Friday, April 24, 2009

Magically Mushroomed Gnocchi

I have been cooking my way through the April edition of Saveur, which focuses on 12 super fabulous restaurants, each offering up a recipe. Last night I made my version of the Truffled Gnocchi with Peas and Chanterelles, the recipe that was ponied up by the Slanted Door in San Francisco.

First, I used chanterelles, morels and porcini mushrooms. Chanterelles tend to be on the chewier, tough side (but delicious), so I thought a couple softer mushroom types mixed in would balance out the texture. Worked pretty well. Also, I used dried mushrooms and reconstituted them — cheaper and easier to find, and you get to keep the left-over mushroom water for future soups or rice dishes (if you throw this out, I think the culinary police arrest you and eat your children and pets).

Second, I used spinach instead of peas. With all the woody, earthy taste I added with the morels and porcinis, I thought it sounded more appropriate. I just saw a comment on the Saveur Web site by a reader who said she used asparagus tips. Genius. I'm going to try that next time.

Thirdly, I added garlic. Mushroom cream sauce without garlic should be a punishable offense, but if you don't happen to like garlic and want to exclude it, no worries. The chef at Slanted Door didn't use it either.

Also, the magazine thinks I should make the gnocchi from scratch. Life is far too short for that kind of absurdity. You can buy vacuum sealed gnocchi almost anywhere. I bought mine at Trader Joe's — the ingredient list was all food, no chemicals, so it's just like making it myself, right? The only problem with this blatant cheating is the the "truffled" part of the recipe occurs when you make the gnocchi with truffle oil. I MacGyvered this by drizzling truffle oil over the cooked gnocchi before adding the mushroom sauce. Seemed to work pretty well.

This is the Slanted Door dish (Saveur, April 2009; photo by Andre Baranowski):

This is mine (clearly, I used more mushrooms, yum):

Here's the equipment you'll need:

A big pot to boil the gnocchi
A small pot to reconstitute the mushrooms
A 12" skillet or similar high-sided pan to make the sauce
Sharp chopping knife or cheater machine
Slotted spoon
Stirring spoon


Gnocchi — I bought two 17.6-ounce packages and doubled the sauce recipe.
Truffle oil to drizzle

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
10 oz. mushrooms, preferably chanterelles, roughly chopped (or a blend of your choice)
2 cups heavy cream
3⁄4 cup peas, fresh or frozen (or any veggie that sounds good to you)
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tbsp. finely chopped chives
1 to 3 garlic bulbs, finely chopped

What to do:
Reconstitute the mushrooms in as little warm water as possible - just enough to not quite cover them.
Drain mushrooms (save the mushroom water!)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
While that's heating up, heat olive oil in a 12" skillet over medium-high heat.
Add mushrooms to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until light brown, about 5 minutes.
Raise heat to high and add cream, the veggie you chose, thyme and garlic.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until cream reduces by half.
Season with salt and pepper and remove skillet from heat.
Add the gnocchi to the boiling water and cook until they float, about 2 minutes.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer gnocchi to plates
Drizzle truffle oil over gnocchi
Cover gnocchi with mushroom sauce
Add chives and toss to combine

Wear a chef hat when you make this. The recipe is very easy, but the resulting dish will make you feel like you might really have a chance at winning Top Chef.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

F*ck Yeah, Frittata

If you can handle cracking open some eggs, chopping up some ingredients, and you have the following:
  • deep sided pan about 12" in diameter
  • oven with working cooktop and broiler

Then you can make a frittata. 

It's basically scrambled eggs with stuff in them but without the having to scramble part. It's seriously easy.

This is my adaptation of a Better Homes and Gardens recipe (I was getting something less geriatric and suburban but it went away ... thanks recession. Thanks a lot. And I want my Domino back as well. Thanks.)

I call it the "F*ck Yeah, Frittata" because it ACTUALLY turned out magnificent and was easy. Can you make a frittata? F*ck yeah!

Theirs. (BHG, May 2009)


Here's the full equipment list:
  • bowl for egg mixture
  • chopping device (those who are skilled can use a real knife. I have one that does it for me)
  • cutting board (don't mess up ma's counters!)
  • high-sided pan suitable for top and inside stove use
  • spatula or other flipping lever
  • oven
  • whisk
  • pie server
  • vegetable peeler

Ingredient list
  • 8 eggs
  • water
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 1/4 cup finely diced onion (more if you like onions, less if you don't)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro (if you don't like cilantro, use parsley or, say, bacon)
  • Olive oil for greasing up pan
  • shredded cheese mixture (enough to cover top of frittata in sin)
  • Parmesan
  • extra cilantro for sprinkling around like a chef
  • carrot (BHG added this. They also tossed on some edamame--not sure either is important though the orange of the carrot was pretty).

What you do:
  • Turn on the broiler
  • Before it gets too hot, remember to set your rack in the middle of oven
  • Heat up the pan at medium heat with olive oil on the stove
  • Whisk up the eggs with water then add onions and cilantro (or bacon)
  • Pour mixture into pan
  • Let the eggs set up, occasionally lifting the sides of the egg to let the goo flow underneath and cook up
  • When mostly cooked, stick pan under broiler to finish off top
  • When top looks not lethal, pull out pan and put the cheese layer on top
  • Put pan back under broiler to melt the cheese
  • Take out pan
  • Use oven mitts because formerly harmless handles are now murder weapons
  • Hack the frittata into pizza-shaped wedges
  • Using the pie server, take out wedges and artfully arrange them on a plate
  • Put some carrot and LOTS of Parmesan shavings on top (carrot peeler worked great for both)
  • Yell at your family to come eat before their eggs get cold. Watch their faces of joy when the realize you MADE dinner and didn't just whip up stupid eggs. Or not. My spouse just said, "Wow." And then ate them with gusto. I don't think he liked the carrot peel garnish, though hard to tell when EVERYTHING will go in that maw without much comment.
As you can see, this recipe is pretty easy. It's messy. But if you did the cooking, you shouldn't have to do the cleaning so don't worry about it. I think this concept of throwing things into eggs and then baking them is going to be big in my house. Leftover chicken? Frittata. Olives and feta? Frittata. Wrinkly sad cherry tomatoes from last week? Frittata.

If you have some awesome variations on this that you love, please leave them in the comments!