So, the holiday season is upon us! I love this time of year pretty much for the meals consumed, huge lavish affairs with old standbys that never get old, the family member that has a bit too much vino and makes an ass of themselves, over-eating and watching football games – you know what I’m talking about.
As I have said before, my family doesn’t partake in the most conventional of holiday feasts – in fact we passed legislation a few years ago that we would systematically replace mediocre standard dishes with new more interesting ones. Let me tell you, this makes it a hell of a lot more fun both to cook and to eat! So for the next few weeks I’m going to give you some ideas of dishes that are a bit outside the box. I highly recommend trying these in smaller batches before your big day – nothing is worse than trying something new and it not working out for a big feast! Good luck and as always if you have any questions or need some suggestions – email me at email@example.com.
In a pot, bring water and 3 pounds of peeled Yukon Gold Potatoes to a boil. Simmer until tender (’til they can be easily pierced with a paring knife). Pass potatoes through a potato ricer (use a ricer – whipping/mashing the potatoes will make them too gooey). Mix in 4 tablespoons of butter. Season with Slavo Salt.
On a clean counter-top, place 1/3 cup of flour and then put your potatoes on top of the flour. Next take 2/3 cup of flour and dump on top of the potatoes. Now make a crater in the pile of flour and potatoes – like a volcano. Add 2 eggs into the “crater.”
With your hands, fold and kneed the dough until everything is completely incorporated. Add flour if the dough is too gooey (it doesn’t need to be totally dry but definitely not overly sticky). Do not over mix – just keep folding and kneading the dough maybe 7-10 minutes until it forms a nice ball. Sprinkle flour on work surface. Break the ball of dough into quarters or smaller if you don’t have a lot of space.
Roll the dough into long, thin tubes (approximately one-inch diameter), and cut into bite-size pieces about 1 inch long. Blanch 20 piece batches in salted, boiling water for about 1 minute or until gnocchi float. With a slotted spoon or mesh spider pull the floating gnocchi out of the water and dump them into a bowl of ice water (this is done to stop the cooking process – “BLANCHING”). Cool completely on oiled sheet pan in the fridge (you can also freeze these at this stage to be used later!). When you’re ready to serve them just drop them back into boiling salted water until they begin to float (best way to tell they’re done is to pop one out and bite into it).
You can serve gnocchi with nearly any type of cream sauce or pan fry them in some butter w/ garlic and fresh herbs.
Preheat your oven to 350°. Place 1/4 cup of raw pine nuts onto a cookie sheet and pop into the oven for about 10 minutes. When toasting nuts, you should pay very close attention and set a timer a couple minutes early because it is ridiculously easy to burn them and then you have to start over (this happens with my family almost every time this is attempted so don’t feel bad if you do burn them.) Once the nuts begin to turn a little golden get ready to pull them out, once they start to turn – they will go REALLY fast. Once light brown pull them out and sprinkle with a little kosher salt. Let them sit and cool.
Wine Steeped Raisins: Combine 3/4 cup of golden rasins, 1/4 piece of star anise, and 1 whole clove (the spice) into a mason jar or in a bowl. Bring 1 cup of Sauvignon Blanc to a boil in a small sauce pan. Once boiling pour the wine over the raisins and spices and let them cool to room temperature (about 30 minutes or so). These can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to a month. Remove the star anise, clove, and remaining liquid before serving.
Take 5 pounds of Rainbow or Swiss chard and wash well. With a knife cut the stems away from the leaves. Cut the stems into 1-inch strips crosswise. You need about 2 cups of stems for this recipe, throw out the rest. Stack the leaves neatly and cut them into about 2-3 inch strips, set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the chard stems and blanch until tender but not soft, about 3-4 minutes. Drain and allow stems to cool.
With this next step you can either use 2 large pans or make 2 separate batches in the same pan – up to you. Pour about 2 tablespoons of canola oil into your pan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of minced garlic to the oil and reduce the heat to medium-low – cook until garlic is softened and just begins to lightly brown (1 minute max). Add 1/4 of your chard leaves to the pan and salt lightly – cook and stir for about 3-5 minutes over medium heat or until the chard reduces in size by half. Add another 1/4 of your chard leaves and 1/2 of the cooked stems to the pan and cook until wilted and tender – about 15-20 minutes total. After 10 minutes of cooking add in about 2 tablespoons of Serrano ham cut into 1/4 inch strips (you can sub cooked bacon strips here if you can’t find Serrano). Toss in your toasted pine nuts and 1/4 cup of the raisins. Taste your creation – does it need more salt, pepper, Slavo Salt?