Monday, September 29, 2008

More Cabinet Clean Out, Blog Inspirations, and Farm Stand Staples

I am continuing to work my way through the tons of excess stuff in my cabinet. Thanks to We Are Never Full I have decided to turn an unused bag of semolina into Roman style gnocchi. (Those folks are always giving me things to make for dinner.) I love gnocchi and I have always been intrigued by having baked instead of boiled dumplings. I knew they would be a surefire hit with the hubby too. He rarely meets a starch he doesn't like.

Amy and Jonny's recipe called for a cream and butter topping. Now I love that stuff as much as the next person, and initally planned to make them this way, but I ended up taking a different turn after spending some time in the country, viewing the last of summer's bounty at the farms and watching recent episodes of The Cooking Loft. There are still plentiful homegrown tomatoes everywhere, and this is the perfect time of year for making tomatoes into sauce now that the fruits are more mature and softer. Seeing Alex Guarnaschelli make a fresh tomato sauce on her show last week made me realize I should do a sauce while I still have time. She used yellow tomatoes in her recipes. I'm the classic type and stuck with red. I did use her idea of straining the seeds to get the extra juice out. She put rice wine vinegar in her sauce and I like to use white wine.

I started my recipe exactly was dictated in the We Are Never Full Recipe.

I'm not sure whether this reminded me of custard or gruel (or perhaps pate au choux)

Then when it came time to bake it, I topped it with parmiggiano reggiano and a few dabs of butter.

My sauce (or as my father would insist, gravy) bubbling on the stove, ready to be poured over)

Happiness on a plate.

I made a good call when I boiled the milk and semolina and thought it seemed custard like because the finished product also had a nice custard-like texture. It's quite a deviation from what one would traditionally consider gnocchi, but WANF points out that gnocchi have a long history and have been made in many different ways. However, you will never convince me that stale bread baked with tomato sauce is gnocchi.

The Short (dis)Order Cook's Fresh Tomato Sauce

8 good-sized red tomatoes
4 Tbl olive oil
Pinch of red pepper flakes
5 cloves garlic, sliced
4 shallots, finely diced
Pinch sugar
1/4 cup basil leaves
1/2 cup white wine

Have a bowl of ice water handy. Core the tomatoes and score an X into the bottom of each one. Place tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for 2 minutes or until the skin at the X looks like it's starting to pull away. Remove tomatoes and plunge into ice water. Skins should peel of easily.

Cut tomatoes in half and scoop out the seeds. Put the seeds through a sieve to press out the juice. Chop tomatoes coarsely.

Heat olive oil in a large pan. Add red pepper flakes, shallots, and garlic. Cook until soft and fragrant. Add tomatoes, juice, and sugar. Cook the tomatoes until they have fallen apart and the sauce isn't super chunky. Add basil

Carefully place your cooked tomatoes in a blender or food processor. Blend in white wine.

Serve with your favorite pasta.


Bellini Valli said...

I first tried gnocchi at a little hole-in-the-wall place at Wasaga Beach as a teenager:D I could eat an entire plate of it then:D

Maria said...

I love making my own sauce!! Yours sounds great!

We Are Never Full said...

this is so weird - i was just coming to visit you and started reading the top post and - holy c&ap! - you did the roman gnocchi! it does have a slight custard-texture. I think if you added just a bit more semolina, it may have thickened it up a bit more, but to me, broiling the final product for a few minutes created a bit of crust on top. Regardless, smothered in sauce will soften it a bit again. THANK YOU AGAIN for trying a recipe! we really love it when people do it.

also, i clicked somehow earlier on to your wedding website. you guys are cute and look like a fun duo.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Val - I'm with you. I love gnocchi of all sorts. Try this version. It's a whole new gnocchi experience.

Maria - Thanks. The tomato season will be wrapping up soon, so get your sauce in while you can!

WANF - What a funny coinkydink! I didn't think the texture of the gnocchi wasn't right because they were fine to me. Hubby gobbled them up too. I would be curious to see how they would be if I added more flour. I know that it took a *LONG* time for the flour to absorb the milk, so perhaps an adjustment to the semolina would have worked as well.

And thanks for the comments on my website.

Darius T. Williams said...

That really is happiness on a plate...I'd be happy if I had that!


Adam said...

Haha I love that happiness on a plate comment :) Your sauce looks delicious, and I like how you're not afraid to put a little wine in it.

Hows the cabinet looking? You've been cleaning for quite some time now, I'm thinking its a walk in closet :)

noble pig said...

Oh wow, sounds grand...Roman gnoochi.

Lo said...

Love Roman gnocchi... and yours looks fab.

But you've GOT to stop with this cleaning out the cupboards bit, Rachel. It's making the rest of us look bad :)

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Adam and Lo - Don't feel bad. I have not even come close to getting rid of all of that excess stuff in my cabinets. I still have unused stuff that I'm not sure what to do with.

Sue said...

I want that.

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Nothing better than a good homemade tomato sauce (or gravy)!

Dee said...

You can't do better than happiness on a plate :) I make my own tomato sauce so I really appreciate the tip about straining the seeds. Thank you

Emiline said...

I've made tomato sauce before, but I think I just kind of guessed how much to use of what. It would be nice to have a recipe on hand. I'll have to try this.

I agree with Adam; your cabinet must be huge!