Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Smoked Provolone Cheese Sauce

I managed to knock over my personal fan no less than four times yesterday.  I’m sure our downstairs neighbors were very confused each time a big crash emanated from beyond their ceiling.  I’ll be glad when we move to the house and the only thing afraid of the noises my clumsiness causes is the bunny.

Somehow the fan is still intact and working properly.  I wish I could say the same for my memory card reader, which suddenly stopped working for no reason.  It’s quite frustrating when electronics fail on you without warning, especially an item as crucial as that.  Without it, I can’t share my lovely pictures of food with you.

Or the pictures of Izzy perched upon my back.  There’s a reasonable explanation people.  I was in her pen brushing her, and in trying to move to a more comfortable position, I leaned forward to one side with my knees planted on the ground.  She scurried up my thigh and was on my back before I knew it.  I felt strangely conquered; like how a mountain must feel when someone plants a flag in its summit.

Hopefully my new card reader will arrive shortly.  I got my new one from Amazon, as the last one was from Best Buy, but I’m certainly not going back to buy the same model that broke inexplicably in less than a year.

Thankfully I make and photograph a ton of food, so I have plenty to post about while my camera’s memory card reaches maximum capacity.

I love gnocchi.  Make that sweet potato gnocchi smothered in a smoky provolone sauce and I’ll probably never leave the kitchen table.  I may also drink the cheese sauce as my accompanying beverage.

I loved making this meal.   I loved eating this meal.  I can’t wait to make it again, and I strongly urge you to try it.  You can even skip the homemade gnocchi part and just make the sauce to drench the store-bought variety.  Don’t worry, I won’t tell.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Smoked Provolone Cheese Sauce

Adapted from The Noshery

Makes 4-6 servings

For the gnocchi:

1lb sweet potatoes, rinsed, patted dry, and pierced all over with fork

6 oz  (3/4 cup) ricotta cheese

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1 Tbsp packed brown sugar

1 tsp plus 1 Tbsp salt

¼ tsp nutmeg

about 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

For the cheese sauce (makes about 2 cups)

2 cups milk

¼ cup diced onion

2 cloves garlic, sliced

3 fresh sage leaves

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

3 Tbsp unsalted butter

3 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1 cup smoked provolone cheese, shredded (you can sub in another cheese if desired)

First make the gnocchi.  Line a large baking sheet with wax paper. Place sweet potatoes on a plate and microwave on high until tender, about 5-6 minutes per side. Cut in half and cool. Scrape sweet potato flesh into medium bowl and mash; transfer 1 1/2 cups to large bowl. Add ricotta cheese; blend well. Add Parmesan cheese, brown sugar, 1 tsp salt, and nutmeg; mash to blend. Mix in flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft dough forms.

Turn dough out onto floured surface; divide into 3 equal pieces. Rolling between palms and floured work surface, form each piece into a 20” long rope (about 1” in diameter), sprinkling with flour as needed if sticky. Cut each rope into 20 or so pieces. Roll each piece over the tines of fork to indent. Transfer to prepared baking sheet.  You can freeze any gnocchi you won’t immediately eat at this stage.

Bring large pot of water to boil; add 1 Tbsp salt.  Working in batches, boil gnocchi until tender and they float, about 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer gnocchi to servings plates to cool.

Next make the sauce.  In a small saucepan combine milk, onion, garlic and sage.  Place over medium heat and heat until tiny bubbles appear around the edges of the pan, about 5 minutes.  Do not boil. Remove pan from heat and let stand for 10 minutes.  Remove and discard onion, garlic and sage leaves.  Cover to keep warm.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, until blended, 1 minute.

Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to low and continue to whisk until the sauce is smooth and slightly thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. The sauce should cling to a wooden spoon or spatula, and leave a trail when a finger is drawn through it.

Strain the sauce into a clean saucepan.  Whisk in shredded smoked provolone (or cheese of your choice).  Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Dress the gnocchi with the sauce, garnish with extra cheese and sliced sage leaves and serve!


Pan Fried Gnudi with Mushrooms

Today we’re heading down to Connecticut to spend the weekend with my family, since we spent Christmas with Luke’s family.  We don’t go down too often, so I’m always very excited when we go, and I always bring a bundle of baked goods for my family members.  This time I’m bringing the leftovers from my Christmas cookie-baking extravaganza.  I’ll be posting about those starting on the first day of 2012.

Moving on to gnudi.  That’s pronounced new-dee.  Gnudi is like gnocchi (similar pronunciation rules) except that where gnocchi’s primary ingredient is potato, gnudi is mostly constituted of ricotta cheese.  So they’re like little ricotta dumplings.

Little soft, pillowy clouds of deliciousness that are a snap to make, and cook really quickly.  They also freeze really well, just put them on a plate covered with wax paper to keep them from sticking together, then once frozen through, transfer them to a Ziploc bag.  Then you can just pull them out later and boil ‘em up.

