Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A peek into my .....pantry

Someone mentioned recently that I should do a quick blog about what pantry staples I like to keep on hand.  This person will remain nameless, but here's a hint: She contributed 50% of my DNA.  You'll never guess.  Anyway, a few days ago, I talk a bit about the tools I use the most in the kitchen, so we'll take it a step further to pantry, fridge, freezer items that I ALWAYS have on hand.


Dry or baking items:
AP flour..although after Christmas I found myself with 5 different kinds of flours!
Brown Sugar
Powdered Sugar
Corn Meal
Cocoa Powder
Baking Powder
Baking Soda
Kosher Salt
Corn Starch
Variety of chocolate chips

Spaghetti noodles...always (its my comfort food)
Variety of pastas (I stock up when my store has BOGO free)
Quick Brown rice
Israeli Cous Cous
Arborio rice
Jasmine rice, love the way it smells
Regular breadcrumbs and Panko

Jars and Cans:
Jarred spaghetti sauce (again, stock up during BOGO's. I have 8 jars right now)
Variety of canned tomatoes, diced, stewed, whole. Tomatoes with chilis, little cans of tomato sauce...etc
Sooo many beans:  Black, pinto, pink, cannalini and chickpeas are my favorites.
Green chilis
Sliced water chestnuts
Coconut milk
Canned fruits. I am NOT a fan but my family loves them. I always get the ones in juice, never syrup.
Sweetened condensed milk
Evaporated milk
Chicken, beef and veggie broth.  But I use chicken the most and always the low sodium kind

Ok, i have a cabinet that holds all the daily used items like oils/vinegars/peanut butter/ nutella etc.  Here's what you'll always find there:
Canola oil
Olive oil:  Light and EVOO
Lard..yes lard
Balsamic vinegar and glaze
White Vinegar
Apple Cider vinegar
Red Wine vinegar
Cooking sprays
Peanut butter
Agave Syrup

Spice drawer:
I'm not going to go through everything in there, but they're mostly spices because I don't really use dried herbs.  Here are the most common that I use:
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Sazon (its a must)
Bay Leaves
Crushed red pepper
Of course salt and pepper
Variety of extracts: vanilla and almond mostly
Chili Powder
Cayenne Pepper (but thats to sprinkle around the yard to keep the dogs from digging)

Lets move on to the freezer:

Nuts nuts nuts...it's not just an adjective in this house.  You name it and I have it stashed in my freezer. I am a self proclaimed hoarder of nuts and beans.
Chopped spinach
Pureed butternut squash
And whatever meats have been caught, hunted or purchased :)
I also keep my grits in the freezer.


OK, I'm not going to go through everything i have in my fridge but I will go over what you'll always find in there:

Cheese: blocks of cheddar and mozerella, goat cheese, a wedge of parmigianno regiano, fresh mozerella packed in water
Organic milk
Eggs (Davidson pasteurized eggs, because what good is a cookie dough if you can't eat it raw?)
Teriyaki sauce
Soy Sauce
Chili Sauce
Red Curry Paste
Tomato Paste
Anchovy Paste
Jams and jelly's
Cream Cheese
Salted and unsalted butter
Sesame oil

Good ole honey wheat sandwich bread
Real bakery break for food snob mom, ciabatta or sourdough
Flour and/or corn tortillas

Yes, I have every one of these items and always do. And no, I'm not taking pictures of my pantry, fridge and freezer...y'all must think I'm nuts.

Having a list like this helps to know what you should have extras of on hand.  I'm quite a few jars/ bottles deep of most of these things.  Thanks to BOGO's :)  I can't pass up 50% off my pantry staples 

Hope this helps a bit when you're thinking of what to stock your pantry with.   

Monday, March 5, 2012

Gnocchi swimming in Creamy Pesto

If you're on a diet that doesn't allow for carbs and saturated fat, turn away now. This isn't the recipe for you.  It's extremely indulgent and to be honest, it's not something I would typically eat either.  Melting the butter in the pan flipped my guilt switch immediately knowing how much sat fat I was about to consume.   BUT.... Since it's so rich, you don't need to eat much of it.  Its that whole moderation thing. By the way, its the sauce that's so indulgent, so you could make the gnocchi and toss it in a fresh tomato sauce.  That would be delectable.  I didn't measure a single thing for either the gnocchi or sauce. I just went by feel and taste so I'll do the best I can with measurements. 


2 large starchy potatoes
3 egg yolks
About 1 cup or so of AP flour

Creamy Pesto Sauce:

Handful of Basil (about a cup of whole leaves)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbs pine nuts
1 garlic clove
Just enough EVOO to bring pesto together but not liquidy. (about 1-2 tbs)

3 Tbs. Butter
1 Cup Heavy Cream
3/4 Cup fresh grated parm cheese

Directions for gnocchi:

You can either bake the potatoes or peel and boil them.  If you boil them, make sure you give them plenty of time to dry out.  I also didn't run mine through a food mill because I don't own one. So i used a fork to break up the potatoes really well.  Let the cooked/mashed potatoes cool.

After they're cooled, add 3 egg yolks, dash of nutmeg, salt and pepper.
mix well and start adding flour about a 1/4 cup at a time until you have a dough that isn't sticky and you can work with.   I think in all I added about a full cup of flour, plus more for bench flour.

it has come together and feels like dough

turn it out on floured board or counter and divide into workable amounts
roll out into snakes
cut into 1/2 inch pieces and lay on sheet tray
Now, you don't have to do the ridges thing on the gnocchi but I had some time on my hands waiting to pick my son up from school.  So I tried it.  Basically, I just rolled each piece down the back side of a fork.  Seemed to work out well.

set pan aside and let velvety pillows of deliciousness dry while you make the sauce.

For the sauce, First, start with a simple basil pesto.  Throw the basil, pinenuts, garlic, 1/4 cup of the cheese in food processor.  With processor running, slowly add the EVOO just until the sauce comes together. You don't want it to be as thin as a normal pesto since you'll be adding it to the cream later.  It shouldn't be more than a couple Tbs.
set this aside while you prepare the creamy part of the sauce

Before you start the cream sauce, go ahead and put the water on that you'll boil the gnocchi in. That way it'll be ready to go as soon as the sauce is.  You'll want to bring it to a low boil and just leave it there until ready to drop gnocchi nuggets in.

For the cream sauce:

Melt 3 Tbs unsalted butter over medium low heat, add cup of cream and stir. Slowly add in the remaining 3/4 cup of parm cheese.  Continue to stir until mixture thickens.  Keep it over medium low to low so as to not "break" the cream.  Once mixture thickens, add in your basil pesto mixture and stir. You can turn the burner/flame to very low or even off at this point.

By this time, the water should be a low boil for the gnocchi.  You can drop them in in batches.  Mine only took a couple minutes to cook. You'll know they're done when they float to the top.  Pull them out with a strainer and drop them into the pesto cream mixture.  Continue to cook gnocchi and add it into the cream mixture until all the gnocchi is done.

Now place into a Tupperware and send it home with the super nice friend that came to work on the pool for him and his lovely wife to enjoy :)