Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Homemade Potato Gnocchi

Gnocchi is one of my favorite Italian dishes. Like bruschetta, it's an Italian food word that people have some trouble with. Never fear, the Italian pronunciation police are here.

The "gno" makes a "nyo" sound with a silent "g".

The "cch" is pronounced as a hard "k".

The "i" is an "ee" sound as in "tree".

"nyo kee"

Gnocchi is the plural form of the word. The singular is "gnocco." So you might order a plate of gnocchi and savor each delicious gnocco on that plate. The smaller forms are called gnocchetti.
These thick and soft dumplings can be made from a variety of ingredients. You will most commonly find Potato Gnocchi, but they are also made from semolina, ordinary wheat flour, bread crumbs, or ricotta.
After making gnocchi from scratch at home I began to notice the entree listed on the menu at fancy Italian restaurants and it’s SO expensive. This boggles my mind because it is SO inexpensive to make.  It may take a little planning ahead since you need to let the potatoes chill after you bake or boil them...but you can make these in stages and even freeze the gnocchi to eat them whenever you want.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Homemade Pizza Dough from a Bread Machine

Would you say that fancy toppings make a great pizza? I believe a great pizza starts with the pizza crust. The dough should be the most important part and if you get that right, then it will only take a few toppings to get you to that perfect pizza pie. You are aiming for both a crunchy and chewy crust, like a French baguette. It needs to be plastic enough to expand with the increase of gas and elastic enough to hold the expanding gas.

I love homemade pizza dough, but I don’t want to mess with all the fuss of the many steps. My solution is to use my bread machine. Here is the recipe I use for Traditional Pizza Dough (for 2-lb. bread maker):

1-1/4 cups water
1-1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
3-3/4 cups bread flour

The best flour to use is bread flour made specifically for bread machines because it is high in protein which can accommodate more gluten.
1-1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1-1/2 tsp. active dry yeast

Pizza dough gets its rise from the yeast. Active dry yeast is regular yeast that has been dehydrated and broken into granules. When adding it to your bread machine, add it last and don’t let it touch any liquid. I make a small well in the center of the flour (making sure not to punch through to the liquid below).

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Homemade Mozzarella

When I read how easy it was to make homemade mozzarella, I had to find myself a kit and give it a go. As you can see by the melty cheese pizza above, my experiment was a great success!
Experiment is a perfect word for this project when you look at what comes in the kit. Citric Acid, Vegetable Rennet Tablets and Calcium Chloride. Making homemade mozzarella is surprisingly economical. The kit, which costs $5.00 comes with enough supplies to make four batches of about 3/4 lbs each. The only thing you need to buy is a gallon of low pasteurized milk.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Five for Friday

For Jim, I love you so much. Here are five for Friday:

  1. My new bag. I love that you helped me pick it out and you were so patient as I tried all of them on.
  2. Waiting to see Moneyball with me.
  3. Staying with me downtown when you really wanted your own bed.
  4. Cleaning the kitchen when I was gone for jury duty.
  5. The biggest one this last week is the way you understand me and back me. Your love and support means the world to me.