Gnocchi and Guanciale based Tomato Sauce

Gnocchi and Guanciale based Tomato Sauce

Gnocchi and Guanciale based Tomato Sauce

Gnocchi and Guanciale based Tomato Sauce!

Oh and did i mention this was all home made from scratch! Tasty home made gnocchi covered in a Guanciale based tomato sauce, it is rich, flavorful and stick to your ribs good.

This is actually a pretty easy but time consuming task if you are going at it alone, I think I spent a total of 3-4hrs making this meal. So lets get started with the deliciousness!

Ingredients:

Gnocchi:

  • 1.5lbs of Potatoes
  • 1 Egg (beaten)
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt

    Guanciale

  • 1.75 Cups Flour

Guanciale based Tomato Sauce:

  • 4 Slices Guanciale
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Bell Pepper
  • 1  16oz can of Crushed Stewed Tomatoes
  • 4 cloves Garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt
  • Black Pepper

Directions:

Alright now it is time to get to business. First lets get our potatoes going! Now what I did was I boiled the two potatoes whole, this may take a while. Another way to prepare the potatoes is to bake them, this will result in a lighter gnocchi. I am assuming that you want to keep the potatoes whole to keep the water content of the potato constant. After your potatoes are cooked you can carefully peal away the skin, i then cut the potatoes up into a few chunks to aide it in it’s cooling.

Gnocchi Dough

Gnocchi Dough

You want the potatoes cooled down near to room temp before you can proceed(tip from a friend) , after they have cooled down mash them up. Next stir in your beaten egg and salt, keep mixing till it is consistent. Now stir in 1 cup of the flour, mix then add in the rest. Once you have a consistent mixture take the dough out and kneed it on a floured surface. You want to make sure it has a consistent texture but make sure not to over work the dough(may result in tougher dough).

Next separate the dough into 4 quarters, select one and start to roll it into a snake like piece that is about 1cm in diameter, next cut a 2cm long piece off the dough and make an impression into the top with a fork, squish the sides in (kinda looks like a little football), now repeat this till all your dough is gone. Make sure to set each piece of gnocchi onto a floured cookie sheet as you make them (at this point you can either throw the gnocchi in a bag in the freezer or eat it).

Sauteed Gnocchi

Sauteed Gnocchi

Now that you are finally finished making the pieces of gnocchi get a large pot of water boiling, mind you that you can boil them in batches. When the raw gnocchi goes into the water it will sink to the bottom, when it is done cooking it will float to the top. Go ahead and remove them as they float up and place in a strainer. Once I had a suitable amount I threw them into a skillet with some olive oil and sauteed them. This step is not required, but can enhance the gnocchi. Now your gnocchi is done!

Now lets get onto the Guanciale based Tomato Sauce! I first started with adding my chopped up onion into a sauce pan with some olive oil and salt, letting the onion sweat. Next I took the 4 slices of Guanciale and sliced it into eight inch wide strips and threw it into the pan. Next add your chopped up bell pepper and 4 cloves of chopped garlic.

Sauce Base

Let that all cook low and slow. As always when I use pork fat

in my recipes I render it. This is really key with the Guanciale since it is a dry cured unseasoned Italian bacon and is mostly just fat. After the fat is rendered go ahead and add in your 16oz can of crushed stewed tomatoes, black pepper and or salt to taste and also some water (i think i added 2 cups)let that simmer and reduce for a while or until you get your desired results! Mind you I was hustling around the kitchen preparing both at the same time so having an assistant or friend could help speed this all up.

More photos: Kitchen 365 | Flickr – Gnocchi and Guanciale based Tomato Sauce

Guanciale based Tomato Sauce

Guanciale based Tomato Sauce

Gnocchi and Guanciale based Tomato Sauce

Gnocchi and Guanciale based Tomato Sauce

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Bacon Cheese Burger Casserole

Ok this is another favorite of mine that I whipped up one day and keep making it again and again. Bacon Cheese Burger Casserole. Now doesn’t that just shout all kinds of deliciousness to you? A great combination of  bacon, onions, ground beef, tomato sauce, macaroni and cheese, oh and the cheese is layered into it and then topping it also. This is by no means a heart healthy meal, but I’m a skinny guy and pretty active so I don’t worry.

