices.
  3. Melt butter in a large pan on low-medium heat {or the cleaned le creuset you just used for the ricotta} and add leeks.
  4. Slowly cook leeks in butter until tender, ~10-15 minutes. Turn heat down if they start to brown before they are soft. Add salt to taste.
  5. Serve immediately while warm with the ricotta on the side or place in an airtight container and reheat in the microwave for 20 seconds just before serving to soften butter.

Garlic-Rubbed Crostini

1 baguette
Olive Oil for brushing
1-2 garlic cloves

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Slice baguette at a 45-degree angle, creating 1/4-inch thick slices.
  3. Place slices side by side on a baking sheet. Brush each piece with olive oil and place in oven for 10-15 minutes until toasted.
  4. Remove baking sheet and while the crostini are still hot, rub a whole garlic clove with 1-2 swipes on each piece of bread.
  5. Note: can be made ahead of time on the day you plan to serve and stored in an air-tight container or bag once cooled, until ready to serve.

1. Pour whole milk, cream and buttermilk into a large pot

2. Heat to 200 degrees F, or until it starts to boil, stirring frequently

2. Turn heat off and let rest for 1 hour

3/4. Pour ricotta into cheesecloth-lined colander over a large bowl in the sink. {Bowl shown next to the colander to show whey that runs through}

5. Gather edges of cloth and tie tightly with string, hanging to let drain ~1-2 minutes

6. Voila! Homemade Ricotta

Melted Leeks

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Do This!: Get Back to Your Roots

Get Back to Your Roots

Get Back to Your Roots

There is something very gratifying about growing your own greens. Herbs, flowers, veggies, whatever. I must have acquired this love to ‘putz’ in the garden from my Italian father, who can almost always be found in this worn-out threads strolling the beds, pulling weeds, watering the seedlings and making our backyard look lush.

But there is more than just beauty to growing your own garden — it is quite a practical thing to do. During the summer, I often want to make a simple tomato and basil salad or fresh salsa for a BBQ.  But as I stroll through Whole Foods, I realize how quickly these things add up — a pint of tomatoes for $3.99, large bunches of parsley, cilantro basil and mint for $1.99 each {and 1/8 of which I actually need and end up wasting the rest}. The benefit of growing a few simple herbs that you like to use all the time is your own free herb aisle that costs you nothing more than a few seeds {or seedlings} and will last you from spring to late fall.  And let’s be honest, it’s more effort to go to the store to buy these things than it is to sprinkle a little water on your plants each day so that all you have to do is snip off what you need whenever your cooking heart desires.

Even if you don’t have much space {concrete jungle dwellers}, all you need is a few window boxes or small pots and you’re set. For most things you do need sunlight, but a few herbs will do just fine on a windowsill if that’s all you have access to.

Here’s what you need to get started:

  1. Small plastic cups and plastic wrap {if starting from seeds}
  2. Window boxes or pots {if starting from seedlings and to transfer your seeds to once they become seedlings. You can usually fit 2-3 kinds of herbs side by side in a window box depending on how long it is. And 1 herb per round pot.}
  3. Potting soil {the kind with time-releasing nutrients is great so you get the benefit of rich soil over a few months}
  4. Water {of course}
  5. Your own two hands :)
If you plant nothing else, plant these:
  1. Basil {really hearty and goes great on lots of summer veg}
  2. Thyme {perfect on sauteed/grilled mushrooms, zucchini, chicken. will continue to grow inside through the winter. }
  3. Rosemary {my favorite herb! will continue to grow inside through the winter}
  4. Sage {BBQ chicken’s favorite friend!}
  5. Mint {will keep coming back in your pot EVERY year. even after it dies in the winter. That’s an easy one!}
  6. Strawberries {surprisingly easy to grow in a pot. and what a treat!}
  7. Arugula {small leaf lettuce is really easy to grow in a window box — and SO much more flavorful}
  8. Parsley and Cilantro {don’t you just hate buying an entire bunch when you only need a little}
  9. Grape tomatoes {if you have sunny outdoor space for a really large pot, you will get hundreds of little juicy tomatoes off 1-2 vines. I eat them like candy!}
Tips:
If you have the patience to start seeds in a small plastic cup with a little soil, it’s awfully gratifying to see them sprout up. Most seeds only take 1-2 weeks to germinate, so even though it’s already June, you can still start some herbs that don’t need to grow as tall as tomato plants — like basil or parsley.
  1. Get a baking sheet and line it with a plastic cup or small pyrex dish for each plant. Fill it about 3/4 of the way with light, fine soil and place your seeds on top evenly spaced.
  2. Follow the directions from your seed packet, but it will probably tell you to cover the seeds with 1/8-1/4 inch of soil. Add water to soak the soil and then cover the cup with plastic wrap and use a rubber band to secure the wrap to the sides. This will create your own little greenhouse to trap moisture and heat and help the seeds grow {especially if starting in April or May before it’s warm outside}. Add more water each morning if needed to keep the soil moist.
  3. If you start in April/May before it’s warm, keep these inside, but whenever you get a warm day you can easily transfer all the cups on the sheet to a sunny spot outdoors to benefit from the natural heat/sunlight. If you’re starting now, you can place the cups outdoors. Just make sure they are covered so the birds don’t get them!
  4. Once your seeds become ~2-inch seedlings, transfer them to a larger pot with soil and let them spread their roots!
First Strawberry of the Season!

First Strawberry of the Season! (June 7th)

City Herbs

City Herbs

Sweet, Sweet Tomatoes

Sweet, Sweet Tomatoes

Recipes to Showcase Your Home Garden:
Creole Roasted Fresh Corn-Tomato Salsa
Spinach, Strawberry & Halloumi Salad
Tomato, Basil & Feta Salad
Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken
Whole-Grain Mustard & Rosemary Pork Chops

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Breadmaking 101: How to Make Bakery Quality Bread @Home

Homemade Bread

Yes, you too can achieve these results. No, you don’t need a bread machine or fancy mixer. Just your two hands, and the recipe below. This is the week of generously sharing family secrets to put excellent handmade food on your table.

A good meal is not complete without a great crusty bread that is also soft and chewy on the inside. I never thought this was something that could be accomplished at home, but after spending the day with my highly talented cousin, KimNora, I learned differently and a new bread baker was born! KimNora has been perfecting her bread for many years, experimenting with technique, ratios and environment, to create a bread that would give even Daniel Boulud a run for his money!

Homemade Crusty Whole Wheat Bread {Stretch & Fold Method}

Makes 1 Loaf | Total Time: 4 hours

2 cups unbleached bread flour {~305 grams}
1.5 cups whole wheat flour {~213 grams}
50 grams dried spent grain {optional}
2.5 teaspoons kosher salt {~14 grams}
2 teaspoons (scant) rapid rise dry yeast
Optional: 1 Tablespoon (scant) barley malt powder {~14 grams}
1 tablespoon each of fresh rosemary, sage, thyme, finely chopped
450 milliliters room temperature filtered water
corn meal for dusting proofing basket

