Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fall Favorites

Hello Friends, It's been a busy few weeks. I have to announce the coming of my beautiful son, on October 6th, at 11:14pm. It was a long 30 hour labor and a busy few weeks adjusting and healing, but I thought I needed to put up a post to explain my absence. He is 2 1/2 weeks old and it seems like time has stopped and is revolving around his adorable face. Many of my closest friends have been delivering meals and food for my family and I couldn't be more grateful. So, I have taken a sabbatical from the kitchen for now, and even though it has been nice and obvious a must-do with a new baby, I am looking forward to cooking and baking again soon. Until then, I thought I would share some of my favorite recipes to make this time of year with the abundance of fall produce and spices.

Those are just some of my favorites, I hope to be using the bushels of squash I have in my kitchen soon. Stay posted :) Until then, enjoy the fall flavors, scents and weather. Much love to you!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Butternut Squash Gluten-Free Gnocchi

Welcome to October! And, welcome me to being past-due-date pregnant. Ah, yes! I am miserable in a good way. I am not sure how that happens really. I feel miserable and antsy, but so super excited that it really can't be more than a week more till we meet our baby. So, I have been trying to balance keeping busy and resting. Which is how this recipe was invented. On the couch. Yes. And hungry. Going to the kitchen and realizing that the beautiful winter squash on the counter needed to be broken into. Which is 5 minute meal, but totally worth it when it's ready.

Winter squash and pumpkins make fall another reason to love the season. You have to make the effort to enjoy their flavors fresh, but seriously, totally worth the trouble. I bake like 2-3 at a time and the kitchen (here are some basic instructions for any winter squash baking) will be warm on a 50 degree day and the smell is sweet and fall-like. Kinda like the nostalgic smells of apple cider and pumpkin pie this time of year. Join in the fun and become domestic: bake your own pumpkins and squash. Say goodbye to canned and frozen squash, who knows where and when that came from anyways. It took me a few October's to really catch on, but now I fill my kitchen and cool basement with a bushel of squash and let it last and enjoy it for a few months. Perfect hibernation food. This is my first effort to use some of the butternut squash I baked a few days ago, and it turned out perfect. So, here's to October and baby-waiting!
I made a basic gluten-free gnocchi recipe last winter with just Yukon potatoes and it turned out great. My Italian husband even said that they tasted like his great-grandmother's from the old country, which of course made me blush, but really they were pretty good and I was surprised myself. I haven't have authentic gnocchi in a long time so we made have been deceiving ourselves, but still a nice special dish to enjoy with some gluten-free class.
Butternut Squash Gluten-Free Gnocchi Recipe
2 1/2 cups of boiled, cooled and mashed yellow potato
2 1/2 cups of baked and mashed butternut or buttercup or even pumpkin
1 cup of white rice flour
1/2 cup of brown rice flour
1/2 cup of tapioca flour or starch (potato flour/starch works too)
1 ts. sea salt
1 ts. of cracked black pepper
1 TB of fresh chopped thyme
1 TB of fresh chopped sage
1 handful of fresh chopped basil
6 egg yokes, separated from whites and whipped together

Mix all the above ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs last and make sure you get everything well whipped together. Add more rice flour if you need to make it stiffer or to roll out on your parchment-topped table. Cut the dough into 4 parts (seen below) and pull out each section and roll into 1 long or 2 shorter logs. This batter may be sticky depending on your potato and squash moisture levels. Just remember that it is ok if it is sticky because it will cook fine in the boiling water in a minute.
Once you roll out the logs with a little flour on your paper, then cut the logs into about 12 pieces and you will have little "pillows" or shapes that you will have ready to dump in a large pot of boiling water. Have the largest pot you own boiling with 3/4 full of water. Gently drop the "raw" gnocchi pillows into the boiling water. Make sure not to overload the pot with the gnocchi. Put in like 24 at the most. Then wait like 5 minutes and you will see them start to float to the top of the boiling water. This is when you will know that they are cooked and ready for fetching. Use a strainer-ladle to retrieve them from the pot of water and place them in a drying plate or bowl to dry off just a bit. Then they are ready for serving with your favorite marinara sauce. I shared an easy tomato sauce in my last gnocchi recipe, but you can serve it with a favorite canned or jarred version as well to make it easy.

This recipe will make up to 96 gnocchi, so you can eat half in a meal and then freeze the other half. They are very filling, so at the most you could probably eat 8-12, so this recipe could serve up to 8 people at one setting, but like I said, they are great for freezing. I have been busy making and freezing a few meals and this recipe will work perfectly for pulling from the freezer for a quick and easy dinner.

Serve with a fresh side of veggies or salad to get the most out of your meal. Also, some meatballs or side of meat may be a good option as well.

I hope you try these delightful fall gnocchis out and enjoy. I love finding ways to use the squash I bake and have on hand in the fridge or freezer. One large butternut squash could leave you with 4-6 cups of squash to use, so in meals, breads and pies I find my way around using as much of it as I can. It is a nutritious and filling way to get the best out of your food this time of year. I am looking forward to being creative with it and enjoying the flavors of fall in the meantime. If you are wondering the best place/deal to find it, check out your local farmer's market. I could buy a whole bushel's worth (like 9-10 squash variety) for like 6 dollars. So super cheap and healthy. Besides that, they are like an instant fall decoration on the counter in the kitchen.

I hope you enjoy and have a blessed weekend!

Much love to you!