Ingredients:

  • 3 Strips bacon
  • 1lb Ground beef
  • 1 Onion
  • 3 Cloves garlic
  • 3 Cups macaroni
  • 2 Cups cheddar cheese
  • 1 Jar spaghetti sauce
  • Large Skillet
  • Large Pot

Directions:

  1. Saute your onions in some olive oil with some salt at a low heat in a skillet.
  2. Chop up your garlic and Bacon and add them to your skillet, keep all of this cooking low and slow, you will be rendering the bacon as you may have figured out.
  3. After the bacon has been rendered add your ground beef. Break it up and turn the heat up a little to get it cooking. Not too much heat, let it cook slow.
  4. After the ground beef is cooked add you jar of spaghetti sauce and mix it in.
  5. Now cook up 3 Cups of macaroni noodles. Let the sauce and meat simmer and or cook low.
  6. After the noodles are done drain the water off and put noodles back into the pot you used, then mix in the entire contents of the skillet.
  7. After mixing them add a layer an inch or so thick into your baking dish, then add a layer of your cheese. Repeat this for how ever many layers you want. I did two layers.
  8. Place in oven at 350F to assist the cheese melting into the layers, I think I put mine in for 10 minutes. Remove from over and you are ready to eat!

Mine came out with a sweetness from caramelized onions and the honey cure on the bacon. The tomato sauce gave its normal acidic kick, the cheddar gave a nice sharpness to each cheesy bite and the beef and bacon just increase the amount of great flavors. This recipe as it is could feed 6-8 adults for a meal. Not huge portions, but plenty hearty. The first time I made this I was broke as could be and was actually costing out each meal I would eat. Sans the bacon and cheddar I was able to make this casserole for $4.45 , which made 6 Servings that cost only $0.74 each! Great poor-mans food that will keep in the fridge for days, well that’s if you don’t eat it all right away!

To view more pictures you can go to Bacon Cheese Burger Casserole – Flikr

Ciabatta Bread

Who-ray for care packages from mom! So yesterday i received a care package from my mom that contained Kneedlessly Simple (a bread book) , a pound of yeast and a 9inch bread pan! And of course what else am I going to do with these? Make some great bread of course!

So i decided I wanted something easy, quick, tasty and versatile enough for any thing, Ciabatta !

So for this recipe ignore the bread pan that is in the picture, we won’t be needing that since Ciabatta bread is free form loaves that will be cooked on a baking stone. The recipe I used is out of Kneedlessly Simple , great book with a lot of different recipes which I will have fun with. So onto the meat of the topic.

Ciabatta Bread Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Combine all the dry ingredients into a big enough bowl and mix well.
  2. Add in your 1.5 Cups of water while stiring. If too dry add more water or if too wet add some more flour. (i made a mistake and added an extra half cup of water, so i had to add some more flour to correct)
  3. Let it sit and rise at room temperature for 1.5-2.5hrs for a quicker loaf, or for ‘best results’ refrigerate for 3-10hrs then let it sit for 12-15hrs at room temp. (I don’t want to wait till tomorrow to eat this bread! But yes i do agree for best results time is the way to go)
  4. After dough has doubled in size of what it was initially preheat your oven to 500f 20minutes before you are ready to bake, also if you are using a baking stone put that in the oven to get hot.
  5. While the oven is heating up I will set a broiler pan in the bottom of the oven, and pour water into it, this will create a steam bath for the bread.
  6. I use a baking sheet with out a side on it to use as a bakers paddle thingy. Lay down some corn meal if you have it onto the sheet so that the dough does not stick to it when you go to transfer it to your baking stone. Form the loaf with your hands, a handy size loaf is about a grapefruit sized piece of dough before you form it. Put it down on the cornmeal and then dust the top of the bread with flour. This is called a ‘gluten coat‘, it essentially creates a nice comfy blanket of gluten around the loaf. I then will score the top of the loaf with a knife, the flour that is on it will help the knife slide through. I will then also some times brush on some olive oil onto the gluten coat to make the crust crispier and golden.
  7. Now that your oven and dough/loaves are ready you can Now slide the loaves onto your baking stone(which i sprinkle some more corn meal onto). Close the oven and reduce the heat to 475f for 15-20minutes.