  1. If you want to flavor your bread {ideas: thyme-rosemary-sage, thyme-meyer lemon, rosemary-meyer lemon, raisin}, add the zest and herbs to the water and let sit for 15-20 minutes to infuse with the flavors. Raisins are best when they are plump, not totally dry, so letting them absorb some of the water is key.
  2. Add all dry ingredients to a large bowl and mix thoroughly with a whisk.
  3. Create a well in the middle and slowly add half the water, stirring  with a butter knife {tip: this is an easy tool to pull sticky dough from}. As the dough comes together add remaining water to the center and stir with the knife to bring in the remaining flour, working from the center outwards, so as to minimize the amount of dough that sticks to the side of the bowl. Dough should be slightly sticky, but not smooth at this point. If it is too sticky add a few pinches of bread flour.
  4. Cover the top of the dough loosely with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 10 minutes so flour hydrates and gluten bonds form.
  5. After 10 minutes, dip hands and bread scraper in olive oil to prevent dough from sticking. Loosen dough from sides of the bowl and gently work into a smooth ball.
  6. Lightly pour olive oil on counter or marble working surface and spread with hands to oil both your hands and surface.
  7. Grab the dough with oiled hands and  bring to the oiled counter to gently stretch the dough into somewhat of a rectangle shape. DO NOT pull or tear at dough — you just want to gently work it from the center to the outside to reshape.
  8. While gently stretching the dough by grabbing one end, pull it up and fold like a letter into thirds. Right side folded first, then left side over that {stretch and pull, but don’t let the dough tear}. Then take the opposite ends that were just folded and fold into thirds again — top to the center and the bottom over that, stretching and folding. In the end, you will have almost a square shape.
  9. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap to prevent drying out for 10 more minutes.
  10. Repeat steps 5-8 two more times, so you will have stretched and folded and let rest for a total of 3 times. After the 3rd stretch and fold, allow the dough to rise for 1 hour, covered with plastic wrap.
  11. After 1 hour rise, very lightly flour the surface and remove dough from the bowl to the counter. Spread and fold a 4th time and then start to form into a smooth ball by grabbing the edges and tucking the dough under itself, turning as you smooth and round the ball.
  12. Generously add corn meal to a bread banneton {or place a clean towel in a small bowl and flour the towel}. Generously flour your hands and pick up the ball of dough, adding it to the basket or bowl, smooth side down, so your tucking seam is facing up. Gently pinch the seam to smooth the top of the dough facing up.
  13. Cover with plastic wrap and let allow for a 2nd rise for 30-40 minutes. Meanwhile make sure your rack is in the center of the oven, with no rack above it and turn on your oven to 500 ºF with a metal baking sheet, pizza stone, piece of slate or terra cotta tiles on the rack to come to temperature with the oven.
  14. After rise is complete, work quickly {so you don’t lose your heat} to dump dough from your basket onto the hot slate or pizza stone and using your sharpest knife or a bread lame, slash a fairly deep cut across the center and in any design you would like. Cutting the dough will open it up to expand upward, giving you good rise and will also look beautiful!
  15. Turn oven down to 450ºF and cook for ~30-40 minutes.
  16. Around 30 minutes, be sure to smell for any burning — remove immediately if necessarily. When bread has a nice dark crust, remove to the counter and while holding with one hand (use an oven mitt) check the temperature of the bread by inserting a thermometer in the bottom of the bread. If it reads 200-205º, it’s done! Add back to the oven if any less than 200.
  17. The hardest part: resist the temptation to slice into your masterpiece right away, allowing it to cool for 1-2 hours as it completes its baking process on a wire rack on the counter.

The Art of Baking Bread:

Steps 1-4

Steps 5-7

Step 11: Smooth side down, pinch to close the tuck seam

Step 12: Final Rise

Step 14: Dump on cooking stone, slash, add water and close!

Step 16: Check Temp for 200-205 deg

Step 17: Leave it alone, admire from afar!

Enjoy Bakery Quality Bread at Home

The Rise on More Family Secrets:
Secret DiLaura Family Frittata with Sweet Italian Sausage
Grandma’s Italian Wedding Chicken Soup
Homemade Gnocchi and Sauce: Channeling My Italian Grandmother
Violet’s Lemon Cheesecake with BBQ’d Summer Berries

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Homemade Gnocchi: Channeling My Italian Grandmother with Food52

Some of my first memories of food involve going to my Grandma’s house on Sundays for a meal with all the cousins. Sometimes it was a roast, sometimes she was cooking the handmade pasta that she dried on a rack in the basement, but on my favorite Sundays, Grandma was making her Homemade Ricotta Gnocchi.

She originally made this recipe with potatoes, which make for a heavier, denser gnocchi. In fact, we used to call them belly bombs {although I think that had more to do with the fact that she gave us very generous second and third helpings}. Eventually Grandma realized it was so much easier to make gnocchi with fresh ricotta cheese and these potato pillows and our bellies were lighter for it.

