Sweet Potato and Tarragon Gnocchi

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It’s been cold and rainy again and all I want to eat is soup, stew and gnocchi. So here another New World take on classic potato dumplings. They involve a little sticky work, but are so worth making. The tarragon really takes this former ‘poor people’s food’ from everyday to special occasion.They also freeze great, so make more than you need, freeze right on the sheet then store in zip top bags and cook from there when you’re ready. That way you could A) store them for a busy week night or B) make them ahead as a holiday side dish to serve with your Christmas dinner.

imageThe dough is a bit sticky, so make sure you flour the work surface well

imageready for the freezer!

Ingredients

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 egg
  • about 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 sprigs French Tarragon, leaves only, chopped

imageThey will look like little pillows ūüôā

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 375, poke sweet potato with a fork and roast on a cookie sheet until soft  hen pricked with a knife, about 25 to 35 minutes, depending on the size of the sweet potato.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats, set aside.
  3. Set sweet potato aside until cool enough to handle, then peel and squish through a potato ricer into a bowl, let cool 10 more minutes (you want it to be cool to the point where the egg does not cook when you add it).
  4. Stir in the salt, tarragon leaves and the egg, then gently incorporate the flour.
  5. Set dough aside for 15 minutes to allow the flour to absorb some of the moisture.
  6. Then flour your work surface well, and cut off a portion of dough the size of a baseball. Gently roll into a rope, about 1 1/2″ diameter, keeping your hands floured.
  7. Using a knife, cut 1″ sections of dough from the rope and place on a ¬†prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all dough has been used up.
  8. For eating right away:  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook about 8-10 gnocchi at a time until they swim to the surface, skim out using a wire mesh strainer, drain and serve.
  9. For use later: Freeze on baking sheets until gnocchi are firm, then transfer to zip top bags and store in the freezer until ready to use. Then bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook 5-6 gnocchi at a time, cooking less gnocchi at a time and making sure the water stays boiling, since the frozen dumplings will bring the water temperature down drastically and if the water isn’t hot enough, you risk having them fall apart.

Ideas for serving them:

  • with freshly grated Romano cheese and a drizzle of olive oil,
  • top with your favorite sauce,
  • bake in the oven topped with a little Parmesan cheese until slightly browned (highly recommend)
  • serve alongside roast chicken or game and don’t forget the side of cranberry or lingonberry jam!

imageCopyright © 2012 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved

Sweet Potato Knöpfli (Spätzle)

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So what if you would add sweet potato to color and nutrify (like my new word?) the standard Sp√§tzle? Besides being pretty and orange you would also have added nutrition, right? Although once you tired them, you’re not going to care about any of that, they are good freshly out of the water or like shown here, reheated in a skillet to add some crunch the next day. As I was re creating these (when I first made them and promised to have them up on the blog soon, I apparently was so exited that I forgot wholly and totally to write down the recipe ūüôĀ Soooo, I got to re-create them, and doing so I was wondering if it is a tad strange that this German-speaking lady does not have any recipe’s for the original version up on the blog yet? Something so quintessential as Kn√∂pfli! You may know the little dumplings as Sp√§tzle, but where I am from they are Kn√∂pfli, little buttons ūüôā After reminiscing about this, maybe I will put how to go about making the originals on my list of things to do…

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Ingredients

  • I medium sweet potato
  • 1 egg
  • ¬†1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cups flour
  • pinch of salt

Directions

  1. Bake the sweet potato in a 375¬ļ oven until cooked ¬†and soft throughout when tested with the tip of a knife. Let cool slightly then cut it open and scrape the flesh into a bowl. Mash it with a fork and set aside to cool some more.¬†(Do NOT¬†microwave the sweet potato, baking will help remove some of the moisture making the result much drier, if your dough is too soft, it won’t stick together when boiling)
  2. Mix in the water, egg and salt and stir well to combine. Then add the flour, stirring gently starting with 1/2 cup. The resulting dough should be thick and only move slowly when you tilt the bowl. If necessary add the additional 1/4 cup of flour (This depends on the size of the sweet potato for one, but also on how humid or dry your kitchen is). Set aside for half an hour to let the dough rest.
  3. Set a pot of water to a boil. Get out a small wooden cutting board and rinse it off with cold water. Scoop about 1 cup of the dough (it should be thick and blob like, not runny) onto the board, holding it slightly tilted over the boiling water, and using the back of a flat knife, ‘cut’ slivers of it and slide off the board into the water. The Kn√∂pfli should be roughly 1/4″ wide by 2″ to 3″ long.* Leave them in the boiling water until they swim to the surface. Skim them out using a wire mesh strainer or slotted spoon. Set aside to drain. Repeat process with remaining dough.
  4. Serve hot right away or heat some butter in a skillet and cook them until browned. (My favorite way)