So now that our bread is baking you will have a fresh loaf any time now. While killing time I was looking at the pound package of yeast I now have, noticed the expiration date of 12-05-10, looked at the nutritional facts and it states that there is enough yeast to roughly make 64 loaves OR 576 servings of bread! I guess I better bake a lot of bread by December, now i just need to purchase flour in bulk. Which means i should make a special stop down at the the Peoples Food Co-op and see what kind of deal i can get, or just go to Sams Club and buy a huge bag. Ok enough rambling, let me tell you how mine turned out. The first loaf i made right away, didn’t seem to rise that well. I think it was because the house was cool. It baked fine but was dense and moist, tasted fine. The second loaf i let sit on the counter and rise for 36hrs. This one did rise much better because it had 33 more hours of rise time. It is the one pictured above. I used olive oil on the gluten coat and set up my steam bath with more water. It took a little longer to cook(20min) but it tastes amazing. The more time the yeast has to work the more flavors are going to be extracted and gluten bonds created. The inside was chewy and the outside crispy, actually the crust was my favorite part!

For more photos of the bread and process go here: Ciabatta Bread – Kitchen 365

Besides dipping in olive oil this bread would also be great to go with:

Lentil Soup

Kielbasa Bean and Bacon Soup

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Steak and Potato Stew

So i decided that i wanted a stew one night, looked at what i had in the cupboard and freezer and was pleasantly pleased, I was going to make Steak and Potato Stew. So lets get to it!

Steak and Potato Stew Ingredients:

  • One Sirloin steak(size to your preference)
  • 2 onions
  • 4 -6 potato’s
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • Jar of stewed tomatoes(i had to use pizza sauce instead)

Directions:

  1. Saute the 2 onions with the garlic in some olive oil.
  2. Trim the steak, i separated the fat and put that in the pan with the onions while i cut and trimmer the rest of the steak. Put the cut up meat into the pot along with the bone! Don’t waste it! Let that sit for a little so the fats render out and juices start to collect.
  3. Next add some flour to make your rue, amount is your choice, start with a little and build up.
  4. Now add the cut up potatoes, mix, then add the tomato product of your choice. Next add water then spices. I used cayenne, chipotle, black pepper, green pepper, salt and some nice olive oil to add some more flavors to it.
  5. Turn up the heat and let it mingle, after the potatoes are cooked turn it down and eat when ever you feel it is to your liking, this is even better as left overs.

As always the with my recipes ingredients and volumes are all relative and can be modified to your liking or preference easily.

Pictures to follow at a later date.

This would also go great with Ciabatta Bread!

Lentil Soup – Cheap and Easy

So this is a tasty lentil soup that can be made easily and cheaply! Who doesn’t like a nice wholesome meal for little money? SO! Onto the soup.

Lentil Soup Ingredients:

Directions:

Chop up the onions and start to saute them with some olive oil and salt, chop up your garlic and throw it in. Cook the onions down on low heat. This will essentially be the base of your broth.

Add 2 cups green lentils to pot and water accordingly,  I usually need to add some water to the pot during the cooking process due to evaporation and the lentils soaking it up, so this amount is relative. Now add your ground green pepper and ground black pepper to the water and all spice, more salt may be needed and use these spices to your own preference. I like pepper, not the killer burn off your tongue kind, but the hit different parts of your pallet kind that enhance the flavors. The Green pepper covers a different part of your palate than Black pepper and both work great together. The All Spice brings a nice sweet spice flavor and smell to it.Now turn it up and bring it to a boil to get those lentils cooking, keep an eye on the water level.