I credit my love and respect for hand-prepared food to these memories. I believe strongly that a good meal is a great meal when shared with friends and family — it’s why I started my blog and supper club in the first place. So when Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs asked me to film a recipe in the food52 kitchen, I knew Grandma’s Ricotta Gnocchi was the recipe to share. I hope you enjoy the simplicity of this traditional meal. Go on, channel your inner Italian Grandmother, and give it a try — I’d love to hear your stories, so leave me a comment if you do. Buon Appetito!

Grandma's Ricotta Gnocchi

Grandma DiLaura’s Ricotta Gnocchi

Serves 4 | Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

1 lb fresh ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra for serving
grated fresh nutmeg to taste
2 cups of flour, sifted, plus extra for rolling dough

  1. Add egg to ricotta cheese and oil and mix thoroughly.
  2. Add grated parmesan cheese to mixture and sprinkle with freshly grated nutmeg to taste.
  3. Add sifted flour a little at a time and continue to mix thoroughly.
  4. Dump onto generously floured surface and work with hands to bring together into a smooth ball. Keep adding flour until dough no longer sticks to your hands as you gently knead it.
  5. Cut off slices of dough like cutting a loaf of bread and roll into ropes thumb size thick by spreading hands and fingers and rolling from center out to each edge of the rope.
  6. Line one rope parallel to another and cut 2 at a time into 1-inch pieces.
  7. Roll each gnocchi off the back of a fork to make imprints to help hold the sauce.
  8. Put gnocchi pieces on a lightly floured or non-stick baking sheet so they don’t stick together and put tray in the freezer while making the rest of batch.
  9. If not cooking immediately, let gnocchi freeze completely on baking sheet before transferring to ziplock bags or containers and keep in freezer until ready to make.
  10. When ready to prepare, bring large stockpot of generously salted water to a boil.
  11. Add gnocchi and gently stir once with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pot. As gnocchi rise to the top {a sign they are done cooking} scoop them out with a mesh strainer or a bamboo wire skimmer and immediately place in serving bowl shaking off excess water.
  12. Continuously scoop some sauce on top of each layer of gnocchi as they are placed in the bowl to eliminate the need to stir them with sauce in the end and risk damaging or smashing the pasta.Generously grate parmesan over the top and serve.

TIP: Gnocchi can be made ahead and completely frozen until dropped into water for cooking. Great for pulling a meal out mid-week without having to worry about defrosting. I always double this recipe when I make it and save some for later!

Grandma DiLaura’s Tomato and Meat Sauce

12-14 servings | 2-3 hours

1 28oz can tomato sauce
3 12oz cans of tomato paste
8 cups of water {fill each can used}
1 lb. of browned ground beef
2 teaspoons dried basil
salt & pepper taste
1 medium size yellow onion, peeled
1 teaspoon of baking soda

  1. In a large pot add the tomato sauce and paste. Fill each can used with water and add to the sauce with basil and salt & pepper and stir.
  2. Brown the ground beef, drain off the fat and set aside.
  3. Bring the pot to a boil on medium-high heat and then turn down to a slow simmer {caution: if you let the sauce boil too long it will burn}. Cook 2-3 hours until thick, stirring occasionally.
  4. After 1 hour, add browned ground beef and whole peeled onion.
  5. In last hour of cooking add 1 teaspoon baking soda to eliminate some acidity and stir.
  6. When ready to serve remove whole onion and cut in half or quarters to serve.

TIP: Sauce freezes well in small containers to pull out for mid-week dinner.

My Mom, Aunt Marilyn and Grandma DiLaura Making Gnocchi {Love the 70s!)

Read More About 8.ate@eight’s Supper Club:
Boozy Robert Burns Night w/ The Tippling Bros. & Highland Park Scotch
A+ 8.ate@eight Back to School Nite
8.ate@eight Went Whole Hog and Hog Wild @ the Big Southern BBQ
Who Cut the Cheese Didn’t Stink!
Silencing of the Spring Lambs was Lambtastic!

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