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!

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Herb & Cheese Frittata

We officially kind of have a house.  Technically the house isn’t completely ours yet because of slow processing on the bank’s end that led our 10am closing to take place at 5pm.  As such, the deed work was not completed in time, so we won’t get the deeds and keys until Monday.

My herbs

Our official move-in day isn’t until the 14th anyway, so this very minor hiccup really isn’t a problem.  I felt a little awkward at the closing though because I didn’t actually have to be there.  Luke is the sole purchaser of the house since we aren’t married yet and buying it jointly would have meant adding my student loan debt would have affected our financing options.  Ew.

So my name is nowhere to be found.  But I’ll get added on after the wedding, so that’s exciting…I guess.  What was exciting was the walk-through we did of the house before going to the closing meeting.  It’s such a cute house, I can’t wait to move in!

Now I just need to start packing, which also means trying to empty out the fridge, freezer and pantry.  I’m realistic; I know I can’t use up everything, but I can do my best to only buy groceries we absolutely need for the next two weeks, and make meals like this frittata, that use up extra ingredients lying around.

Frittatas are wonderfully versatile in that you can pretty much throw in whatever meats, vegetables, cheeses or herbs that need to be used up.  Make sure of course that your meats and veggies are cooked properly first.  I just wanted to use up some scallions, cheese and herbs.  Mission accomplished.  Now on to the pantry…

Herb & Cheese Frittata

Adapted from Cookie and Kate

Makes one 9” frittata, about 6 servings

6 eggs

½ -1 cup of shredded cheese (I used Monterey jack)

2 Tbsp milk

Vegetables and spices of your choice

I used scallions, shiitake mushrooms, a handful of mixed fresh herbs, salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Grease a 9-inch springform pan or 9-inch square baking dish or 9” oven proof skillet.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, cheese, milk, vegetables and seasonings.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.

Bake until golden and puffy and the center feels firm and springy, about 25 minutes or more.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool and serve warm.


Herb & Cheese Pull Apart Bread

You may notice a pattern emerging over my next few posts, a pattern that centers on a key ingredient: garlic chives.  I didn’t intend to buy them at the Asian market, but they looked so fresh and green, much more robust than regular chives.  I sweat they jumped into my basket of their own free will.

Plus they were only $2/lb.  Come on.  This is the same market that sells 13 limes for $2.  God I love that place.  But an excess of lime is easy to manage.  Zest ‘em, juice ‘em and freeze for later use.

Chives on the other hand would not stand up to such treatment.  I had to work on a vegetable’s schedule, which meant finding some excellent chive recipes pronto.

This was the first one that caught my eye.  It’s like an accordion of garlic bread that’s jacked up on cheese and herbs.  Basically an amazing and stunning side dish that is really fun to eat (not as hard to make as it seems).

Did I happen to mention it’s delicious too?  Plus, its flavors are customizable.  Don’t like chives?  Try basil or rosemary.  You can also use different kinds of cheeses.  I used smoked gouda and parmesan since they’re what I had on hand.  Whichever way you pull it, this bread is sure to please.

Herb & Cheese Pull Apart Bread

Adapted from Pink Parsley

Makes one 9X5” loaf pan

For the bread:

2 cups bread flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup warm water

1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)

3 Tbsp sugar

3/4 tsp salt

2 Tbsp butter, melted

For the filling:
3-4 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 cup fresh herbs (any combination that suits you, I used chives & scallions)

1 cup cheese (your choice)

4 Tbsp butter, melted

salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, combine the water, sugar, and yeast and let sit for 5-10 mins, until the yeast is foamy.  Add the first 2 cups of flour, and mix until combined.  Add the third cup of flour, a few tablespoons at a time, mixing until the dough forms.  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 6-9 minutes, until soft and pliable.  Form into a smooth ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl.  Allow to rise 1-2 hours, until doubled in size.

Punch down the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface.  Allow to rest for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, chop the herbs and garlic, melt the butter, and grate the cheese.

Roll the dough out into a 12×20 inch rectangle.  Brush with 2 tablespoons of the melted butter, then sprinkle the dough with the garlic, herbs, and cheese.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Cut the dough into 6 equally sized strips using a pizza cutter or knife.  Stack the strips on top of each other and cut into 6 equally-sized squares.

Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan, and stack the squares on top of each other in the pan.  If you lose some of the filling as you stack, just sprinkle it on top once the dough has been stacked.  Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter over the top.

Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise for 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake the bread for 35-45 minutes, or until the top is golden-brown and the inside is cooked through.  If the top browns too quickly, cover the bread with foil.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes.  Run a knife around the edges and invert onto a serving platter to serve.