They cook in just a few minutes, and are incredibly versatile.  Luke likes his with a spritzing of Italian dressing, and I like mine smothered in tomato sauce and extra cheese (my shots are pre-topping).  Pan frying gives them a crispy shell and a little extra flavor, but you can skip that step if you want.  They’re just as good boiled, like Asian dumplings.  Add some sautéed mushrooms, and it’s a meal!

Pan Fried Gnudi with Mushrooms

Adapted from Petite Kitchenesse

2 cups (16 oz.) ricotta cheese

2 eggs

1 ½ cups of freshly-grated parmesan cheese

1 ¼ cups of all-purpose flour

¼ tsp nutmeg

2 tablespoons butter

12 oz. of white or crimini mushrooms, sliced

salt and pepper, to taste

Combine ricotta, parmesan, eggs, salt, pepper, and nutmeg together in a bowl. Add flour and stir until a wet dough forms.

At this point, I like to put the bowl of dough in the fridge for 15–20 minutes. I find that cold dough is less sticky, and therefore easier to work with. In the meantime, slice mushrooms and sauté in the butter in a large skillet, until mushrooms just begin to brown and soften. Remove from heat and transfer to a plate.

Remove dough from fridge. Grab a fistful of dough and place on a well-floured surface. Roll out to form 1-inch thick ropes, then cut into pieces.

Place a large pot of water on the stove over high heat. While you wait for it to boil, roll out and cut up the rest of the gnudi. Once the water is boiling, add in half of the pasta.  When the gnudi are puffy and floating at the surface of the water(this will take around 4 minutes) transfer them to the pan with a slotted spoon.

Fry gnudi until browned, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a plate or large bowl. Repeat process with the second half of the pasta. Once the second batch is browned, add the first batch and the mushrooms to the pan, and stir until evenly warmed. Remove from heat and serve with favorite sauce.




Mashed Potato Gnocchi

Earlier this week, I received some promising news about my future career.  I had a meeting at a day school in Worcester that wants to start a Chinese program next year for their middle/upper school.  I am so excited for this prospect!  Like blissfully giddy excited.  After the meeting, I met my mom for lunch and dropped by Holy Cross to visit/drop off some extra baked goods.  This is one of my constant concerns.  Finding outlets for my excess baked goods so they will be consumed in a reasonable timeframe, allowing me to then go on and make the next thing.  Because I plan out everything.  Seriously, I do.  I have a post it on my Mac dashboard dedicated to listing out things I want to bake in the near future.

Anyway, I love giving my baked goods away to others, mostly because I love sharing what I make with others, especially if it’s something good.  Unless it’s something really, really good.  Then I might not share….but I probably will.  Just ask the boys at Holy Cross, I think what I dropped off was in the later category.  (I’ll be posting about it later, so don’t worry.) Also, I wanted to share (just pictures) of these amazing cheeses I got at Trader Joe’s last weekend.  I could live in that store.


This cheese is sooo good.  It’s got those little bits of salty grit that good aged cheese have.  Delicious.

No, this is not cheese.  But I couldn’t resist putting up another Izzy pic.  Every photo I take in the living room comes out like this…

But enough about the future,  let’s focus on the present, like this post about gnocchi.  I think the first time gnocchi entered my consciousness was during high school.  I vaguely remember the name being mentioned at an Italian restaurant once or twice, but I didn’t actually realize what it was until my foodie transformation.  Now, I love gnocchi.  Pillow-soft potato dumplings?  Yes, please.  You can also make gnocchi with ricotta, a method I’ll be trying very soon.  These are a snap to throw together and use up extra mashed potatoes!  My mound of leftover mashed potatoes was starting to worry me, as I hate throwing out food, but thankfully this recipe saved the day.  I thoroughly enjoyed them, and I hope you do too.

Leftover Mashed Potato Gnocchi

Adapted from this site

Makes 3-4 servings

2 ½ cups leftover mashed potatoes

2 eggs

approximately 2 cups all-purpose flour (I think I used more like 3)

pinch of nutmeg

salt and pepper as necessary

Force the mashed potatoes through a fine mesh sieve or a potato ricer and remove skins.  Put them in a medium bowl, make a well in the center, add the eggs and beat lightly.  Add one cup of flour, nutmeg, salt and pepper (you can decide how much to ad, if your mashed potatoes are already seasoned, you can probably omit more seasoning) and mix.  Continue adding flour one cup at a time to make a moist, but firm dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, shape into a ball, and divide into 6 smaller balls.

Put a large pot of water on to boil.  Make sure to salt the water, about a tablespoon’s worth.

Roll each ball into a log and cut it into ¾ inch pieces.  Pick up each piece, press into a fork with your thumb and roll off.  Mine didn’t really want to keep their indentation, so if yours don’t either, it’s ok.

Drop the formed gnocchi into the water.  When they float to the top they’re done, about 3 minutes.  I also put some of the formed gnocchi on a wax paper lined plate and put them in the freezer to save for later.  After about an hour, I transferred them to a Ziploc bag.  They cook the same way, but will take a few minutes longer.

Drain your cooked gnocchi and serve.  I used regular tomato sauce and grated cheese, but gnocchi are versatile, so any sauce used on pasta would work well.