While the lentils and spices are cooking it is time to start on your potatoes. I used smaller potatoes so that is why i have 4 listed, but you can use what ever amount you want. I cut up my lentils thin and leave the skin on. I cut the potatoes thin so they cook fast and leave the skin on partially because I’m lazy but also there have vitamins, minerals and fiber. Mostly because I’m lazy. So now throw your potatoes into the pot. Add more water, salt and spices as needed. Bring to boil if you had turned it down.

Now wash up your kale(amount may vary) and throw it into the pot with everything.

When your potatoes are finally cooked you can now turn the heat down to medium and let it simmer. Your lentils may not yet be fully cooked through, they take a while. This is alright though because you are going to let it finish cooking low and slow. I check how well the lentils are cooked by simply eating a few from the pot, please use a spoon because otherwise you won’t be having soup tonight but a trip to the ER.

Around the time that the lentils are fully cooked you should be able to mash them up a little bit. I like to do this because it adds weight to the broth. I also mash up the potatoes to help the broth out and as you will notice the kale is disintegrating. Same as before if you need any more seasoning please add more. If you want more water, add it in. As you may have noticed I like to let this cook, reduce, add more water, and reduce till I get the consistency that i want.

This recipe is easily scaled up and modified to what ever your taste is.

The end result is a savory, spicy, rib sticking vegan soup that will win over nearly anyone that eats it. I will also at times put the extra into Tupperware and freeze it or put it in the fridge. If you decide to freeze it simply put the block of soup into a pot, add some water and turn the heat on low and let it melt and warm up. Happy eating!

Note: My apologies on the lack of pictures for the soup, I didn’t have my camera with me the last time I made it, but i will get some pictures and get this recipe updated when I do!

Ciabatta Bread would be great with this also!

Kielbasa Bean and Bacon Soup

This recipe is an adaptation of one of my grandmothers best soups. Kielbasa Bean soup is something that my whole family grew up eating and is perfect any time of the year.

Kielbasa Bean Soup Ingredients:

  • Kielbasa (or another better grade Polish Sausage)
  • 1 Large Onion
  • 3 Carrots
  • 2 Potatoes
  • 3 stalks Celery
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 16oz can of stewed tomatoes
  • large jar of pre-soaked white beans.

Instructions:

  1. First you need to get a large pot to cook in. Chop up your onion and start to get it cooking with some olive oil.
  2. Next add you chopped garlic and add salt to help speed up the cooking of the onions.
  3. While the onions and garlic are cooking low and slow cut up your bacon. Any type will do but some may be better than others. For me when it comes to bacon I tend to look for high fat content in the slices for cooking with. The reason here is that I want all the creamy smokey flavor from the bacon and not the fried crispiness that it can have. So as you may now have figured out it is time to put the bacon into the onions. Keep the temp low still, just let the bacon start to let the fats go, stir occasionally.
  4. While the bacon is rendering with the onions cut up your Kielbasa sausage and set that aside. Now get your carrots, celery and potatoes cut up and ready. After the bacon has rendered for a lil bit the onions should be very soft, and cooked down. Add in your kielbasa and turn the heat up a little bit to get it cooking.

5.After the kielbasa has started to cook add your vegetables, your can of stewed tomatoes and enough water to cover everything

(i had to use 6 cups of water).Bring the pot to a boil for 10minutes then reduce the heat down and add your beans. Cover it back up and let it simmer till which ever point you want.

At this point everything should be fairly well cooked. Maybe the carrots could use some more simmer time but that is fine. Letting the soup reduce and all the flavors mingling make it even better.

So in the end this version of Kielbasa Bean and Bacon Soup turned out as a great soup, meaty, starchy, veggies, nice thick broth and pretty well balanced. This is a soup that will taste even better the next day as leftovers. I plan to feast on it for a few days and also freeze some in Tupperware containers. Always handy to have great soup easily at hand when you need it.

Also Ciabatta Bread would go great with this soup!

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