*This is the old fashioned way of making them, you can also buy a special tool that allows you to make them much quicker and push the dough through what looks like a coarse grater.

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Here with herbs in the dough and below after pan frying the next day

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© 2012 SimpleHealthyHomemade

Ricotta and Spinach Malfatti

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I have a secret fascination with gnocchi, or dumplings or whatever you want to call them. I think the part that really gets me is the fact that you make a sort of dough and then dump it in boiling water, AND if you do it right, it doesn’t fall apart but cooks and comes out of the water the same shape it went in. Seems crazy that should work at all, right?

                 

In the center shown with slow cooker sauce and sweet potato

Well, since we are on the topic, here’s another one I tried recently. With the fall weather setting in, I am veering over towards more substantial foods, but this one is surprisingly light and delicate, for a dumpling. It’s mostly ricotta after all! Still fascinated that they hold together in the water, although it just occurred to me, duh, that pasta is essentially dough as well, cooked in water. I guess the fact that pasta is much drier and flat never allowed me to make the connection? ūüôā Now granted these are a bit more delicate than Spaghetti, and need special precautions, but as long as you keep the water just below a serious boil, you’re good to go. And they are worth every minute spent on making them. Don’t let the long list of steps scare you off, they are much easier to make than it is to describe how to make them, seriously!

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Malfatti which translates literally as ‘ badly made’ are a regional specialty from Italy. I had first seen them on menus and tables back in Europe, then heard about them again when I started reading Robert’s blog, and his recent post on flour-less Malfatti reminded me to finally give them a try. Not flour-less, I’ll leave that for later, since that seems to require a bit more dumpling experience, I hear.

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Another thing to keep in mind before running to your kitchen: all the recipes I saw recommended draining the ricotta in a cheesecloth lined colander, in the fridge overnight, some with a weight on it. However my ricotta did not cooperate and drained nothing, so here’s my solution: When ready to make the dough, blot with several changes of paper towels, squeeze and blot several times before placing in a large bowl.

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So here’s what you need for the ‘screwed ups’ or Malfatti

Ingredients

  • 2 cups ricotta, drained in cheesecloth in the fridge overnight
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • semolina (or corn meal) for dusting so they don’t stick
  • 1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano or other hard italian cheese

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Directions

  1. Drain the ricotta overnight in the fridge in a cheesecloth lined colander over a bowl or blot with several changes of paper towels, squeeze and blot several times before placing in a large bowl.
  2. Separate the egg yolk from the egg white, reserve egg white for another use, and add the yolk to the ricotta bowl.
  3. Cut the spinach leaves into a chiffonade (roll up a few at a time and slice thinly) then add with the salt to the ricotta. Stir with a fork until mixed.
  4. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the flour over the ricotta mixture and using a spatula or your fingers, gently incorporate until just coming together.
  5. Prepare a baking sheet with a non stick mat ans sprinkle with semolina.
  6. Generously flour a work surface, turn out the dough onto the surface an knead 4 to 5 times. (Do NOT overmix or the dough will get tough = not good)
  7. In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then reduce heat until just at a simmer and no big bubbly movement can be seen in the water.
  8. Using 2 teaspoons, cut a piece from the dough, shape and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.¬†Sprinkle all the Malfatti with semolina while they are ‘waiting’
  9. Gently slide dumplings into simmering water, 5 to 6 at a time and cook until they float to the surface. Scoop out using a wire skimmer and place back on the baking sheet.
  10. Preheat broiler on low and when they are all cooked, sprinkle with the Pecorino and quickly finish the Malfatti in the oven until the cheese melts, they should stay white.
  11. Serve with any sauce that makes you happy.

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© 2012 SimpleHealthyHomemade