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Archive for October, 2011

…is one of the most wonderful foods on this planet, period.  Make it into mac and cheese, and you have a little (who am I kidding, HUGE) plate of sheer delicious joy.

For gnocchi mac you need:

  • 1 pound purchased or homemade gnocchi
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Fontina cheese
  • Salt and white pepper, to taste
  • Parmesan cheese, for garnish
  • Basil, for garnish

This is a surprisingly simple recipe, too!  One of the most wonderful things about gnocchi is how quickly it cooks.  So, start here, by bringing a large pot of water to a boil.  Salt it, and throw in the gnocchi until they begin to float, which only takes about 2 minutes.  Drain the delicious dumplings and place them in a small (1 1/2 quart) baking dish that’s been greased and heat the oven to 375.

While you’re waiting for the water to boil, melt the butter over medium heat in a saucepan. Add the garlic and cook just until it becomes fragrant, then whisk in the flour until it bubbles.  Whisk in the milk and dijon, and continue stirring until the sauce thickens, about 3 minutes.  Then, add the cheese by handfuls, stirring until each addition is completely melted.  Season the delicious cheese sauce with your salt and pepper, then pour over the gnocchi.  Top with a bit of parmesan and pop the dish into the oven for about 20 minutes, until bubbly and slightly browned.

Garnish with basil and be prepared…

…to go to Food Heaven.  I could not be more serious.  Once you make this (and you must, it is not optional), you will never want to return to regular mac and cheese with plain old cheddar and elbow noodles (that is, unless you are eating my aunt’s crockpot mac and cheese, which will also get you in to Food Heaven).  FORGET making mac and cheese out of a box ever again–this stuff is too delicious AND easy.  Try me.

*sc

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…still means a delicious breakfast in our place.  When pawing through our freezer to see what needed to be used in this week’s set of menus, I came upon a leftover sheet of puff pastry (from that delicious chicken pot pie!), and decided it was time to break it out.  So,this morning, we made a delicious danish that could not have been easier.  You would never guess these didn’t come straight from your favorite bakery, either.

For this easy homemade danish you need:

  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • your favorite jam
  • cream cheese, softened
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. sugar
  • vanilla

Start by cutting your puff pastry sheet into 4 equal squares and heating the oven to 375.  Then, combine the egg, sugar, flour, and a dash of vanilla.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Spoon about a tablespoon each of cream cheese and jam on half of each pastry sheet square.  Schatzi found a delicious pumpkin butter that we used.  Fold the other half of pastry over, sealing and crimping with a fork.  Then, brush each pastry rectangle with the egg mixture.  Bake the danish until golden, 15-20 minutes.

Let the danish sit and cool for a few minutes, if you can.  They are delicious right out of the oven, but if you can wait just a few minutes, they get a bit crispier and of course are easier to eat when the filling isn’t piping hot!

Clearly, we couldn’t wait to eat them.  They are absolutely scrumptious!

*sc

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…is Julia Child’s fancy way of saying chicken simmered with cream and onions.  Or, as Schatzi I like to call it, Heaven in a bowl.  You may think that’s an exaggeration, but trust me.  This creamy, comforting chicken is absolute perfection.  Julia Child is famous for a reason, you know…and this dish (with a few modifications) is actually one of her easier ones.

For Julia’s delicious French chicken you need:

  • 2 1/2 to 3 lbs. chicken, cubed
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/3 cup cognac
  • 3 cups whipping cream
  • more salt and white pepper
  • a few drops of lemon juice
  • 3-4 more Tbsp. whipping cream
  • parsley

Now, a person will feel practically sacrilegious to modify a Julia Child recipe, but even on the weekend, we don’t have time to cut up and bone an entire chicken…so, we just bought the prescribed amount of chicken breasts and chopped them into bite-sized chunks.  It worked beautifully, and made this dish beyond easy…sorry, Julia.  Anyway, start by thoroughly drying your meat, however you choose to go about acquiring it.  She’s not kidding when she tells you meat won’t cook properly unless it is dry.  While you’re doing that, melt the butter in a large casserole (Dutch oven) over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken (don’t move it around a lot in the pan!) and cook 3-4 minutes, flipping once, until the chicken looks a bit puffy and the outsides are white.  Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside.  Also, start to boil the 3 cups of whipping cream.

Now, I am guessing that if you stick with Julia’s method, you can plow ahead to step two and add the onions.  However, I needed to drain a bit of the cooking liquid from my pre-cut chicken and melt a bit more butter in my pot, first.  Once your pot is satisfactory, add the onions (I chopped, she thinly slices).  Pop a lid on the pot and cook over lowered heat until the onions are tender (but not browned), 4-5 minutes.  Add the chicken back to your pot, covering and cooking again for about 10 minutes, until the chicken puffs even more.  Only turn it once.

Next, add the curry powder, salt, and pepper to the chicken.  Raise the heat and add the cognac to deglaze the pan, boiling the liquid rapidly until it is almost completely gone.  Pour in the hot cream, continue simmering and make sure the chicken has been coated with the cream.  Return the lid to the pot and let the mixture simmer for 30 minutes.  Honestly, my chicken was already pretty well cooked, so I only let it simmer for about 10 minutes.  Here, all you need is for the chicken’s juices to run clear when pricked.  At this stage, if your cream looks curdled and lumpy, not to worry!  Julia will fix it.

Put the chicken and most of the onion on a platter again.  If there is any, skim the fat off the sauce and bring the cream to a quick bubble.  Stir it until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Then, add a few drops of lemon juice and season it with more salt and pepper to taste.  If it still looks a bit lumpy, take the sauce off the heat and stir in those few extra tablespoons of cream–all fixed!  Serve a bowl of luscious chicken smothered in sauce and a hint of parsley.

Words do not describe the amazing taste of cognac and cream mixed together.  Neither of us had ever tasted it until this dish, but there is something about it that just makes me think of the holidays (which start NEXT month?!); I think it is just the comfort and rich smell and taste of it.  If you are reading this, you must make it.  Or, come visit us and we will make it for you.  We get to keep any chance of leftovers, though…

Bon appetit!

*sc

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