Food Memory in the Making: All you need is your favorite skillet.
This recipe for gnocchi on a skillet is so quick and easy. The big plus is that it looks beautiful on the plate – color in the dish is always important as we eat with our eyes. It reminds me of a favorite food memory – the first time I ever tasted Gnocchi – they were so soft and delicate. I found this recipe on a fabulous website, thekitchn.com, in a list called “23 Romantic Recipes” that appeared earlier this week. One of the best things about this recipe is that you can use store-bought gnocchi. And if you already have a skillet, you’re good to go! Gnocchi is a dough dumpling that is usually made from a coarse, purified wheat that’s also used in pasta and couscous, among other things. Add in just about any type of Italian sausage you like. And as for me, the spicier the better! The recipe also suggests finishing with grated fresh Parmesan cheese. You can do that, it’s not necessary if you’d rather not have cheese, but trust me it adds a wonderful taste to the dish. This recipe serves 4.
- 1 pound gnocchi
- Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 9 ounces (about 3 links) cooked chicken sausage, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick coins
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
- 1 to 2 ounces fresh basil, julienned (1/2 to 1 cup loosely packed)
- Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling; cook the gnocchi for 2 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and toss with a drizzle of olive oil.
- Heat a 10-inch or larger cast iron skillet over medium heat with a light drizzle of olive oil. Add the sausage and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it begins to brown. Push the sausage into a pile at the edge of the skillet and turn the heat up to high.
- When the skillet is quite hot, add the tomatoes, skin down, crowding them in if necessary. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until they are blistered, then stir in with the sausage. Cook for 2 more minutes, until both tomatoes and sausage are slightly browned. Stir in gnocchi and cook just until all is combined, but the tomatoes have not broken down into sauce.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
Cooking tip: a cast iron skillet is preferred only because it will give you the best color and sear to the sausage and tomatoes but any skillet will work as long as it does NOT have a non-stick coating. That will interfere with the browning.
Spaghetti with Lemon and Olive Oil
This recipe for a light citrusy spaghetti from Smitten Kitchen’s post from February 24, 2011. It looks wonderful and reminds me of a pasta I loved in Florence on my last trip there – a real food memory. In fact, I loved it so much that we ate at the restaurant twice in four days! This would be perfect for a last minute dinner with friends – just add a simple salad, some crusty bread and you’re done! The very short ingredient list and very simple directions are perfect and could be paired with a light white wine – perhaps a crisp Sauvignon Blanc?
- 1 pound spaghetti or linguine
- 3 lemons
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil , plus additional for serving
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 ounce finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup), plus additional for serving
- Ground black pepper
- Small handful fresh basil or arugula (what I used, deliciously, in a pinch) leaves, shredded
Cook linguine or spaghetti in well-salted water to your al dente tastes in a large, wide-bottomed pot. You’ll have fewer dishes to wash if you use this pot to assemble the dish as well.
While pasta is cooking, zest lemons until you have a little shy of a tablespoon of zest.
Juice lemons — you’ll have anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 cup lemon juice.
Drain pasta, reserving 1 1/2 cups of pasta cooking water.
Dry out your pot, then boil the olive oil, cream, zest and 1 cup of the reserved pasta water together for two minutes over high heat.
Return pasta to pot and stir until coated.
Add the cheese and 1/4 cup lemon juice and toss, toss, toss everything together.
Add more pasta water, 1/4 cup at a time, if you’d like your dish a little looser.
Quickly taste a strand of pasta and see if you want to add the remaining lemon juice (we did).
Stir in basil or arugula and season generously with salt and pepper. Then serve immediately, drizzling individual portions with a bit of extra olive oil and sprinkling with extra Parmesan cheese.
Who doesn’t remember Cranberry Sauce, especially the Ocean Spray “jelly” kind in the can? I loved that stuff growing up and could never understand why we only ate it once a year at Thanksgiving. My palate has grown a little bit since those days so I’m always looking for an easy but tasty recipe for something that actually resembles cranberries but more of an actual relish. I think I found it in this year’s November issue of Epicurious. I haven’t made it yet but I’m definitely going to if only to put on sandwiches with sliced turkey- who doesn’t love a taste of Thanksgiving all year?
- 10 ounces frozen dark sweet cherries (about 2 cups)
- 1 1/4 cups (packed) brown sugar
- 1/2 cup apple cider
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup bourbon
I’m always surprised when I’m in a restaurant and my meal comes and it has absolutely NO flavor. There is no excuse for a dish to come out of a kitchen (yours or anyone else’s, including a restaurant’s) with no flavor. The meal itself may look fabulous, but someone didn’t taste it while they were cooking. You may decide that you don’t like the flavor, or that it is over/under cooked, missing key ingredients, burnt – who knows? BUT it should always have flavor.
I went to a very old and famous resort/spa with a chef girlfriend. When we booked the reservations she made sure that I knew that all meals were vegetarian and I was completely fine with that. I’m happy to eat vegetables for a week, I’m not so sure that I could go for a month but I can definitely go for a week. As it turned out, they also served some fish and shrimp at dinner. The product that was going into the meals wasn’t the problem; the problem was that the meals had NO FLAVOR. Someone made the excuse that the dishes were also low-sodium – that didn’t fly. They weren’t just missing salt; they were missing the entire spice cabinet! Believe me, for the price we were paying, there was no excuse for poorly prepared meals.
This leads me to my number one cardinal rule in Cooking 101: ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS taste while you are cooking and definitely taste BEFORE you serve! At least you’ll know you like the flavor!
I love Indian food, but my favorite place closed a few years ago. I hadn’t been able to find a new place to satisfy my craving until recently when one of my best friends, Akasha Richmond, opened SĀMBĀR in Culver City, CA.
If you’re looking for wonderful flavors presented in a slightly untraditional way, then SĀMBĀR needs to be on your list of go-to restaurants. They’ve recently opened for lunch and have some fantastic salads and Kati Rolls on the menu if you want something lighter. For dinner, they offer a curry I thought I’d never eat in Los Angeles – Truck Stop Goat Curry. Don’t let the goat scare you. If I tell you it’s amazing – I wouldn’t be exaggerating. They have beautiful little samosas, oven roasted curried cauliflower and yogurt roasted vegetables to mention just a few of their vegetarian offerings. All of their sauces and chutneys are made in-house – the best! Their bar is incredibly creative, as well, with unusual spiced cocktails (using infused alcohols and flavors that are inspired by the cuisine), punches and their own take on the classics. Clare Ward, who created them all, is a genius and you’ll see her behind the bar most nights. For dessert, they serve a wonderful food memory of mine – soft serve ice cream. Oh my! Run, don’t walk. You won’t be disappointed.